For the first time in UTD history, a UTD debate team ranked among the top 15 in its district to qualify for the NCAA tournament of the debate world – the National Debate Tournament (NDT).
After years of debating at various levels of competition, the team of sophomore Britt Clark from Deer Park, Texas, and freshman Jason Larey of Shreveport, La., made huge strides in qualifying for the most prestigious tournament of the year, said Head Coach Christopher Burk.
Both debaters are debate scholarship recipients and were recruited by the team.
After spending the year competing at 10 tournaments, the pair won the Wichita State tournament and made strong showings at both the regional and national tournaments that they attended, Burk added.
“It wasn’t a surprise. Their performance for the year justified getting to the national tournament,” Burk said.
The team will compete at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., April 1-6.
Schools from across the nation including Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin, Dartmouth College and Wake Forest spend more money preparing and competing at this tournament than the entirety of the UTD Debate Team budget.
“It is the big show,” Burk said. “It’s like playing in a bowl game for the first time. You’re suddenly on a large stage with the best people in the country.”
Qualifying for the NDT marked a big achievement as well as good prospects for the future, Burk said.
Several changes occurred for the UTD Debate Team over the course of the last academic year.
The team hosted their first national tournament over the winter break. When two Kansas schools backed out of hosting tournaments over the holiday, UTD quickly jumped at the opportunity to host a tournament at a time when students would not miss school and all the classrooms were available.
“(In order to be) a full service program, one of the major parts is hosting a college tournament,” Burk said. “People come to your campus from all over. It gets you all kind of side benefits.”
With offers out to recruits for next year, Burk and the UTD Debate Team express great hope for the next year as opportunities to travel both their already successful team and top recruits show promise.
“It’s getting a major tournament and getting a team to the NDT shows we are moving in the right direction,” he said.