Speech and Debate to Kick Off Season at Grapevine Tournament

Yoonsoo (Seth) Choi, New Editor

The Speech and Debate team will kick off their season at the Grapevine Tournament today. The previous tournament, Foster scheduled for August 29th and 29th, was canceled due to Hurricane Laura. 

“We didn’t know if Hurricane Laura was going to make landfall near Houston,” Debate Captain Pierce George said. “It was a Category 4, so I’m glad they did cancel just out of an abundance of caution, but I was disappointed. It’s been a while since any of us have debated in a tournament because our last one was in February, but I am really excited to get back into the swing of things. I think we’re going to do really well.” 

The Speech and Debate team has traveled to Dallas in the past to compete at the Grapevine Tournament, but this year,  the tournament will be online. To prepare, the students have been practicing on Discord and Zoom.

“On camera, it’s probably hard to see them doing their hand motions or how they are standing,” Speech Captain Sharon Rong said. “Those things are important to speech. And I feel like that’s a challenge. Practices are easier because instead of in person,  where you have to meet at a certain time, I could communicate with novices and have them practice with me whenever they have time. It’s more flexible.” 

Most students on the debate team do Public Forum Debate, which is a partner debating event. They have been researching and debating the topic, whether the United States federal government should enact the Medicare-For-All Act of 2019, to prepare for the Grapevine tournament. 

“The topic Medicare-For-All is super interesting,” George said. “And I think it’s super relevant to right now in our political climate and in our health care climate especially. Online tournaments are going to be difficult, because none of us have experienced that.” 

Normally, the Speech and Debate team travels to the school that hosts the tournament, and the tournament finishes at around midnight. 

“It is nice to not worry about coming home at one o’clock or two o’clock in the morning and then waking up at six o’clock in the morning just to go back to the tournament,” George said. “And I also think it’s nice that there’s no travel. We don’t have to risk students driving to the tournament on their own and don’t have to pay for buses.”

This year, the Speech and Debate team started their year with a financial advantage, so they were able to lower their membership fee from $200 to $100.

“We know people might be struggling financially,” Rong said. “We don’t really want to ask much of people. We really haven’t been thinking about fundraisers because we got an increase in our budget this year.”

The Speech and Debate team had Chick-fil-A and donut fundraisers last school year. However, this year, it is focusing more on recruiting.

“I want to be able to make sure that the novices in speech are definitely up to date and treated well,” Rong said. “I know when I became captain my goal was to ensure that novices know what they are doing and are being paid attention to because they’re the future of our club.” 

The Debate team is hoping to recruit more Public Forum debaters but also expand into other debate events such as Lincoln Douglas Debate, which is a one on one debating event and Congressional Debate, which is a simulation of the US Congress.  

“I want to make debate more inclusive,” Pierce said. “I think it’s important to explore other events because right now we are a very PF (Public Forum) centered team and I think it’s important to introduce new events. We do have one LDer (Lincoln Douglas Debater) and someone in Congress. 

George also hopes to cooperate more with the Speech team because in the past there have been rivalries between the Speech and Debate teams.

“Symbolically, I think it’s important to say speech and debate on everything we do,” George said. “I also think it’s important that we tell all novices that yes, we do usually recommend choosing speech or debate, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with it for all four years, and it also doesn’t mean that you can’t do both. It’s not just the speech team, and it’s not just the debate team. It’s one unified team.”