COM is top community college at debate tournament

Posted on: October 29, 2013

Back row, from left: students Jordan Hollan, Chris Arnold, Samantha Burdick and Andrew Carter Front row, from left: Debate team coach Dr. Nakia Welch and students Ruby Martin, Bianca Lara and Brittany Jeter

The College of the Mainland debate team won the Top Community College Team Award at their first International Public Debate Association tournament of the season hosted by Lee College in Baytown, Texas. Arguing topics ranging from the Syrian crisis to the superiority of tater tots over curly fries, the COM team earned the most points of any community college team and took sixth place overall in the tournament that featured 56 debaters from three states.

In addition, COM debater Andrew Carter, of Bacliff, was one of eight novice debaters out of 26 who advanced to the elimination rounds. Carter ended as a quarter-finalist and as the fourth place speaker in the tournament.
“You set the bar high and want to master it,” said Carter, who is returning for his second year of debate. “This is a court of logic. I used a lot of examples and a lot of testimony.”
COM novice debater Samantha Burdick, of Texas City, earned four victories in the preliminary rounds and was the sixth-place speaker. Returning debater Bianca Lara, who also debated for four years at Texas City High School, earned two wins in the varsity division.
The fall team features a number of new debaters including Chris Arnold, Jordan Hollan, Brittany Jeter and Ruby Martin who competed in their first-ever tournament at Lee College.
Jeter, who is from Dickinson and attends the COM Collegiate High School, described debating as a 17-year-old against students from other colleges and four-year-universities.
“I was really nervous, but by the fourth debate I felt good,” said Jeter, who plans to major in communications and political science.
She and others on the team debated topics ranging from Miley Cyrus to gun rights with only 30 minutes to prepare.

The time crunch fueled Hollan’s excitement about the tournament.
“It made it more fun because it made it more of a challenge,” he said.
Carter agreed, “Debate started with Greeks and Romans, and they didn’t have cell phones to conduct research.”

Novice debater Chris Arnold plans to be a neurosurgeon and joined the team this semester in preparation for medical school and its research presentations. At his first tournament, he said he learned the value of staying cool under pressure.

“It’s not an argument. It’s a debate,” he said. “I learned to stay calm when people throw accusations against you. You’re not arguing a point. You’re proving or disproving a statement.”
The team has grown since COM professor Dr. Nakia Welch, who debated during his undergraduate years at Louisiana College in Pineville, La., initiated it last year.

“A lot of people are scared initially because debate is new and different, but once you debate, you get hooked,” said Welch. “We’re steadily climbing in scores. I’m excited for the next tournament.”
The team will compete at Louisiana State University-Shreveport Nov. 8-10.

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