Debate team changes faculty, location next year


Logan Stichter

With a national qualifying team and an impressive tournament record, a highly successful Rock Bridge debate team looks to the future with both hope, and a small amount of trepidation. Because as the season changes, and the team goes into a new debate year, change is coming to the team. This change comes in the form of Holly Maness, current Hickman debate coach, and soon-to-be Rock Bridge debate coach, as well as an entirely new debate room, and the loss of volunteer assistant coach Aaron Maelin.

Unfortunately, Rock Bridge has a history of juggling debate coaches. Mrs. Cone, the current Rock Bridge Debate Coach sheds some light on the history of the program. “Around 1986, Terry Overfelt taught debate for two years.  Then I taught it for two.  Cone says, going through another three coaches in the history of the program. “Prior to 1986, the only debate coach I can recall was a gentleman by the name of Ray Newby, who was coach for both Rock Bridge and Hickman. This would have been in the 1970’s.” Mrs. Maness will be coming to Rock Bridge next year due to her own expertise in debate, as well as the opportunity to teach Theatre and Debate class in the school itself. So despite the constant shifting done in faculty recently, it is hoped that Mrs. Maness will be around for a significantly longer time, and the women in question echoes that statement.

Holly Maness, The new Debate Coach

“I am really excited to head over to Rock Bridge to teach.  I have coached at Hickman for the last two years and have already been working  to make Columbia Public Schools a stronger presence throughout Missouri’s competitions.” Mrs. Maness assures.  “I think that we can grow the attendance at our own local tournaments and also build our competitive edge at away tournaments.”

Likewise, many Rock Bridge Debate members look forward to having Mrs. Maness on staff, or at least hopeful that it will be a good experience regardless. Michael Pennella, sophomore and debate member, reflects this.

“Although I don’t know too much about her, I’ve seen her a few times during debate tournaments and she seems like a cool dudette.” He smiles good-naturedly. “She seems like she knows what she knows what she’s doing, and she seems like she’s knowledgeable about debate, and debate culture. So I think she’ll make a great addition to the team next year.”

On the down side, there is an undercurrent of worry among the debate team, not all of it linked to the debate coach. “I’m a little worried because we won’t have a senior class either, so there will be a lot of new people and a lot of new things,” freshman Rebecca Wells said. “ I’m worried about us sticking together as a team, and our ranking staying as high as it has this year.” And true to her words, Seniors Sara Ashbaugh, Whitney Cravens and Maaz Mohammed are all leaving this year, leaving next year’s team with a notable lack of seniors.

Luckily enough, there is a bright side to the changes coming in next fall. This is the previously mentioned room, room 408. Moving out of their (somewhat) cramped room, the debate team is looking forward to the change in setting, due to how much more suited the room is to their purposes. Equipped with lots of space, lighting to simulate stage performances, and a suitable shelf to hold the year’s awards, the new domain looks to satisfy the team’s every need. Debate Freshman Max Schaefer cheerfully gives his opinion on what he considers an excellent base of operations. “I think the new room is going to be really great for us,” He admits with a bit of pride, “It’s a lot of a bigger space, it has practice rooms, I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a fun next year.”
By Logan Strichter