Debate to compete in Tournament for Champions

Senior Andrew Nguyen and junior Sunil Krish are competing in the debate Tournament for Champions from April 27 to May 1 at the University of Kentucky. This is the first time in LISD history for Policy Debate to qualify for the Tournament of Champions (TOC).

“TOC [is] the tournament for the kind of debate field we are in,” debate coach Cameron Vaziri said. “Debate has multiple leagues and Tournament of Champions is by far the most competitive and most difficult one in the country.”

There are 76 teams going to TOC this year from multiple schools throughout the country. Vaziri found out about debate’s acceptance into TOC through a Facebook post, and he said he was dumbstruck when he saw it. In order to qualify for the tournament, the team has to get two bids (qualifying points). They got an at-large bid to allow them to go.

“When we got the first bid, I just thought ‘oh cool, we got a bid’ and [was just wondering] if it was a fluke and how it happened,” Vaziri said. “Throughout the year, we improved so much that I realized it wasn’t a fluke and that we deserved it. We had our last TOC qualifying tournament and we didn’t get the second bid. [We entered the] ‘at-large’ process to apply to get the second bid and I didn’t imagine us to get it because of the number of teams applying.”

Many schools competing in the TOC are at the ‘legacy’ level, meaning they have had more than five or six years of high-level experience in their debate programs. Debate Coach Leeann Solice said that because the debate program is newer compared to other ‘legacy’ teams, the support from the administration and principal Scot Finch has helped them gain momentum for ‘legacy’ building.

“The [students] have a fantastic work ethic and you can see the trajectory they were on [from the beginning of their debate career],” Solice said. “It was proven with this accomplishment. Another thing that’s exciting about this is that, this is a tournament that’s usually accomplished by extremely affluent private schools who have students that are privileged.”

The competitors have prepared through fine-tuning their skills rather than getting ready just for this tournament itself. Reviewing challenging debate competitions of the past, attending summer camps for debate and keeping notes on other teams are few of the things they do to prepare. They consulted with college debaters from Baylor to see what everybody predicts will be the topics of the tournaments. Other students on the debate team are assigned particular assignments to help Nguyen and Krish in preparing for TOC.

“Practice debates allow you to make hypothetical situations for actual debates,” Krish said. “When you go into the real thing, you won’t feel nervous and it helps you refine your arguments, so that you know what you’re going to say at least to a certain extent.”

Because Nguyen is reaching the end of his career, he said he wants to put everything he learned in his four years of debate into this tournament.

“I don’t want to achieve a specific win to loss ratio or beating any specific team,” Nguyen said. “I want to achieve a feeling of satisfaction after the tournament’s over so that I have no regrets for my debate career.”

Provided by Debate Coach Leeann Solice
Junior Sunil Krish and Senior Andrew Nguyen stand for a picture with Debate Coach Cameron Vaziri and Hebron Debate alum Shaman Makani in front of the University of Kentucky.