Indiana Debate began the month of March at the American Debate Association Nationals in Georgetown, marking the end of the season for most of our debaters. The Hoosiers enjoyed the cherry blossoms blooming early and debated in highly competitive rounds throughout the weekend.
On the way to the tournament, the snowy mountains got the best of one of the novices, stopping the car for a brief car sickness incident. But that did not stop them from a great showing.
Nalani Noonan and Anna Sanders finished the tournament at the top of the 3-3 bracket, one round away from the quarter-finals. The pair is excited to continue debating next year, and ended their last round feeling proud.
“After round 6, I felt very at peace with the fact that this would most likely be our last debate of the season. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to travel with IU debate and compete against students across the nation in an activity that I picked up at the beginning of my undergrad career,” Noonan remarked.
Vishnu Midithuri and Aaron Fernando ended their season as quarter-finalists at the ADA, and Midithuri was the 8th Speaker in the novice division. They also are the 3rd best novice debate team in the nation based on their performance throughout the year. Their high placings at ADA Nationals, the Texas Open, the Crowe Warken Debates, and winning the Hoosier Invitational Tournament earned them their high placing.
“Being the third-best novice team in ADA was a great reward for Vishnu and I’s hard work, but we couldn't have done it without the countless hours of research the rest of the team put in and the time they took out of their day to give amazing lectures on how to apply their knowledge into actual arguments. With certainty, I could say I would not be half the debater I am if it wasn't for the rest of the team,” Fernando beamed.
“When I heard that Aaron and I were the third-best team I was overjoyed. For ADA to recognize that we were a strong team in the novice pool made me feel accomplished,” Midithuri said. “Of course I could not have done it without the help of my team, coaches and my great debate partner. I can’t wait for the next season to start and hopefully achieve more than I have as a novice.”
Indiana had two (and a half) teams in the Open Division. Malea Floyd debated with Haber-Fawcett from Minnesota, and together they had a 2-4 record. An impressive record, especially considering it was Floyd’s second tournament as an Open debater.
“Debating with a swing partner helped me diversify my strategies and communication styles in round. Debating with teammates often means there's a rehearsed approach to debates; you know how your partner flows, you know the arguments they're most comfortable running, and you generally have a level of familiarity that feels crucial to the round going smoothly,” Floyd laughed. “Debating with a swing partner is a bit daunting at first but I quickly learned that the adjustment to a new partner happens fairly quickly.”
“It only took a round or two for my partner and I to communicate just as effectively as I would have with an established teammate. My favorite part was learning about Minnesota's strategies and receiving coaching from their team. The experience gave me a glimpse into another team's dynamic and I absolutely loved stepping outside my comfort zone in that way,” Floyd concluded.
Rahul Penumetcha and Aryan Jasani finished the tournament with a 2-4 record, but their season will continue at the National Debate Tournament having qualified out of the districts tournament.
Kyler Logan and Sofia Vidali had a 1-5 record. They spent their season developing the “Brave New World” affirmative that discusses the bias and violence of AI and our reliance on it. It is an important research object when we consider the downsides of developing technology. They also innovated a variety of K arguments on the negation, especially focusing on discussions of capitalism.
“Over the course of the ADA tournament I learned a lot about argumentative iteration, how to format files, and how to do comprehensive research,” said Vidali. “But above all that I learned how to overcome losses, ask productive questions of judges, and cooperate with a partner in order to do better in the next round.”
“I really enjoyed being able to see DC and debate some of the top teams from across the country. Georgetown has such a beautiful campus and everyone running the tournament did a great job,” Logan said.
After the tournament had concluded, there were two plans. One set of debaters stayed until Monday to watch rounds and explore DC and the other left the tournament early. This left the debaters who stayed behind with the opportunity to go to a Wizards game and visit the National Mall.
“The Georgetown campus is beautiful and has a ton of diverse and delicious food nearby that the tournament graciously provided us with. I had been to DC with my family before but my favorite part of this trip was getting to explore those same places with friends,” Sanders smiled.
For the fun had, rounds won, and things learned–ADA Nationals was a great experience for the Hoosiers and we’re excited to return next year.