Top-ranked students Zoe Wynne (WDI, 2015) and Sophia Skalski-Fouts (WDI, 2015), sophomore debaters for Fort Lauderdale High school, finished as semi-finalists after a tough fight at the University of Florida’s Blue Key tournament this past weekend.
Despite winning their previous tournament, the sophomore team went into the weekend feeling that their chances were being underestimated. Zoe and Sophia proved their doubters wrong by earning the first seed in elimination debates after emerging victorious in five preliminary debates. The team also appeared as semi-finalists. Zoe and Sophia were recognized as outstanding speakers earning 3rd (Wynne) and 5th (Skalski-Fouts) place speaker awards.
This is the first time a sophomore team of two women team has made it as far as the semifinal round and the they were ecstatic. Throughout the whole tournament, the only dropped two ballots in semifinals against a team from Cypress Bay, a sister school to Fort Lauderdale. In fact, the team has only dropped five ballots this season.
Wynne wrote, “I want to say thank you to all my friends and family for supporting me! I cannot believe it has been a year since my first debate and the opportunity to start friendships with some of the most amazing people.”
Along with their achievements, Wynne and Skalski-Fouts kept the motivation going for other members in the pool and rooted on Cypress debater Melanie Xia, when she became the first woman of color to receive top speaker at the Blue Key tournament.
“I’m just really happy she got it [top speaker] and no one else did. It makes me happy to see people who are not cis white boys winning speaker awards,” they added. Wynne and Skalski-Fouts support inclusion in the debate community and believe that everyone should be able to access a community where they can advocate for something they believe.
The two would like to thank Hex Larsen and Kassandra Colon (WDI, 2014, 2015; Member WDI Board of Directors) for coaching them along the way. “We couldn’t have done it without their help!!”
This team also looks out for younger students and tries to make debate a welcoming environment for them. They coached the novice team of Peyton Carpen and Greyson Alfonso from Fort Lauderdale to win the tournament’s novice division for the first time in 5 years.