Taking debate: Team goes to top

By James Stockton

Another of Baylor’s teams is national championship tournament bound, but unlike the Lady Bears basketball team, this team is flying under the radar.

The Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum posted a 6-2 record at the District 3 tournament at Wichita State University, clinching a trip to Dallas to compete in the national debate tournament.

Similar to the Lady Bears, the Baylor debate team consists of a young squad.

“I’ll put it this way, three of our top four debaters are returning next year, and only one had experience in the district tournament,” said Dr. Matthew G. Gerber, assistant professor of communication and director of the Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum.

But youth has not stopped the debaters from reaching a tournament. Baylor has won three times in the past, with championships in 1975, 1987 and 1989. Baylor has also reached the final four an additional nine times.

John Cook, a junior international studies major from Olathe, Kan., is the only debater with experience in the district tournament, having won it last season with his then partner Alex McVey.

“Winning last year made it easier to focus on debates that were going on and not on qualifying,” Cook said.

Along with his partner Omaha, Neb., junior Ashley Morgan, Cook placed fourth overall in the District 3 tournament with wins over Kansas State University, the University of Texas at Dallas, Emporia State University and Wichita State University.

In addition to the Cook-Morgan team, Baylor is sending a second team to the national tournament later this month. Olathe, Kan., sophomore Kendall Kaut and Corsicana junior Nathan Ford finished fifth with wins over teams from the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, Kansas State University, University of Texas-Dallas and Missouri State University.

Dr. Scott J. Varda, assistant professor of communication studies and associate director of the Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum, is excited about having two teams qualify for the national debate tournament.

“It is the first time since 1993 that Baylor has had two debate teams qualify for nationals through the district tournament, which speaks both to the overall difficulty of the tournament and to the strength and depth of our current team,” Varda said in a press release.

Just like the Lady Bears’ No. 1 seed,being close to home helps them. Gerber said he believes that the “home court advantage” of having the championship close to home will boost the confidence of his team.

Participating in a debate close to home will also help the team by providing them with support, Cook said.

“When we go to a tournament that close, we are able to bring everyone on our team instead of just those who qualified,” Cook said. “We are able to get more work done because everyone is there.”

The national debate tournament will be held March 25-28.