Nevada Union debate team earns trip to Tournament of Champions |

Nevada Union debate team earns trip to Tournament of Champions

Teddy Hill-Weld, from left, Devin Anderson, Morgan Margulies and Joe Fenner celebrate Anderson and Margulies qualifying for the Tournament of Champions. Hill-Weld and Fenner helped prepare the Nevada Union debate team members for the competition.
Submitted photo |

For debate teams around the country, all the tournaments they have attended have been working toward qualifying for the ultimate debate: the Tournament of Champions.

This year, Devin Anderson and Morgan Margulies, or Nevada Union AM as their team is called, received enough bids to qualify for this prestigious competition — the first time a Nevada Union team has qualified since 2003.

The tournament is an annual national high school debate tournament and is considered to be the championship of the national debate circuit. The tournament takes place at the University of Kentucky in Lexington from April 28-30.

Anderson and Margulies received the bids they needed to at their tournament in Berkeley last weekend. At this competition, there were six preliminary rounds that led to elimination rounds.

To get the second bid to the Tournament of Champions, the team had to advance to octofinals, or the elimination rounds consisting of the top 16 teams, as well as winning triple and double finals. Because the team didn’t do as well as they expected in preliminary rounds, they went into elimination rounds in 51st place out of 64 teams.

In debate, the low-scoring teams, or “low seed” debate the high-scoring teams, or “high seed.” Anderson and Margulies won against two teams that had been to the Tournament of Champions in previous years.

The competition will become even fiercer in the tournament. Margulies and Anderson are no strangers to competition as they have attended around 115 national circuit tournaments this year. Margulies claims their success can be attributed to the practice offered by these tournaments, the summer camps they have attended for the past two years that helped them better understand argumentative strategy and debate, and their coach, Stephen Goldberg.

“He’s one of the most generous people ever, and just dedicated a lot of time to helping us this year,” said Margulies.

Success in the world of debate also requires time and energy. In an average week, the team will spend around 10 hours preparing. On weeks preceding a weekend tournament, they spend up to 20 hours. The Tournament of Champions requires even more preparation, because the team doesn’t know which arguments will be made during the tournament.

Throughout the debate season, after a team makes an argument during a tournament, they publish it on a website called Debate Wiki. Due to the competitive atmosphere of the Tournament of Champions, Anderson and Margulies will spend the next two months writing arguments related to education reform (this year’s topic) that haven’t been published yet. Therefore, competing teams will be less prepared to debate them.

Nevada Union AM is one of 75 teams from the country competing in the tournament. The three-day tournament will consist of seven 45-minute preliminary rounds, four on the first day, three on the second. On day three the top 16 teams will advance to the elimination rounds, with a final team emerging as champion.

“Our goal at the TOC is to represent public and rural schools, get the image of NU as an underdog, and fight against the economic inequalities inherent in this activity,” said Anderson.

The Nevada Union Debate Boosters Club, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. To make a tax deductible donation, visit or send a check to NU Debate Boosters, P.O. Box 2611, Nevada City, CA 95959.

Mia Belluomini is a student at Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning and intern at The Union. Contact her at

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