Speech and Debate Team Gears Up for National Competitions

Research/Academic Showcase

Texas Tech University Speech and Debate Team Gears Up for National Competitions Ric Shafer, director of speech and debate, watches as a student prepares for the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence.
Photo by Neal Hinkle

Five years ago, Ric Shafer set out to guide Texas Tech University’s Speech and Debate Team to a national championship title. Now the director of speech and debate thinks this will be the year.

Texas Tech University will have three teams competing March 16 in the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence in Eugene, Ore. TTU is among a handful of universities, including the University of California at Berkeley and Rice University, to have three teams debating at the competition.

A week later, they will compete in Corvallis, Ore., with the largest intercollegiate debate in history – more than 300 teams strong -- at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s national tournament. Five TTU teams will debate in that competition.

Shafer says his debating teams have studied for this year’s tournaments. Debaters have to be ready for anything.

“We prepare by reading every newspaper we can get our hands on,” he says. “Our topics change every round. One round, we could talk about Palestine under Hamas. The next round, the impact television violence has on children or whether Congress should pass legislation to block the United Arab Emirates having control of our ports.”

Last year, TTU’s team was ranked 10th in the nation, Shafer says. This year, he’s hoping his team members make it to the top.

“Last year was kind of a building block for winning,” he says. “We knew this would be the year. We’ve got primarily juniors and seniors on the team.”

Anthony Putnicki, a sophomore philosophy major from El Paso, says he and other team members are studying furiously for the upcoming debates.

“The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence just released a list of topics,” Putnicki says. “We are researching those topic areas. Now is probably the best opportunity for us because we’ve always been one of those teams on the verge. Everyone’s kind of nervous and excited at the same time, and really hopeful. If it’s going to happen, this is the time to do it.”