A Prestigious Debate Tournament Is on the Horizon


Kate Mckinney

Kate McKinney (left) and Ella Furman (right) placing as National Tournament Qualifiers


Each fall, as freshmen come in, they are bombarded with choices. Classes, clubs, sports, and more, many of these programs are thrust into the light, most of all being debate. Our debate club is well-known and the school often boasts on the success of our team, but not many people are aware of the places and opportunities offered to those who excel in their categories. One of the most well-known and well-respected opportunities is the debate tournament that is coming up on February 15th, sponsored and regulated by the Harvard Institute in Massachusetts. The best in the debate team, either in singles or partners, will go to Cambridge against other schools in the country in order to represent themselves and Chanhassen High School. 

The reason that this tournament is so well respected in the community is not only because it accepts applicants from around the country, it is also a team by team decision on who will be able to compete. For example, from our school, we are only sending in debaters for 4 of the different categories, one of which is varsity public forum, or VPF. The students being sent to Harvard in this particular category are Kate McKinney and Ella Furman, and I was able to get their insight on the tournament. When asked how important this tournament is for debaters, Furman remarks that she has “seen the sad reality of those who aren’t picked to go, and some of them get very broken up about it”.  “It’s a defining moment for your debate career” continues McKinney “I am very lucky to be able to have this opportunity, many are not as lucky”. Highlighting the importance of a win in this tournament, they both readily remark that those who have stolen a win in Cambridge are “remembered as the greats”. 

And while this tournament is at the forefront of all the debater’s minds right now, there is little to no knowledge of it outside of the club’s circle. Those who did know of the tournament only had a small amount of knowledge picked up from friends or family who were connected to debate. There is no small amount of work and effort that goes into getting ready for Harvard, and you could easily triple that amount in comparison to the work gone in over the whole year. As the debate is and will continue to be one of our most successful extracurricular activities, the debaters deserve to have their efforts recognized and acknowledged, if not celebrated. As February 15th looms closer, and the participants work double time on their cases, encouragement from classmates and teachers around them could be the inspiration they need to bring the trophy home, not only for themselves but for our school as a whole.