Indiana University’s Debate team returned from Northwestern University last weekend with a new feather in their cap with two homegrown Hoosier debaters, Victoria Lincourt (Senior) and Drew Bagan (Junior), who both started debate in college as campus recruit novices, qualified to the 2020 National Debate Tournament. With their victory the IU debate team’s streak of NDT qualifications has been extended to a fifth straight year and the program’s seventh NDT overall. The tournament will be hosted at James Madison University this March.
Director of Debate Brian DeLong emphasized that the partnership’s achievement was a testament to the duo’s leadership and grit. “Qualifying to the NDT is a major accomplishment and extremely difficult for anyone. However, this case is especially profound considering the two debaters have limited to no high school experience and they qualified to the big dance as a partnership.” While IU did qualify one novice campus recruit to the NDT who was partnered with a more seasoned debater in 2018, this year marks the first time a dual partnership of students who started debate in college made It through together.
After IU graduated three seniors in 2019 following its best season on record, the program’s incoming juniors and our sole-senior and team president, Victoria, had big shoes to fill. Success in the open division proved difficult throughout the regular season. Despite obtaining limited hardware, our debaters’ commitments never faltered as they sought to improve and learn from each loss. Victoria and Drew saw their efforts rewarded after qualifying to the elimination debates at the Naval Academy in mid-January. They carried this success into the District qualification tournament against some of the best teams in the nation. With their season on the line, the partnership had to win or go home in a “runoff” debate against Wayne State’s top team. The panel of judges awarded the Hoosiers a victory on 3-0 decision. Drew reflected on the experience, "This was a really high goal for us at the beginning of the season, so I'm excited that we were able to step up to the challenge and bring the heat to some of the top teams in the nation."
This year’s success is directly related to the supportive cast of alumni and the team culture that was built over the past 10 years by our excellent and dedicated students. Beyond the insightful coaching from our graduate students assistants, the program also received a boost from our alumni who helped with argument construction and research preparation before each debate.
Of the seven debaters who have qualified for IU, Victoria will be the first woman to represent Indiana University at the National Debate Tournament. Victoria commented on the experience, “I put a lot of energy into the whole weekend and the last round in particular. It was the culmination of a ton of work and a lot of lessons learned the hard way…. There was definitely a certain amount of pressure and anxiety going into the tournament since we were one of the younger teams in the field trying to keep up with stiff competition, so it felt like an even bigger victory to make it to the NDT after only 2 1/2 years. And debating at that level has definitely made me a more confident student. I know now that we're both capable of a tremendous amount of growth– especially academically– if we just put in the work.”
The Hoosiers have two tournaments remaining in the season. Our successful novice and junior varsity team members will join our varsity program at the American Debate Association tournament hosted by University of Nevada Las Vegas March 6th – 8th. The Hoosiers will spend their spring break preparing for the NDT, which will be hosted March 19th – 23rd.
The IU Debate program is supported by the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, The Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, The College of Arts and Sciences and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and Alumni.
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