BROWNWOOD – April 16, 2015 – From Washington, D.C., to Denver, Colorado, HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team has had a winning competition circuit this spring.
HPU’s debate team received an invitation to compete in the American Enterprise Institute Capitalism and Values Tournament, held recently in Washington, D.C. The debate team of Adam Jones, junior communication and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Irving, and Braxton Clark, freshman communication and political science major from Southlake, advanced to the semifinal round in the tournament.
“I am incredibly proud of this team and their accomplishment at this tournament,” said Dr. Julie Welker, SSB coach and chair of the Department of Communication. “They competed against some of the best teams in the nation.”
Jones said that the trip to D.C. and the tournament really impacted his life.
“Being able to travel to a place so rich in history and debate about issues that matter with students who share my beliefs was a fantastic experience that I will not soon forget,” he said.
While Jones and Clark were in D.C., the rest of the team competed in the Sweetheart Swing held at Oklahoma University in Norman, Oklahoma. The team of Kaleigh Tankersley, senior communication major from Iraan, and Marcos Corley, senior criminal justice major from Corpus Christi, advanced to semifinals in this tournament.
“The OU tournament is very competitive,” said Dr. Welker. “We meet teams from all across the Midwest, one of the toughest parliamentary debate circuits in the U.S.”
Team captain Tankersley said that she always enjoys attending the OU tournament.
“We had the opportunity to compete against some great universities and put all of our hard work to the test, and we came out on top,” she said.
Dr. Welker added that she was very impressed with this team of seniors.
“They have both been on the team their entire time at HPU and their experience paid off at this tournament,” she said.
In individual speaking events at the tournament, Tankersley advanced to finals in impromptu speaking.
The team’s final tournament of the year was the National Christian College Forensics Association national tournament, held at Colorado Christian University.
The team won second place Debate Sweeps, Division II, and third place overall Individual Events Sweeps, Division III. The divisions are based on the number of entries per school.
“This year we only took four students to compete at nationals,” said Dr. Welker. “Despite our low numbers, HPU’s speech and debate team remained strong and walked away with very impressive awards. These awards show that even with a small team we are extremely competitive.”
In individual events, Braxton Clark placed second in extemporaneous speaking and fifth in impromptu speaking.
Senior Ashley Moon, communication major from Waxahachie, in her first year of competitive speech and debate, was named the National Christian College Forensics Invitational novice national champion in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) style debate. Moon also placed sixth in novice impromptu speaking.
“I invited Ashley to join the team this semester, knowing that she was an articulate speaker,” said Dr. Welker. “She has proven herself to be an outstanding speaker and debater. Winning novice national champion in IPDA debate is outstanding!”
Moon said that debating at the tournament was an amazing experience.
“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to debate and speak about religious issues because they are relevant to my life. The debates were challenging and stimulating,” she said.
Moon is the first IPDA debate national champion HPU has ever had.
Freshman Luis Rodriguez Ortiz, an English and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Brownsville, also competed on the team.
HPU speech and debate continues to expand its competitive endeavors, competing in three debate formats. They compete in the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA), which is the largest intercollegiate debate association in the United States. Member schools engage in two-on-two debate, with the resolutions or topics changing for each round of competition.
They also compete in the International Public Debate Association, which is one of the fastest-growing interscholastic debate associations in the nation. IPDA debate is one-on-one debate, in which the resolutions or topics change for each round of competition.
The team also competes in the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) style debate, also known as British parliamentary debate. The Student Speaker Bureau travels to Oxford, England, each fall to compete in the third largest debate tournament in the world.
In each style of debate, students will compete in a minimum of five to six preliminary rounds of debate. Topics range from domestic, world, political, value and fact debates.
“I can’t say enough about this group of students,” said Dr. Welker. “Intercollegiate is a highly competitive arena. Students don’t just study one issue or one topic all year – they must be well-versed in a wide scope of topics and be prepared to discuss any one of those topics with minimal preparation. They are truly an outstanding group of students.”
Photo cutline: HPU’s Student Speaker Bureau recently completed a successful season. Back row, left to right: Luis Rodriguez Ortiz, Braxton Clark, Marcos Corley and Adam Jones. Front row, left to right: Dr. Julie Welker, Ashley Moon and Kaleigh Tankersley.