Debate Competed in TFA State Tournament


photo by Kate Haas

Sophomore Kevin Bobby practices a debate on the topic of abortion.

Hawk debate competed in the Texas Forensic Association State tournament at Franklin High School in El Paso on March 5-7. The tournament featured 18 qualifiers from six different speech and debate categories including congressional debate, Lincoln Douglas debate, policy debate, oral interpretation, public forum debate and extemporaneous speaking. 

“I was really proud of everybody — state is extremely competitive,” Debate sponsor Leeann Solice said. “We go to a lot of local tournaments that have competition from all over DFW, and in order to qualify for state, kids had to consistently perform at the very top of the DFW tournaments. So, when you go to state, everyone there is a top winner in their local area, so competition for every round is really challenging.”

This state tournament does not directly advance to nationals; however, Solice said it is a great opportunity for students to further hone their skills. 

“This was a good preparation for national competition, which is even more intense,” Solice said. “At this point we have five, possibly more, kids competing at the National Speech and Debate Association national tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June, and they are competing in Lincoln Douglas debate, policy debate, humorous interpretation and we’re still waiting to hear on congressional debate.”

For students in categories such as policy debate and congressional debate — a live stimulation of congress — research on their chosen topics begin as early as a year in advance. Senior Aryana Azizi competed in congressional debate competition and has a lengthy preparation routine. 

“I just read a lot of articles on the situation that the bill is about first,” Azizi said. “From there, I try to make out whether or not this bill is going to help out the issue. Then, I think of two points either on the aff[irmative] or on the neg[ative], and from there I find at least five different sources and articles that support my argument.”

Senior Aashir Sanjrani, president of the debate organization,  competed in policy debate, which consists of a two-person team that debates on a resolution set determined at the start of the year. While TFA was the final competition of the year for some participants, others have advanced to the Tournament of Champions, which will now be taking place online due to recent outbreak of the Coronavirus. 


“Me and another team at our school have qualified for what’s called a Tournament of Champions, which is in April, and that is a national debate tournament,” Sanjrani said. “What you need to do to qualify for that tournament is get what are called two Tournament of Champion qualifying bids and we currently have two teams that have qualified for that bid.”

Debate students credit some of their success in preparation to the help of alumni who returned from college to mentor and serve as judges for competitors. The help of alumni has inspired numerous seniors to  invest in the program after graduation. 

“I not only want to judge, I also want to coach, because a lot of debate is reliant on alums coming back to help the future generations,” Sanjrani said. “I definitely want to come back and help future hawk debaters.”