By Kareem Ibrahim ’18
In the interest of full disclosure, Kareem Ibrahim ’18 is a member on the debate team.
Encountering a filled room of prospective debaters, the returning debate members and the Assistant Principal of English, Ms. Suzane Thomas, speak their first words: “Welcome to the debate team.”
The debate team has been at Midwood for three years and Ms. Thomas is its main supervisor. The type of debate performed is Public Forum, a type of debate meant to be accessible to anybody. Even though all of the students are self-taught as the team has not had consistent formal coaches, the team has been awarded first place in New York City with its debaters receiving numerous awards.
“There is no better feeling than the rush of starting a new season,” said Tim Samadov ’18. “Not only was seeing the new debaters refreshing, but so was seeing my great teammates from last year.”
The new students were soon taught by the old members; first with the basics, second with the research, and, lastly, with actual practice debates. The team has been preparing for its first debate on Saturday, October 21 at the Institute of Collaborative Education. Tensions and prospects have been high for this tournament.
“The game plan this year is to leave a substantial and sufficient team to all entering freshmen,” said Kai Brady ’19. “All while doing our best to keep our number one standing in the league.”
With an influx of new debaters this year, the leadership of the team has decided to take a different approach to training than previous years.
“We are having more lesson based meetings determined to work and build on strategy and skill sets,” said Margarita Potapova ’18.
Sarah Gur ’19 stated, “We’ve all performed so well for the past two years, and with our third year finally here, we’re starting to hit teams with far more experience.”
Not only does the team have an opportunity to attend local New York City tournaments, members attain the possibility of attending longer and more intense national tournaments at notable universities such as Harvard and Princeton if they perform well in their local debates.
“The national tournaments are a lot of fun but also a lot of work,” said Potapova. “I think Princeton and Harvard are for sure some of the most stressful tournaments. The size and span of the competition is definitely intimidating and there’s a sort of pressure to do good away from home.”
Not only do national tournaments let the debaters show what they have learned through the season, they also provide the opportunity of learning more and building relationships.
“National tournaments teach us so much of how debate works,” said Gur. “Our attendance at these tournaments have drastically improved not only our debating, but our relationship and connection to one another.”
Some debaters, however, prefer not to attend these tournaments. Brendan McErlaine ’18 stated that he appreciated these tournaments but would prefer not to leave for one for an extended period of time over a break.
The team has approached the start of the season with a sense of preparedness and skill to mirror its previous success in prior years.
“I know that we will do great this year,” said Samadov. “just like we did before, and like we will continue to do in the upcoming years.”