Ohbayashi-Peterson Team Places at Debate Season Opener

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The King’s Debate Society (KDS) continues to grow this year, took fourth at first debate this weekend Debate has been thriving at The King’s College, and members have been eagerly anticipating the first tournament of the year that happened this weekend.

Burk Ohbayashi (’12) and Josiah Peterson (’12) traveled to Binghamton, New York, where they represented the entire debate team in first tournament of the school year. They also collected the debate team's 2010-2011 fourth place national rankings award. Since this debate fell on the same weekend as Fall Retreat, Ohbayashi and Peterson went without the rest of the team, instead of forfeiting the tournament. They were already in the lead after the first day (five rounds)--only one point away from a perfect score--and placed in the top four teams out of the 60 teams present. Ohbayashi also received a trophy for fourth place in speaker points out of 120 speakers total at the event.

Ohbayashi and Peterson will be representing the debate team in the World Championship debate in Manila, Philippines this winter.

Thus far, debaters have also been honing their skills in practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the college’s ESB classrooms. Ohbayashi and coach Katie Teubl are conducting training sessions for new members in Tuesday’s debate meetings while “the veterans go off and have a debate,” Ohbayashi said. Teubl, who has been coaching the team since fall of 2010, has been officially employed by King’s this year as debate coach.

“There are a lot of new debaters. I’m the novice trainer, so I get to teach them everything that I know,” Ohbayashi said. “But yeah, a lot of great novices. I’m not even sure if it’s right to call them novices—they’re really great speakers, and they’re catching on faster than I ever did.”

The year has already shown a great deal of growth from past years. About 34 people last year could be classified as “regular attendees,” Peterson said, about 20 of whom wrote briefs. “This year, we’ve already had about 50-60 people show up expressing interest, and I believe we already have about 30 people who are showing up consistently,” he said.

Peterson also explained a new three-track system to enable different levels of student participation in debate. Track One involves students who would like to be involved with debate only up until midterms, participating only in practices and local scrimmages and/or debates. Track Two involves students who want to spend a little more time in KDS; this includes attendance of out-of-state tournaments. Finally, “Track Three is membership—you are required to attend 50 percent of practices, an average of once a week, and also write research briefs,” Peterson says. The reward is the opportunity to run for office, vote, and be considered for international tournaments.

This is the first year without KDS's founding generation of Matthias Clock, Pam Dodge and Kristin Rudolf.

"All graduated last year, so that’s been a transition, but they did a phenomenal job of prepping the next generation," Peterson said. "Of inspiring them about the vision of the debate society, about teaching them how to articulate it to people and also the more practical aspects of running KDS.”

Peterson, last year’s Vice President of KDS, has now assumed Clock's role as the President of KDS. Karen Penica (‘13) serves as Treasurer, Cerone (also on last year’s executive board) is serving as Vice President this year, and Joshua Craddock (‘14) as Research Coordinator.

“We’re under the academic department, so Cal White is our boss,” Cerone said. “And we get a portion of the academics budget—the same as last year, except that we got a scheduled budgetary increase.”

KDS will be hosting a tournament in January at the school and a scrimmage this fall. They are also contemplating whom to send to next year’s World Championship debate, which will be held in Berlin. “There’s a lot of stuff to do, but we have the resources to do it and capable people,” Cerone said.

“We are interested in training King’s students to better advocate truth in the marketplace of ideas,” Peterson said. “What are persuasive ideas in society?” It is questions like these, he said, that the debate society will seek to answer.

MiscRebecca Jacobson