Sal Abbasi ’22 and Max Chuang ’22 recently tied for 16th place out of 200 teams at the National Speech and Debate Association’s (NDSA) National Championship online tournament. The competition required months of preparation and rigorous qualifying tournaments, culminating in the national online competition.
“Sal and Max are an example of how being ‘online’ does not interfere with our desire to compete, have fun, and learn. While novel at first, we pretty quickly realized that a tournament is a tournament whether it is in-person or online,” said debate coach Tim Mahoney.
This year’s topic was about reducing US arms sales. During the tournament, Sal and Max debated the effects US arms sales have on the liberal international order. Their last debate focused on whether the US should stop the sale of the F-35 combat aircraft.
“Max and I didn’t expect to perform as well as we did and now realize that St. Mark’s has prepared us more for competition than we knew,” Sal said.
Sal and Max competed against approximately 200 other policy debate teams who qualified via a district qualifying process. After six preliminary debates on June 15 and 16, Sal and Max had the requisite number of votes to qualify for the double-elimination part of the tournament with 70 other teams. On June 17, they scored victories over Isidore Newman (LA) and Iowa City West in rounds 7 and 8. They lost to Dougherty Valley (CA) in Round 9 but resumed their winning ways by beating Greenwood Laboratory School (MO) in Round 10. Sal and Max’s tournament ended in Round 11 with a loss to Highland Park (MN) on June 18, tying for 16th place. As Mr. Mahoney summarized, “It was a really incredible performance for two sophomores.”
“Not only has debate taught me about the intricacies of politics and real-world scenarios, but it has also transformed me into a better public speaker,” Max said. “In addition to public speaking, the memories I’ve made with others at tournaments, classes, and camp are unforgettable.”
Since 1931, the NDSA has hosted more than 6,000 middle and high school students, competing in the largest academic competition in the world to debate current events, voice their views, and share their stories.