Debate team excels
The 2013 National Parliamentary Debate Association tournament held at the University of the Pacific saw Los Medanos College bring home a second place trophy amongst all community colleges that participated. They also ended the debate season ranked number 15 overall among community colleges in season-long sweeps and 62 out of 188 total institutions that do parliamentary debate in the United States.
The tournament is structured much like the NCAA basketball bracket, the first eight rounds seed the bracket, and afterward it is all single eliminations. LMC took five teams of two to the tournament, including a hybrid pairing that featured Aeriel Silva from Contra Costa College and Denzel King of LMC. There were five debates each day that lasted 42 minutes, with about a 30-minute preparation session prior. The participants could only use notes they prepared during that half-an-hour prep time when debating.
Kasey Gardner, second year debate team coach and nine year debate veteran said his experience leading the team was great. “We have a good number of sharp individuals on the team and it’s a real treat to get to watch them develop as debaters as they discover their perspective on issues and learn how to interact with other students.”
Gardner, due to his obligations of being a coach, had to judge other debates going on and did not get to see how his squad did first hand but did hear from others about how they did. “I was really impressed with our students ability to keep up with the juniors and seniors from the four-year universities they were competing against.” He added, “It’s tough. These are people who have finished all their major work and have had more years of education and we have to go in there and play them at their own game. I really admire our students being able to hang in there in that environment.”
One of the LMC debaters, Miguel Mauricio, created a bit of a funny buzz around the tournament. He was questioning a judge’s controversial decision that proved to gain attention among the debaters.
His cousin, Lupe Mauricio, was also one of the debaters on the team. He said that the experience he got from participating in the NPDA tournament was “an opportunity of a lifetime.” He added, “I never thought my debate skills would reach that level of competition and do well representing my school to ultimately bring home a second place community college trophy.”
In the eight preliminary rounds of the tournament, LMC won eight decisions as decided by the judge’s.
Some of the topics debated in the wins included the United Nations banning the non-wartime use of weaponized drones against sovereign nations in round 3, the United States possible repeal of the Helms-Burton act in round 6, and the United States federal government needing to increase the ability to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy in round 8.
Brianna Klipp, who won a debate in round 7 with Miguel Mauricio about the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, said, “I wouldn’t have traded my last weekend of spring break for anything else. The whole time, we were on our toes and ready to own whichever topic was given to us. It’s exhausting, and your brain hurts by the end of each day, but the adrenaline rush makes it incredibly worth it and I consider the team an extended family now.”
Despite their success, Gardner said that there is always room for improvement.
“There are a lot of practical things we can improve on as far as our debating skills go such as our use of structure and our steps of refuting,” said Gardner. “We can do a lot better job at being aware of current events. Sometimes we get surprised at some of the topics that we might not know a lot about, and we can fix that by being more aggressive keeping on top of reading about current events.”
The LMC Debate Team will have a debate entitled “Security vs. Access, The Future of Guns in America” Wednesday April 10, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Pittsburg City Hall.
For any questions, contact the debate coach Kasey Gardner at Kgardner@losmedanos.edu or by phone at 439-2181 ext. 3689.