April 03, 2008

Record-setting debaters end season on high note

by Andrea Hahn

Debate Team Studio

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Debate Team ended its 2007-2008 season about as high as a debate team can, earning the respect of other collegiate debate teams from across the country.

It wasn't enough for the team that the duo of Kevin Calderwood and Kyle Dennis won the prestigious National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence on March 17, capping the position of best debate team in the United States.

The team also entered duos in the secondary national year-end tournament, the National Parliamentary Debate Association tournament. That tournament is held at the end of March at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and includes about 250 universities and colleges. They made an excellent showing there as well.

Calderwood, a sophomore in political science from Chesterfield, Mo., won the top spot in the individual awards, solidifying his position as the best debater in the country. And Dennis, a senior in business from Blue Springs, Mo., took third place overall in the individual awards. There were 500 debaters competing for those individual awards.

In addition, the team of Katie Thomas (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Adam Testerman (Springfield, Mo.) won fifth place as a team overall.

"You can never expect a national championship, but after our mid-season success everyone on the team knew it was a possibility," Todd Graham, director of the debate program at SIUC, said. "Our debaters had a record-setting year… We had two of the best five debate teams in the country. It was one of the best years in the long history of the SIUC Debate Team."

Graham said the debate team's success also won them "a great deal of recognition by our peers." He noted that Ryan Lawrence, a debater from University of California at Berkeley and the top debater last year, said he would still hold his head high if beaten by SIUC because he and his teammates "considered (SIUC) the smartest, hardest-working and best debate team in the country."

And Joe Gantt, coach for the Texas Tech University debate team that won the second national tournament, referred to the SIUC team as "hot" and fierce competition.

"I'm so proud of all our debaters," Graham said. "It was a great season."

The SIUC Debate Team is: 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 finished a record-breaking season, capping off with individual awards and team awards at the national tournament competitions. The team of Kevin Calderwood and Kyle Dennis won first place in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, the premier debate tournament in the United States. In addition, Calderwood won first place in the individual awards at the National Parliamentary Debate Association national tournament, and his partner, Dennis, took third place in the individual awards. The team of Katie Thomas and Adam Testerfield was fifth in the second national tournament. 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 team poses with some of the trophies won early in the season.

Photo by Russell Bailey