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Political Science in the News

Tennessee Speech and Debate Society Wins Big at Nationals

Tennessee Speech and Debate Society Wins Big at Nationals

Students on the Tennessee Speech and Debate Society (TSDS) team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, won three season-long first place championship titles at the International Public Debate Association National Championships in Spokane, Washington, in March. 

TSDS, the only fully student-run and alumni-funded debate team in the national association, won 22 awards from the tournament and throughout the season. Members of the team compete in three divisions: Novice, Junior Varsity, and Varsity. The debate team finished second in the nation behind Union University, which is twice the size of UT’s debate program. 

“Our team has not only grown so much this year, but it has also shown that student-run debate programs can compete and win against long-standing debate programs,” says Mickayla Stogsdill, team president and student-coach. “Our team is really good because we have students that are extremely intelligent and unconditionally love debating. You wouldn’t see the success we have without the family dynamic that is always present on trips and in meetings.”

Jessica Rice, a freshman and first-time debater, is the Novice National Champion and won fifth place overall in the individual season and speaker season. 

“After my first debate, I knew I wanted to improve as fast as possible and any success I have achieved is due to my brilliant teammates,” Rice says. “This group of individuals teems with knowledge. Part of what makes this team second in the nation is a collective desire to make others succeed, both in debating and in everyday life. This truly is a fantastic team, composed of not only immensely talented debaters, but also some of my closest friends. I am so thankful for this year's experiences and look forward to many more.”

Members of the Tennessee State Legislature also recognize the value of the UT debate team. Representative Eddie Smith and Senator Becky Massey sponsored a resolution to “honor and commend the members of the Tennessee Speech and Debate Society on their remarkable success in debate competition and extend to them our best wishes for every future success.”

Members of the team won the following division titles:

Novice Division (411 total competitors competing)

· Jesse Parks, freshman: 4th Individual Season Long, 2nd Speaker Season Long
· Jessica Rice, freshman: 5th Individual Season Long, 5th Speaker Season Long; Novice Champion
· Clark Hathaway, sophomore: 8th Individual Season Long, 4th Speaker Season Long
· First Novice Squad

Junior Varsity Division (208 total competitors competing)

· Symantha Gregorash, sophomore: 2nd Individual Season Long, 4th Speaker Season Long
· Cole Hughes, junior: 9th Individual Season Long, 1st Speaker Season Long
· First Junior Varsity Squad

Varsity (340 total competitors competing)

· Mickayla Stogsdill, junior: 2nd Individual Season Long, 5th Speaker Season Long
· Ninth Varsity Squad

For more information about the team and individual award winners, visit their Facebook Page.

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