Das Dominates Debate

Scott Convery, Reporter

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After a demanding process of forms, videos, essays and interviews, senior Shreyoshi Das awaited the news. There was nothing more she could do. Nervousness doused her thoughts. Tension lingered in her actions. Her patience had worn thin.

But then, the news came. Das was one of nine students chosen to represent the United States on the USA Debate team of 2017-2018. She will travel around the world on an all-expenses-paid trip, participating in numerous competitions and tournaments.

“We’re going to Germany, Croatia, [and] Slovenia,” Das said.“So it’s pretty exciting: we get to travel around the world and debate for the country.”

Das described the application process for the USA Debate team as rigorous, yet accessible.

“It was open to anybody; all you had to do was be affiliated with your school team, or be affiliated with the national speech and debate organizations that are in charge of all things debate,” Das said. “It really gives us amazing opportunities to travel the world in a way that none of us would really be able to.”

Das believes that her experience on the Development Team for USA Debate last year gave her the advantage she had needed to get onto the USA Debate team this year.

“With Development Team, they trained us up,” Das said. “They brought us to some domestic competitions, [and we] worked with the same coaches that actually coached Team USA. I think the skills I learned in development team— argument generation, presenting myself, and being able to formulate arguments in a manner that’s easily understood by everyone— are what really gave me an edge in the application process this time around.”

Shreyoshi also addressed the prospect of debate being a pay-to-win organization.

“In my ideal world, [debate will] be something very similar to what I’m a part of now, in terms of having costs paid for for the people who aren’t able to pay, and focusing more on one’s talent and ability to make arguments rather than paying other coaches to make arguments for you,” Das said. “The issue of classism is definitely real in debate, but I think programs, such as USA Debate, are trying to help us towards that ideal world where financial barriers can be negated.”

Das will continue to train, practice, and perfect her abilities for upcoming competitions.

“We have our first tournament at Greenhill High School in Addison,” Das said. “We’re in the process of preparing those topics so we can be ready next week, and to make sure we’re ready for training, because that’s also a pretty grueling part of the process.”

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