WSU debate team ends year with championship

(Source: Omar Guevara)

The Weber State University debate team celebrated its 90-year anniversary with a bang, winning first place in the Cross Examination Debate Association’s National Tournament WEST Conference for the third year in a row.

The Cross Examination Debate Association, in cooperation with both the Nation Debate Tournament Committee and the American Debate Association, help to organize and host events across the United States.

The 68th annual National Debate Tournament was held at Indiana University during the weekend of March 28-30. Teams eligible to participate are specially selected for the tournament.

“After hosting the National Debate Tournament last year, it helped to get me and my students pumped about getting ready for this year,” said Omar Guevara, coach of the debate team and director of forensics in communications at WSU. “What was even better is that we had two freshman students  attend the event with us — this was a first time ever for us.”

Every year, over 600 teams from different schools and states compete, but only 80 qualify to go to the National Debate Tournament.

Last time WSU’s debate team won the right to attend the tournament was in 2010, and Guevara said it was a major accomplishment for the team.

“I was extremely excited to go,” said Misty Tippets, civic advocacy freshman. “This was a first-time event for me, and being able to represent Weber State was a huge honor for me.”

Students on the debate team said a good reason why their peers might want to join the debate team is because debating is an educational activity that helps students to think quickly and learn how to speak their minds, or apply what they’ve learned in their studies.

“We’re still a really young team, but I know we’re doing really well, being dedicated to winning,” Tippets said. “I can’t wait to go back to the tournament and win some more debates.”

The debate team does not have restrictions on participants’ majors. Guevara said most of the students are from different fields, which brings diversity to the team.

Ryan Cheek, director of the debate team and assistant director of forensics, said being on the team helps students strengthen their skills in many ways.

“The debate team is one of the most excellent teams and best organizations that any college can support,” Cheek said. “It helps students to develop public speaking, critical thinking, researching, team working, on top of other skills that any student could need when entering the job market in the real world.”

Cheek added that he loves to take part in working with the debate team by helping teach and improve students’ understanding of communications, also helping them speak up for what they believe in. More than anything, he said, he wants the students to use what they learn to not only help them in their own endeavors, but to help educate and inform others as well.

“Of the debates we took part in, we won two of the six of them,” Guevara said. “While we ranked low, about 60th in a field of 80, I think we did a great job this year, and honestly, I’m looking forward to the next one.”

For now, the debate team is in the offseason. Its season officially ended with the National Debate Tournament. At this time, the debate team is helping to host the National Championship Debate Tournament for the East Coast. Following that, the team plans to host a summer debate camp, open to the community, to aid any future students wanting to join a debate team at a high school or college competition.