Speech & Debate Take a Trip to the Big Apple


A couple of weekends ago, ACP’s Speech and Debate team took a trip to New York City for a huge debate tournament at Columbia University. The six chosen debaters got to experience what it was like to debate in a different state (a different coast in their perspective) and to try and receive bids to qualify for national tournaments. Miranda Vega, a senior at Erie, explained to me what it was like debating in a new environment and how they all had a great time in the City that Never Sleeps.

Q: Why did you go to NY? What was it like? How was the trip overall?

A: I went to New York for a national circuit debate tournament at Columbia University to try and receive a bid to go to the Tournament of Champions, which is a huge national tournament and one you have to qualify for. The tournament itself was a great learning experience. My partner, Carrie Hu, and I learned how other regions debate in the circuit, which is really cool because Arizona debates a little differently. Overall the trip was so fun because in the little down time we had left after the tournament we were able to do some of the touristy things in New York. Plus, I got to create more memories and bond with my other teammates.

ACP’s debaters. Photo courtesy of Miranda Vega

Q: How many people from ACP went?

A: In total six debaters from our school went to the Columbia debate tournament. Competing in Public Forum were Damien Rivera, Sharmila Nimbkar, Carrie Hu, and myself. Sebastian Javadpoor competed in Congressional debate and Nik Pearce competed in Lincoln Douglas debate.

Q: Can you give us some background information on the tournament? 

A: The trip to New York was a trip to attend a debate tournament at Columbia University. There are other huge tournaments like that at Harvard, Emory Riddle, and Stanford. We call these tournaments Bid tournaments because if you get past a certain round, then you receive a bid, which is a qualifier for the tournament of champions (which is like nationals). These tournaments have huge numbers of entries. We attended one at ASU over winter break and there were over 200 entries in my event. At Columbia, there were over 130 entries competing. A few of our team members went to Columbia in search for a bid to try and qualify for the TOC.

Q: How did the tournament go? Did anyone from ACP win anything?

A: The tournament went pretty well. Our team is still pretty new, so with every tournament we attend we get better. Sharmila Nimbkar went 4-2, which is enough to go to the outrounds and receive a bid for the TOC. Unfortunately, her partner Damien got really sick from eating a raw egg and couldn’t compete with her, so she had to maverick, which is debating by herself. She definitely gained some clout because some of the teams we hit were insanely good, and she was able to beat them by herself. Sebastian Javadpoor was really close to getting to the finals in Congress debate, which is really cool because it’s ACP’s first year competing in Congressional debate. Carrie and I, as well as Nik Pearce, were one win away from advancing to out rounds, so we were really close to receiving a bid.

Carrie Hu and Sharmila Nimbkar. Photo courtesy of Miranda Vega

Q: Are speech and debate protocols different over there than here?

A: All the rules for speech and debate are the same; however, in the North East, they execute their arguments a little bit differently. For Public Forum debate and Lincoln Douglas debate, the Arizona circuit is much more aggressive than the New York circuit. All of Carrie and my opponents were so nice and were not overly aggressive at all, which was a nice switch. In terms of Congressional debate, everyone takes it really seriously in New York. In Arizona it is still really competitive, but also laid back. Here we are able to make more jokes and help lighten the mood and make a 2 hour and 30 minute round go by faster.

Q: Is this the first time you’ve gone out of state for speech and debate?

A: Personally, it was not my first time going out of state for Speech and debate. Natasha Zimmerman and I went to Denver last year to compete in the National Individual Event Tournament of Champions. We competed in Duet Acting and I also competed in Informative speaking.

A huge thank you to Miranda for taking the time to explain to all of us about the debate processes and tournaments. As time passes, ACP’s speech and debate team just keeps getting better and better. Great job, Knights!