Mar 28, 2006

Liberty debate catches eye of CBS

by JoanneTang, Asst. News Editor

Their words fire like bullets spit out from a semi-automatic rifle. They make their points with the accuracy of a master archer aiming at a bulls-eye, and with the elegance of a chess master. They have run verbal circles around the best teams in the country, including Harvard.

Their goal is to obtain as many points as possible, and for the Liberty University debate team, their points have been worth their weight in gold. Placing in the top 10 is quite an achievement, but to be the number one team in the country is something LU debate can proudly exclaim. They are currently at the top of the heap in the American Debate Association, Cross Examination Debate Association and the National Debate Tournament.

With this paramount achievement has come unprecedented attention from major publications such as Newsweek and networks such as CBS and even Comedy Central. In Febuary 2006, Newsweek published an article highlighting the success of the team, and in March, CBS Evening News’ “Assignment America” sent reporter Steve Hartman to Lynchburg, to greet the students and coaches as they came home from another winning tournament.

There’s also that appearance by coach Brett O’Donnell on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. The episode garnered interest in Liberty University among a demographic that might otherwise not have known about the college at all, or of the achievements of the university.

“LU’s perennial champions are doing much to attract hundreds of America’s brightest students to our campus,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell, of the debate team.

In order to be those “perennial champions” the debate team has to practice, and recruit students as much as top colleges recruit students, and top law firms recruit students, a path that many debaters are hoping to go towards. The central idea is that many debaters will enter into the field of law, and where there are lawyers, there are senators, judges, and lobbyists, people who have a profound impact on the shape of America. Training Christian leaders is an aspect that Liberty has strived for, and the debate team is just another facet of that.

As for the future of debate, “I would also like to see our ministry outreach continue to grow.  For many in the debate community, we are the only witness they may ever have.  It is important that our team point others to Christ through our participation in debate,” said O’Donnell.

Contact Joanne Tang at jtang@liberty.edu.


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