Walk through Brock second lobby on any given Thursday night, and you may hear strains of a passionate argument on some topic ranging from drug laws to pizza toppings, the results of the Covenant Debate Club’s weekly practice round. Covenant Debate members range from freshman to senior and from experienced high school debaters to students new to the game in college. This semester, they travelled to two tournaments which are attended by, on average, six to ten other regional four-year colleges and community colleges.
The first tournament was February 22 at Pellissippi State Community College. Six Covenant students—John Bush ‘19, Jessica Florey ‘20, Paige Hungar ‘20, Grant Kierpa ‘19, Zoe Kiratzis ‘21, and Samuel West ‘19—and coach Stephen McKerihan ‘17 travelled to Knoxville, Tennessee. This was an enjoyable first tournament of the season, according to the debaters.
First year club member Samuel West, reflecting on his inaugural tournament experience, said, “The tournament provided an excellent opportunity to compete with other schools at a high level while also gaining valuable speaking experience on a wide variety of topics.”
It was also a successful tournament—Covenant took home trophies for both first and second place varsity teams, and four speaker awards.
The second tournament was the very next weekend, on March 2, the first Saturday of spring break. Dedicated Covenant debaters postponed spring break fun to attend Bryan College’s first tournament. The Covenant students enjoyed competing at a tournament hosted by a school with a similar mission and size to Covenant.
The two teams who competed experienced a variety of topics, called resolutions, discussing issues such as plastic straw bans, Brexit, and the debate of the ages, pineapple versus anchovies.
Covenant was again competitive, with the two varsity teams earning second and fourth place, and Covenant placing third among all four-year colleges in attendance.
John Bush , one of the members of the second place team, said of the tournament, “[It] was a fantastic opportunity to build both valuable communication skills and relationships with the team at Bryan, who we have so much in common with.”
Overall, as Covenant debaters look back on the semester, they see both competitive success and educational advancement. More than that, they can see friendships built and strengthened through the process of working together towards a goal. Whether they are preparing for a round at a tournament or engaging in friendly but intense competition at club meetings, the students enjoy being with one another and challenging themselves.
Jessica Florey, an active member since her freshman year, said, “Debate has been one of my favorite things at Covenant. Not only has it given me greater involvement in discussion of politics, listening to others, and formulating my own arguments but it has also given me fantastic life-long friends who have strengthened me in my walk with the Lord.”
Club members extend an open invitation to the rest of the Covenant community to come see what they do—look for opportunities to see practice rounds or Covenant home tournaments, either at the end of this semester or next year. Visitors are always welcome, and who knows? You just might be able to help determine the outcome of an important issue of our day—at least within the four walls of Brock Hall.