The Eastern Wyoming College debate team traveled to Boise Idaho to compete at the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) National Tournament on March 27th.
The tournament was one of the largest in (IPDA) history, boasting over 250 competitors and 94 within the novice debate bracket. Torrington’s own, Thomas Garvie, sophomore, tied for 9th in the country in the novice bracket and earned Eastern Wyoming College their highest national ranking in debate team history.
According to John Hansen, EWC’s Speech and Debate team coach “It was a magical run to see Thomas at his best and it shows that students from our local community, with a lot of hard work, determination, and some effective coaching can compete against anyone in the country.”
After 8-grueling preliminary rounds of debate, Garvie ended up winning 6 out of 8 debates, and in the first round of the tournament, narrowly losing to the national champion, Stanfield from Middle Tennessee State University. According to Garvie, “It’s an amazing feeling to match wits with the best debaters in the country and to know that you are among an elite group is rewarding and humbling.” EWC’s debaters were only bested by one other community college (Lee College) and have solidified EWC’s position amongst the best Colleges and Universities in the country.
Other debaters that had a successful national tournament were Emily Ellis, freshman, Carpenter, WY and Bryce Funk, freshman, Merino, CO, who ended up ranking 50th and 51st respectfully. According to Hansen “Both Emily and Bryce showed exceptional gains this year and it’s exciting to have them back next year as they will work hard to move-up in the national rankings.” Also traveling were novice debaters Will Anderson, freshman, Torrington, WY and Callie Pearson, freshman, Torrington, WY who put up impressive wins against the College of Western Idaho and Bossier Parish Community College. Additionally, Drew Buckhaults, freshman, Hawk Springs, WY competed in the novice division and showed impressive gains earning 142 speaker points.
Moreover, EWC showed great promise in the varsity division, thanks to Kyle Sabourin, freshman, Farson, WY who competed against the most experienced debaters in the country and winning three of his debates and defeating debaters from Boise State University and Louisiana State University – Shreveport.
EWC’s national team success was aided by the efforts of Madison Bloodgood, freshman, Torrington, WY who competed for the team throughout the year, but at nationals served as assistant coach. According to Hansen, “Madison brings a depth of knowledge and great research skills that put our debaters in a position to make the winning argument.”
At the start of the year, EWC returned only one debater from the previous squad, Hansen put out a challenge to the students of EWC, “if you want to be a part of something a little larger than yourself, join speech and debate, it will change your life.”
EWC’s debate team has now grown to 14-members and with the efforts of Mai Lee Olson (College Recruiter) and Kaitlyn Steben (Agriculture Faculty) serving as assistant coaches throughout the year we have provided our team with a diverse knowledge pool that broadens our student’s perspectives beyond communication. This broadening is supported by Hansen, who summed it up by saying, “It takes a village of support to raise champions, while our win / loss record is endemic of our students efforts, those efforts are built upon a firm academic knowledge, predicated upon successful teaching and a supportive community, I cannot thank everyone enough for their assistance throughout the year; winning is a community effort.”
For more information about EWC debate, including scholarship opportunities for high school students who competed in speech & debate, contact John Hansen at 307-532-8367.
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