The Colorado Christian University debate team swept through the Great Salt Lake Invitational last weekend, winning the junior varsity division of the tournament. The duo of Caleb Rawson and Matthew Erickson dropped no ballots -- every judge they saw ruled for them -- on their way to the championship.
“I was very proud and excited with how the debate team performed,” said Dr. Chris Leland, director of debate at CCU. “This tournament is tough because they’re coming off a holiday and out of practice. But Caleb Rawson and Matthew Erickson were on a team at the beginning of the year, and then were able to be paired here again.”
Students are given topics -- and the positions they must take on those topics -- in parliamentary style debate and then have 20 minutes to prep. Therefore, staying abreast of current events and up-to-date on research is essential for debaters, and they all have regular research assignments.
The longstanding tournament saw 34 attendees this year, with schools ranging from Pepperdine, Berkeley, and UCLA to the University of Wisconsin and Loyola University Chicago. Rawson and Erickson topped University of Nevada, Reno in the final.
Judges, in addition to determining a team winner, rank each speaker based on performance. The rankings are then compiled to determine the top overall speakers of the tournament. Rawson was named the second best speaker, while Erickson nabbed the top spot.
CCU also had an outstanding showing in the individual events, which are not separated into divisions. Erin Shumaker, the other member of the team to travel to the invitational, placed third in persuasive speaking. Erickson was tabbed a finalist in extemporaneous speaking, while Rawson earned the top spot, placing first in informative speaking. The business and accounting major spoke on how to save Social Security. “He did a phenomenal job of making his topic understandable, logical, and enjoyable -- it is an entertaining speech,” noted Leland.
Beyond an excellent showing for the second year team, highlights of the trip included time spent with other debate teams. “We try to engage with other debaters outside of the arena -- over meals -- and I love listening to the conversations that continue there,” said Dr. Leland. “Issues brought up in debates continue to be explored, and our students aren’t afraid to mention how faith affects various positions.” For the debate team, only in its second year, the future -- whether in competition or outside of it -- is bright.