Debate team practices for upcoming tournament

Coach, team aim to improve in preparation for competition


Emily Ziessman

Junior Liz Hodges practices while debate coach Samantha Leo times her. The debate team is currently preparing for an important upcoming tournament Nov. 8-9 at Apple Valley High School.

Maggie Klaers and Emily Ziessman

As coach Aedan Helweg reflected on his time teaching the debate team, he explained how the club can be beneficial for other aspects of life.

“Debate is awesome, it’s a great way to prepare for just about everything you can prepare for — college and your professional career,” Helweg said. “It teaches you how to speak effectively, how to communicate your ideas effectively (and) how to think quickly on your feet, which is something that is really important no matter where you go in life.”

According to freshman Laniyah Thornton, members of the debate team are reflecting on what they can improve on as they prepare for their next competition.

“We just had a tournament this weekend, so we’re doing drills to practice for more things that we didn’t do so well this weekend,” Thornton said. 

According to Helweg, many teams from around the nation will be coming to Apple Valley to compete in the next tournament. Despite the difficulty of the competition, Helweg remains hopeful for good results.

“Most of these kids are on their first year in debate and this is my first year coaching a team,” Helweg said. “So I’m kind of nervous for how they’re going to do, but at the same time I’m very optimistic after the last tournament.”

Thornton said she is excited to hear other arguments regarding her case of whether or not the United States should eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing different people and seeing what people think about this case, I think that’s my favorite thing about debate,” Thornton said. “Also seeing how my team does and if we place.”

According to Helweg, the team has shown great improvement in their comprehension of the cases they are arguing.

“I was listening to them as they were in their rounds, and the level of depth they understood on the specific arguments that were being made in the debate and the way they were able to respond to those arguments was really good,” Helweg said. “I was really impressed with how far along they’ve come with that.”

It is difficult to manage the time given for an argument, Helweg said, so he plans to continue working on this skill in practices.

“One of the biggest problems when you’re in your first year of debate is how to fill up the time during your speech,” Helweg said. “That’s one of the biggest things I was working on with people today, and I think we want to continue working on using time effectively.”

Thornton said she would like to refine her arguments for the next tournament.

“We’re going to go over our cases and make them stronger. I hope to improve on filling my time and kind of trapping people. Also I’m hoping to win,” Thornton said.