BY NUHA ISLAM
Late autumn is a stressful time for high school debaters across Florida. It kicks off competition season into high gear, with a tournament every weekend, two of which are national level. Diving head first into the new year of competition, CCHS’ Speech and Debate team has already set a high standard for itself, and is only looking to do even better.
“This is my final year of debating at Blue Key,” senior Shaina Kaye said. “And from our intense level of prep, it hopefully will be extremely successful.
Blue Key is the first travel tournament of year, held the last weekend in October. Competitors spend four nights at University of Florida to debate on campus. Aside from viewing the scenic campus, it is a critical tournament that is highly indicative of the year’s success.
CCHS sent 15 competitors this year, a small number by many standards, especially compared to many other schools in this region. And while Cooper’s team is small, they have been consistently placing at local tournaments, like the recent Catholic Forensic League (CFL) Saturday tournament at West Broward High School, where there were three winners.
“It was crazy that I did so well at my first tournament as a novice,” first place Lincoln Douglas winner Giovanni Pappini said. “Debate is the biggest rush, and I hope to do as well at other competitions later in the year.”
Those include Nova Titan, FFL state champions, CFL Grand Finals and Sunvitational at University School, all high level tournaments that promise to be difficult. However, Cooper City’s debate team has traditionally always done well at these events.
This is especially impressive given how competitive the Ft. Lauderdale area is for debate. The area hosts three national tournaments per year, and is the selected location of NSDA finals for 2018.
The hosting of nationals within driving distance has made Broward County a prime place to be in the debate world. With no expensive travel costs, competing at nationals has become extremely accessible, and CCHS’s debate team is pushing itself to do extra well this year.
“Last year when I qualified for NSDA nationals, gathering the funds to travel to Alabama was a headache,” freshman William Barringer said. “This year I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity and make my performances extra perfect.”
Already the team has one bid for the Tournament of Champions, a tournament reserved for those who place at the hardest, most prestigious competitions, like Harvard Invitational, Yale Invitational and Berkeley.
With a slew of high level competitions at arms reach, this year may be an excellent one for CCHS Debate.
“These tournaments are huge time sucks that take up entire weekends at a time, and I am so proud of my debaters for putting in the extra mile,” coach Wendy Schauben said. “Trophies are nice, but watching these kids do well and improve with every performance is reward enough.”
Photo by Lariat Photography