The Chicago Debate League sent two of its top Varsity teams to New York City in April to compete for the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues National Championship at Hunter College. Marcel Roman and Sydney Doe from Whitney Young and Josh Rivera and Owen Jones from Lane Tech competed against thirty-six teams representing eighteen Urban Debate Leagues across America.
The two CDL teams continued the city’s unmatched record of accomplishment at the NAUDL’s championship tournament, as Chicago was the only city with two teams in the semifinals of the tournament.
Lane Tech emerged from the preliminary rounds as the top overall seed with a 5-0 record and lost to the eventual tournament champion from University High School in Newark, NJ. Whitney Young lost to New York’s Metropolitan Corporate Academy, a team that has gained national attention for using hip hop and performance debate to criticize traditional debate practices and norms.
Not only did the CDL representatives excel as teams, they also dominated the tournament’s individual speaker competition. Josh Rivera was named the Top Speaker and Marcel Roman earned the 2nd Speaker award.
These accomplishments by the Chicago debaters are all the more remarkable because most observers believe this was one of the most competitive national tournaments ever. Dick Sullivan, CDC Board Chair, offers some perspective, “The quality of UDL championship debate has improved markedly in the last few years. Other UDLs are becoming stronger and in some ways are catching up to the CDL by modeling our practices. We’ve set a high bar over the years and this year’s national tournament shows that urban debaters across the country can reach higher and meet the challenge, which is great to see.”
Sydney Doe, junior at Whitney Young, sums up her whirlwind weekend in New York, “The NAUDL Nationals tournament this year was one of the best experiences of my life. Not only did I learn a lot about debate, I formed a lot of friendships with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise from all over the country. Traveling to New York was an amazing experience, and I haven’t been able to stop talking about it since I’ve gotten back. I enjoyed myself so much in the city that I’ve started seriously looking into NYU and Columbia University so I could go back – there were always going to be new things to see and experience.”
Sydney continued, “I got exposure to arguments I hadn’t heard before that had developed in many different local debate circuits all over the country. I got to share a room with two girls from Denver and a girl from Detroit, none of whom I would have met had it not been for the tournament, and we spent a lot of time over the weekend talking and bonding over our mutual excitement for finally seeing New York City and our experiences at the tournament.
Whitney Young English teacher and debate coach Jeff Scheur added, “We are honored to have taken part in the NAUDL National Championships, and I’m proud of our kids for getting to semifinals. The Chicago Debate Commission is always immensely supportive of our program, which is one reason we’ve been so successful this year.”