Third Annual Strake Jesuit Debate Tournament Achieves Success

Will Ledig ’17

As students finished finals, teachers turned in grades, and all of the Strake Jesuit community prepared for winter break, students from across the country were welcomed onto campus to participate in the third annual Strake Jesuit Debate Tournament. With sixty-five competitors from over thirty schools and multiple states, including debaters from all across Texas, the two-day event was more successful than ever before. The tournament’s unrivaled efficiency and quality of judging received much praise from all who attended. However, such successes could not have been achieved without the support and dedication of several groups of contributors.

Since debaters aren’t allowed to compete in their own schools’ tournament, many members of the Strake Jesuit debate team offered their time to assist with the tournament’s operation. With duties ranging from selling food at the concession stand to guiding competitors and judges to rooms to running errands for the tournament staff, these students were always available when assistance was requested. Additionally, Strake Jesuit alums who had been members of the debate team returned to Jesuit to judge debate rounds, providing even more experienced judges to the tournament.

The tournament also relied heavily on the selfless contributions of the parents of the debate team. Starting many months before the tournament opened its doors to competitors, these parents donated massive amounts of their time and money in order to ensure that the tournament was on time and that all of the judges and volunteers were well fed. In the short span of three years, the tournament hospitality room has developed a reputation for tasty and abundant meals.

Texas Debate Collective (TDC) not only helped to run the tournament, but also supplied a large quantity of top-tier national debate judges, ensuring that the tournament upheld its reputation of quality judging. Additionally, a large portion of the profits of the debate tournament were given to TDC in order to fund their summer debate camp, which offers scholarships to underprivileged debaters who are unable to afford the lofty fees of most national debate camps.

Possibly the most important contributions to the tournament came from the coaches of the debate team. Mr. Jerry Crist handled the tournament organization and also secured four coveted bids to the Tournament of Champions for the debate tournament to distribute to the top four debaters. Additionally, Chris Castillo, the team’s hired coach, organized round pairings and judge assignments and guaranteed that the tournament followed a strict schedule.

I asked Mr. Crist about his thoughts of the tournament’s success and his future ambitions for the tournament, to which he responded “This year, the tournament went really well. We had really good competitors and judging, and I’m sure that everyone that was there took note of that.” Mr. Crist continued “For next year, we will be applying for the ability to give out eight bids to the Tournament of Champions instead of our current four, which will deem us as the only tournament in Houston to have such an honor.”

“In future years, the debate tournament will no doubt grow in size and competition and will continue to depend on the dedication of countless volunteers,” Mr. Crist concluded.