CHS Debate Team Qualifies Nine Competitors to Nationals

National Public Forum qualifiers, Alexander Fish and Saayna Agarwal.

Miranda Miller, Sandscript Author

This year has been filled with challenges, but for the Chesterton Debate team, COVID-19 and other obstacles could not get in their way! Even though the entire season was put online, the competitors took advantage of the situation and found a way to make the best of it. On Saturday, the team competed in the District tournament. This competition qualifies the top competitors in each event for the National competition.

“Districts is the qualifier tournament for Nationals and is designed as a more individual-type competition. What that means is it can drag on team spirit as our own debaters compete with each other for a chance at a nationals spot. It can be very emotionally draining. State, on the other hand, is more of a team competition and is unrelated organizationally to districts or nationals. State is a time for team bonding and comradeship,” explains coach Joshua Coots.

In Policy Debate, sophomores Freedom Eiden and Jonathan McClure as well as juniors Mark Jewison and Melina Veltri qualified. In Public Forum, sophomore tandem Alexander Fish and Saayna Agarwal qualified, as did the junior squad of Emma Ekblaw and Sidney Pittman. Additionally, sophomore Gretta Burke qualified in Lincoln Douglas Debate. These competitors will compete at the National tournament this June and the competition will be hosted online from Des Moines, Iowa.

“I was very happy with our team’s performance at Districts. The team showed grit and determination and I was very proud of them. Their work this season paid off,” says Coots.

When asked about her performance at Districts, Ekblaw commented, “My performance at districts was definitely my peak. Sidney and I really knuckled down and debated very well.”

This coming Saturday, January 30, the team will finish out their post-season with the State competition. The team will take the top competitors/pairings in each event including Policy Debate, Public Forum Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Congress, and World School Debate.

When asked about his hopes for the team at State this upcoming weekend, Coots added, “I think the team has a very good chance of doing well at state this week. The pandemic has been a challenge for us as it has for academics generally, but we have shown that it is possible to rise above it. What we need to do is stay focused, work hard this week, and remain confident in what we are capable of.”

This season, the team was able to take advantage of opportunities that would not have been made available to them in previous seasons. Even with the challenges that were brought along with the season, the competitors were able to enjoy their season.

Sophomore Gretta Burke says, “The best part of the season has been some of the opportunities that the pandemic opened up. We get to wear fuzzy socks instead of heels, and also it’s fun to just run around the empty school between rounds. Everyone has adapted, and been able to make the season fun, despite the situation.”

The team will be finishing out their postseason this weekend by competing at State. And a special Sandscript Congratulations to all of the competitors who made it to Nationals!