The Coppell High School debate team saw some of their busiest times this Spring Break. Attending two tournaments and working to prepare in between each of them, the strides made during the break have helped to propel these debaters further on to the national level.
Two noteworthy senior debaters – Priyanka Krishnamurthy and Sarah Mithani – were the only two team members that attended the TFA (Texas Forensic Association) state tournament at the beginning of the break in Flower Mound. Each of these debaters had to acquire 10 points from local tournaments to be able to qualify to attend, and competed against similar talent from across the state.
Both Krishnamurthy and Mithani are part of the cross-section, or CX, debate team, yet are not partners with each other. Krishnamurthy is normally paired with senior Drew Hull while Mithani is normally paired with sophomore Stephanie Emerson. Debating together at this particular tournament was under special circumstances.
“The national competition is during the first week June and [my partner] wouldn’t be in town for it if we qualified,” Krishnamurthy said. “We didn’t want to miss this opportunity just because one of us wouldn’t be able to attend, so Sarah and I decided that we’d debate together at districts, because it made sense for the only two seniors to pair up and do it.”
At the district tournament, Krishnamurthy and Mithani were able to beat debaters from local schools such as St. Marks and Colleyville, who are considered among the best in the area. Despite the fact they have both been able to attend Nationals in previous years, both girls agree that this year is likely to present something different.
“[Being able to attend these tournaments] are some of the biggest achievements as a debater and I’m glad that I was able to qualify both my junior and senior year and attend them,” Mithani said. “It’s also nice to be doing it with Priyanka; it’s nice to change partners every once in a while, because things always go differently and you learn more things when working with other people. It’s also fun because you learn to debate in a manner different than you usually do.”
This year’s TFA national tournament takes place in Dallas. With the high expenses debaters often must pay for out-of-state tournaments, both girls expressed relief at the proximity of the event. The winners of the national tournament, the final level, are rewarded with a monetary prize.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Priyanka and Sarah,” fellow senior debater Farah Mithani said. “I know they’ve both been in the past, but that was just a good experience for them. They’re going to be able to look back on the last tournament and see what they can do better for this year and use all of the new skills they’ve developed since then. Also, they have the advantage of having two times as much experience, since they with different partners last year and might have worked differently.”
In addition to attending districts, later during Spring Break a mass of the CHS debate team travelled to the University of Texas in Austin to attend the UIL state tournament. Some debaters competed, while others attended simply to help out and judge.
Despite what may happen at Nationals, both Krishnamurthy and Mithani express excitement about having the opportunity to have come this far.
“Debate in general is a great experience,” Krishnamurthy said. “Granted, a lot of the work is individual, though there are partners, it’s seriously what you put in is what you get out of it. Debate helps with research skills, work ethic, meeting people and travelling everywhere – it offers so much.”