Resolved: You Should Join Speech and Debate


via Daniel Fernandez

Seniors and debate champions Dominic and Harrison Scholssberg prepare for a round.

Hi, I’m Daniel Fernandez. I’m a junior on Poly Prep’s Speech and Debate Team. You may have heard of the team, but it can be hard to get a feel for what it’s about unless you try it yourself. So, I encourage everyone to try speech and debate, and I’ll advocate for why you should join the team in the way that I know best: arguing. Here are five reasons why you should join the speech and debate team.

Education Last October, the U.S. was in the middle of a heated standoff with North Korea. While President Trump and Kim Jong-Un were hurling insults at each other, Poly’s Public Forum debate team was discussing constructive ways to address the conflict with other students across the country. Speech and debate provides a unique opportunity for people our age to learn about, discuss, and prepare to confront the most pressing problems of our time. Freshman Abigail Meyer said that debate helps her “be informed on current events and gain insight on opposing sides of issues.” Junior Will Rothermel agreed, saying, “I don’t think I would ever have known this much about European economics, healthcare, or the tax system” without debate. “I’ve learned enough to confidently argue a viewpoint on all of these things.”

Valuable Life Skills Junior Ben Balser’s first tournament was the highly competitive Blake invitational in Minneapolis, MN. While he says it was stressful to be thrown into such an environment, he added, “I learned about the tremendous work ethic, the dedication, and brain power that the Poly debate team possesses.” The skills that speech and debaters gain–critical thinking, researching, public speaking– are invaluable, and carry through far after high school. Senior Ellen Gaffney said debate “has given me life-speaking and arguing skills that I will apply in college and in my future career.”

Debate is Bloodsport The heart of speech and debate is the actual round – a fast-paced, exhilarating exchange of ideas. While debate is not a physical sport, it can be every bit as intense, requiring complete focus and energy. Giving a speech incites an adrenaline rush. It’s the reason I keep coming back.

Tournament Experience Like Balser said, Blake is a difficult, competitive tournament, but, for him and many other members of the Poly debate team, it is also an incredibly fun tournament. Blake is a really special event; you sleep and debate in a massive hotel. After debating, you can partake in the Poly tradition of going to the Mall of America and watching the latest Star Wars movie.

Community What really makes the team special is the people, both who you compete with and against. Senior Sophia Lam said debate “introduced me to an amazing community.” Debaters work, travel, eat, and compete together. This creates a special bond between teammates and opponents from other schools. While some parts of tournaments can be difficult, like waking up at six for an early round, Lam said “the team always makes it a good time.” Junior Mike Licata said, “the work needed to be a Poly debater has made me a better learner and a better listener. However, the relationships I’ve developed with my fellow debaters as well as my coaches far outweigh anything else.”

If you are interested in trying speech or debate out, you can email me at [email protected], or just stop by the debate office –next to the team rooms– on Tuesdays after school, when we hold practices. We’d love to have you.