Chicago Team Wins National Championship!

Whitney Young brings home third straight Chase National Championship and sixth straight national title for the CDL

Misael Gonzalaz and Kevin Hirn, of Whitney Young, were the winners of the 2010 Urban Debate National Championship. Kevin received was top speaker and Misael 6th place speaker.

On the last weekend of April in New York City, the Chicago team from Whitney Young won the 2010 Chase Urban Debate National Championship, marking the third consecutive year that a team from the Windy City has won top honors at this national tournament. The organizer of the tournament, the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, invites the top teams from cities across the nation to compete for a weekend to determine which city sports the nation’s finest debate team. 36 teams from 18 cities competed for the title.

The Whitney Young duo of Misael Gonzalez and Kevin Hirn defeated Highland Park High School from St. Paul, Minnesota in the final round and Atlanta’s Grady High School in the semi-final round. The other Chicago representative, the team of Carl Jiang and Chimene Okere from Lane Tech, reached the other semi-final debate before losing to the team from the Twin Cities.

Different CDL schools have won three consecutive Chase National Championships, with Payton winning in 2009 and Lane Tech in 2008. Dating back to the Fuqua Urban Debate Nationals in Atlanta, the Whitney Young victory actually marks the sixth consecutive national title for a Chicago school.

Misael and Kevin won the 2010 national championship by compiling a 19-1 record in ballots over the three-day competition, while also winning $2,000 apiece in college scholarships.

The four Chicago debaters pulled off a clean sweep in terms of individual awards, with Kevin winning Top Speaker (an additional $2,000 scholarship), Chimene winning 4th, Carl claiming 5th and Misael capturing 6th place.

Chimene Okere, of Lane Tech, was half of the team that reached the semi-finals at the Urban Debate National Championships. He also took home 5th place speaking honors.

While the debaters were surely impressive, a hats off is also due to their coaches: Jeff Scheur and Drew Nishioka at Whitney Young, and Edwina Gholston, Valerie House, Maya Bhardwaj and Christina Horst at Lane Tech.

An additional noteworthy accomplishment on the trip: Misael Gonzalez was part of a three-person team that won the Arthur N. Rupe Public Demonstration Debate, garnering Misael another $1,250 scholarship. This single debate was sponsored by the Rupe Foundation and was designed to showcase top urban debaters’ talents and honed skills in front of a non-specialist, public audience.

The Rupe Public Debate featured a distinguished 7-person panel of judges that included Steven C. Bennett of Jones Day; John Bu of Akana Capital Management; Leonard A. Gail of Massey & Gail LLP; Joelle Gruber of Chase; Edward W. Lee of Emory University; Stephen C. Perry of Claritage Capital LP; and the Hon. Kenneth M. Karas from the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, who was the panel’s chair. In their comments the judges remarked how impressive, articulate, and persuasive were all six of the debaters.

Carl Jiang, of Lane Tech, claimed 5th place speaking honors.

After successfully completing their competition at the tournament, the Chicago contingent enjoyed a beautiful spring New York City Sunday afternoon, walking through Central Park, taking the subway to the Empire State Building, hiking through Times Square, and finally, having a celebratory meal at the famous Carnegie Deli.

“Simply an awesome experience,” was Carl Jiang’s succinct description.

Drew Nishioka, a coach of Whitney Young, talked about the national championship was a triumph for their entire debate squad: “The Whitney Young Debate Team, from Misael and Kevin on down, has worked tremendously hard this year. We’re glad we put the effort into it, because we’re very proud to win the 2010 urban debate nationals, and we’re proud to continue Chicago’s very high national standard within the urban debate network.”