Europe 2015: Hungary and Serbia

The URDU sent four Worlds debaters and coach Nina Datlof to tournaments in Hungary and Serbia over spring break. The first tournament, hosted by Central European University, was located in the heart of beautiful Budapest. It was excellently run and we got the chance to meet debaters from all around the world, both in rounds and at social events outside of rounds. The team also got the chance to explore Budapest on days when there weren’t in rounds, visiting sites such as Turkish baths, the Hungarian Parliament building, the famous Chain Bridge, a cemetery, a ballet at the State Opera House and ancient Roman ruins at Aquincum. Although neither of our teams cleared, Miriam Kohn and Reefat Aziz finished on 10 points and missed the break on speaker points.

Hungary 1

Sarah, Nina, Reefat, Miriam, and Katelyn pose in front of the Hungarian Parliament building.

Katelyn, Sarah, Miriam, and Reefat pose inside the State Opera House.

Katelyn, Sarah, Miriam, and Reefat pose inside the State Opera House.

Nina, Reefat, and Miriam pose on the banks of the Danube.

Nina, Reefat, and Miriam pose on the banks of the Danube.

After touring Budapest, the group caught a train to Belgrade for the second tournament. Although the tournament was hosted outside of Belgrade in the town of Arandelovac, we were able to explore the city for a few days before and after the tournament. Highlights included the national military museum, Belgrade fortress, the Nikola Tesla Museum, visiting the site of a former concentration camp, and wandering the city’s shopping district. Although neither of our teams cleared, both Sarah Hofmann & Katelyn Offerdahl and Miriam Kohn & Reefat Aziz were in bubble rooms for the last round. Additionally, Miriam Kohn was awarded 5th speaker for the Open Worlds division.

Reefat has fun playing with electricity at the Tesla Museum.

Reefat has fun playing with electricity at the Tesla Museum.

Nina captures her inner warrior at the military museum.

Nina captures her inner warrior at the military museum.

A dramatic view of Belgrade fortress

A dramatic view of Belgrade fortress

All told, the trip was a wonderful experience and it was a pleasure to be hosted at two great international tournaments! All of the debaters came back with broadened worldviews and sharpened debate skills that we look forward to applying at tournaments closer to home.

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Policy Novice Nationals 2015

While the Worlds squad traveled to Europe, four members of the URDU’s policy contingent traveled to Binghamton for Policy Novice Nationals. While none of our teams cleared, Dan Matthews and Abdul Alhaji had an excellent record of 3-3. The squad also bonded over New York State winter weather and learning to engage with critical affirmatives.

The group walks between rounds. at Binghamton.

The group walks between rounds. at Binghamton.

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Western Connecticut/NEUDC 2015

Last weekend, the URDU took a bus to Danbury, Connecticut for a successful tournament at the Northeastern Universities Debating Championships. In addition to two teams breaking to elimination rounds, the tournament was notable for the fiercely contested Risk tournament played in the back of the team bus going both directions. Freshmen Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire also decided to make the novice final more interesting by swapping clothing items prior to starting the novice final.

WESTCONN - TEAM in GA

Mary, Amelia, Nina, Graeme, Miriam, and Chris wait for the round 3 motion to be announced.

 

Junior and Unni hang out in GA

Junior and Unni hang out in GA.

Katelyn and Sarah pass the time between rounds by reading.

Katelyn and Sarah pass the time between rounds by reading.

Saif and Graeme crack jokes before round 4.

Saif and Graeme crack jokes before round 4.

The tournament was truncated due to weather concerns and a delayed start on Sunday. Policy cut the sixth preliminary round and Worlds cut quarterfinals, breaking straight to open semifinals and a novice final out of a 60-team field. On the policy side of things, Nick Heitsch broke to octafinals in novice with a swing partner from Western Connecticut.

Nick poses with his trophy.

Nick Heitsch poses with his trophy.

In Worlds, Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire broke to novice finals as top seed. They nearly broke to open semifinals but lost out on a break decided by speaker points. Additionally, Ben was the top novice speaker and Graeme was the second novice speaker. Miriam Kohn and Chris Perkins were also the 13th seed and would have broken to open quarterfinals.

Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire prep for the novice final round.

Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire prep for the novice final.

Graeme McGuire speaks as PM in the novice final.

Graeme McGuire speaks as PM in the novice final.

Ben speaks as DPM in the novice final.

Ben Frazer speaks as DPM while wearing Graeme’s tie.

 

 

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Sydney Landon IV and US Novice Nationals 2015

This past weekend, the URDU travealed over to Ithaca, New York for the 2015 US Novice Nationals and Sydney Landon IV at Ithaca College. In addition to watching some entertaining documentaries on the bus ride to the tournament, the URDU had a very successful weekend, breaking at least one team in each category and bringing home four speaker awards in addition to the team breaks!

Ben Frazer, top novice speaker, poses at the awards ceremony.

Ben Frazer, top novice speaker, poses at the awards ceremony.

In the Novice Nationals Tournament, freshmen Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire broke to elimination rounds and advanced all the way to the final round. Additionally, Graeme was the 4th novice speaker and Ben received the Margaret Hildebrand award for top novice speaker.

Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire pose with the other contestants from the final round.

Ben Frazer and Graeme McGuire pose with the other contestants from the final round.

In the parallel varsity Worlds tournament, two teams broke to semifinals: Reefat Aziz & Miriam Kohn and Sarah Hofmann & Katelyn Offerdahl. Junior Ndlovu also picked an award for being the 4th speaker in the tournament.

Reefat Aziz and Miriam Kohn pose with their semifinalists' award.

Reefat Aziz and Miriam Kohn pose with their semifinalists’ award.

Over in Policy, the URDU had another two breaks and an additional speaker award. Nick Heitsch & Anne Cheng advanced to quarterfinals in the Open division and Sarah Pisaniello & Bethany Gardner advanced to finals in the Novice division. Bethany Gardner was also awarded 5th speaker in the Open division.

Sarah Pisaniello and Bethany Gardner prep with coach Alex Martel between rounds.

Sarah Pisaniello and Bethany Gardner prep with coach Alex Martel between rounds.

The weekend was a very strong showing for the URDU and we’re excited for the NEUDC regional championships coming up in Danbury, Connecticut. Stay tuned for updates on that score.

 

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Jersey Shore Debate Invitational

This past weekend, several of our debaters headed down to Long Branch, New Jersey, for the Jersey Shore Debate Invitational at Monmouth University. The URDU took a small squad – only freshman Ben Frazer, sophomores Nick Heitsch and Miriam Kohn, and coaches Alex Martel and Gordie Miller. The tournament was very organized and ran fairly punctually.

The team poses at dinner on Saturday night.

The team poses at dinner on Saturday night.

Even though we took a small squad, every single one of our debaters broke. In the Open division, Ben Frazer broke to partial octofinals with a swing partner from Rutgers Newark. In the Novice division, Nick Heitsch and Miriam Kohn broke as the fourth seed and cleared to quarterfinals. Additionally, Nick and Miriam were 2nd and 4th speakers in the Novice division, respectively.

Nick and Miriam display their awards.

Nick and Miriam display their awards.

All told, Monmouth was another solid performance for the URDU. It also featured such quality bonding time as listening to the Super Bowl together on the radio while driving home and having the van’s allegiances split (with a majority for the Seahawks).

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Pan American Debate Championships at the University of Miami

Two weekends ago, another lucky troupe of Worlds debaters got the chance to escape the winter cold for a long weekend in Miami for the Pan American Universities Debate Championship! As the name suggests, the tournament brought in teams from all over the western hemisphere – Venezuela, Jamaica and a huge range of American schools were all represented by a healthy number of debaters. The tournament also had a Spanish division, allowing Spanish speakers to engage with the same motions as the English-speaking teams.

The debaters pose together before the first rounds of the tournament.

The debaters pose together before the first rounds of the tournament.

 

 

The motions touched on a few Latin American current issues, as expected – “This house believes normalization of relations with Cuba will improve the civil rights of Cuban citizens”, and the finals-round motion “This house would create an economic free-trade zone for all countries in the western hemisphere” – which added some uniqueness to this particular tournament.

Nick and Chris pose with their seminfinalists' award.

Nick and Chris pose with their seminfinalists’ award.

With such a variety of schools competing, the competition was fierce; Chris Perkins and Nick Heitsch (in his Worlds debut!) reached the semifinal round, with a motion concerning the war against ISIS in the Middle East. The rest of our three teams all came a single point away from breaking into out rounds – not bad for the first tournament after a long vacation! And time in the sunshine was sorely needed, too – we were saddened to be up and out of the balmy south before the sun even rose on Monday morning!

All in all, the tournament was very much a success. With one team breaking and everyone else coming quite close, it was a great way to jump back into the season and prepare for more upcoming tournaments.

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California Swing Tournaments

Between the two tournaments, UR debaters take the opportunity to find Rochester legend George Eastman's star on the walk of fame.

Between the two tournaments, UR debaters take the opportunity to find Rochester legend George Eastman’s star on the walk of fame.

While the majority of UofR students took winter break  to go home and escape the frozen tundra of Rochester, NY, five students flew out to Los Angeles and debated in two tournaments.

Beginning the week at the University of Southern California, our two novice teams, Emman & Elaine and Fayo & Salva, stepped up as they competed in the junior varsity division. After two days of intense debating, the team packed up and prepared to move hotels but, first, they took a field trip to Hollywood. The debaters had a day to relax and enjoy each other’s company before competing at Fullerton, taking in sights such as the Walk of Fame, the Gorman Theater, and Olaf & Jack Sparrow look-alike characters.

At Fullerton, Fayo and Emman were third and fifth speaker respectively in the novice divisions. After a week of intense debates, the team went to Disneyland to unwind . On Friday, before everyone went their separate ways and returned to the U of R, the debaters spent their last day in sunny LA enjoying the wonderful weather and running around the park eating churros & taking pictures with the Disney characters. The California Swing tournaments were a nice way to end the winter break and get ready for the upcoming debate season.

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