Greenhill Debate Participates in the National Debate Coaches Association Tournament

Jin Huang

Five Upper School students from the Greenhill Debate program recently competed in the 2023 National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) Tournament from March 25 to 27.

Freshmen Dhiya Hemchand and Rory Liu made it to the first elimination round in the Policy division; juniors Seth Lee and Adam Kesselman made it to the first elimination round in the Lincoln-Douglas division.

Freshman Sarah Koshy got the eighth speaker award in the Lincoln-Douglas division, the highest speaker award of any Greenhill student at the tournament.

Due to COVID-19, the NDCA tournament has been online for the past few years, which makes this the first in-person event since 2021.

“It was really nice to be [physically at the tournament] and actually be with all of our competitors and colleagues from different schools,” said Upper School Speech and Debate Coach Alexandria Chase.

The in-person NDCA tournament also provided a more immersive experience that online tournaments cannot compare to.

“They provided an In-N-Out food truck where they had people cooking right in front of you,” said Upper School Debate Assistant Teacher and Coach Rodrigo Paramo. “They also had timers, pens and stickers for the students, which [the students] all got really excited about. This is something that online tournaments really cannot do.”

Greenhill’s policy students had good showings at this year’s tournament.

According to Hemchand, policy is a “two versus two” fast-paced style of debate. Students debate about the same topic the entire year, and this year’s topic was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and emerging technologies.

Hemchand and Liu were the only freshman team that qualified for the elimination round at the National Debate Coaches Association Championship.

“Most ninth graders don’t qualify for this tournament, and most coaches don’t take ninth graders to this tournament,” said Chase. “I did because [Liu and Hemchand] had gone above and beyond all year in a way that I’ve never known ninth graders to do, so I wanted to reward them for everything they’ve done.”

Hemchand and Liu say they did not have high expectations for themselves going into the tournament because of the intense level of competition.

“I didn’t have the mentality of ‘[Liu and I] are going to do so good and win this tournament,’” said Hemchand. “When we actually made it to the double octave finals, a part of the elimination rounds, I thought ‘I kind of do want to win.’”

There were six preliminary rounds the freshman policy team had to go through, and each round cuts the number of participant teams in half.

“We were in the top 20, which was really impressive for us because we are freshmen,” said Hemchand.

The Lincoln-Douglas division also saw success with Lee, Kesselman and Koshy.

Although Lee has been debating for three years, this is his first year doing Lincoln-Douglas.

“I did alright. I was hoping for the better, but I got to the double [octave finals], which is like the elimination round,” said Lee.

Although Koshy did not advance to the elimination round, she was awarded eighth speaker.

“[No matter the result], every debater is awarded speaker points after every debate. Those are judged based on argumentative savvy, organization, delivery and how good you are at cross-examination,” said  Chase.

According to coaches, they care more about student experience at the tournament rather than the final results.

“We want the students to have a good time at this last tournament,” Paramo.