Debate team starts off season strong


Lindsay McFadyen, Div. 754, practicing for the Debate Team.

By Kalyn Story and Annie Zorn

While some students spend their Fridays and Saturdays relaxing or hanging out with their friends, some spend this time debating sea exploration policy.

These students are members of the Lane Tech Debate Team, which won the Regional Circuit Conference Tournament against Northside, Whitney Young, Walter Payton, Evanston Township, Maine East, and University of Chicago Lab School on Sept. 20.

Members of the Debate Team David Kraemer, Div. 867, and Naomi Sanchez, Div. 661, were the overall RCC Tournament 1 champions.

Coached by Mr. Fine, Ms. Roskin, and Ms. Schnell, Debate Team students spend 19 weekends out of the year at tournaments. These events typically start at 4:30 on Fridays and go until 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays. They compete in both home and away tournaments, traveling all over Illinois and to other states such as New York, Iowa, Michigan, and Washington, D.C.

Every high school in the country uses the same topic when debating. According to the National Speech and Debate Association website, the topic this year is “The United States federal government should substantially increase its non- military exploration and/or development of the Earth’s oceans.”

In half the rounds, teams go affirmative, and have to think of a specific plan on how they are going to explore the ocean. The plan that the Debate Team came up for this year is arctic mapping. Half the rounds they go negative. The thing is, they don’t know which side they are going to be on.

There are three levels of debaters: novice debaters are the new debaters, junior varsity are second-year debaters, and varsity are third- or fourth-year debaters.

Kraemer is a novice debater who has devoted his time to working on improving his debate skills. “We have practice every Tuesday, and I generally spend about 30 minutes to an hour a day going over evidence and maybe texting Naomi about what we want to be doing,” Kraemer said.

Kraemer participated in debate when he was in middle school at Sacred Heart School and wants to continue on to debate in college.

There are awards in tournaments for elements of debate such as speech. “Everyone gets speaker points, out of thirty points, they rate how well you spoke in your debate round, and then they give out Top Ten Speaker awards at the end,” Fine said.

This tournament Lucy Caldwell, Div. 751, won named a Top Ten Speaker. Her accomplishment was the result of constant speech practice.

“A lot of times we do speaking drills in class. Reading through things as fast as you can, making sure it’s understandable,” said Caldwell.

Speed is key in debate because it allows more arguments to be delivered in a shorter amount of time, according to the Global Debate magazine website.

Sanchez has an unusual method to practice her speaking skills.

“I usually put a pen in my mouth and start to read things that I would read in a tournament — or I would recite tongue twisters,” Sanchez said.

Caldwell’s favorite part of debate is the competitive yet friendly atmosphere that comes along with debate tournaments.

“It’s a sport, but it’s still a hobby, so you can have fun,” said Caldwell.

In addition to her Top Ten Speaker award, she was named a quarterfinalist along with Becca Djanybek, Div. 759. The finalists include Adbu Hytrek, Div. 771, and Taylor Roberts, Div. 767.

During his four years coaching the debate team, Fine has tried to focus on teamwork within the group.

“In the past, people within our team have wanted to be the best on the Lane Tech team, and my goal and philosophy is if anyone on the Lane Tech team wins, we all win,” Fine said.

Last year the team made it to the Mayor Brown Urban Debate League Qualifier — where the top two teams go to nationals — but placed fourth. Fine is confident in his team this year.

“If we have teamwork, education, fun, then we will end up in the nationals,” said Fine.

Even if they don’t make it to nationals, Fine has other priorities.

“My philosophy is winning is always having fun, and when you work together as a team you will do better,” said Fine.