Tech debate takes third in southern states

February 7, 2013


Staff Reporter


As far back as the 1930s, the Tech debate team has been competing and succeeding, and this success continued in the Southern Forensics Classic tournament on Jan. 25-27 in Shreveport.


Shane Puckett, director of debate, said he was very proud of his team.


“They did really well,” he said. “They took home third place overall.”


The competition was an annual tri-state tournament, Puckett said. Schools from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi competed against each other to win the tournament, but individuals within their own states compete against each other for their own state championships. This year there were also schools there from Tennessee and Texas, he added.


There are two types of debate: team and individual, and the Tech team competed in both, he said. Outside of taking home third overall, they were successful individually as well, he added.


Partners Trey Avant, a senior political science and sociology double major, and Samuel Hathorn, a freshman nursing major, were quarterfinalists overall and the Louisiana state champs in team International Public Debate Association (IPDA). Baker Weilert, a freshman architecture major, was Louisiana state champion speaker and second place in varsity IPDA. Hannah Schilling, a sophomore political science and journalism double major, was an octofinalist, and partners Avant and Weilert were semifinalists.


“To win this competition is almost synonymous with a southern states championship,” Puckett said. “If you saw this as a southern states tournament, we’re the third top-ranked team in the south.”


Hathorn said the two styles of debate, IPDA and worlds, are pretty straightforward.


“You talk about the same way you would if you were having a discussion with a best friend,” he said. “We’re known as the every man’s debate.”


As a first year member and only one of two freshmen, Hathorn said he is enjoying being on the team and competing.


“Everybody is really tight friends,” he said. “The group welcomed me pretty thoroughly and we all hang out with each other. We’re a solid little group.”


He said joining the team introduced him to a clique of friends and it opened his eyes to new experiences.


“One of the best things is getting to travel with 10 of my best friends,” Hathorn said.


Outside of being a close-knit group, the team is very dedicated as well, he added.


He said they have two-hour practices every Tuesday and Thursday.


Avant said being on the team is beneficial in many ways.


“The purpose of the debate team is to learn the skills of persuasive speaking and logical analysis,” he said. “We debate on topics ranging from politics, philosophy, business, sports and even science.”


He said one of the greatest things about the team is that every student has a different major.


“We have members in nursing, political science, journalism and engineering,” Avant said.


Puckett said typically, debate team members are liberal arts students, so the diversity makes Tech’s team unique. He said it almost gives them an advantage because it provides a variety of perspectives and allows for a stronger debate.


Avant said he has been a member for two years and has gotten many advantages out of it.


“I have improved my public speaking by leaps and bounds,” he said. “I have learned how to really look at things from different perspectives by debating both sides of certain issues.”


Avant said debate has equipped him with the necessary skills to go to law school, which he plans to do.


The debate team’s plan is to carry their success from this past weekend into their upcoming competitions, he said.


“The team will be attending the national championships which will be held in Arkansas in March,” he said. “The team will also go to Purdue University in Indiana to debate during that month.”


Avant and Hathorn both said they would encourage students to join the team.


“I have made lifelong friendships and learned so much,” Avant said. “It is one of the best things I have done at Tech.”


Email comments to kjk016@latech.edu.


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