TAS sophomores earn debate championship within first tournament of the year


The Policy Rising Stars debate team, TAS CY, won the championship of their division at the University of Kentucky Opener debate tournament on the 14th of September.


Team members Janise C. (‘24, she/her) and Andrea Y. (‘24, she/her) were astounded to learn that they had won. “We were speechless, honestly,” Janise said. “We sat there in shock for at least a minute or two.”


Due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, students competed in the tournaments from home through Zoom. The decision to hold debates through Zoom meetings was finalized a little over last year, initially producing an abundance of technical difficulties, miscommunication, and attendance deficiencies. 


Speech and debate requires great time commitment, which is why staying on top of school work is a key factor of success for the tournament, especially the first one of the school year. “I don’t like missing school because I end up with a lot of work and assessments to make up within two days of returning to school,” Andrea said. Nevertheless, she believes that support from her fellow debaters keeps her going. “Although [speech and debate] is a highly competitive environment, everyone I meet through debate is always eager to support each other to become better debaters,” she said.


Janise finds that catching up with due work before the tournament is a factor of success. “I manage my time by working ahead and doing the homework before the tournament so I don’t need to worry about it later,” Janise said. By following through with her plans, she was able to advance to the finals round.


Jennifer Y. (‘22, she/her), the debate co-captain and competitor in the UK Opener, advises her teammates to utilize naps and caffeine to adjust to time zones for international tournaments. “I used to be obsessed with Red Bull but I switched over to Monster, but sprinkle in the adrenaline rush from debate and all should be well,” Jennifer said. 


However, despite the jerk of energy obtained during debate rounds, sleep and missed work still remain prominent obstacles. “Sleep, social life, and debate balance is a myth, for me at least,” Jennifer said.  


According to Jennifer, what she learns in speech and debate is applicable to other areas of school and life. “Topic knowledge makes classes easier and debate is continuous practice for teamwork and having a growth mindset,” she said.


Albeit competitive and intensive, speech and debate are important to many of our students here at TAS. What is gained from experiences with other teammates and opponents sum up into something impossible to achieve with school academics alone.