Friday, March 25, 2016

[399] No argument here: MTSU debate team having strong season

The MTSU Blue Raider Debate Team is wrapping up another successful season in which members continued sharpening their oratory and reasoning skills against fellow collegians around the country.

The team competes in National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) and International Public Debate Association (IPDA) debate formats. In NPDA competition, two-person teams debate head-to-head in multiple rounds, with a new topic presented each round. In IPDA formats, debaters primarily go one-on-one, with various time limits in effect for both formats.

“Coming off of last year's National Championship victory, MTSU's debaters continue to show that they can hold their own and excel,” said team coach Dr. Patrick G. Richey, director of forensics at MTSU. “I am lucky to have such dedicated and intelligent students on this team.”

The team began the year at the University of the Cumberlands in early September with two semifinalists emerging during the IPDA competition, according to team captain Michaela Edwards, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, with a double major in communication studies and psychology.

That was followed by a successful visit to the University of North Georgia where MTSU took first place in IPDA sweepstakes, third place in NPDA sweepstakes, and third place in overall sweepstakes at the annual “Chicken and Egg Debates.”

This included Abby Howard, a junior a communication studies major from Smyrna, Tennessee, as tournament winner in the junior varsity division and more than nine speaker awards, including first place by junior communication studies major Abbey Barnes of Morristown, Tennessee, in the Varsity Division.

Blue Raider Debate continued north to Walters State Community College in Morristown later in the fall where the team won the tournament in the open division (debaters Samantha Abbott, a sophomore marketing major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, and Colonial Geiger, a junior computer science major from Fairview, Tennessee) and third place in sweepstakes overall.

The team rounded out the fall semester at Valdosta State University taking first place in overall sweepstakes and having second place finalists in both the novice and varsity divisions. This was coupled with a great showing in NPDA as team members Abbey Barnes and Leigh Stanfield, a senior communication studies major from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, went to semifinals and Stanfield won first place speaker in the open division.

The spring semester saw the team do well in both the Southeast Regionals/University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Volunteer Classic as well as the annual Tennessee Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA) Tournament, taking a novice to semifinals at UTK and winning three speaker awards.

Freshman Breyhana Johnson, a fashion merchandise major from Chicago, took the novice division at the Tennessee Intercollegiate Forensics Association State Championship as well as second place speaker in the division. The team is currently fundraising in hopes of traveling to Pi Kappa Delta Nationals in March and IPDA Nationals in April to defend its national title.
“MTSU Blue Raider Debate is not only a competitively based team, we are also a community-based team,” Edwards said.

During fall semester, the team hosted a “Think Before You Vote” event on campus highlighting key issues and differences between the main Democratic candidates for president. A similar event was held in the spring for the Republican primaries hoping.

“We are also heavily involved with the local homeschool leagues and volunteered to judge their local tournament,” Edwards said.

Last month, some team members joined debaters from Belmont University in Nashville to participate in a citywide model debate at Murfreesboro City Hall sponsored by the Murfreesboro/Rutherford County League of Women Voters. 

Later this spring, the team will travel to Memphis to judge the Memphis Urban Debate League City Championship, a high school program geared toward at-risk schools in the urban areas of Memphis.

For more information about the MTSU Blue Raider Debate, contact Patrick Richey at  or visit

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