WUDL students mailed trophies from University of Kentucky Opener and Georgetown Day Invitational

The first competition of a very unique 2020-2021 season is in the books, and students from the Washington Urban Debate League brought home yet more trophies.

The National Speech and Debate Season Opener at the University of Kentucky was one of the largest and most competitive tournaments we've ever attended, and featured thousands of entries from across the nation and a number from Eastern Asia. While the pivot online has created many questions about access, coaching bandwidth, and resources, moving online has made highly competitive debate more accessible to folks without travel, and indeed all over the world.

12 teams from 10 WUDL schools participated in the tournament across all three divisions. In Varsity, Michelle/Kailey, Paola/Lola, and Zara/Lucy led the way, finishing with a 3-3 record. As the season opener, the UK tournament is very challenging since it is almost impossible to prepare for the competition, nobody knows what anyone else is going to say.

The stars of the show last weekend, however, was Stuart Hobson's Zahra/Charlie. Attending their first Travel Tournament, the 8th graders put the Novice Division on notice. They finished the preliminary rounds with a 4-2 record, and were one of two American teams in elimination rounds. They won the Octo-Final round, finishing as Quarter-Finalists in one of the largest and most competitive tournaments all season.

Two weeks later, six teams attended the Georgetown Day School Invitational, our traditional season opening tournament. DC International's Paola Almendarez and Lola Rogin led the way, advancing to elimination rounds for the first time in their career. DCI first attended the tournament as 8th graders, and have improved their record every single year, and have emerged as one of the better regional teams to beat early in the year.

Zara/Lucy, Michelle/Kailey, and Aisha/Ranu all also did well, and I will shout out the tournament's youngest entries, from Capital City PCS. While Joey/Simone didn't win any rounds, they showed tremendous growth round to round, and have emerged from the competition motivated and hungry for more. The 8th/9th grade team has never been to a Varsity competition (even on the local level) before, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many thanks to Zoheb Nensey, Danielle Dupree, Patrick McMullen, Raffi Pilliero, Sam Haley-Hill, Ohm Gore, Guillermo Vidaurre, Kevin Tezi, and Munyang Tengen for volunteering to judge and help coach our teams at this competition. As always, we can't do it without you!

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