Debaters get head start on season with camp

Griffin Muckley

Even before the beginning of the school year, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s debate has been avidly discussing and writing in order to prepare for their upcoming season: thus shattering the misconception that pre-season training is only for athletes.


Coaches Ms. Kari Koshiol and Ms. Anna Overbo invited a team of returning debaters to “debate camp”: a series of day-long practices which began Thursday, August 14. This preseason debate camp has been a school tradition for over ten years.

The purpose of the camp is to give debaters a sufficient amount of time to learn about the season’s first topic, which was released to teams on August 15. “If we don’t start right away, we waste a week,” said Ms. Koshiol. This year, the first topic to be discussed at tournaments, which will remain the topic at tournaments for one month, is whether or not it is morally permissible to kill one innocent person to save more innocent people. The students are “just learning about the new topic and refreshing on how to debate,” said sophomore and second-year debater Sean Simonson.

To get ready, the team has been working together to come up with ideas for cases, which they will write individually. “We brainstorm, research the topic, practice speaking, practice writing, and go over the foundations [of debate],” said Ms. Koshiol.

According to the team, the camp has been a great help. “We get a chance to actively talk about the topic…which helps a lot,” said sophomore Alex Smith, who joined the debate team after his English teachers suggested it. This will be Smith’s second year on the team.

In order to properly prepare for debate tournaments, which begin as early as late September, students must become knowledgeable enough about the given topic to be able to write both affirmative (for) and negative (against) cases. “The beginning of school can be so hectic. It makes the first week back less stressful because we start ahead of time,” said Ms. Overbo.

The small team is very close, and doesn’t mind having to come to school before the year has even begun. Said sophomore Nic Brinza, a fourth year debater, “[I] really love debate. It’s like a family. The group is really great.”

The team will hold its first practice of the school year for returning members only on Tuesday, September 2. An informational meeting for new members or anyone interested will be the following Tuesday, September 9.