This semester the HWS Debate Team welcomed in a robust class of 14 novice debaters, defined as those in their first year of collegiate debate. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the team met three times a week and used social distancing classroom learning as well as online practice schedules to learn the ropes and prepare for an active year of online competition.
The novices started strong by winning their division in the first tournament of the season, Novice Regional Championships 2020 hosted by McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The tournament had almost 70 teams from 10 universities. The winning HWS team, comprised of Maya Ratner ’24 and Christi Ashenden ’24, were named the champions of the Rookie Division after five preliminary rounds and two elimination rounds. A team is considered to have rookie status if they do not have high school debate experience. The pair continued their success at the Huber Debates hosted by the University of Vermont where they broke fifth-seed and advanced to finals.
In addition to winning the season opener, the HWS team of Brendon Bennet ’23 and Jesse Whalen-Small ’24 made it to the semi-finals at the Hart House University IV. Hart House is one of the most prestigious tournaments in North America, with almost 200 teams from dozens of universities in Canada and the U.S. This is the first time HWS has broken a team into the novice category at Hart House and shows much promise for the pair.
In addition to being ranked as a team, debaters are recognized individually as speakers. At the Huber Debates, Eden LaRonde ’24 was recognized for her speaking abilities as the 10th best rookie speaker at the tournament. This was LaRonde’s third tournament with the team.
With half the season over and winter break in the horizon, the team plans to use the off time to research and run drills so they can continue their success next semester.