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Tiny but Mighty: MWSU Debate Team heads to National Championship

The Griffon debate team, while only consisting of four members, will soon be on its way to the national debate championship, as they attend the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, March 20-22, at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.

The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence is recognized as one of the most prestigious debate competitions in the nation by exclusively inviting schools ranked in the nation’s top 100 debate programs. The MWSU team is currently ranked 16th in the nation.

With only three semesters as a team co-captain, Christopher Miles is proud to have ranked so highly and hopes the team will continue to push for a national title.

“Reaching goals of the top 16 is something that can be done consistently: our main goal is to win the national championship, which could be a reality within the next five to six years as the program gets more established,” Miles said.

While the possibilities for a national title are becoming more realistic for the team, the debaters remain humble and focused on the task at hand. Sophomore Matthew Glover views his participation with the debate team as a way to better understand opposing viewpoints on hot topics.

“Debate helps me understand and empathize with other people. It helps me understand critical issues that most people would probably otherwise neglect and helps me see things through another person’s point of view, to see all sides of the conflict,” Glover said.

Co-captain Michael Smith plans to use his debating experience with the MWSU team to fine tune his researching skills.

“[Debate] teaches you a lot of different communication skills and gives you a broad knowledge of different subjects. [Debating] creates more knowledgeable people, by requiring you to read about things going on in the world. The research skills it gives you are needed in a lot of different fields. I plan on going to law school after I graduate here and I think the research skills I’ve learned will help me tremendously, with anything from research papers to case studies,” Smith said. “You never stop researching. Something could happen the day of competition and if it pertains to your topic you are expected to be knowledgeable about it.”

With countless hours of researching and practice, a skilled coach is often the guide for a successful debate team. Unfortunately, the debate team is currently in search of a new coach, after former coaches Sohail Jouya and Abi Richardson unexpectedly resigned at the conclusion of the last term.

“We didn’t get a lot of information from administration about it, so right now we are in flux about it and are currently looking for a new coach,” Smith said.

Currently the debate adviser is Stephanie Schartel Dunn, with interviews to fill the coaching position scheduled for late spring at the conclusion of the debate season.

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