Debate team finishes season among best of the nation

University of Nevada, Reno’s debate team finishes 18th in the nation for collegiate parliamentary debate

4/11/2012 - By: Riley Snyder
Somersett Bassett, Phil Sharp and Jonathon McGuire Somersett Bassett, Phil Sharp and Jonathon McGuire. Bassett and McGuire are students at the University of Nevada, Reno who debated in two national championships last month, coached by Sharp.

They may not have cheerleaders at their events, nor a rap song recorded about their exploits, but the University of Nevada, Reno's debate team has yet again quietly wrapped up another historic collegiate parliamentary debate season, finishing 18th in the nation.

The team finished its season at Western Washington University with two final competitions: the invitation-only National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence March 17-19 and the more-open National Parliamentary Debate Association's Championship March 22-24. Eight debaters from the University competed with more than 220 teams in the second tournament, with Nevada finishing 14th in the culminating tournament overall.

"It's a building block," said Phil Sharp, a communications studies lecturer and the debate team's coach at the University.

This level of success from the team isn't unprecedented, as last year, Nevada student Max Alderman took the Top Overall Speaker award, and three years ago banded together with fellow student David Pena to take first place overall at both national tournaments. Past members of the debate team include former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan and former U.S. Rep. Jim Santini.

But what makes the team's accomplishments this year more exciting is the team's relative youth, with 10 freshmen members taking the reins and continuing the University's decorated collegiate debate tradition, according to Sharp.

"We have a strong group of freshmen and sophomores on the team, so to be ranked 14th in the nation already is a sign of good seasons to come," he said.


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