MURFREESBORO — Although it’s just her first year on the Middle Tennessee State University Debate Team, Leigh Stanfield has already made a lasting mark by arguing her way to a national title recently during a tournament in Boise, Idaho.
Stanfield, a junior communications studies major from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, won the novice division title during the MTSU team’s participation in the International Public Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament and Convention held March 27-29 at Boise State University.
“This is really cool. It’s been an interesting experience,” Stanfield said. “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the MTSU Debate Team. You learn a lot of different skills that will be really useful moving forward, so it’s been a really good opportunity.”
Teammate Abigail Barnes, a sophomore English major from Morristown, Tennessee, took third place in the same category at the tournament. The two MTSU team members worked their way through hundreds of debaters from around the country. In IPDA formats, debaters primarily go one-on-one, under various time limits.
Stanfield said the idea to join the team this year came from an instructor in one of her communications studies classes who thought she would enjoy the experience. “I really like public speaking and I really like argumentation,” she said.
Stanfield’s title comes during a strong year for the Blue Raider debate team, which won a regional championship earlier this semester.
“I don’t think we’ve ever taken a national championship,” said Pat Richey, director of forensics at MTSU and debate team coach. “We’ve placed high a couple of times back in the 1970s when Jim Brooks was in charge, but I haven’t found where we’ve ever won an individual national title.”
Stanfield followed up her title win by participating in a special exhibition debate hosted by MTSU featuring three MTSU debaters and three Irish students who won the 2015 Irish Times Debate Championship. Held Wednesday, April 1, inside the State Farm Lecture Hall of MTSU’s Business and Aerospace Building, the exhibition drew a strong crowd to hear debaters discuss the United Nations’ overall mission.
For more information about the MTSU Blue Raider Debate Team, visit www.mtsu.edu/debate.