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The Liberty University Debate Team took home two national championship titles for their performance throughout the season, edging out Northwestern and George Mason University.
Liberty topped the rankings of the American Debate Association (ADA) and the Cross-Examination Debate Association (CEDA) for the fifth consecutive year. This brings their win tally to 33 national championships since 1995, according to the Liberty News Service.
According to Liberty’s Director of Debate Michael Hall, the process of planning for these debates is both rigorous and time consuming.
“A lot goes into preparing for a debate, including practice speeches, practice debates, strategy work with partners and coaches, and individual time spent researching,” Hall said. “For most of our students, this amounts to 20-30 hours of work each week.”
Students have a topic given at the beginning of the year that will be debated for the entire season, Hall explained. This year’s topic was the U.S. energy policy.
Liberty is also vying for the top spot in the rankings of the National Debate Tournament (NDT), acording to Hall. The NDT is the third and final championship that Liberty participated in, and its rankings will be released at the end of April.
“I believe we will finish at or near the top of the NDT rankings, but we won’t know for another week or two,” Hall said. “Northwestern and George Mason were our two strongest competitors.”
According to Hall, if the team clinches the NDT championship, Liberty will have topped all three rankings in one season for the seventh time.
Even though Liberty has been a dominant force in the last few years, it is important to keep students on their toes and constantly improving, according to Hall.
“It’s easy to look at five consecutive championships and think that we use the same formula each and every year, but every year, we have students graduating and students arriving,” Hall said. “As our team changes, so does the formula for success.”
The debate team consisted of 27 students this semester, but many seniors on the team are graduating. According to Hall, one of the largest classes of first-year debaters will join the team for next year. New students bring a certain amount of unpredictability to the season, but they also give an exciting challenge to the coaches and team, Hall added.
“As our team changes, so does the formula for success,” Hall said. “Different teams have different strengths and weaknesses, and it’s the coaching staff’s job to recognize and respond to that reality.
Motivation is much easier when we embrace the unique challenge of each season.”
According to Hall, the debaters hope to come out strong once more and take the ADA, CEDA and NDT championship titles.