Ivy League representatives Cornell and Yale University, along with Colonial Colleges Rutgers University and the College of William and Mary are amongst the perennial participants in the annual Madison Cup Debates.
One of the nation’s most prestigious intercollegiate debate events, participation is limited to a select few teams that are chosen via an application process.
International debate teams from schools like the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and the Cebu Institute of Technology (Philippines) annually join America’s top colleges and universities in competing for the Madison Cup; but a school from Louisiana has never been chosen to be amongst the academic elite involved in this event.
That will change on April 20 when Bossier Parish Community College will be represented by the team of Erika Hill and David Tillmon in the 2015 Madison Cup Debates hosted by James Madison University.
En route to being selected for the event, Hill and Tillmon have earned a multitude of honors for the BPCC Debate Team. Hill finished her freshman year of debate ranked nationally as the top community college competitor in the novice division of IPDA debate and #9 overall amongst all colleges and universities; she followed that performance in her sophomore year by finishing as the top community college competitor in the varsity division (#23 overall). Tillmon is currently finishing his novice year of eligibility and will enter the national championships later this month ranked amongst the top community college students in the nation. Together, the two have earned 129 wins and 30 awards while representing BPCC.
“BPCC’s debaters have been developing a national reputation for excellence over the past several years; being honored with the likes of these traditional academic powerhouses acknowledges the commitment to excellence that our debaters have demonstrated,” says Debate team coach Bob Alexander. “Hill and Tillmon have put in a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, and I am proud to see them receive this well-deserved recognition.”
The James Madison Center at James Madison University in conjunction with the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation sponsors this annual event in the spirit of James Madison’s ideal that a republican democracy is healthy only when informed and civil debate thrives. In addition to the prestigious Madison Cup, Hill and Tillmon will be competing for a share of $30,000 in scholarships and donations to debate teams.
“Erika and David’s success is emblematic of the potential that our students have,” Alexander added. “I’m grateful for the Madison Center’s acceptance of our team and now it’s time for us to demonstrate why our debaters belong.”
On March 26-29, Hill and Tillmon along with teammates Hannah Morris and Jakob Volcheck represented BPCC at the International Public Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament hosted by Boise State University. Both Hill and Volcheck advanced to the 9th round of competition in the tournament before being eliminated and the BPCC squad finished as the 3rd ranked community college at the tournament. During the IPDA’s annual season-long awards presentations on March 29, Jakob Volcheck was recognized as the 10th ranked debate in the novice division of debate (amongst all colleges and universities) and the BPCC squad was also recognized at the 3rd ranked community college for the 2014-2015 season.
Coach Alexander said the season and national tournament performance can be summed up with a single phrase: “each student is critical to this team’s success.”
In both the season-long awards and at the national championship tournament, rankings are assigned based on the number of victories debaters earn & teams can count points for up to their top 12 debaters at a given tournament.
“When it comes to the number of students traveled, we’ve been outgunned,“ says Alexander. “At the national championship tournament, the average number of competitors representing the other top 5 community colleges was 13, BPCC had 4; in the season long competition, there was a similar disparity as we traveled an average of 5 competitors per tournament. We continually asked these students to do more, and each of them responded to the challenge.”