Cal Debate celebrates successful first half of season

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UC Berkeley’s debate team Cal Debate placed first at its most recent tournament — the Franklin R. Shirley Classic at Wake Forest University — last month and foresees being ranked the top college debate team in the nation.

This season’s debate topic focuses on cooperation in outer space between the United States, Russia and China. According to campus senior and Cal Debate member Miles Gray, the team, which competes in policy debate, has spent 20 to 40 hours per week conducting research and practicing in preparation for the 10 tournaments that awaited them this season.

“Berkeley has had the most success this far, and if we were to do a ranking they would be number one,” said William Morgan, a campus graduate student and assistant coach for Cal Debate, in an email. “No one has officially announced the ranking but Berkeley definitely leads the path.”

The team is having one of its most successful seasons and hopes to continue its winning streak to the end of its season in March, when final rankings for the top five teams in the country are announced, according to Gray. So far, the team has won two national tournaments and three of its debaters have been recognized as the “top speaker” at a national tournament.

Morgan and other members of Cal Debate, such as campus junior Katie Wimsatt and campus sophomore Michael Eusterman, believe one of the reasons for this season’s success is the higher number of upperclassmen on the team, coupled with the hours they have spent preparing.

“This success is really just a culmination of all the hard work we’ve been putting in throughout our career,” Wimsatt said in an email. “We all set high expectations for ourselves and work to meet them — but the team has come together more to help everyone succeed.”

Cal Debate’s preparation for the season began in the summer during an intensive several day-long debate retreat, where team members started researching and strategizing for the upcoming season, according to Morgan.

Morgan, who has been a coach for Cal Debate for four years now, said it has been a privilege to watch how the students on his team have grown.

“To see the evolution of debaters is perhaps the greatest joy of being a coach, its been an extremely rewarding process and journey that we have been in together,” Morgan said. “The team feels really strong and we have sort of grown together as a unit.”

Contact Olivia González Britt at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Oliviagbritt.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Cal Debate team placed second and third at the Franklin R. Shirley Classic tournament. In fact, they placed first.