Debate recognizes talent

The team enjoyed its annual banquet to celebrate success

The Liberty University Debate Team celebrated the culmination of a successful season at an awards banquet in the DeMoss Hall Grand Lobby, Saturday, April 27.

Winner — Andrew Landrun was awarded Most Outstanding Debater. Photo credit: Emily Becker

The annual banquet was established to recognize members of the debate team and honor key contributors with various awards.

Following dinner and dessert, Liberty University Debate Team Director Michael Hall introduced the crowd to the awards portion of the evening. Hall started as a member of the debate team in 1988 and came back as a coach in 1998. He has been the director since 2006.

“We won our first national championship in 1995, and then, since that time we’ve reached a new level of success,” Hall said. “We’ve gone from a nationally competitive debate team to one of the top two or three debate teams in the country.”

The Alumni Award, given to a Liberty debater who has gone on to impact the world for Christ in his or her given field, was given to Mary Elmer. Elmer graduated from Liberty in 2003 and spent the last nine years of her life as a missionary in Tanzania.

Kaitlyn Schiess was awarded Most Outstanding Novice Debater. Schiess’ freshman year at Liberty was also her first experience with debating.

Wesley Walker was awarded Most Outstanding JV Debater for his efforts as a member of the JV team.

Ana Calizo had debate experience prior to her time at Liberty, but this was her first year on the team. She received the award for Most Outstanding First Year Debater.

Following two years on the Liberty debate team, Alan Apthorp was recognized as the Most Improved Debater.

In the spirit of competition and emotional and relational leadership, Meagan Edwards was given the Team Spirit Award.

The Most Outstanding Debater Award is voted on by the coaching staff, rather than teammates, and seeks to recognize the debater that has meant the most to the team in every aspect, according to Hall. This year, Andrew Landrum, the debate team captain, received the accolade.

“If I had to talk about what I learned at Liberty, most of the things I learned and most of the growing experiences I had were outside of the classroom and inside of the debate room,” Landrum said.
Landrum and his debate partner Aaron Siegrest each received the Director’s Award for debating as members of the team for four years, an accomplishment Hall says is rare.

“Debate has kind of defined my time in college,” Siegrest said. “My closest friends are on the team … Overall, it’s been, by far, the most incredible experience of my life.”
Hall spoke highly of the two men, who debated together for the entirety of their four years on the team.

“There was a level of adversity that this team faced, especially early in the year, that’s unlike any team we’ve had in the last four or five years, and so there was a unique challenge associated with that,” Hall said. “I think it says a lot about the character of the team that we were able to persevere through that.”

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