Debate at PHC presents students with great opportunities for personal growth. Students not only learn invaluable lessons, but are stretched to apply those lessons in a secular and political context - often the very context that students will enter after graduation. In the words of assistant coach Joanna Griffith, "PHC debate has given me the opportunity to hone my communication skills in a secular context at tournaments. Because collegiate debate is very much a team-oriented activity, competing at a tournament brings the opportunity and responsibility to represent PHC, Christianity, and, most importantly, Christ. I have appreciated competing against high-caliber competitors and being challenged to further my research and argumentation skills in the collegiate forensics environment."
Students also benefit from the intense academic focus of collegiate-level debate and walk into the world more prepared to be effective leaders. PHC expects its debaters to develop a broad knowledge of law and current events, effective research skills, the ability to form convincing arguments, and eloquence. These skills and the character built through pursuing excellence in debate are useful, not only to those aspiring to politics or law, but to all who live by their wits. Alumna Leeann Walker, currently employed in Washington D.C., stated "My involvement in the debate team did more to hone my analytical skills and ability to look at a policy issue from every possible angle than anything else."
Because of its unique position as a student-led activity, PHC debate has particularly thrived and been attractive to those hoping to gain new leadership experience in a team environment. Debate leaders have always required high character on campus to advance in leadership on the teams.
Debaters at PHC have been some of the best leaders on campus and some of the most successful graduates. The debate teams served as an outlet for these students’ ingenuity, innovation, and initiative.
Please consider supporting the PHC debate team. Below are some of our needs.
Many of PHC’s best debaters would not have been able to attend Patrick Henry College without the generous gifts of donors who provided their scholarships. These champion debaters, including Kawika Vellalos, Kaalo Kamakawiwoole, Isaiah McPeak, and Nick Timpe, have been some of PHC’s best leaders and show tremendous potential as future culture shapers. At this time, we are in great need of your donations in order to continue investing in these talented young people.
Our most expensive and exclusive trips are ones that require flight. American debate culture is centered in the West and Midwest. As East Coasters, we can only attend a couple of the most competitive tournaments each year. In 2009 we were not able to send all the students who qualified to nationals because airfare was too expensive.
PHC drives to tournaments within 22 hours of home. Presently, the campus has only two fifteen-passenger vans. Often, we are cramped and must take fewer people because of lack of luggage space or conflicts with other PHC van users. A vehicle dedicated specifically to the PHC Forensics teams would save a lot of money and allow us to bring more people to tournaments.
We can always use more funds for tournament participation. Currently, we are unable to send to tournaments as many of our students as we otherwise could. This affects our practice and performance as well as the extent to which we can engage the academic debate culture. Since the NFA team does not turn down students who wish to participate, we often end up sending debaters to only one and possibly two tournaments each semester, and take fewer people than we should to each of those tournaments. Ideally, debaters should be able to attend 3-4 tournaments each semester to be effective in the debate leagues.