When the judges called out Susannah Murphine’s name as the Novice Debate Champion of the Walter State Community College Smokey Mountian Regional Tournament last weekend, she couldn’t quite believe it.
Murphine, a freshmen history major, had no debate experience prior to coming to Union. She practiced and trained all last semester, but did not expect much from the spring’s first tournament. She debated seven times in one day last Saturday, and her final round didn’t conclude until approximately 10 p.m.
“I honestly didn’t think I was doing that well,” Murphine said. “Honestly, I felt like I was dreaming. There was this shock of ‘Did they just say my name?’ I was in a state of euphoria.”
She aspires to practice law, and in her last round she got to argue that the judicial branch is the most important branch of government. Because of that, and the support of her team, she said she felt confident heading into finals, even though it was the first time she’d ever made it to the last round.
Union’s team as a whole cleaned up at the tournament, placing first in Sweepstakes. In addition to Murphine’s championship, sophomore political science major Clark Hubbard claimed the Junior Varsity Champion trophy. Hubbard and Olivia Coffman both won top speaker awards.
There was a greater prize than the trophy in winning for Hubbard, though. It meant he edged ahead of his friendly rival on the team, Korey Adams, sophomore French and Spanish double major.
Both Adams and Hubbard started debate together last year, and they had four classes together in addition to improv team practices and debate team practices.
“There was a lot of Clark and Korey going on,” Adams said with a laugh.
Because both Adams and Hubbard spend so much time together, whether on the road or practicing, their friendship formed quickly and deeply. This bond cemented their competitive rivalry.
Adams said he can’t go anywhere with a fellow debater without arguing—not even to Wendy’s, which turned into an argument about whether or not the restaurant was better than Chick-fil-A.
“Debate team has its own unique sense of family,” he said. “It’s all a great experience to have each other.”
Both Hubbard and Adams said they see the team as more than just an extracurricular. Hubbard loves the art of arguing, and he also sees debate as a way to be a witness for Christ.
Before each tournament, Web Drake, director of debate, tells the team to be “salt and light” throughout the tournament. Hubbard says he has had opportunities both to reach out to those who aren’t Christians through the arguments he makes as well as to encourage Christians on other teams.
“It’s about seeking truth and making an impact and being a witness for Christ,” he said.
Drake said he was pleased with how the weekend had gone, and wanted the team to stay on their toes as the season closes.
“We’ve had a great year so far,” he said. “We are in good shape but need to close strong!”
Full list of Awards:
Sweepstakes- 1st Place
Quarters- Lauren Butler, Madison Short, Russell Richardson
Semis- Josiah McGee
Finals- Luke Brake
Quarters- Korey Adams, Josh Swafford
Champion- Clark Hubbard
Quarters- Nathan Chester, Olivia Coffman, Jacob Collins
Semis- Josie Carrier, Seth Graves
Champion- Susannah Murphine
1st- Clark Hubbard, Olivia Coffman
2nd- Josiah McGee
3rd- Luke Brake, Nathan Chester
5th- Russell Richardson, Courtney Wright, Susannah Murphine