NEW YORK, April 27, 2011—The King's Debate Society is completing its most successful year to date. Not only did its membership more than double, but those members went on to win more awards than the King's Debate Society has won in all previous years combined. Perhaps most meaningfully, individual members and the society as a whole have become an integrated part of the British Parliamentary debate league in the Northeast, hosting debate scrimmages for NYC universities, co-sponsoring workshops, and building friendships with fellow competitors and coaches from around the country.
This year, the King's Debate Society has had more competitors than available slots for debate tournaments, often arriving at debate tournaments with as many debaters as schools more than thirty times its size. This rapid growth comes with its challenges, and the student leadership has worked hard, alongside their newly hired coach, Katie Teubl, to train and prepare members for British Parliamentary debate. The British Parliamentary debate league is one of the oldest and most competitive leagues in the world. Four teams of two students compete in each debate round, practicing the complex art of building strategic coalitions while each defending their own positions. Debaters are given just fifteen minutes to prepare to debate about issues that range from the ethics of military intervention in the Middle East to the economic viability of raising America's debt ceiling.
The British Parliamentary league has grown rapidly in recent years and is now the largest international debate league: this year's national tournament in America hosted teams from Qatar, Venezuela, and China, along with hundreds of American teams and judges. Founders of the King's Debate Society Matthias Clock and Pam Dodge selected this league because they knew the depth of competition and international opportunities would provide the challenging atmosphere in which King's students thrive.
And King's students have not been disappointed. This past year, King's attended eight debate tournaments in the increasingly competitive Northeast division. During the Fall semester, King's debaters saw some success in advancing beyond preliminary rounds, but by the spring semester, the team had built their knowledge base and strengthened their competitive edge. Debate teams advanced past the preliminary rounds at three of the four spring tournaments, and Josiah Peterson and Burk Ohbayashi made history by being the first King's debate team to compete in a final round. They will represent King's at its first international tournament in Manila, Philippines this coming year.
But if you were to find King's debaters in the hall between classes and ask why they put in the countless hours of research and practice, they most likely would not talk about winning a coveted trophy or besting the top teams – though they plan to do just that. Instead, they would say the outstanding feature of the King's Debate Society is the community that has been formed around their vision to become excellent and winsome advocates for truth in the marketplace of ideas. “When it comes to any kind of league or association, what keeps people participating is community,” commented Joshua Linder, a first-year debater. “Excellence in British Parliamentary debate takes hard work and if the key relationships aren't present, people are less likely to invest in the format. Success should not be measured by the number and variety of medals given out, but by the number of people who learn and grow through the format. The King's Debate Society, if it keeps Christ at the center, will have something incredibly unique to bring to the table.”
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