Every typical great story usually starts out with a team that is seen as the underdog but then later rises to success. We see it all around us in funny movies like Dodgeball, in movies based on true events like Freedom Writers and Coach Carter, and now right on the Bellevue College campus.
The Bellevue College Speech and Debate Society has proven that determination can turn any team from the longshot in to the crowd’s favorite.
Only founded in 2009, the Speech and Debate society has quickly risen to the top.
They recently hosted the Northwest Warmup where almost 200 students from all over the country, as far as Texas, came to compete. The BC team made it to the semi-finals in Novice Division and Octa-finals in Open Division, which is the highest division of debate, and is expecting to compete in a tournament in Lewis and Clark October 7-9.
Although this was a huge accomplishment for the team, it was one of many for these rising stars.
They got 1st and 3rd place at the Pi Kappa Delta Nationals, where they competed against other community colleges as well as four-year schools, and achieved their greatest accomplishment thus far by placing in the top 20 percent of the NPDA Debate Teams there. Along with that, they have numerous awards in other competitions for speech and debate.
Not only is being part of the Speech and Debate Society a way to earn great experience, but they have helped several students get from 20,000 up to 40,000 dollars in scholarships.
But for club president Stephanas Pizelo, debating isn’t just about winning. “If I just debated to win, I would have quit a long time ago,” said Pizelo. For him, the best part is being a part of a team. “When you work on a team, everyone supports each other through wins and loses.”
The BC Speech and Debate Society competes nine times a year, traveling all over Washington and Oregon as well as competing all over the region along with the competition they host every year.
The results that the team is turning up are more than amazing; they are unexpected for such a young team.
When the club was started by Bernard Ellouk, Milinik Yewondwossen, Jessica Darmawan, Marcus Sweeter and Denise Vaughan, the first and current advisor, they had only four students. Now they gross about 40 students and are able to travel with different students at each tournament. They have two students, representing each team, debate a position of a current event topic in front of a judge and whoever argues their point the best and refutes the other team more effectively, wins.
They are the most diverse team in their region and are always accepting new members to add to the variation of age, gender, and experience levels. In Pizelo’s opinion, what really separates them from other clubs on campus is the combination of “weird and witty people that enjoy hanging out and arguing” which makes it fun for participants.
With the club’s goal to have fun and compete hard as a team, they aspire to give everyone the opportunity to debate by teaching them how to research current events, structure arguments, give speeches and work as a functional team.
They meet Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. in C211 where they discuss upcoming tournaments and debate research, practice structuring arguments, and at times connect with other debate teams, like those at UW Seattle and UW Bothell to do practice debates in addition to the single round practice debates they put on a couple times a week.
The current officers of the team incude Stephanas Pizelo as president, Kevin Thruelsen as captain, Monica Mendoza as VP for RR, Giulia Balzola, VP of Communications, Sierra Seiver as Secretary, Kristin Velez as Treasurer, and Pratishtha Chhabra as Event Coordinator.
The BC Speech and Debate Society has already accomplished more in a short amount of time than most mature clubs on campus and they aren’t even close to being done.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of a club on campus that will help you expand your knowledge of global events, teach how to successfully argue a point, and how to do all this while being surrounded by fun people, then this is definitely the team for you.
As a last note from the club’s president, Pizelo, he would like to “thank the ASG for coming to our last tournament and supporting the debate club, and C.A.B. [Campus Activities Board] for helping us advertise the event.”