Debaters take on first virtual state competition


Photo Courtesy of Tori Deneault

On Jan. 14 the debate state qualifiers headed into their first round of the weekend.

Riley Merrick, Staff Writer

The debate team attended the first-ever virtual State competition the weekend of Jan. 14. While their hopes were high, it was more difficult than expected when having to debate virtually.

The 2-speak virtual debate state tournament was held through Zoom. Every team starts in the main meeting and then is separated into breakout rooms to compete in rounds.

“We use a program called Tabroom,” said debate coach Tori Deneault. “The website pushes out the schedule and Zoom links to us, and ballots to the judges. All teams and judges go to a pooling Zoom room. The host then sets teams and judges into breakout rooms where they debate. It’s actually beautifully simple.”

According to junior Lisa Calhoun, debating virtually was challenging for many debaters. Although debating in-person comes with its pros and cons, it seems to be more likable.

“I love debating in person so much more,” Calhoun said.

According to sophomore Annalia Escalante, the debate mindset was much more difficult to reach and it took some getting used to.

“When I first started the tournament, I was in the mood,” Escalante said. “I was in the right headspace to be in debating and then I started seeing problems towards the beginning. That kind of put my headspace back a little bit.”

Going into state, the team was optimistic. However, according to Calhoun, they did not perform as planned.

I was in the right headspace to be in debating and then I started seeing problems towards the beginning”

— Annalia Escalante

“It didn’t go really well if I am being honest,” Calhoun said. “Honestly, I feel like I let my nerves get the best of me and that’s what resulted in my loss but I know how to be better.”

Along with Calhoun, Deneault was a little disappointed with the outcome of the tournament.

“I would have liked to see us win a few more, obviously,” Deneault said. “Sometimes judges think they know more than they do and debate the student on the ballot. The judge ultimately ends up voting for a debate that never happened instead of the debate that they actually watched. We call these judges ‘interventionists.’ We lost several rounds to interventionist judges, which is always hard to accept.”

Rice-Jones placed 11th going 3-3, Holladay-Montgomery placed 13th with 3-3, and Calhoun-Escalante went 1-5.

“As a team, none of us made it to finals, so that was kind of a bummer, but we all did really good this season and that’s what I’m really proud of,” Escalante said. “I’m proud of how everybody worked together just with everything being virtual and everything being new for us. I’m glad that we were able to still make it to state and to qualify.”