Debate team reflects after state competition

Debate team reflects after state competition

On February 24, Prospect’s Debate Team competed in the state competition at Harper College, finishing 14th place out of 30 schools.

For Junior Efe Ozalp, the competition shed light on some room for improvement to take into consideration for next year’s season.

“I got the number of speeches I wanted to get in; however, the quality of my speeches…wasn’t to the level I wanted them to be at,” Ozalp said. “I’ll definitely take [the] feedback from the judges throughout the competition to improve upon myself next year.”

Competitions for Debate happen once every month, with the month leading up to it dedicated to researching nine selected bills, which students prepare to speak on at the competition. Ozalp chose to research a bill on American support for the Northern Triangle countries, and then came together with his teammates to compile their research on the other bills. 

Debaters will move through three rounds, where they will go to “chambers” and debate the nine bills for that competition with debaters from other schools, including a two-minute questioning block where debaters can ask each other questions about their arguments. Competitions are usually on a Saturday from about 6 or 7 a.m. to early night, when all the competitors come together for awards. 

Despite the grueling hours and competitive opponents at the state level, Ozalp is still happy he got to compete.

“Now I know how to hold myself to higher standards and now I’ve gotten a taste of what the competition feels like in the upper levels,” Ozalp said. “It was a learning experience for me.”

Head coach Adam Levinson also thinks the competition was a good indicator of his team’s skill and what they can improve on.

“We’re right [at the middle of the] pack, which is pretty darn good for a young team,” Levinson said. “So now we know where we’re at. We have lots of work to do if they want to be a state contender for next year.”

Levinson coaches the Debate team with social studies teachers Jonathon Kaminsky and David Schnell, and they all meet with students throughout the month leading up to a tournament and work on their speeches with them. 

Levinson, who has been coaching Debate for 21 years, tries not to micromanage his students, and enjoys helping them as well as watching them grow on their own. 

“I think the kids work very hard, it’s a grind,” Levinson said. “So they do the best they can.”

Besides the hard work to improve your research and speaking abilities, one of Ozalp’s favorite parts of Debate is getting to spend time with his friends and meet new people. 

According to him, it’s always nice to have teammates to come back to if your round didn’t go as well as you had hoped, and being in rounds with students from all across the state presents a unique social experience.

“You meet like-minded people in debate…you meet a lot of new people from a lot of new places and a lot of new ideologies, so it definitely broadens your horizons.”

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