Edina Debate’s success due in part to plenty of preparation

Art Boettge, staff writer

Although the season has just begun, the Edina Debate Team already has two major tournaments in the bag.

On Sept. 7, the team traveled to the National Speech and Debate Season Opener hosted by the University of Kentucky, and they walked away with one bid toward the Tournament of Champions. “At bigger tournaments, if you go far enough, you get a bid, if you get two bids, you get to go to the Tournament of Champions,” junior Matthew Nissen said. One of the most influential reasons for Edina’s success comes from their devotion and thorough preparation. The team is full of “hard workers who all enjoy, and are devoted to the sport,” junior Yash Shah said. In fact, many team members spend two weeks of their summer at debate camp. Nissen specifically pointed to the debate camp for giving his team an edge at Kentucky. “My debate partner’s [and my] experience at camp gave us a lot of extra practice on the topic and debate generally,” Nissen said.

While the University of Kentucky tournament was a large success, the Edina Debate Team’s second outing at Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas proved to be a more challenging experience. Junior Yash Shah described it as one of the toughest tournaments. “It was way harder than we expected,” said Shah. At Greenhill, “only the top two teams go, so all teams are the very best,” senior Josh Ding said. The Edina Debate team ended up going 2-4, meaning they lost four matches and won two matches. “There was a surprising amount of competence and good debate happening throughout the Greenhill tournament,” Ding said. Shah and Ding both commented that more preparation could have made a difference in the team’s performance at Greenhill, however, the matches were close and the debaters still feel Edina gave full effort. In fact, due to the large size of the team, one of the Edina Debate Team’s strengths is their ability to do a lot of preparation and obtain lots of evidence. “This is just a benefit of being a bigger school,” Nissen said.

The new Edina Debate Team head coach, Hayden Uihlein, is no stranger to preparation. Nissen and Ding both point out that Uihlein does a great job of handling all of the administrative tasks for the debate team. Although this is Uihlein’s first season as the head debate coach, it is not his first time working for the team, as he was the former policy coach. This season, he stepped up to take the responsibility of the head coach after the former coach left abruptly. Uihlein’s attention to detail allows the team to concentrate and stay focused under stressful conditions like the ones the team experiences during tournaments. Just like many other competitive sports, stress is an intense presence at debate tournaments. “You are either in a round or preparing for the next round and even more so for big tournaments,” Nissen said. Despite this, debaters thrive in this type of environment.

The debate team is excited and looking forward to yet another successful season with their new head coach. For this team, hard work and preparation is the one thing that is not up for debate.