Brigham Young University’s Speech and Debate Team competed last weekend at the CSI Debate Tournament in Twin Falls, Idaho.
During the two-day tournament, 24 BYU students competed in both novice and open divisions of Parliamentary Debate.
BYU's most remarkable performances came from four rookie team members who were brand new to college debate: Kevin Moon, Dallin McKinnon, Hans Bontorno and Anna Katz. All four advanced in a field of 16 teams to the final round of debate, earning BYU second place in the novice division.
"It says a lot about the quality of students at BYU that after three weeks of practices, we can take them to competition and have them win so many rounds," said Patrick Scott, team presidency member and director of training.
In the open division, BYU also advanced a team composed of Jesse Stricklan and Brent Eliason to quarterfinals in a field of 27 teams, as well as receiving an honorable mention in extemporaneous speech for the skills of Robby Meldan.
Freshman Anna Katz remarked, "I had never done debate before, but the training I received in practice gave me the confidence I needed to do well." She and Bontorno were both competing in their first debate tournament.
The team practices twice a week to prepare for competition. "I felt somewhat intimidated going into my first tournament,” said freshman Dallin McKinnon, “but the focus the team puts on working with newcomers really helped us to debate at the college level.”
The team is managed, coached and trained by students, but fielding a debate team brings with it the challenge of traveling and the related expenses. "With such a powerful first-year contingent, the team's future is bright," says Bruce Daniel, team presidency member, "but our greatest challenge remains funding the extensive travel needed to adequately represent BYU."
Team presidency member Andrew Johnston says, "We can’t thank our sponsors enough for their support, which includes help from the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, the School of Humanities, the Honors Department and the Dean's Office of Undergraduate Education."
The BYU Speech and Debate team is an open entry program inviting students of all experience levels to participate. Practice times and other information is available at www.byudebate.com.
Writer: Lee Simons