The clock is winding down. Five minutes . . . four minutes. Time is running out and beads of sweat have gathered on your forehead. With a minute left, your opponent is mumbling something about Obama and the economy. Your heart is racing, and the pressure is on. Whoever said debating was easy must have never shaken behind a podium.
The Vanguard debate team has gained a reputation for knowing how to win with words. The forensics team, as they are also known, seeks to increase education through the pursuit of truth.
They try to portray this, along with their Christian values, in every word they utter.
The team has been around for more than 20 years, and Dr. Tom Carmody, the Communication Department Chair, was the coach when Dr. Ted Lorance and Dr. Tara Sirvent were both members of the team.
Each week, the team prepares for tournaments by researching economic issues from health care to poverty, international policies to the California Governor’s race.
The two captains of the team are seniors Brianna Nishie and Jeremy Smith. Nishie has been on the team for four years now.
“Being on the debate team has been an awesome experience. I love being a captain. It’s shown me some leadership qualities that I didn’t think I had,” Nishie said.
The team members total 16 and are on the road to being nationally ranked again. This year, they are “nose to the grindstone” dedicated to accomplishing that goal.
“I’m really excited about the team this year. There’s a lot of great potential, from our experienced seniors to our skilled novices,” sophomore Michael O’Connor said.
In addition to regular debate, the team also competes in two other activities. “Impromptu” is where the members have two minutes to prepare a five-minute speech, and “Extemporaneous” is where the members are given extra prep time: 30 minutes for a seven-minute speech.
Last year, the team debated against teams from big schools such as UCLA, San Diego State University, and Cal State Long Beach.
The new team has already participated in their first tournament of the year on Oct. 1-2 against Whittier College. Four students received awards: Junior Joe Henson and senior Lauren Francis received an Excellent Award in Open Debate, and junior Torrie Fry and sophomore Tatianna Huckstep also received an Excellent Award in Novice Debate.
Karen Nishie has coached and been the Director of Debate for eight years.
“Coaching debate is very rewarding because it teaches students skills that they will use in every facet of their life for the rest of their lives,” Nishie said.
However, it’s not just all the students’ doing. It seems their coach has had a great influence on the members.
“Karen is an awesome coach – she challenges us to think critically and to not just debate, but to develop who we are through words,” O’Connor said.
There is clearly a lot of potential and energy in the team this year as they prepare for what’s to come.
The debate team is always looking for more people to join. If you are interested or have any more questions, contact Karen Nishie at [email protected]