Finlay Coupland / Contributing Writer
For the first time since 2007, the Samford University Debate Team had two individual teams qualify and compete at the National Debate Tournament from March 25 to March 30. The two teams that qualified for the national level consisted of Sawyer Emerson and Maddox Gates on one team, as well as Joey Tarnowski and Alyssa Gregory on the other.
According to the National Debate and Speech Association, Samford’s Debate Team finished 12th in the nation while Emerson and Gates finished 7th in the nation. Samford competed against and ranked higher than several other schools, including Harvard University.
Earlier in the season, Samford debaters Emerson and Gates had the honor of competing against the best of the best at the Harvard Round Robin Tournament in October. Harvard University hosted this prestigious tournament for the top nine teams in the country, and Samford debaters had the opportunity to get a piece of the action.
Competitor Gregory commented on the victory.
“I think [the National Debate Committee] saw a reflection of the hard work that we’ve put in,” Gregory said. “Everyone was doing debate work consistently every single day, whether that’s practicing with the coach or cutting new arguments from the affirmative or negative side. I think that having two teams qualify for the National Debate Tournament for Samford Debate is a reflection of everyone’s hard work.”
On Samford’s journey to the National Debate Tournament, the debaters had to overcome their fair share of challenges. The Samford Debate Team currently consists of two coaches, Samford Associate Professor and Director of Debate Ryan Galloway and Assistant Director of Debate Lee Quinn, as well as eight participants. Other schools’ debate teams, on the contrary, typically consist of about 25 to 30 participants and up to nine coaches.
While some might view this as a disadvantage, Galloway explained how Samford debaters were determined to not let it get the best of them.
“Their hard work and effort are the reasons why we did so well,” Galloway said, “We face some obstacles to overcome, but our students don’t make excuses about those obstacles to overcome. I think they just compete on a level playing field, work hard, and research. They’re good teammates to each other.”
The Samford Debate Team is open to anyone who is interested in joining no matter someone’s level of experience. Those interested in participating in the Samford Debate Team next season can reach out to Galloway at firstname.lastname@example.org.