March 17, 2008

Debate team captures national championship

by Andrea Hahn

debate team studio

CARBONDALE, Ill. — There is no argument: the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team is the best in the nation. Its win at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, which concluded today (March 17), verifies it.

"This is more proof that SIUC can compete with anyone academically when we put our efforts in it," Todd Graham, director of the debate team, wrote in an e-mail shortly after the SIUC victory was announced. "Our team of Kevin Calderwood and Kyle Dennis dominated the tournament. They were better researched and smarter – more intelligent, insightful and held a deeper understanding of world events – than every single team they debated. They are better thinkers than everyone they debated, and every single judge said so."

Calderwood is a sophomore in political science from Chesterfield, Mo., and Dennis is a senior in business from Blue Springs, Mo. The duo won back-to-back tournaments in California last month at the prestigious Sunset Cliffs Classic. It was the first time ever the same pair won both tournaments. The duo holds a 50 wins, 4 losses record, so they are far more used to winning than not.

"Winning the national championship, on top of a stellar season this year, is a fabulous accomplishment for our Saluki Debate Team," Nathan Stucky, chair of the Department of Speech Communication, said. 'This is something all of us at SIUC can celebrate. I'm very proud of our team and the fine work of our assistant coaches, and of Dr. Todd Graham, director of debate. We're the underdog up against bigger and better-financed teams, and our Salukis cleared the field."

This national tournament, held March 15-17 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., is one of two in which SIUC participates for parliamentary debate. The tournament just completed – the one SIUC won – is an invitational tournament for the top 54 teams in the country.

The second national tournament, the National Parliamentary Debate Association National Tournament, is March 27-31 at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Members of the SIUC Debate Team are: Kevin Calderwood, Chesterfield, Mo., Josh Campfield, Kansas City, Mo., Kyle Dennis, Blue Springs, Mo., Adam Testerman, Springfield, Mo., Katie Thomas, Fort Collins, Colo., and Nicholas Deml, La Crosse, Wis. Graduate student Benjamin Haas, from Cordova, Ill., assists Graham with team preparation.


2007-2008 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team – The Saluki debaters started the season with top-five finishes in two elimination tournaments and two invitational round robin tournaments and brought home a pile of team trophies and individual awards. The team is, standing, from left to right: Josh Campfield, Kyle Dennis, Debate Program Director Todd Graham, graduate teaching assistant Benjamin Haas, Kevin Calderwood and Adam Testerman. Seated are Katie Thomas and Nick Deml. The ghoulish trophy in the center is for a second place overall finish at Claremont College, which hosted a major national tournament to open the season. The trophy's theme is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that coming so close to winning and then finishing second can be agonizing. The other trophies are for ninth place for Testerman and Campfield at Claremont's elimination tournament; fourth place for Campfield and Dennis at the Claremont round robin tournament, third for Dennis and Testerman at the William Jewell round robin, fifth for Dennis and Calderwood at William Jewell elimination. Individual trophies are for Testerman, 14th at William Jewell open invitational; Dennis, third at Claremont round robin and 15th at open invitational; and Calderwood, 11th at Claremont open invitational.

Photo by Russell Bailey