Missouri Western’s debate team has racked up several impressive victories in order to be No. 31 in the country.
The Speech and Debate program, which is co-directed by Sohail Jouya and Abi Richardson, is only in its second year of existence after being defunct for over a decade, and is proving that it is back in a big way.
“We are crushing teams that are a lot more prestigious than we are,” said Jouya, who has a history of competing in debate at Oxford University.
The program has beaten schools such as Washburn, William Jewell, Texas Tech, Cal-Berkeley, Oregon and Oklahoma City. Recently, they competed at the University of Central Missouri and placed 3rd in Overall Debate Sweepstakes among 28 colleges and universities from across the nation.
The top team in the program, which is comprised of sophomores Mike Smith and Chris Miles, is currently ranked No. 16 in the United States.
“Being such a young program we have something to prove, and we debate with a chip on our shoulder,” Miles said. “Being the underdogs is kind of a good position to be in.”
Miles, who has been debating for seven years and is an assistant coach at Fort Osage High School, believes that the experience of his coaches and the amount of research that he and his fellow debaters do has made the program as strong as it is.
“By the time someone will finish their debate career they would have done more research per year than it would take to do a Master’s dissertation,” Miles said.
Miles expects the school to do at least this well next year, and expects to be ranked in the top 10 with his partner Mike Smith.
This weekend, on Friday, Nov. 14 and Saturday, Nov. 15, Western will be hosting the Golden Griffon Invitational. This will be the first time since 1987 that Western has hosted a debate tournament.
Jouya estimates that there will be 300 to 400 high school students competing on campus. These students are coming from 23 different schools from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
The Speech and Debate program plans on using this tournament as a way to recruit students for the university by showing them the academic side of Western.
“We are the academic face of the university,” Jouya said. “We plan on recruiting students for Missouri Western as a whole.”
The program is currently looking for students, faculty and alumni to volunteer to judge the tournament. Sign up sheets and information for judging can be found on Western’s Speech and Debate website, as well as the Speech and Debate team’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.