The University of North Texas Debate Team competed at the 2016 Fall Texas Intercollegiate Forensic Association (TIFA) Championship Tournament. The team of Garrett Hammonds (senior) and Abron Hester (junior) advanced as the #1 seed to the elimination and defeated 3 additional Texas colleges on their way to winning the Championship. The competition, hosted by Tyler Junior College, began on Thursday November 3rd and concluded on November 5th. In NPDA competition, debaters compete in teams of two and are given a new topic 15 minutes before each debate. UNT was represented by three teams: Hammonds and Hester who won the tournament, Maggie McGehee (sophomore) and Avery Davis (first year) formed the second team, and Domenique Hester (first year) and Matthew Davis (first year) formed the third team. “The tournament provides rigorous competition for students across the state of Texas. The UNT debate team has been preparing for this tournament for months and the results are a testament to their hard work and dedication”, said, Colin Quinn, former UNT debate and current argument coach. This is only the second year UNT has competed at the Fall TIFA Championship Tournament in NPDA style debate.
The tournament began with a field of 18 universities and/or colleges across the state of Texas competing in six (6) preliminary debate rounds. University attending ranged in size from University of Texas to Del Mar college. The Championship round, where you UNT was on the Opposition, featured the topic, “The United States should make Election Day a national holiday.” NPDA style of debate acts as a platform to discuss numerous topics which students might have a chance to discuss on the classroom.
Teams that win four or more preliminary debates advance to elimination rounds, which functions similarly to March Madness. A loss in the elimination rounds signals the end of the competition for that team. The UNT team of Hammonds and Hester advanced to the elimination rounds as the top seed compiling five wins and one loss in the preliminary rounds. Their 6 wins were against the Lone Star College, Howard Payne University, Texas A&M, Texas State University, and Tyler Junior College while their one loss was against Wiley College. Hammonds and Hester only lost 1 ballot out of 9 in the elimination round on the way to winning the State Championship.
The tournament awarded speaker awards to the top 10 debaters out of a field of 70 debaters. Abron Hester was recognized as the 2nd speaker and Garrett Hammonds was recognized as the 6th speaker. Debaters range from novices to highly experienced, but all debaters are evaluated on a scale of 1-30 points. In 6 preliminary rounds Abron received a total 171 speaker points and Garrett Hammonds received 169.5, a difference of 1.5 between the two speakers.