After two days and eight grueling rounds of competition, the Capital debate team of Jordan Council, senior, and Erin Brown, first-year, claimed first place in the National Education Debate Association (NEDA) national competition held at Fullerton College, Calif., in March.
“Winning my senior year was a good way to finish,” said Council. “It felt as though my work over these last four years was rewarded.” Capital last won the national competition in 2011, and Council says we were overdue for a win this year.
The tournament consisted of six preliminary rounds of competition followed by the semi-finals and the finals. Council and Brown went undefeated in the preliminary rounds of debate; then they went on to defeat Ball State University, Ind., 3-0 in the semis and finally to topple Duquesne University, Penn., in the finals.
“As a first-year, this win was very surprising to me,” said Brown. “I had never done debate until this semester and figuring out how it worked was very much a trial by fire. I learned something different at every tournament I went to and was lucky enough to have coaches and teammates who knew better than me. Although difficult at times, I was able to develop my skills very quickly.”
“Coaching debate is a profound privilege and consists of working with exceptionally bright and highly motivated students to refine and improve their arguments and strategies for advocacy,”
– Dr. Stephen Koch
Dr. Stephen Koch, professor of communication at Capital, was the Capital team’s advisor and coach for the spring season. His 40-year career coaching intercollegiate debate spans program directorships at California State University Bakersfield, Miami University, Ohio University, and Capital University. It was under his leadership that the Capital Debate Team was named national champion at the 2011 National Educational Debate Association Competition.
“Coaching debate is a profound privilege and consists of working with exceptionally bright and highly motivated students to refine and improve their arguments and strategies for advocacy,” the Capital coach said. “A tremendous amount of work and commitment goes into national-level competition, but the benefits are colossal and mark out these students for unparalleled future success in any field they choose.”
The NEDA style of debate is a two-on-two system that is very similar to public forum debate. Judges for the national competition were selected at random from the Fullerton College student body to stress that anyone, regardless of background, should be able to understand the debater’s arguments.
During the tournament and the spring debate season, student argued for or against this topic: “Resolved: that the federal government should significantly increase the minimum wage.” Debaters came prepared with arguments that had been constructed through hours of research beforehand. In the final round of debate, the Capital team argued against the wage increase, with their competitors arguing in favor of it.
“It was very thought provoking and forced us to think critically in order to win, especially in the finals against the team from Duquesne. They were also undefeated. They really challenged us to put out our best work,” said Council. Despite, or because of the challenges, Council is thankful for the opportunities debate has provided.
“Debate has provided me a lot of opportunities to travel and learn about a lot of things I otherwise wouldn’t have encountered in my college career. The experiences I’ve had and the knowledge I’ve acquired will be with me for the rest of my life, so I’m eternally grateful to the activity,” he said.