The team that debates together

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Kristine Cho

When the layman thinks of relationships, he turns to things of romance. Individual intimacy with another has come to define common conception of relations, but the social web that constructs reality is so much more than partners.
When it comes to the high school experience, one of the most defining parts of the social makeup are the activities and groups students become a part of. Teams are a clear example of this dynamic, but perhaps the most peculiar is the debate team. This entity lies between realms as it encompasses the student involvement of a club and competitiveness of a sport.
Junior Dalton Nunamaker, chair of policy debate on the debate team, finds the tightly knit community aspect of his team to be one of the most important to him.
“My favorite thing about the team is the endless support and companionship,” Nunamaker said. “Everyone is always so positive and excited for others’ successes.”

Junior policy debaters Dalton Nunamaker and Joshua Vincent receive their third place trophies at the Parkway West tournament in St. Louis
Junior policy debaters Dalton Nunamaker and Joshua Vincent receive their third place trophies at the Parkway West tournament in St. Louis
The team travels across the state to participate in tournaments, devoting hours and many sleepless nights to their performance. The investment these students have put into their work has created a communitarian atmosphere. Sophomore Kiren MacLeod, a varsity debater, has found this team environment to be a defining part of his experience.
Public Forum debaters toss their evidence in a trash bin together after their last round.
Public Forum debaters toss their evidence in a trash bin together after their last round.
“I would describe being part of the debate team as being someone who has to be reliable. It is a lot of work to be on the team. People have expectations, but it’s also rewarding. You know for as much work you put in, everyone else is putting that in too,” MacLeod said. “That’s why we go as a team and not as people who happen to all go in it alone.”
Freshman debate partners Ben Kimchi and Will Cover embrace nervously as they await the announcement of results.
Freshman debate partners Ben Kimchi and Will Cover embrace nervously as they await the announcement of results.
The dedication shows in the successes that the team has brought forth, but is also part of the team culture.
“The debate team at Rock Bridge is such a great group of hardworking people who really push each other to be their best,” Nunamaker said.
Even so, some of the best moments for MacLeod are the small gestures amid tense tournaments.
Sophomores Ethan Hayes and Kiren MacLeod let loose and tell jokes before their debate rounds begin.
Sophomores Ethan Hayes and Kiren MacLeod let loose and tell jokes before their debate rounds begin.
“My favorite parts of tournaments are the small moments when everyone’s about to go to round and we’re all wishing each other good luck before we depart,” MacLeod said. “It feels genuine and human, but we’re also about to get down to business, which is awesome.”
After a long day of debating, partners Will Cover and Ben Kimchi pay for their dinner at a Schnucks.
After a long day of debating, partners Will Cover and Ben Kimchi pay for their dinner at a Schnucks.
Intense devotion to their events and to each other has come to create a unique and lively characterization of the speech and debate team. Through ups, downs, and getting dinner from a Walmart at midnight, the team lies at an intersection between sport and club or cult and family.
“The best cults are families and the best families are cults,” MacLeod said. “The debate team has that camaraderie that makes it familial, but we’re also kind of sort of crazy and in a cult-like way.”
Juniors Dalton Nunamaker, Sonya Hu and Joshua Vincent decide tie colors for Vincent in a parking lot by a bus during a lunch break.
Juniors Dalton Nunamaker, Sonya Hu and Joshua Vincent decide tie colors for Vincent in a parking lot during a lunch break.