University Debate team finishes in top-10 for the season and national tournament

Team member also wins All-American award at national tournament

3/27/2013 - By: Deanna Hearn
2013 Debate Team University of Nevada, Reno debate team (back row, left to right): Team coach Phil Sharp, Somerset Bassett, Cory Nims, Jonathan McGuire, Athena Turek, Mitchell Grover, Travis Salley, Matthew Hogan. (Front row) Jillian Ebrahimi, Steven Kish, Kelly Brill, Daniel Armbrust, Brenden Georg, Cody Crader. Photo courtesy of Lauren Knoth.

The University of Nevada, Reno parliamentary debate team returned home this week from the National Parliamentary Debate Association's Championship Tournament and season sweepstakes with what team coach Phil Sharp called "one of the best overall performances for the University's debate team." The tournament was held at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., March 22-25.

"The squad finished 10th overall at nationals out of 51 colleges and universities in attendance," said Sharp, who is also the University's forensics director in the College of Liberal Arts, "and ended the season ranked eighth." The eighth place season ranking was out of 197 universities across the country.

Team member Mitchell Grover was recognized as one of five All-Americans, an award given to seniors with at least a 3.5 grade point average, debate success, community service and qualities that demonstrate team leadership. "It is a great honor," said Sharp. "He is fully deserving."

Taking six teams of two duos, a total of 12 team members, to the national tournament made this one of the largest University teams ever to attend. "With such a young team still growing in numbers and experience, we look forward to an even better performance next year," said Sharp.

Debate team coach since fall 2008, Sharp has built upon the team's already strong national reputation. His first season at Nevada he coached the University's team of Max Alderman and David Pena to an unprecedented first place in both of the national tournaments. In each of the subsequent three years, the University has had at least one duo finish in the top-10 of one of the national tournaments. Overall, as a team, Nevada finished last season ranked 18th in the country.

The University had earlier in the month hosted the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence on the Reno campus, the first time the University hosted the event for the National Parliamentary Debate Association. According to Sharp, it was exceptionally well attended, and he received comments from many participants that the tournament was one of the best national debates they had ever attended.

"They loved Reno and loved the weather, which was really great, especially for folks who were experiencing winter in the Midwest; they enjoyed seeing a little blue sky," said Sharp. "I was very proud of my students for their hard work and commitment to make sure the event was successful and they were still able to compete, which was more than any other team had to do for this tournament. They had extra stress on them."

The debate team has a rich tradition at the University, according to Sharp, with a long lineage of debaters who remain influential within Nevada and on a federal level.


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