Trophies highlight debaters’ season

by Martha I. Fernandez
Features Editor

Finishing the year with another trophy to add to its rapidly growing collection, the University of La Verne Debate Squad’s first team of freshman Shannon Beets and sophomore Scott Mac Kay converted the National Debate Championship into a landmark by becoming the highest-ranked parliamentary debate team in California and the first team in ULV history to qualify into the octa (eighth round) finals in a competition of this magnitude.

The squad of six members, coached by John Osborne, marketing director for the College of Law, fared very well in their competitions, the last of which took place at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., on March 24, 25 and 26.

“Aside from the world champion­ship in Princeton, it is the toughest competition we’ve seen all year,” said Mac Kay.

The team of Beets and Mac Kay were one of the “sweet 16” teams in the octa finals. Among the schools in the round were Rice University from Texas and Creighton University from Nebraska. However, defeat came in their challenge against last year’s national champion, Regis University from Colorado.

“It feels very good [to make to the octa finals],” said Mac Kay. “It has been a goal for Bob Rivera [director of forensics] to get a national championship for the University of La Verne, and this has just proven that we are capable of winning on a national level. I think it also shows the program is growing and is getting stronger each year.”

The second team of Ed Edge, junior, and Ken Lee, senior, defeated the University of Wyoming, this year’s national champion, but failed to go into the “out rounds.”

The team of freshman Bonnie Chuen and junior Russel Bigleman also did not qualify for the “out rounds,” but did beat Texas Tech and Cal State Stanislaus.

Earlier this month, Beets and Mac Kay took first place at the Loyola Marymount University parliamentary debate tournament after defeating Stanford University.

The squad will not compete anymore this year, but the department will be active in novice competitions. It is sending four to six people from the Argumentation and Debate class to a competition at Cal State San Bernardino and the Peace Tournament at Los Angeles City College in late April.

The squad will also have a parliamentary debate exhibition at the Peace Tournament against Oregon State University to show other schools this style, which is rapidly growing in Southern California. The exhibition is not for competition credit, however.

Mac Kay said it was an honor to be chosen to demonstrate this debating style for other institutions. He and Beets took the lead the state in this style, beating all other California teams in the Oregon tournament.

“We are looking forward to the growth of parliamentary debate in Southern California,” he said.

The style originated on the east coast and is enjoying increased popularity all over the country. It is modeled after the British Parliament.

Participants debate current issues without citing evidence. It is based on the competitors’ knowledge of the issues and requires them to be aware of the daily news.

“Students don’t have to do hours of research. No one knows the topic until 15 minutes before. It is based on how good your education is that you bring into the room,” said Osborne. “Before, the National Debate Topic (N.D.T.) style was popular because evidence cards were at hand to cite and students had a chance to research.”

The squad has garnered 32 trophies in a variety of competitions throughout the year. Last year, they ended the season with a record high of 38. Although this year ended with fewer trophies to adorn the debate office, Edge and Mac Kay agree that this year was a more successful season.

“Even though we won fewer trophies, they were in the upper division competitions,“ said Edge. “I would say this year was a far more successful year.”

Mac Kay said the members of last year’s team were all first-year debaters. They never broke into nationals, and most of the trophies won were in novice competitions. The squad is no longer eligible for novice competitions due to their earned experience.

The squad hopes to continue bringing trophies back to ULV and strengthening the program with the recruitment of debaters and increased experience from the current team.

“We have four students who definitely want to come to this school for debate,” said Osborne.

“Next year, we look to a good, successful season,” said Mac Kay. “We expect to win a lot.”

Along with a stronger squad, Osborne also hopes to take two teams to the World Championships in Ireland.

“We’ve got the possibility to win national and international competition,” said Osborne. “We have that type of talent.”

But talent alone is not responsible for their success.

“Without the support of the administration our team would not have enjoyed the level of success we did,” Edge said.

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