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Debate Team and Rebecca Pelletier '17 Complete Successful Year

May 11, 2016

Laura Lemire
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7242

Members of the Saint Anselm College debate teamDebate Team winners, from left, Katelyn Shaughnessy, Edward Frankonis, Rebecca Pelletier, Kaitlin Morel, and Drew Collins


As the academic year comes to a close, so too does another successful year for the Saint Anselm College debate team. The team not only placed first in the Northeast Regional Championship, it also saw junior English major Rebecca Pelletier ranked ninth in the nation following the National Forensic Association national speech and debate tournament at Ball State University in Indiana, April 11-14.

Joining Pelletier at nationals were teammates Edward Frankonis '19 and Kaitlin Morel '18; the three students qualified for the national tournament by placing at regional events during the year. Coach David Trumble and college alumnus Timothy Vaughan '11 also joined the team at the event.

Throughout the academic year, the debate team won both as a group and as individual competitors. In November, Pelletier and Frankonis had already qualified for nationals, and first-year teammates Drew Collins '19 and Megan Miller '19 had placed second at a recent tournament in Vermont; it was Miller's first time debating.

"We are off to a good start," said Coach Trumble in November. "The group is working hard. They are a positive and optimistic group, and are ready to be challenged."

Now at the end of the season, Trumble has watched his team accumulate trophies, honors, and first place finishes while competing against some of the top debaters in the country.

In addition to winning the Northeast Regional Championship at Suffolk University on February 21 and the Emerson College Rose tournament on February 20, the debate team also won the Debate Sweepstakes Award (combined team performance) at each tournament. Read more about the debate team's win on the Portraits blog.

At the Jack Lynch Debate Tournament hosted by Saint Anselm in November, Pelletier won first place speaker in the debate round and beat Lafayette College in the final round of policy debate to win the tournament. In novice policy debate, Frankonis came in second place, reaching the final round. Frankonis was the second place speaker and Collins won fifth place.

At a tournament in St. Louis, Missouri in January, Pelletier was seeded 13th out of 110 debaters.

"I am really impressed with her [Pelletier's] contribution to the team as a whole and her ability to compete at a high level at the same time. I think we were all very happy for her," said Trumble. "As for the team overall, they were very excited. It was a big success and reflected on their continued strong work effort every week."

Practice Makes Perfect
In preparation for competition, the team reviews general issues that may come up during an actual debate. This allows them to improve their argument skills by learning how to name, prove, and conclude their arguments.

This year's topic for all policy debates is bioprospecting, which is the process of searching for, developing, and commercializing new products based on biological resources.

"This has impact on the fields of medicine, agriculture, environmental biodiversity, and the rights of indigenous peoples," said Trumble.

The students spend a great deal of time researching, including searching through academic articles and books. They build evidence files and briefs for use in each round to argue the opposing teams' cases.

Frankonis, a politics major, joined the team to improve his debate abilities and expand upon his critical thinking skills. So far his favorite part has been working with his new coach.

"Mr. Trumble is a man with a wealth of information about the ins and outs of debate, and is extraordinarily effective at training novice debaters how to learn from their experiences," said Frankonis.

Miller, a mathematics major, believes that her experiences on the team will prove to be beneficial beyond the confines of Saint Anselm.

"It forces me to think more logically and to really think about things and back up my arguments rather than making hasty generalizations and unsound arguments," Miller said. "The speaking and thinking skills that debate teaches will be valuable to me no matter what I decide to do in life."

Completing its 68th year of competition, the debate team's 10 members include: Rebecca Pelletier, Kaitlin Morel, and first-year students William Bearce, Drew Collins, Isabelle Daigle, Ed Frankonis, Tyler Glass, Megan Miller, Katelyn Shaughnessy, and Greg Valcourt. Coach David Trumble is assisted by alumnae Katherine Muzzy '15, a student at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and Courtney Gray '11, a Concord attorney with a law degree and master's in social work.

For now, Trumble said he is looking forward to next year's season. "Rebecca is our oldest debater. She is only a junior. Kaitlin is a sophomore and Edward is a freshman. All of the other members of the team are freshmen. So, we will have a good team returning next year," he said.

Beginning in September, the team will begin researching and then debating the topic area of U.S. relations with Latin America. Students interested in joining the debate team and developing their skills for public advocacy are invited to join. Please contact David Trumble.

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