Go With the Debate Flow

Debate Student Gives Perspective on Being a Freshman in the Program


Arguments are coming out at 350 words per minute for what seems like a century. You have to be prepared to keep up with the propaganda of imminent nuclear war and not only absorb this in your limited amount of in-round preparation, but formulate a (hopefully) coherent argument against it. This seems like a daunting task for just about anyone, but for debaters, this is a situation that we have thought about days or weeks before you have even walked into the debate room.

One of the smallest, but most successful programs, in Lindale is the debate team. With 10 on the squad at most tournaments, it is a wonder that we as a team have amassed the success that we have. The way that we have, though, is not a wonder. It takes long sessions not only after school, but late into the night to prepare for an event that we sacrifice our Saturdays for weekly. To give insight on the method to our madness, I will give sort of a set of guidelines that have pushed me to become what I admire.

Learn the fundamentals sooner rather than later – This is honestly a problem that I feel as if I have struggled with, especially during my first year. The reason  is that there are so many interesting philosophical takes on what debate is and should look like, but jumping into those immediately is comparable to trying to drive a school bus when you haven’t gotten off training wheels. Learning the fundamentals of the arguments that you will see during your career early on gives you a good framework for developing into the debater that you want to be in the future with the flashy arguments and all.

Play to your strengths and never let people discourage you from doing the activities you love.”

Listen to the members who have been doing it longer – When I was a freshman in debate, it felt like there was some sort of a hierarchy between those in my grade that I was “competing with,”and this created a disconnect between growing and being content. I wish I had asked more questions and had more conversations with the upperclassmen on the team, even if others were saying that they aren’t “the best debater.” Feeling comfortable with asking about the things that confuse you early on drastically affects the type and caliber of not only the debater, but also the person you are in the future.

Put it all in perspective – Debate is hard. Keeping this at the forefront of your mind especially through your first year is something that can really bring ease to the stressful activity. Now, knowing the difficulty of the event, you have to do something that debate teams across the nation have trouble with. You have to realize that the organization succeeds and fails as a team, not as individuals or even groups. You have to realize that this is the only team that you have, and regardless of whether or not you particularly like some of the members, you must work with them because they are what is going to help you succeed.

Keep growing and having fun – Now that you have put all of the things above into practice, it is time for the real test of skill. You must keep this going and have fun along the way. Enjoying the activity serves an important purpose because it is so easy to get burned out, especially when you hit what seems like a wall that feels like the end of the world. Find your niche in the program. Play to your strengths and never let people discourage you from doing the activities you love.