OSSAA: A Fresh Start for Casady Debate

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Although much of the focus regarding Casady’s planned switch from the SPC to OSSAA involves athletics, the academic programs will also undergo significant changes. Starting in 2023, the Casady Debate Program will become more effective, inclusive, and competitive. 

The Casady Debate Program has never technically been in the SPC, as the SPC does not sponsor debate. It has been an “associate member” of the OSSAA for the past 7 years, but has been subject to several limitations as a result. Mr. Snider has served as Head Coach since 2015, but his past teaching experiences from Owasso and Heritage Hall have given him insight into what OSSAA entails for Casady Debate.

Currently, the Debate Program suffers from many inconveniences, including long travel times and reduced participation opportunities. Regarding the status quo, Mr. Snider said, “There are a lot of restrictions that really limit how much we can compete [In Oklahoma]. It’s not worth competing here when we could go down to Dallas.” One of these restrictions guarantees only 3 rounds for each debater, whereas Texas debate tournaments guarantee 6. Debate Team Captain Kiran Naidu (‘22) added, “In the past, because Casady wasn’t in the OSSAA, we didn’t really go to local tournaments and we could only really debate in-state during the second semester. As a result, it’s really hard to make a presence in Oklahoma debate.” 

In contrast, the OSSAA allows for in-state competitions without these current restrictions and gives Casady the opportunity to compete for a state championship, which is not provided by the SPC. When asked about his opinion on the decision, Mr. Snider said, “I am very happy and excited about it. I was always a proponent of us joining the OSSAA.” He believes that the OSSAA will allow for “a better sense of community in the Oklahoma area.”

Regarding the level of competition, Mr. Snider said, “The level of competition in the state is a little bit lower, but the big thing is it is more accessible.” Texas and national circuit tournaments force Casady students who are not 100% invested to face off against out-of-state students who are “all-in,” which “can be a bit repetitive.” Conversely, in the OSSAA, Casady debaters will receive an “equivalent level of competition” rather than having to compete against “debate is their entire existence” students from national tournaments. In general, the switch will allow for higher success rates within a more even playing field. 

Another advantage of the switch is that debate topics and preparation will change insignificantly, as the Resolution, or the statement up for debate, will remain the same for each year. The only difference in preparation will be catering to Oklahoma judges’ expectations. Mr. Snider said, “One of the things Debate teaches is persuasion. Every tournament you get a judge, so one of the things you need to do is adapt to the judge. What does the judge like to hear? What are they more persuaded by?” 

When asked about if he thought the switch would benefit the debate team, Kiran said, “I think so. I think a big part of debate is creating relationships and friendships, and a lot of the people that you’d see [in OSSAA] are from other school’s that you’d know. Being able to go to more local tournaments is a huge benefit because you get to see those people more and more.” Kiran believes that the OSSAA will be the missing piece that Casady Debate needs through its opportunities for a greater sense of fellowship and competition. 

Although the tradition of SPC is one that is difficult to depart from, for the debate program, the OSSAA switch will expand Casady’s sense of community, provide more opportunities for all levels of debaters, and reduce travel times for busy students.