Webb debate team opens the season with a win


Sunny Yu

Hanson Hu (‘23) holds the second place trophy.

For most students, the Saturday of Homecoming looks like this: they sleep in, relax throughout the morning, dress up, take pictures with friends, and dance the night away. However, the day was very different for members of the Webb debate team this year.

On Saturday, November 9th, the Webb debate team left campus at 7 a.m. for its first debate tournament at St. Margaret’s Episocal High School in San Juan Capistrano. Led by Jessica Fisher, co-chair of the humanities department, the team came in first for most overall wins, with a stunning 80% win record.

Ms. Fisher said, “The tournament went great. Our goal was to train and empower our newer debaters. We did not worry about our win rate, and it was a nice surprise that all teams did really well. It was a fun tournament, and I think the team had a great time.”

Behind the success of the team was the outstanding performance of each individual debater and the debate captains, Eleanor Corbin (‘20) and Renny Jiang (‘20).

The team consisting of Eleanor , Hanson Hu (‘23), and Connor Plunkett (‘23) won all four rounds and snagged the award of second place team. The team of Nancy Li (‘20), Nina Luo (‘22), and Sunny Yu (‘22) won each of their rounds as well, and they succeeded in winning third place team out of 24 teams.

Several great debaters stood out: Yiyi Ouyang (‘21), Renny, Nancy, and Jay Gupta (‘20) were all among the top 15 individual speakers at the tournament. 

Ms. Fisher said, “The preparation process is harder than just standing up and talking. We would have students prepare their own arguments, and after debating against each other, they would synthesize the arguments into a collective document.”

Jenny Han (‘21), a third year debater, said, “As a team, we prepared on Monday and Thursday before the tournament. It was really helpful to create team documents, and the preparation process fostered collaboration among teammates… Everyone worked incredibly hard, woke up early, had a long day, and I am very proud of our team. Both of my teammates were intelligent and supportive, and I like the overall team atmosphere a lot.”

As a result of the debaters’ hard work as well as the team captains’ abilities to lead the group, all five teams won their first pre-announced round on the topic of non-disclosure agreements. Four out of five teams continued their winning streak for the second pre-announced round, in which they argued for the abolishment of antitrust laws.

When it came to the impromptu rounds in the afternoon, Webb debaters worked together to come up with arguments and corresponding evidence without the help of outside sources. They performed well on the two motions, the first being that students should participate in Friday walk-outs to combat climate change, and the second on the topic of the impeachment.

Ms. Fisher said, “There’s so much stress in this world right now. The Webb debate team creates an atmosphere for students to have fun and enjoy the learning process.”

Saturday, November 9th was a long day for Webb debaters who attended their first tournament of the season. The next debate tournament is going to be held at Webb on Sunday, December 15th, and Webb debaters are already brainstorming for the pre-announced topics.