The Belmont Abbey College Debate Team was started in the early days of the college by Abbot Leo Haid, offering students opportunities for debate and discussion and representing one of the premier programs on campus. Although dormant for about four decades, it was revived for a new generation of students at Belmont Abbey College. This team, which houses the competitive debate squad, offers students the opportunity to develop and to test their abilities to reason well and communicate articulately. Members of the squad will travel to tournaments and compete against students from colleges and universities across the United States, which can include Ivy League institutions and flagship state universities. Unlike athletic teams, debate programs are not classified by the size of a college’s student enrollment or major interest. Consequently, students will debate individuals from various academic backgrounds and those representing renowned research institutions to those from smaller liberal arts colleges While competing for the debate society requires a time commitment, the rewards are significant. Students will immediately see their writing, research, and public speaking improve. They will learn to see the heart of an issue, to derive the principle, and apply that the ever growing supply of knowledge from every discipline. By extension, the cultivation of this habit prepares students to be good fathers, mothers, stewards, and citizens with the ability to intellectually defend those principles in a civilized and humane fashion. Finally, and in a practical sense, participation in debate further prepares students for excellence in law school, medical school, at a seminary, in graduate school, for employment and as citizens, parishioners, and parents. For more information about joining the society, please contact Emily Mikkelsen, Director of Debate, at email@example.com.
Meet Emily Mikkelsen
Emily Mikkelsen joined Belmont Abbey College as the Director of Debate in 2016 after graduating from UNC Greensboro with her M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies, concentrating in International Peace Development. In addition to coaching, Emily is pursuing her doctoral degree at UNC Charlotte in Public Policy. As a competitor, Emily and her collegiate debate partner were ranked second in the country for National Parliamentary Debate in December 2013, placing at every tournament she attended that season. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Emily spent time assistant coaching Appalachian State University’s first year team; some students were placed in the top 50 teams nationally by March. Since 2016, Emily has been working alongside the Belmont Abbey College team, which has won the International Public Debate Association National Tournament in the J.V. division and has received several national semifinalist and quarterfinalist awards since that time.
“Debating for Belmont Abbey College has been the hardest yet most rewarding activity I’ve taken part in this school year. It pushed my limits socially and academically. I think one of the most difficult challenges that people face in life is communicating your ideas effectively to others, as it impacts personal relationships, businesses endeavors, and success as a student. As Christians it’s also important to be able to defend what you believe in. Debating this semester is something that has helped me extremely in both of these areas. It has given me the ability to vocalize and communicate my ideas in a concise and understandable manner, in addition to developing the ability to successfully defend something that I believe is right.”
“Debate has been crucial to forming my critical thinking skills, enabling me to employ my liberal arts education and enhancing my understanding of the world it a fun and engaging way.”
-Mary Rose Stepnowski
Debate Team Schedule
|University of Tennessee- Knoxville||Knoxville, TN||January 31- February 3||IPDA|
|NCICU Ethics Bowl||Raleigh, NC||February 22-23||Ethics Bowl Panel|
|Hillsdale College or John Carroll University||Hillsdale, MI or University Heights, OH||February/ March TBD||LD for both, IPDA if Hillsdale|
|Pi Kappa Delta Comprehensive National Tournament*||San Diego, CA||March 27-30||IPDA, LD|
|Lafayette Debates at George Washington University; Embassy of France||Washington, D.C.||April TBD||Team debate with a blend of IPDA, LD, and Policy formats|
Belmont Abbey Debate Wins Second Place
Belmont Abbey Debate kicked off our 2019-2020 season in a tournament hosted on our campus this weekend! The Queen City Debates welcomed Appalachian State University (NC), the University of the Cumberlands (KY), and Davis and Elkins College (WV) to begin the season with six rounds of IPDA public debate before breaking to octofinals in an open division, along with a semifinal novice breakout division. Approximately 50 people were included in the competition and judging of the event. Our students collectively earned second place for both traditional sweepstakes awards as well as honors to recognize teams with the highest percentage of ballots won in the preliminary rounds. Every student competing for Belmont Abbey was recognized for a top speaker award and/or a top tournament placement during the awards ceremony on Sunday.
