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Members Of The Debate Team Pose With Their Awards. From Left: Annie Bruner, Carson Bleich, Noah Lin, Caleb Roberts, Ellie Jordan, And Jackson Parris.

Debaters win awards, finish second at Knoxville tournament

The Erskine College Debate Team traveled to Tennessee for a debate tournament Feb. 9-10 at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, earning a second-place slot among the four-year colleges participating.

Caleb Roberts placed in Semi Finals in Novice Debate and Ellie Jordan placed in Quarter Finals in Novice Debate,” says Debate Coach Morgan Roberts. “Annie Bruner received the sixth-place novice speaker award and Jackson Parris received the third-place novice speaker award.” The Erskine students’ combined achievements earned the team its second-place position, she says.

Bruner, one of the team’s co-captains, says, “The most exciting thing about winning an award at this tournament was to see the improvements from last year’s team to now. At the same Pellissippi competition last year, we got third place overall in debate with just four people on our first tournament ever. For this year’s group, we placed second overall in debate, which was neat to experience since the debate team is still such a new group in comparison to other colleges and universities.”

The team is scheduled to compete in two more tournaments this spring. The NCCCI National Championship tournament is set for March 7-9 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the IPDA National Championship Tournament & Convention takes place April 12-15 at Mississippi State University-Starkville.

As the team prepares for its remaining spring events, junior Noah Lin, who also serves as co-captain, says, “We’re particularly excited for our very next tournament, which consists of Christian schools from all over the country. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to bond with brothers and sisters in faith through our debates.”

Bruner agrees, and has an additional reason to look forward to the tournament. “At the upcoming Christian nationals, I am going to be trying a new speech category that is unique to this competition. The category is called ‘Interpretation of Faith Literature’ and is an acting speech [with] an emphasis on faith subjects. I’m excited since this is my first time doing something other than my traditional three speaking events.”

The co-captains have high praise for their coach. “Morgan has created an environment where every team member feels appreciated and empowered, not only enhancing our debating abilities but also instilling in us the values of empathy, critical thinking, and the courage to stand by our beliefs.,” says Lin, and Bruner adds, “She loves and has experience with debate and knows each of us well enough to show us how to bring our best selves to the debate world.”

The Erskine College Debate Team was formed in August 2022. According to the organization’s web page, “Students on the debate team learn to develop skills in clear communication, team building, creative thinking, logic, ethics, research, and community. Team members seek to glorify God through their interactions, during competition and at all other times, by setting examples of character and integrity on and off campus.”

Shown at top are the members of the team who attended the Knoxville event. From left are junior Annie Bruner, co-captain; freshman Carson Bleich; junior Noah Lin, co-captain; freshman Caleb Roberts; sophomore Ellie Jordan; and freshman Jackson Parris.

Erskine and Due West Skyline

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