October 6, 2016

Mesa Debate Team Wins First Place at Aztec Invitational

By Lauren J. Mapp

Mesa College's debate team proudly poses with their trophy and medals. The team had a successful first outing of the season at the Aztec Mills Invitational Tournament during the weekend of Sept. 30.

San Diego Mesa College’s Speech and Debate Team won first place in the 2-year school division at their first tournament of the academic season on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 at the San Diego State University Aztec Invitational and Mills Invitational.


More than 56 parliamentary debate teams and 200 competitors from 26 schools – both community colleges and 4-year universities – competed during the tournament.


“Almost every debate team that we took made it to elimination rounds, which is what you hope for – usually if you have a few of your teams that make it, that’s good, but I think that almost all but two of our teams made it – so it was very successful from our perspective,” said team director Kim Perigo. “We only have five returning students from last semester, so for a lot of them, that was their first tournament experience, now they’re getting swept up in the fun of the tournament competition.”


One of those new members of the team – Domanic Glenn, a political science major and rookie debater – has become increasingly inspired by his teammates and their performances during the tournament.


“The experience so far has been absolutely amazing – the intellectual development and the comradery that you build on a team is something that I did not expect, but that I fully appreciate, and that has been the biggest takeaway or the biggest gift that it could possibly give me,” Glenn said.


Glenn and his Parliamentary Debate partner Robert Andrews were the only rookie team to receive a score of 4-0, earning them gold medals for the rookie division, despite the fact that in several rounds they needed to argue against their personal beliefs. In one such debate, the sustainability minded duo needed to argue against a ban on plastic bag usage in California.


“We were the opposition, so we had to say ‘yeah, plastic bags are great, the environment sucks,’” said Andrews. “It’s playing ‘devil’s advocate’ to your own thoughts – so that was a lot of the debate for me, like arguing that plastic bags are great was fun because I had to set aside the (thought of) ‘but plastic bags ruin things.’”


“It’s very hard to argue, especially with everyone being so environmentally-conscious, when you have to argue for a stance that you don’t necessarily agree with, or if you argue a stance that you don’t necessarily disagree with,” Glenn added. “That’s very challenging because you have to break away from your own personal bias and think on the other side and definitely break outside of the box to achieve a win.”


Andrews, a biology major student who is also a rookie debater in his first semester on the team, also won second place in the category of individual speaker.


Duc Le, a communications studies and psychology double major at Mesa College, is in his third semester on the team. He made it to the quarter finals of the parliamentary debate category with partner Carolyn Owens, and won an individual fifth place prize in the Varsity Dramatic Interpretation category. His dramatized speech touched on the unjust treatment of imprisonment and how it alters one’s self-identity.


“My piece was about a monkey that was captured in prison in a human war, and in order to survive he has to adapt, he has to learn from humans and learn the human language, but in the process, he is losing his very identity,” Le said.


Kendall Quan – communications studies and philosophy major, in her third semester on the team – has seen an improvement in her other classes since joining the speech and debate team.


“It helps me in pretty much all of my classes, the research that we do here can carry over into a lot of different classes or settings, and it makes a lot of other things easier, just because the stuff we do here is so in depth,” Quan said.


Echoing the sentiment that participation in the speech and debate team translates to success in the classroom Owens, a communications studies major in her second semester on the team, said that “if I can run a marathon here, then it’s pretty easy to run a sprint in the class.”


“I have completely seen a 360 in my performance at school – actually, when I joined the team, I was struggling with my grades,” Owens said. “I have now made a million friends on campus, I have contact with all of them regarding current classes that they’re taking and past classes, and it makes my classes extremely easier.”


Speeches by debate team members Andrews, Glenn, Owens, Le, Quan, Katie Wiges, Tyler McGorisk, Cole McDaniel and Tad Tobar all contributed to the successful outcome of the tournament.


Altogether, the team brought home a cornucopia of individual and partnered prizes, including gold for Rookie Division in Parliamentary Debate (Glenn and Andrews); Bronze for Varsity Division in Parliamentary debate (Tobar and McDaniel); Bronze for Novice Debate (Owens and Le); bronze for Novice Debate (Wiges and McGorisk); second place Speaker Award, Rookie Debate (Andrews); second place Speaker Award, Novice Debate (Wiges); fourth place Speaker Award, Novice Debate (McGorisk); and fifth place for Varsity Dramatic Interpretation (Le).


Bryan Malinis, a team director who has been working with the Speech and Debate team since January, said that the successful first outing sets a positive precedence for the rest of the season.


“I’m optimistic for the next tournament, honestly, because I see how this first tournament has kind of lit this fire in them, this motivation and this desire to do well,” Malinis said. “I’m seeing even more students want individualized coaching sessions, so it’s nice to see that they are energized and motivated to do better.”

Tags: Aztec Invitational, Speech and Debate

Additional Information


Jennifer Nichols Kearns
Director of Communications
(619) 388-2356

Kim Perigo
Professor, Communications Studies; Director, Speech and Debate Team
(619) 388-5721