Debate to State: Timber Creek Students Qualify for State and Nationals

They sit silently behind computers in the room of inspiration. In the room, they research, practice, plan and theorize for the world’s future over a series of topics that will be judged. As the world’s future leaders, it falls to them to be knowledgeable in what’s happening around the globe and to be the best they can be.

Representing Timber Creek at the State Debate competition March 1 and 2, 2018 were Mink Sandhu and Connor Fitzgerald while Noah Anzaldua and Michael Vilayvanh will be competing at the CX state competition next week on March 16-17.

“To just be named a state qualifier means a lot to me because it’s something I’ve been wishing to achieve for the last three years,” Sandhu explains.

Competing at the state level is a huge level of accomplishment for anyone in a UIL circuit. It places you with the “best of the best” as said by Sam Holsomback, a state qualifier in Public Forum Debate who was unable to compete due to conflicts with his partner. “It was really cool to qualify, there were only about 180 teams in the state to do so so it was pretty amazing to even get there,” he adds.

Timber Creek has a very strong debate program, coached by Ms. Debbie Begley, with various specialities in events. Extemporaneous, or extemp as most debaters call it, is always divided into two categories. In TFA (Texas Forensic Association) tournaments it is split into domestic and foreign while in UIL circuits its informative and persuasive. In extemp, you draw three to five topics from an envelope, choosing only one, then write a seven minute speech in 30 minutes using only printed articles or a file of articles on a computer. The use of internet for any part of the process is prohibited. Sandhu qualified in foreign extemp as this past week’s state tournament was for TFA.

“I gave two speeches every week during the first semester and then I shifted towards keeping up with the news and downloading CNN; being notified when something happens,” she said, explaining her training technique for state.

Lincoln Douglas debate (LD) is slightly more complex. Getting its name from the famous series of debates for the Illinois senator position between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, it is a factual one on one debate over philosophy. Fitzgerald qualified for both state and nationals in this event in his last year of debate, attending a summer debate camp prior to school and going to every tournament possible all in order to perfect his skills for these exact opportunities.

“I’m just extremely grateful to be a part of such a great LD program here at Timber Creek that has set me up with the tools necessary (and perhaps a little luck) to have allowed me to qualify for both [state and nationals],” he avowed.

Meanwhile, policy debate or CX is in its own little world. According to Anzaldua its due to the “sheer number of CX UIL districts and teams throughout Texas”. Partners, Anzaldua and Vilayvanh, will compete in the UIL circuit for the state CX competition.

“Its a team event where we’re given a resolution and we have is come up with a with a plan to fix a problem within that resolution,” says Vilayvanh. “The topic this year is education in the United States.”

Their hard work has finally paid off after attending tournaments all year and attending debate camps. However, they credit graduates Bo Hiett and Addison Davis for their success for they were the ones who first got Anzaldua and Vilayvanh interested in the first place. Being Timber Creek’s first and only CX team, Hiett and Davis took on the responsibility of training Anzaldua and Vilayvanh, teaching them the fundamentals and making them who they are today.

“We really wouldn’t be here without [them]…,” Anzaldua acknowledged.

The nights of no sleep and the headaches from overthinking are finally at an end as these hardworking, ambitious Timber Creek students accomplished their hopes and dreams.

“It means a lot to me,” Anzaldua revealed. “To know that all of the hard word I put into debate has finally paid off.”

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