Simpson Debate sweeps New York City and Florida tournaments

Speech and debate team meets in small groups to practice.

Danielle Blake

Speech and debate team meets in small groups to practice.

by Amelia Schafer, News Editor

Simpson’s debate team is starting the year off strong, scoring highly in both their tournaments the past two weekends, despite adapting to COVID-19 guidelines and changes.

This past weekend, the team competed in the Big Apple Tournament in New York City hosted by Queens College. Students participated in the event from Simpson’s campus virtually.

Simpson scored first in overall points in front of with Murray State and Grove City College. The University of Florida and Dillard University followed behind, rounding out the top five participating schools.

The previous weekend at the University of Central Florida, Simpson scored highly and scored third overall out of 16 colleges, despite only having six students participate.

The team now meets fully online, aside from small group practices. All tournaments are online, which has, in turn, given members the opportunity to compete at further locations such as New York and Florida.  

Speech and Debate coach Spencer Waugh voiced his pride in how the team competed in central Florida despite low participation.

“I had no expectations because we had four first-year students and two returners, and we were competing at a location where I had no idea what the competition would be like,” Waugh said. “We were doing a style of debate we don’t usually get to do because geographically, it’s not available to us. We only get to try it once a year.”

Junior, and parliamentary-debate semifinalist from Sunday, Elise Sturgeon described the being entirely online.

“I don’t have to take an entire weekend where I’m out of town competing. I only had to compete on Sunday, so I got to go home and sleep in my own bed that night. I didn’t have to do a long bus ride,” Sturgeon said. “It makes tournaments a little bit more accessible because you can hop on your computer wherever you are and join them.”

Sturgeon also described the drawbacks of the situation, including missing out on chances to bond with teammates and creating new memories.

“There is a little bit of a learning curve with this new format where you have to hop on video calls and trying to navigate technical things. It’s not the same form of communication,” Sturgeon said. “Overall, I think the team is adapting to it, but it’s not the same experience as being to share a hotel room with the team and do a lot of the same team bonding, which I think is the one thing we kind of miss out on the experience.”

Unfortunately, the team was not able to escape from any bumps in the road. Many technical issues were experienced by team members such as Sturgeon.

“I just competed on Sunday, but there were technical difficulties in the morning, so our first round was delayed by two hours,” Sturgeon said. “I had to be ready to go in my room by 7:30 in the morning. It didn’t get over until after nine o’clock, so I was honestly very tired.”

The speech and debate team will be participating in several other competitions in the coming weeks, including the Derryberry and the Missouri Mule.