With the end of the year rapidly approaching, many activities have wrapped up and their members have begun to celebrate all their hard work for the year. Casady Debate, however, is still very much in the midst of competition. After a hard-fought district tournament where only the top three to four teams earned a qualifying spot, the Casady Debate team successfully secured their ticket to the NSDA Nationals Tournament for the 2021-2022 year. Although the Casady Debate team had to fight all on its own for a seat at the table, the journey to nationals is a much more collaborative one. Kiran Naidu (‘22), a four-year member and master debater, explained how “all the teams in Oklahoma practice debate and research as we head to the national tournament.” There is a ton of practice that goes into preparing a team’s messages and arguments, so this shared time provides a great avenue into not only working on Casady’s statements, but also getting the opportunity to learn from other talented programs in the state. Instead of engaging in fierce interstate competition, the teams can work together in order to assemble the best possible arguments, speeches, and presentations to represent Oklahoma on the national level.
The tournament is scheduled for June 12-17 in Louisville, Kentucky, so, while the majority of the Casady community will be settling into their well-deserved summer, the debate team will be heading down south for five days of intense battle. Naidu described how “the tournament is really a marathon in itself. There are about six preliminary rounds, and after those rounds, you debate until you lose twice.” Unlike many tournaments that operate in a round-robin format, the NSDA brackets are solely constructed based on the team’s successes. With each win, the team qualifies for another round and thus determines their own destiny in the tournament. While this may seem daunting to some, to Casady, it is simply a motivating factor to continue proving the program’s strengths.
Due to the pandemic, this will be the first time NSDA nationals will be in person since 2019, and the Casady delegation could not be more thrilled. Eileen Burger (‘23) shared how “debate nationals is basically a celebration of all the hard work you have put in over the year.” While the conference has been held virtually the past two years, those experiences were nothing compared to what the Cyclones have to look forward to this June. Both Naidu and Burger said how one of the things they love most about nationals is what happens outside the debate room. Burger specifically touched on how excited she is to “hang out with friends and explore Louisville, Kentucky,” while Naidu also expressed how “it’s a great experience for the team as we meet people [from] all across the nation and compete to make a name for Casady within the debate community.” Although the main focus of the conference is on the debate itself, students are also given ample free time to bond with their own teammates, mingle with other participants, and engage with the greater Louisville community. In addition to being an educational experience, NSDA seeks to entertain its attendees and can be an amazing place to make friends from around the country who share your interests.
The NDSA National Tournament really is a forum for the best of the best, and there is no doubt that Casady ranks among them. The debate team this year has been incredibly successful in all they have done and, fortunately for us, they are not finished yet. While there is no doubt the preparation period is immensely stressful, especially amongst AP Exams, finals, and end-of-year hubbub, the Casady Debate team cannot wait to reap the rewards of their efforts. The Casady community is extremely proud of the debate team and with just one month to go, we cannot wait to see them thrive on the national stage.