Debate Team Takes Michigan, Lives Up To Legacy


photo courtesy of Rosie Valdez

The team started their season right with several wins all over the state and the region, as well as big tournaments in Michigan and Texas.

Tania Royster, staff writer

Alumni DJ Williams and Payton Woods made history, winning countless tournaments and achieving several goals in the debate field. Although Woods and Williams have moved on to debate in college, the two have definitely made history here. This years debaters have big shoes to fill and have already begun their journey to success. Debate teacher and coach, Rosie Valdez has great expectations for this year’s new and returning debaters.

“LRCH Tiger Debate team hopes to continue to enjoy success with both our returning varsity debaters and our brand new classes of novice debaters,” Valdez said.

This year, in place of DJ and Payton, senior Matthew Cole and his partner junior Chloe Cunningham, as well as the sibling duo junior Juliette and senior Christina Jung. These two teams have high goals and plan on making waves.

“Debate helps me realize that I have a voice, and that I can use it to create change,” Juliette said.

In late October, the debate team traveled to Michigan seeking further victory. Although some of the varsity debaters didn’t do as well as they hoped, novice debaters advanced to semifinals in the tournament. Junior Snow Perrin and her partner freshman Caroline Carlisle, made it to semi-finals in the competition.

“The trip was kind of stressful, but I was excited that we made it so far,” Snow said. “I think we did well because we learned how to work together.”

The Wake Forest National Invitational held in Winston-Salem was their first challenge of the year. Juliette and Christina received votes as one of the top 25 debate partnerships in the country on the national Coaches’ Poll, and both teams advanced to elimination debates.

“DJ and Payton definitely left us with big shoes to fill. They are also role models to me in that they were such great figures to debate,” Juliette said “As a goal this year I want to get two bids to go to the National Debate Tournament.”

“Just like in any other activity, I do debate to have fun,” Matt said “But I also want to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, and although it’s pretty difficult, I think we can do it.”

This year the team welcomes 60 new novice debaters to the program. These debaters have already had a feel for the team and the competitions. Although they are only just beginning their debate journey, they have already won numerous trophies at the R. David Ray Invitational in September.

“The novice debaters are brilliant and eager, and will certainly contribute to Central’s long legacy of excellence in debate,” Valdez said.

Along with the Wake Forest National Invitational, the team has already had victories at another national tournament this year, the Grapevine National Invitational in Texas. The team plans on doing more traveling for tournaments such as the University of Michigan Invitational, Kansas City Community College Invitational and many more all before the end of 2016.

“Debate provides a unique opportunity to travel and go to different places and also allows me to connect with people besides Arkansans,” Matt said.

This year the debate team plans on taking on the topic of diplomatic and economic engagement with China. The team works with different perspectives of the topic: novice debaters look at arguments that are problems for the aggressive containment policies with China, while varsity teams look at it from a more ideological and philosophical approach.