Published: Mon Feb 25, 2008Quality is no matter for debate when it comes to the Tennessee Tech University’s speech and debate team.
It typically wins up to 60 awards from various competitions throughout the academic year, and team members this year have already won 55, says coach Graham Kash.
The team’s most recent first place award was at the Little Brown Jug debate tournament at East Tennessee State University, where it beat out national champions from the University of the Cumberlands and state champions from the Universities of Virginia and North Carolina to bring home the coveted Little Brown Jug award.
Also at that tournament, Kash — who’s been coaching the team for 17 years — was selected as Debate Coach of the Year for the entire southeast region, an honor he says also reflects on the quality of the team itself.
“It means our debate teams have a good record,” he said. “It means that I encourage them, but it also means that I don’t do everything for them. It means they know the value of practice, because we have event practices several times a week.”
Those practices are what help the team bring in awards. At its most recent contest — the Tennessee Intercollegiate Forensics Association competition in Nashville — team members won a total of 10 awards, Kash said.
Josh Hughes and T.J. Tipps were on a team that finished in the quarter- and semi-final rounds of the novice debate category, and Mackenzie Nellis and Rich Charley were on a varsity debate team that finished in the same rounds for their category.
In addition, Nellis won a 7th place individual award in the programmed oral interpretation category, and Dahlia Gilliam won a 6th place individual award in the informative speaking category.
“It’s nice to win awards, but I don’t consider it our top priority,” Kash said. “In fact, I would consider it to be our third priority, falling behind the goals of education and enjoyment.”
Still, it wouldn’t hurt for that award-winning record to continue when the team competes next month in St. Louis at the National Pi Kappa Delta honorary college forensics society competition.
“The key word to our enterprise is determination,” Kash said. “As long as we have even a few members who are determined, our good performance will continue. Fortunately, though, we’ve had mostly good times.”