New coach sets King’s Debate Society records, looks forward
Financial District, NEW YORK—The King’s Debate Society set club records during their season’s first tournament at Binghamton University Sept. 22-23, assisted by their new coach, King's graduate Burk Ohbayashi. While 44 teams from around the region competed, KDS dominated by breaking four teams (eight individuals) to quarterfinals out of a total 16. Society President Greg DuBois (’13) placed first speaker out of more than 80 competitors.
DuBois (’13), Elias Garvey (’14), Noah Heinz (’14) and Joshua Craddock (’14) competed in the finals. Heinz/Craddock placed second on a split decision by the judges.
“We sent a message to the region that we are still competitive and will continue to be competitive even though some of our top teams have graduated,” DuBois said.
Freshman Aaron Mikat and Hannah Herman (’13) formed an intimidating team and broke a novice Mikat to out rounds in his first tournament.
Since former coach Katherine Teubl Ly left KDS, the society has hired Ohbayashi to fill the position. “They were originally looking for someone who had more experience, like a Master’s,” Ohbayashi said. “Not the most glorious way to [enter the position], but it’s been amazing."
Dubois said that Ohbayashi has continued momentum from the society’s accomplishments last year. “This tournament has proved to the society that Burk is not only an excellent coach, but he understands the vision as one who essentially wrote it,” Dubois said.
Ohbayashi has instituted actual training in the club, including progress tracking notebooks and stricter rules during practice rounds.
And KDS believes that they are just getting started.
Ohbayashi and Dubois plan to expand the British Parliament debate club beyond competitions and focus on engaging the community—both at King’s and in the city. They hope to bring in speakers, create public forums and host public debates, integrating other organizations and college clubs around the city.
“As a society, we’re interested in getting the best case for both sides,” Ohbayashi said. “I truly believe the more questions you ask, the more you’ll be able to come to genuine working solutions.”
DuBois envisions the mission of KDS cultivated outside of competitive debate. “The ultimate goal is that we wish to inspire a culture of truth-seeking whether that’s in the region or debate society,” he said. “We want our students to be leaders in that culture.”
Out of the three remaining tournaments this semester, Yale will be the most competitive, DuBois said. University of Vermont and Cornell consistently prove to be TKC’s greatest competition.
The Heinz/Craddock team is attending the World’s tournament in Berlin this coming January, after securing a spot with the best debaters internationally.