By ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times
The Liberal High School debate team ended last season with a respectable record and are re-grouping to make this season even better.
With just two returning varsity team members, however, head coach Tina Stucky admits this season will definitely be a rebuilding season.
“Because we only have two returning members as varsity debaters, I’m going to have to build that up so we have a bigger varsity for next year, hopefully,” Stucky said. “And I’m hoping my Debate 1 kids will move up and become Debate 2 kids and continue with it. We haven’t had a lot of return in the last couple years.”
The team has already begun preparations for its first tournament on Sept. 20, which is at Great Bend. The team’s season will run through December and go into the state competition in January. Even with last year’s respectable season, the team members have high expectations for this season.
“I would really like the team to maintain where it’s been the past few years. I’ve been on the team for two years and both years we’ve gotten two teams to state and two teams to nationals,” Nathan Dowell, a second-year varsity debate member, said. “I think it would be great for us to equal that this year. If we can get three or four teams to state, that would be great for us. Of course, we lost three good varsity members after last year and I would like to think we can bring up new people to take their place so we don’t decline.”
“My expectations are similar, get at least two teams to state,” Christopher Coons, another returning debate team member, added. “Last year our novice base didn’t grow at all, like no novices went to tournaments and that needs to change this year for sure.”
Another challenge Stucky said the team will face is getting used to her as a coach – while she was on her collegiate debate team, she said there is a big difference between being a part of the debating and teaching someone how to do it.
“I was on the debate team in college for two years so I have debated but I have never coached it or taught it so my biggest hurdle is trying to make sure I’m covering what I need to cover for the students so they’re successful when they do actually debate,” Stucky explained. “As a debater, you get the other side of it as opposed to showing how to do it. I’m learning along with them the terminology and everything. Collegiate debate is a lot different than high school debate, so I’m having to shift out of collegiate debate as well.”
One particular tournament the team will be needing help with is the team’s home tournament on Oct. 11. There is a need for community judges and other volunteers and Stucky said it is a good tournament for people to come to and help with or come and watch.
Even with the challenges this year’s squad will face, the team is ready to get started.
“I want to, hopefully, get students interested in being a part of it and return the next year and continue until they graduate,” Stucky said. “It’s a valuable experience, so I just want them to learn a really good life lesson they’ll be able to use forever.”