Debate Club will make tournament debut on Saturday, Feb. 25

Posted on: February 24, 2012

College of the Mainland student Lauren Sckittone was walking through the Learning Resource Center when she saw a debate club flier that caught her eye.

So Sckittone, who plans on earning a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, decided to join the debate club.

“It’s just something I want to learn,” Sckittone said. “It’s something I want to do when I transfer. The logic, the organization and thinking on your feet are things I need to learn for later on.”

The Santa Fe native is one of 12 students who are a part of COM’s Debate Club that will compete in its first tournament, the 2012 Mardi Gras Alumni Classic, on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26 at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Most tournaments have eight to 12 schools competing, with each school bringing two to five teams apiece.

The club is the brainchild of Dr. Nakia Welch, COM Assistant Professor of Speech and Humanities.

Welch, a first-year faculty member, was an excellent debater during his undergraduate years at Louisiana College in Pineville, La.

Welch said the activity helped him develop as an orator and as a person. He estimates that he’s debated 300 topics in his career.

“You develop self-confidence and learn to think on your feet,” Welch said. “I got to travel for free all over the country and out of the country. And all I had to do was argue with folks.”

The club has been practicing since September, and Welch said it’s part of a plan to make debate an integral part of COM.

His request for a debate class was recently approved for the fall semester, and he’d like to see the club host a tournament in 2013-14.

The club has provided former high school debaters with an opportunity to continue honing their skills.

Bianca Lara, of Texas City, was a four-year member of the debate team at Texas City High School, and she was thrilled when she found out about COM’s club.

Lara, who plans on earning a degree in criminal justice, went to the University Interscholastic League debate championships in Austin last year as a high school senior.

“After four years of competing, it kind of becomes your life,” Lara said. “Now that I can do it in college, it’s really exciting. Every debate is a learning experience.”

Patrick Damrath, of Texas City, who is working toward a fitness and human performance degree, simply wanted to improve his speaking skills.

“I took Dr. Welch’s speech class and I wanted to be able to give a good speech,” Damrath said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to think faster and organize my thoughts better. I’m excited to finally know how debating is in real time.”

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