Big Things to Come for the 2019-2020 Debate Team


Prep-work for tournaments being done in the Niles West classroom.

By Alli Lipsit , Staff Writer

The school year has finally begun, and as we begin to cheer on all of our fellow athletes in fall sports for their successful upcoming seasons, it’s important we remember that these athletes aren’t the only ones that are going to do big things this school year.

The Niles West debate team meets every Tuesday and Wednesday after school, but it isn’t uncommon to see these dedicated scholars working after school on any other day. Many of the students also participate in debate during the day as a class, which is an excellent way to stay involved in debate while still being involved in other after school extracurriculars.

Last year the debate team was able to qualify their top team for numerous large tournaments all over the country; Iowa, Michigan, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Texas, and so many more exciting places. This year, the team is hoping to qualify for not only all of these tournaments but for other national tournaments as well. Considering how dedicated and talented the 2019-2020 team is, it doesn’t look like the idea of qualifying for nationals is too far fetched.

For those of you not familiar with how debate works, here’s the deal: the debaters are given a new prompt every year to gather evidence on and use to debate other teams across the nation for the rest of the year. This year’s resolution is: “The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States.” The evidence used throughout the year is created by older teammates and coaches, and it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s time-consuming, and it involves precision and accuracy. Luckily, that’s not a problem for our extremely smart and diligent Niles West debaters. They’re ready to work hard in order to accomplish their goals.

“Some of our really committed members who go to a lot of tournaments willingly spend several hours a week researching and preparing,” said junior and team captain Ephraim Bennett. The work, however, pays off, especially when you’re given the opportunity to travel to so many cool places, and traveling is certainly on the agenda for this years debate team.

Not only is the team extremely dedicated and hard-working, but they’re like a family as well.

“Some highlights from last year would have to be getting closer to my teammates while traveling and all the support we get from the rest of the team at tournaments,” senior Freskida Sejdiu said.”I hope to see the debate team continue to grow into a debate family and support each other, so Niles West can continue being successful at debate tournaments.”

Family seems to be a common trend amongst the Niles West debate team members.

“I really love getting to travel and work with all these people, I feel like we’ve all really become a family that’s always providing constant support and motivation for each other,” Junior and team member Sumehra Taj.

This school year, the captains are especially looking forward to qualifying for the Tournament of Champions.

“The Tournament of Champions is a national tournament for debate that most teams don’t make it to. Especially because no one from West was able to qualify last year, I feel that it’s really important that we work hard to qualify this year,” Bennett said.

Between all the hard work and team love going on at the Niles West Debate program, they’re hoping for a successful year.

To anyone interested in joining the team, it’s not too late! Feel free to reach out to debate coach Eric Oddo for more information on joining the team.