As the first tournament after winter break, WDI alumni had no problem getting back into the swing of things. Maggie Solice (Collegiate Scholar, 2015), Hunter Callahan McFarland (Collegiate Scholar, 2015), Mary Marcum (Collegiate Scholar, 2015), Pauline Esman (Collegiate Scholar, 2015), Nicole Nave (Board Member), Corrine Sugino (Collegiate Scholar, 2015), and Ava Vargason (Board Member and Collegiate Scholar, 2015) all competed at tops levels after the holiday break. Apparently, while the rest of us were lounging around at home, WDI alumni were hard at work prepping for the Cal Swings.
Among the numerous successes, Maggie Solice (Trinity RS) posted a prelim record of 5-1 and made it to octo-finals at both Cal Swing tournaments. Hunter Callahan Mcfarland and Mary Marcum (Wyoming MM) grew as a team. Pauline Esman (Northwestern CE) went 4-2, were 20th seed and made it to double octo-finals at the second tournament. Nicole Nave (Rutgers NM) beat the second-highest nationally ranked team (Michigan KM), made it to semis at the first tournament and octo-finals at the second tournament. She also was awarded 6th speaker at the second tournament. Corrine Sugino (Wake
Forest AS) had 5-1 preliminary win-loss record and made it to octo-finals at both halves of the tournament. Ava Vargason finished as a double octo-finalist at both halves of the tournament. At the first tournament, Ava earned the 8th speaker award.
At the year’s Cal Swing, there were many wins for WDI alumni. With so many alumni in one place, they were able to reconnect and share in their mutual successes. Pauline Esman thought that, “it was really cool to be able to debate so many fellow WDI people and that I think it made me debate my best because I was around people I cared about and who I had made connections to this summer!”
The alumni also enjoyed debating each other. Pauline Esman debated Ava Vargason round 3, Maggie Solice round 6 and Nicole Nave in doubles. “All were awesome debates,” remarked Esman.
Hunter Callahan McFarland and Mary Marcum debated Harvard HS, the top team in the country, an experience that proved to be very informative for Callahan, who remarked, “that was a very challenging but enjoyable debate. I learned a lot about Middle Eastern policy from that one debate.” Along with her successes, Callahan also enhanced her knowledge of the topic.
Aside from beating the second best team in the nation, Nicole Nave felt that the most memorable moment for her was when she debated in the double octo round
against Pauline Esman at the second half of the Swings, running a negative argument called ‘the dozens,’ which is an argument about black comedy and its transformative powers. Nicole said, “Black comedy produces community in one of the most transformative ways and it’s simply by our ability to smile in a world that was built in opposition to us. It is my favorite argument to run. It gives me so much energy and life after debate competitions suck it away.” Nicole Nave is winning rounds and breaking records all while spreading an important message. Not only did Nave impact her opponents in the round, but she also inspired the younger generation of high school debaters who sat in her rounds. “I enjoyed the kids from BAUDL (Bay Area Urban Debate League) that came and watched my rounds. They truly motivated me even when things got hard.”
Ava Vargason’s most memorable round was against Rutgers MN, Nicole Nave’s team. “It was great debating Nicole because I hadn’t seen her since the WDI. They’re a great team and I loved debating them because they’re a team that you can just hang out with after the tournament is over.” Ava Vargason, a chemical engineering major, got her first speaker award at a major tournament during the first half of the Swings. “They played ‘Blinded by Science’ for my song, which was very fitting.” Vargason believes that relationships are absolutely essential to participation in debate. “Having a network of people that are there to support you and care more about how you’re feeling than if you’re winning is so important in this activity,” Vargason says. “It gives you motivation to keep going and being at the WDI this past summer definitely helped me make the decision to keep debating.”
Corrine Sugino also experienced her fair share of success at the Swings. Sugino’s most memorable round was during the double octos at the second half of the Swings. Corrine said, “we debated Kinsee and Misty
who I used to travel with in high school (our coaches were married) and that was a fun round because I felt like Charles and I had a lot of cohesion and we got to debate people I knew and like had grown up debating.” Sugino, like the other alums, valued the atmosphere of comradery over her individual successes. Sugino summed up the tournament perfectly: “Debating at the Cal Swings was really fun. The tournaments are tough and take a lot of work but it’s great to come back after winter break and be able to see friends and get back into debating!”
Maggie Solice believes that this tournament reconnected her to her friends at the WDI. “Attending the Cal tournament was great not just because we experienced some success, but because I also got to watch so many of my friends from the WDI do well also. I got to cheer for Ava when she won her speaking award. When I was out of the tournament, I went to support Nicole from Rutgers, and when I was still debating, Pauline was in the back of my room. It really reminded me why I love the community.”
All in all, WDI alumni are killing it on the college circuit. Keep up the great work!