By Julia Neumann
At the end of April, four upper school students made OES history.
Ellie C. (‘19), Alexa T.(‘20), SkyCat W. (‘20), and Max O. (‘19) all attended the Tournament of Champions, a prestigious and exclusive debate tournament. In order for them to have earned a spot at this competition, each team was required to get two bids. In debate, a bid is kinda equivalent to a trophy for an accomplishment. There are a couple of ways a team can earn a bid. For example, by reaching a certain round of a national tournament a team might be able to get a bid. According to Williams, it is a certificate that signifies a high level of achievement. Typically, out of the thousands of debate teams, less than one hundred teams even get a bid during their career of debate.
At OES previously, one debate team received a bid at a smaller tournament and were very excited to be halfway to earning entry to the ToC. That team never got a second bid and was unable to attend the ToC sadly. However, just two years later, both teams qualified for the tournament. Tsai commented on how this reflects on the immense growth the OES debate team has undergone, with it only having started six years ago.
This year, Max and SkyCat (OES OW) received a massive four bids during the season, securing their well-earned spot at the ToC.
Additionally, the team with Alexa and Ellie (OES TC) earned three bids. The first bid the two earned was during a tournament in California. In order to get a bid, they had to reach the top 16 and ended up making it all the way to semifinals. Overall, Alexa and Ellie were the first two women from the state of
Oregon to achieve and compete at their level, making not only OES history but Oregon history too.
According to Tsai, the main difference between the normal tournaments and the ToC is the level of competition. Generally there are 6 prelim rounds at smaller tournaments, however, there were seven at the ToC because of the number of competitors. Typically throughout the season, there is the possibility to debate around 1 or 2 teams that have the potential of being top 25 in the country and it is possible to lose to those teams during the prelims while still succeed overall in the tournament. However, at the ToC every team has the potential of being a top 25 team, making each round difficult. Nonetheless, Tsai said, “the experience was really great not only because I got to see a lot of my debate friends from different schools before they go to college but also because the quality of the debates was so much higher and I learned a lot.”
Overall, at the ToC Ellie and Alexa went 3-4 and SkyCat and Max went 2-5 in the prelim rounds. Both teams did exceptionally well at the tournament, especially for competing against more well-known teams from across the country. Congratulations to the amazing OES debate team this year and all the success you have had!