GBS Debate begins preparation for Nationals

Corinne Shaw, staff reporter

South seniors Vignes Alla, Michael Callahan, Brian Roche, and Doug Stryker will participate in the National Debate and Speech Tournament to be held June 12 through June 17 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

GBS placed third in 2012, second in 2013, first in 2014, and had the sixth best individual debater in 2015. According to Jon Voss, debate program director, the two teams that will be taking part in this tournament are Callahan paired with Alla and Stryker paired with Roche.

“What makes this year difficult—like every other year—is that to win [the tournament], or to even get close to winning, [our debaters] have to be able to beat the best debaters from across the country,” Voss said.

According to Stryker, a crucial element for securing a high ranking at Nationals comes down to alterations in the overall style of debating.

“The way that we do policy debate has evolved to the point where people speak really quickly during rounds,” Stryker said. “At this tournament you speak slowly, you place a lot of emphasis on the way you present arguments and the merits of the arguments.”

There are other differences in regards to Nationals that could affect how well the teams place, according to Callahan.

“The hardest part [of nationals] will be overcoming the [different judges] compared to other tournaments,” Stryker said.

According to Callahan, the different judges also affects how persuasive the debaters have to be.

Stryker said, “Generally, this isn’t the case in every single round but judging [at Nationals] is [done] more [by] people who don’t have the trained ear for [the] fast talking [we usually use. The judges] are more reasonable, so [we have to explain] arguments more than we would normally have to.”

Stryker also said that there is a decrease in the amount of preparation that will be needed for Nationals.

“The fact that [the tournament] is not fast talking means that the sheer volume of preparation that we have to do isn’t quite as much as what we would have to do for other tournaments,” Stryker said. “Instead of having a huge number of arguments to make in a debate, [we] just [need] one or two really good pieces of evidence.”

According to Callahan, not all of the preparations needed will fall solely on the participants of the tournament.

“We all collaborate and research [a] topic together so that we all know what we have to do and [so that] we cooperate [with each other] in order to get our research done,” Callahan said. “We set goals and achieve those goals.”

According to Callahan, he had known that this group of debaters had been strong since freshman year.

“[When I was a freshman,] I kind of had an idea that we would do well when we were older but I never thought that we would get to Nationals,” Callahan said.

According to Voss, the National Tournament is a big deal not only because it includes debaters from around the country, but also because it is the last high school debate tournament that the seniors at South will get to participate in.

“My best friends are in debate,” Callahan said. “I’ve worked with [my friends] for four years, with my coach for four years and it will be kind of sad to be at the final tournament. I think I will take away a great conclusion to four years of debate [through Nationals].”