UW Debate Novices Win Tournament

First-year University of Washington Debate Union competitors Victoria Braun and Avery Strong started their year with a bang, winning the novice division of the Kathryn Classic Debate Tournament at California State University-Fullerton this past weekend. In the process, they have may started a tradition. This is the second time in a row the UW Debate Union won the novice division of the tournament, which is held every other year.

Braun (senior, Communication) and Strand (sophomore, Communication) won the tournament by defeating teams from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in both the semi-finals and the finals of the tournament, both on 3-0 decisions. Prior to the semi-finals, the team had earned four wins and two losses in a preliminary competition. Strand was also named the third-place individual speaker for the novice division of the tournament.

The novice division is for competitors in their first year of debate competition.

Program director Dr. Michael Souders said the tournament was the result of resiliency on the part of the competitors, “Avery and Victoria had previously competed at a tournament last semester and, although judges thought they debated well, their record didn’t reflect their abilities; it’s hard in your first competition.” This time, Souders says, it was different. “They’ve practiced hard. They’ve probably had more practice debates than any novice team I’ve ever had. It paid off. It takes resiliency to go from losing 75% of your debates in competition to winning 75% of them the next time.”

Braun remarked that it was particularly satisfying because they had split their preliminary round debates against the UNLV team they faced in finals. “We really wanted to win because we had faced them twice already and we just wanted to show we could beat them again.”

UW fielded five other teams at the competition, three in the varsity division and two other novice division team. Kioko Soneda (freshman, undeclared), Shelby Carroll (freshman, undeclared) and Dan Metz (senior, Biology and English) all made their debut for UW in the novice division. Despite none achieving a winning record, Souders was optimistic about their futures: “I push competitors hard to get out to a competition. To understand how a debate competition works, you have to go out and do it. Then you can improve. Avery and Victoria are an example of that.”

The Debate Union is a program of the Department of Communication at the University of Washington dedicated to providing a forum for civic dialogue in the community and promoting intercollegiate debate competition. For more information, contact Dr. Michael Souders at souders@uw.edu.