This past weekend, six students from the Bryan College Debate Team competed against 17 colleges and universities in the Chicken and Egg Tournament held at Gainesville State College in Gainesville, GA. The Bryan students walked away with several awards including 1st varsity speaker to sophomore Ashton Alexander, 2nd varsity debate team to Alexander and his teammate freshman Eli McGowan, and 14th varsity speaker to McGowan.
Bryan Students senior Vincent Smith, freshmen Erica Thompson, Daniel Ermatinger and Amy Buchmeyer competed along with Alexander and McGowan against 17 schools including Carson Newman, Florida State University, Georgia Tech, University of Tennessee-Knoxville and University of Florida.
The debate team Alexander/McGowan had a difficult start to the tournament. With one win, two losses and one bye (in an tournament with an odd amount of teams, one team has to sit out each round. They are automatically awarded a win). They barely advanced to out-rounds. In out-rounds, teams are power-matched, similar to what they do in basketball tournaments, said McGowen.
He said, “We were considered the lowest team.”
Immediately after receiving the news, Bryan’s debate team gathered in the stairwell to help Alexander/McGowan prepare. One Bryan student searched the Internet with McGowan’s netbook and others helped strategize.
McGowan said, “That was probably one of the best rounds I have ever debated.”
The debaters clashed and every argument was answered. After the round, the team gathered with the rest of Bryan’s debate club to debrief. How did we do, they asked Smith. “Vincent was like ‘you lost. You totally lost.,” said McGowan.
The debaters entered the room again to hear the judge’s decision. The first judge listed the points of the debate and voted for Bryan College, “Opposition.” The second judge spoke next: “Opposition,” And the third— “Opposition.”
Michael Palmer, communications professor and faculty advisor for the Debate Team, said hearing the announcement of the final placements was “one of those jolting moments.” Unlike many other schools, the Debate Team at Bryan does not have a coach though they hope to get one in the near future. Palmer added, “From its inception [the Debate Team has been] heavily student led and student driven. With effort and talent they have been as successful as they have been, bringing back over the years a very substantial amount of hardware.”
The team’s long-term success is further proven by the fact that the trophies from this past weekend are being housed in the dorm room of Smith, the debate team president, because the trophy case in the Rankin Center is full. Smith credited the team’s incredible wins to the fact that the members of the team are entirely self-motivated because they are not participating for class credit.
After the tournament, Alexander said, “People came up to me from all over [saying] good, good you finally got ‘em!” or “You beat Nathan? What?”
But that was only the first of the elimination rounds. Alexander/McGowan advanced to finals where they were defeated in the final round by a team that received all the votes from their judges in that tournament.
Palmer said Bryan’s team has always been well attended and that the “people on the team personify the school’s mission.” The Debate Team plans to compete in at least three more tournaments this fall and six during the spring semester.
“I think we’re going to go far,” said Alexander.