JACKSON, Tenn. – April 25, 2011 – For the second year in a row, Union University’s debate team won the International Public Debate Association National Championship Tournament, held in April at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.
After a weekend of competing against students from other schools in the varsity, novice and professional divisions, Union was tied with Louisiana State University at Shreveport. It took two tie-breakers for Union to finally claim the victory.
IPDA is one of many debate organizations in which colleges and universities compete.
The team also won the season-long Varsity, Novice and Scholastic division sweepstakes, which are awarded to students based on their records from all the tournaments in one season.
“The novices brought fresh energy and new perspectives to the team,” debate team coach Web Drake said. “The varsity continued to thrive.”
Drake also said the students competing in the professional division, in which debate coaches and graduate students are also allowed to compete, were willing to take on a challenge for the team.
Alison Holcomb, a freshman who was president of her high school debate team before joining Union’s team, was a semifinalist — one of the top four of more than 60 debaters in the varsity division at the tournament.
Holcomb said that though she had competed at national tournaments before with her high school, it was different with Union’s team.
“I know that without the support of my team I could have never made it as far as I did,” Holcomb said. “I have also learned that it is so important to really look to glorify God in all circumstances. After watching the leadership on my team, I can see how many opportunities we have to do this. We just have to take them.”
Drake helped to create the debate team, which just completed its third season. The students on the team learn critical thinking and quick decision-making skills, and a thorough knowledge of contemporary issues, he said.
“They are all so gifted, so intelligent,” he said.