In novice, freshman Paloma Shrauder excelled in her first debate tournament by earning fifth place as a top speaker in the category. Bryanna Farmer, a senior competing in her second semester, won first place for novice speaking overall and second place for top novices competing in the open elimination rounds. She concluded the open competition as an octofinalist.
In open, each varsity team member earned winning records in the preliminary rounds. Consequently, 75% of the first elimination rounds included a Belmont Abbey debater. We had three students conclude the tournament as octofinalists: sophomore Blake Traylor, junior Anastasjiah McGriff, and junior Isabelle Robertson. Freshman Zoe Lamborn won her open octofinal round a 3-0 decision, and senior Adrianna Hodges won her octofinal round on a 2-1 decision. Zoe and Adrianna met in the bracket during quarterfinals; Zoe concluded as a quarterfinalist, while Adrianna continued to win semifinals on a 2-1 decision. Adrianna concluded the tournament as second place overall. Both Adrianna and Zoe were recognized as top speakers for the tournament, taking second and third respectively.
Our students represented Belmont Abbey College remarkably well, both as debaters and hosts for our inaugural competition. Given scheduling conflicts and the need to balance student academics, we are replacing the Lafayette College tournament next weekend. We are excited to continue our season at Penn State University in October!
Belmont Abbey Debaters Compete at Stanford University
Belmont Abbey Students Debate Protest Ethics with French Officers from École de Guerre
Belmont Abbey Debate: Southern Forensics Championship
The Belmont Abbey Debate Team returned from Spokane, Washington on Wednesday, March 28 after competing in the International Public Debate Association’s National Championship. In individual debate, four of six students broke into the top 32 for their divisions, and all advanced into the top 16 rounds.
In novice, freshman Anastasjiah McGriff won five of eight preliminary rounds, advancing to double-octofinals. She won her first elimination round against the University of Tennessee- Knoxville before placing as an octofinalist in her next round. Freshman Hunter Owen earned a 3-5 preliminary record, placing him a ballot away from potential advancement. In junior varsity, Adrianna Hodges was two ballots away from potential advancement.
In varsity, all three team members advanced to the double-octofinal round. Seniors Mary Rose Stepnowski and Eric Swartz each earned 5-3 records, while Logan Torve’s 7-1 record placed him as the first seed in elimination rounds and second overall varsity speaker at the National Championship. In double-octofinals, the three upperclassmen collected eight of nine possible ballots, defeating debaters from Boise State University, Drury University, and the University of Arkansas- Monticello. Logan and Mary Rose each concluded their individual tournaments as varsity octofinalists in the next round. Eric continued into the quarterfinals round in which he debated the merits of Just War Theory, but ultimately tied for fifth place in varsity on a 1-2 decision against Bossier Parish College.
In team debate, Logan Torve and Mary Rose Stepnowski went 3-1 in preliminary rounds, advancing to octofinals. They won both octofinals and quarterfinals before placing third overall after dropping on a 1-2 decision in quarterfinals. Logan Torve also won ninth top speaker overall in the division. Eric Swartz and Hunter Owen went 2-2, barely missing elimination rounds. Freshmen duo Anastasjiah McGriff and Isabelle Robertson went 1-3 in varsity-level competition, setting them up well for continued novice and junior varsity debate next year.
This concludes the regular season for our team, though we do still have two remaining tournaments for a few upperclassmen. The next competition will be at George Washington University and the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. April 7-8. We are also excited to announce that we have been accepted as competitors at the United States Universities British Parliamentary Championships April 14-16, hosted at Stanford University.
Belmont Abbey Debate: Southern Forensics Championship
The Belmont Abbey College Debate Team returned Monday from Russellville, Arkansas after competing in the 2018 Southern Forensics Championship. The competition saw 24 schools from the Southern United States, with approximately 50 students competing in the varsity division alone. The Belmont Abbey team placed in the top eight for team debate, in the top 16 for individual debate, and second place for overall speaking awards!
In team debate, Mary Rose Stepnowski and Logan Torve went undefeated in preliminary rounds, advancing to quarterfinals and finishing in the top eight. Logan also earned second place for overall speaking in the team division.
