February has proved historic for the Walpole High School Debate Team: two debate team members have qualified for national tournaments for the first time ever in the history of the program.
Within the speech and debate program at the high school, members of the team compete in two different leagues. Junior debate team member Reshma Abraham qualified for the National Speech and Debate Association National (NSDA) Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, FL on Feb. 3. Meanwhile, sophomore debater Lindsay Navick qualified for the National Catholic Forensic League’s Grand National (NCFL) Tournament in Washington, D.C on Feb. 10.
“I felt excited. At first, I couldn’t really believe [I qualified for nationals]. I just felt that I had debated okay and had had my fingers crossed that I had done well enough,” said Navick.
While Navick was initially doubtful of her performance, Debate Coach Tammie Ruda had no doubts.
“I am confident that Lindsay will be prepared to compete and represent us well at the tournament, just as she did at the qualifying tournament,” said Ruda.
Abraham meanwhile is the first student from Walpole to qualify for the NSDA Tournament, held from June 17-22 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Reshma will be competing in the NSDA National Tournament. She set a goal for herself to get to Nationals by junior year, and she has achieved it. I could not be more proud of or excited for her,” Debate Coach Tammie Ruda said.
In order to be entered into the tournament Abraham had to join the NSDA Honor Society, along with Ruda and Speech Coach Emily Murray making sure the correct results are displayed on the NSDA website from various tournaments. Abraham will not be competing as a Walpole High School representative, but rather representing the NSDA New England District, along with debaters from Lexington and Acton-Boxborough.
“Only a few students could try to qualify for NSDA Nationals, as they had to have a certain amount of points, so to have one of our students be eligible to compete and then qualify is quite an achievement,” Murray said.
Over the next few months, both Abraham and Navick will prepare by researching their topics, learning and identifying topics and creating arguments based on factual evidence. Ruda will then listen to the case and help by giving feedback.
During Memorial Day weekend in May, Navick will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the two-day Lincoln Douglas Debate, accompanied by Ruda. Navick is the second student to qualify for the NCFL Tournament from Walpole High; however, she is the first student to qualify from the debate team. At the tournament, there will be 110 students representing Massachusetts.
“I expect [Navick] will have fun and it will be a learning experience for her,” Murray said. “If she places, that would be amazing, but she is already a winner for qualifying.”
In the upcoming months both Navick and Abraham will work to brainstorm new ideas, draft cases and potentially even debate against each other for practice.
“I am thrilled that Reshma is going to be able to learn from this experience and come back ready to achieve even more success in her senior year,” Ruda said. “As is the case with the NSDA tournament, [Navick and I] are looking forward to preparing for this tournament with the other qualifiers from our area. I expect that to be a big benefit for Lindsay.”