May 11, 2016

Middle School Debate Cleans Up at Golden State

Justin Sweitzer / Middle School Debate Coach

It was touted as the most competitive Golden State Debate League Championship tournament ever.

Who could argue against that statement? A month ago at Nationals, represented by league stalwarts Colina, Chaminade, Sycamore, and, of course, Oakwood, the GSDL won 39 of 55 rounds (70.9%), a record that far eclipsed any combined record of any four other teams at Nationals. So, what would happen when those four teams, plus Oaks Christian, were thrown into a tournament together just by themselves? For Oakwood, even as defending league champions, it was a gargantuan challenge.

Last Saturday morning, as nervous debaters started to trickle into the championship at Oaks Christian, there was a tension in the room based on what was at stake. Sycamore students sat in uniform pods at their tables, busily going over arguments in last-minute preparations. Chaminade debaters were comparing notes and refutations. Coaches greeted each other and braced themselves for a day of trials.

But where were the Oakwood kids? What were they doing?

If you followed the graceful notes of Beethoven echoing throughout the hall, towards the back of the main room, you would find the Oakwood Middle School Debate Team. With Tyler Kim at the piano and August announcing the entrance of each of his teammates with proclamations like, “And now, #14, Oweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!”, Oakwood kids cheered and laughed and danced. Yes, danced. At eight o’clock in the morning. Who do these kids think they are? Don’t they realize that they are about to face the most daunting opponents in middle school debate west of the Mississippi? Shouldn’t they be afraid? Shouldn’t they be preparing? Shouldn’t they be nervous?

Instead, we rolled over the GSDL Championship singing, dancing, wrestling (yes, they were wrestling at lunch in the gaga pit), and debating our way to a historic sweep of ALL first place awards. To sweep the awards in a normal year is mind-altering enough; to do it during this year of unprecedented GSDL success is, well, gaga. By going 19-9 as a school, by Wyatt winning the Gavel as Top Speaker, and by Noah, Avery, and Eli winning the Public Final, the 2015-16 Middle School Debate Team set a mark that will be looked at for years to come: 1st place Overall, 1st place Tournament %, 1st place speaker, and 1st place Team. Just incredible.

In the Public Final, Eli stood for all that Oakwood Debate represents during the last debate on compulsory voting by countering his rhetoric-mad opponent’s claim that people come to America to vote by saying, “The last time I checked, people didn’t come to this country to vote—they came here to be free!” This, dear readers, is the debate version of a 9th inning grand slam to win it all.

Photos by Christopher Mack

As well, Oakwood had the tournament’s 2nd place team of Sierra, Charlotte, and Sarah. Going further, Nikki, Makila, and August placed 6th; Kate, Tyler, and Wyatt 10th; Diego, Lila, and Kainoa 14th; and Alexander, Wilder, and Owen 15th. Individually, besides Wyatt winning the Gavel, we had Eli at 6th, Charlotte 10th, Sarah 11th, Avery 12th, Owen 14th, August 15th, and Hayden at 16th.

Super special recognition goes out to Sophie, who has been the team’s administrative assistant for about two years now. Everyone on the team knows that the chaos that occurs at practices is kept under control largely due to Sophie’s organization and understanding. Thanks so so much, Sophie.

All that was left for the team was to party on Monday, finishing off pizzas and wings, dancing to Wham!, dub step, and the Top Gun soundtrack—marching to the debate trophy case to enshrine our latest achievement.

What a collection of characters! What success!

(End scene)