Up at the Podium: A look at the JV/Novice National debate tournament.

The team poses with their trophies after the tournament is over.

By: Evin Santana ’19

On the weekend of March 9 through March 12, Notre Dame’s debate team traveled to San Francisco State University for the JV/Novice Nationals. At this tournament, the debate team competed against over 20 teams in the region.

A total of 14 Notre Dame students competed, 2 JV teams (second-year debaters) and 5 Novice teams (first-year debaters).

“It’s one of the national tournaments that’s geared towards the younger and less experienced students, whereas in April we attend Nationals that are open to any students that qualify. [That tournament] is more geared towards the most advanced students in the country,” said Mrs. Christina Tallungan Phillips, the debate coach.

The JV teams of Nick DiFilippo ’20/YeJun Kwon ’20 and Nikhil Navare ’21/Brian Snitman ’21 both finished in the top 8 in their division.

“My partner [YeJun Kwon] and I were the top seed in the JV pool. Our preliminary record was 5-0, which means we were undefeated,” said Nick DiFilippo ‘20. Two of the Novice teams also made it to the top 8.

Although they didn’t make it to the finals, they still have a lot to be proud of.

“One thing that I’m very proud of my students for is that despite the fact they didn’t do as well as they wanted to, which most of them thought winning was the only option, they were still very positive at the end and they’re all willing to work hard,” said Coach Tallungan Phillips.

While they spent a lot of time competing, they also were able to have fun and spend time with each other.

“We also all got super close at this tournament,” said DiFilippo. “Our team has a tradition at this tournament where we all see a movie. We also always go to Mitchell’s ice cream near downtown San Francisco.” This year the team saw the movie Black Panther.

Upon returning to school, the Debate team continued to practice their skills and talents during their classes and practices.

While JV/Novice Nationals is a very important tournament for us, obviously the longer term goal of improving that talent and those skills and having a positive attitude about the journey of working hard is going to lead them to much greater wins in the future if they persevere,” said Coach Tallungan Phillips.


Good luck to them as they work their way to National’s competition.


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