In varsity individual debate, Logan Torve and Eric Swartz each went 5-1 in preliminary rounds, earning fifth and ninth place respective rankings going into elimination rounds. These placements earned both debaters an automatic win in partial double-octofinals, setting up pairings in the octofinal rounds. Logan lost on a 1-2 decision against Drury University; Eric dropped in a round against the University of Central Arkansas. While we are still waiting for official cumulative results, but the collective success of all three debaters likely places Belmont Abbey College as a top five school at the varsity level at this year’s Southern Forensics Championship.
Our next competition will be the NCICU Ethics Bowl in Raleigh February 16-17.
Belmont Abbey Debate Claims Second Place Speaking Award at New York Competition
The Belmont Abbey College Debate Team returned Sunday from Garden City, New York after competing in the Off Broadway Swing competition. In addition to individual success, the team collectively earned fourth place in the debate competition sweepstakes, in a field of 11 teams ranging from Seton Hall University to Colorado Christian University. Mary Rose Stepnowski and Logan Torve both concluded in the top 15% of competitors. Mary Rose was also awarded the gavel for second place in overall speaking points out of 54 competitors!
The tournament was run accordingly to Phi Ro Pi IPDA guidelines, which are catered to be more inclusive of two-year programs. Consequently, all students competed in varsity, including freshmen Hunter Owen and Isabelle Robertson. Belmont Abbey’s second and third year debaters all finished the four-round preliminary competition with winning records. Eric Swartz and Adrianna Hodges each won two rounds, while Mary Rose Stepnowski and Logan Torve both earned ballots in three of four rounds.
The 54 debaters were narrowed to a field of 16 for the “bronze round”. With 75% success records in preliminary rounds, Mary Rose and Logan were both selected to advance. Mary Rose won all three ballots to advance to the final “gold round”. Earning two of three ballots, Logan also advanced to the final round.
The final round proved more difficult, with Mary Rose winning one of three ballots to be named a silver award winner. Logan also dropped in the final round, positioning him as a second silver medalist for the team.
The students rounded out a successful semester by competing at a tournament in which only five schools advanced to elimination rounds. This type of competition is expected to challenge students even more than an average tournament, and our students certainly stepped up to that goal!
Belmont Abbey Placed Eight Nationally
While the International Public Debate Association is still entering numbers for some of our recent tournaments, current varsity rankings have Belmont Abbey placed eighth nationally!
The Belmont Abbey College Debate Team also traveled to Spokane, Washington last weekend to compete in the Nationals preview competition at Whitworth University. Following preliminary rounds, Belmont Abbey was ranked third overall out of 10 schools. In novice, freshman Hunter Owen was consistently ranked well as a speaker, earning seventh place honors out of 19. Anastasjiah McGriff won two ballots, placing her a single ballot away from elimination rounds.
In the open division, Eric Swartz won four out of five rounds, which placed him as ninth seed in a field of 40 varsity debaters. Logan Torve won three of five rounds, placing him in a tie for 11th seed of the same field and securing seventh place for varsity in speaking points. Mary Rose Stepnowski rounded out the varsity team by winning two ballots, including a round with a perfect speaking points score of 40. These contributions allowed the varsity team to collectively defeat Azusa Pacific University for team rankings following preliminary rounds.
The Belmont Abbey Debate Team traveled to Berea, Kentucky this weekend to compete at Berea College. This tournament hosted a shortened version of several events, including both performance-based individual events and parliamentary debate. We concluded the weekend with two debate semifinalists and a second place speaker in varsity! Our major competition occurred in IPDA debate; five Belmont Abbey students competed in four preliminary rounds. In novice, Anastasjiah McGriff went 2-2, missing elimination rounds by one ballot. Maximilian Marck won all four preliminary ballots, advancing to quarterfinals. Max won the quarterfinal round against Morehouse College on a 3-0 decision before dropping in semifinals to Berea College on a 1-2 decision. In open debate, Mary Rose went 1-3 and Adrianna Hodges went 3-1. Due to a round with slightly lower than average speaking points, Addie missed qualification to quarterfinals; she tied for ninth place overall. Eric Swartz also won three of his preliminary ballots, advancing to elimination rounds as the second place varsity speaker. He won quarterfinals against the University of Kentucky on a 2-1 decision before dropping to a debater from Transylvania University. The cumulative record placed Belmont in the top five of 15 schools at the Berea Tournament!