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Home > Debaters Launch Season With Long-Range Hopes

Debaters Launch Season With Long-Range Hopes

September 28th, 2009

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Senior Tim Snyder presents an argument

On the desk of Dr. James Tallmon, PHC’s Director of Debate, lie ten manila folders—one each for the students who are serving this year as debate team leaders. He picks one up and gestures with it.

“Each of these students set personal goals,” he says, “and a significant number made it their goal to reach peak personal performance at Christian Nationals in March.”

Thus, although they have only completed one tournament as of yet, the team is already looking to the end of the year. The “Christian Nationals” tournament regularly welcomes 27-28 Christian colleges from across the country and contains divisions for many of the debate styles with which PHC is familiar. Last year, the College won second place for “sweepstakes,” or overall performance, and nabbed first place for policy NFA (senior David Kurashige), among other individual triumphs. At the time, the team vowed to aim for first place sweepstakes this next year.

“This year, Christian Nationals is in Cedarville, Ohio, which is practically our backyard,” says Tallmon. “We’ll be able to send more people, and we have more time to prep, so we feel confident that we’ll make a strong showing.”

 Meanwhile, the first tournament in Kentucky proved a fertile testing ground for PHC debaters, just as Tallmon expected. It provided competition in both NFA and Parli categories with some of the College’s favorite friendly antagonists, such as Cedarville and Hillsdale—giving PHC, as Tallmon called it, a “baptism by fire.” As such, sophomore Ardee Coolidge won second place in the novice NFA division, and the team of senior Tim Snyder and sophomore Joanna Griffith broke to Parli quarterfinals. Several students also won speaker awards.

Over the past years, PHC has built an impressive record of success in debate and moot court. Each award, however, stems only from hours of prayer, sacrifice, and sweat on the part of both individual competitors and their dedicated coaches, such as Executive Debate Coach Isaiah McPeak. Sophomore Alan Carrillo, who won second place in the Parli division at Christian Nationals last year with sophomore Gregory Escobar and who is serving as press liaison and as a Parli coach this year, counts this leadership experience invaluable for life.

“Debate’s not about me, but about the team and about communicating truth to those around me,” he emphasizes. “As a leader, I am held to a higher standard. It helps build accountability and commitment.”

Tallmon hopes that his team’s three-hour weekly meetings, methodical coaching structure, and long-range focus will result in a fruitful year.

“Talent-wise, a lot of things are falling into place,” he says.