Debate Team Aims to Win Third Consecutive State Championship

The UCA Debate and Forensics team will attend the Southern Forensics Championship on Jan. 29-31 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Last year the team defended their State Championship title for the second year in a row.

They hope to win the championship for the third consecutive year.

“It’s a really big deal to us because, UCA is not a really big team.” UCA debate team member Braxton Johnson said, “All these other schools have such big teams and we’re kind of like the underdogs, you know?”

UCA Debate and Forensics participates in around 10 events a year. The team holds practice twice a week, on Mondays at 6 p.m and Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

“Currently, we have eight regular members,” Sponsor Anthony McMullen said. “There are about four additional students who participate whenever they can. That being said, I’m always looking for talented students to join our ranks. It is not too late in the semester to get started. We also want students to be able to think independently, to be good leaders and to research and process information. I can think of no activity on a college campus where students can obtain this combination of skills better than intercollegiate debate.”

The UCA Debate and Forensics team placed third in the overall debate sweepstakes and third in the individual event sweepstakes for the first half of the tournament earlier this month at the State Line Swing Debate and Forensics Tournament on Jan. 17 in Siloam Springs, AR.

At the competition Danielle Casey and Leia Smith placed first in the team IPDA debate.

“The form of debate we do is IPDA, international public debate,” Johnson said. “Since its IPDA we use lay judges. These are people who don’t know anything about debate like college students, parents and stuff like that. We have to have these complex theories and argumentations, but we have to present them in a way that anyone can understand.”

The events are composed of two sections, the team debates and individual events such as prose, poetry, informative and persuasive speeches.

Braxton Johnson placed first in poetry interpretation and prose interpretation at the State Line Swing Debate and Forensics Tournament and Joanna Averill placed second in impromptu speaking and third in extemporaneous speaking.

The team hopes to compete in four more events this semester after the state competition. They will attend two tournaments in February before hosting their annual event in March.

After spring break they will compete in the IPDA National Championship.

“So far, our best work has been in the Junior Varsity and the Team IPDA divisions. In the three tournaments we attended last semester, we had a debater reach the final round in every tournament. And in Team IPDA, we had two debaters win the competition at John Brown last weekend. So, we have had some success, and I hope to build on that this semester.” McMullen said.

UCA will host its annual End of Hi-BEAR-Nation debate tournament in mid-March with no set date as of now.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 27, 2016 print edition of The Echo.

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