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Debate team heads to national competition

staff writer

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:02



They travel almost as much as an athletics team, but not many people may know the five-person USU debate team competes from coast to coast. 

Four of the five members will be traveling to St. Louis to participate in the National Debate Tournament in March.

“Being able to go to nationals this year was a very big goal for me,” said Bobby Fausett, a senior majoring in civil engineering. “I am very excited to go along with my teammates this year.” 

At nationals, each member of the team gets one topic — chosen before the event — to debate. Fifty schools will compete this year.

Each team member brings his or her own practice style to competition. With breaks as long as a few months in between events, it is important for team members to keep their skills sharp during the break, Fausett said.

“I usually prefer to practice with my teammates if it’s a traditional debate style event, but if it is a speech event I would prefer to practice by myself,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easier that way.” 

There are several different formats the team has to prepare for, and the team members said they each have their own event they are strongest at. “For me, I definitely prefer doing any speech related events,” said Justin Jerez, a senior majoring in political science. “Part of the speech portion is parliamentary procedure where I’ve won eight trophies. It definitely is something I excel at.” 

Even though the team has five members, some feel the small group size gives them more of a boost when they go to events and competition.

“Most of the schools that we see at competitions have upwards of 20 to 30 people, but we don’t let that get in the way of our events,” said Andrea Bouwman, a senior majoring in education history. “We just go out there and have a good time.” 

Fausett said it is important that the team is able to get along in order to have the best chance of succeeding. 

“Whenever we’re together there’s that little bit of energy we have that enables us to get through our events,” Fausett said. 

Experience also plays an important factor in how the students compete. 

“For me, this is only my first year on the team, but I know that with the teammates behind me, I know I can succeed,” Fausett said. 

In contrast, Bouwman has debated since he was in sixth grade. 

“I’ve done debate for over 10 years now and I really enjoy it,” she said. “It gives me that ability to express myself in a comfortable environment.”

Jerez said the team wouldn’t be complete without their coach, Tom Worthen

“He has a lot of work to put in even though he doesn’t have to do it all,” Jerez said. “That just makes him an even better person.” 

Bouwman said it was because of Worthen she decided to continue debate after taking a two-year hiatus during her first years in college.

“He approached me one day and said that he would like for me to join the team,” she said. “That made me feel like that I have something worthwhile to contribute.”

Coming off a winning season, Jerez said he’s ready to take on nationals. 

“I am very excited to get to St. Louis,” Jerez said. “As a whole we do really well, and that just makes me have high hopes coming in.”



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