Debaters Make Solid Showing at National Contests

Apr. 6, 2010

The UT Dallas debate squad wrapped up its 2009-10 season as the only organization in the country to advance a team to the quarterfinals in the nation’s two most-prestigious tournaments. 

The 64th Annual National Debate Tournament (NDT) and the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) National Championship were both in late March at the University of California, Berkeley.

Debate team

UT Dallas was the only debate squad to advance a team to the quarterfinal rounds in both major national tournaments.

The team of Andrew Baker, a junior political science major and Collegium V honors student, and senior criminology major Brian Rubaie were the only team in the nation to compete in the quarterfinals or better at both tournaments.

Rubaie and Baker also ranked ninth and 14th places as individual speakers at the NDT, respectively. At the CEDA Nationals, Rubaie and Baker also placed seventh and 13th, respectively, in the individual speaker rankings.

“Great success at just one tournament can sometimes be a bit of luck,” said debate program director Christopher Burk. “Performing so well at both national tournaments in the same week proves Brian and Andrew are exceptionally talented and thoroughly prepared.”

Wes Dwyer, a junior majoring in international political economy, and Collin Roark, a sophomore studying political science, comprised the other UT Dallas team competing at the NDT. They finished with four wins in eight rounds, one win short of the five required to advance to the elimination rounds of the tournament.

Joining Baker, Dwyer, Rubaie and Roark at the CEDA Nationals were four other UT Dallas debaters: Jilliam Cluff, political science junior; Brittany Leach, political science sophomore; Zexing Meng,  economics freshman; and Mayu Takeda, arts and humanities freshman.

The NDT competition hosted 78 teams who earned invitations to the tournament by finishing in top spots at regional tournaments. A total of 207 teams competed at the CEDA Nationals, a tournament open to any undergraduate debater in good standing at a university.

Carly Wunderlich and Eric Lanning from Michigan State University won the NDT.  RJ Giglio and Nick Watts from the University of Oklahoma won the CEDA Nationals for the second year in a row.

Media Contact: Karah Womack, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5890, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]
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Brian Rubaie plans to continue working with the debate team as an assistant coach.

Brian Rubaie

Senior Named Debater of the Year

In addition to helping write his team’s extended success story, UT Dallas debater Brian Rubaie also brought home the debater of the year award from the CEDA.

The Brian Johnson Debater of the Year award  honors the late winner of the 1994 CEDA Championship.  CEDA bestows the award on one debater each year who demonstrates “competitive excellence and a commitment to represent the highest values of the debate community.”

“I was really shocked to have won,” said Rubaie. “The award is always given to someone I idolize, so it’s a tremendous honor to be a recipient.

“The best thing about it all was that when they were describing the character traits of the recipient, I thought about my grandfather, Frank Bryant, who passed away a few months earlier. To hear that people saw a few of the qualities in me that I recognized in him was extremely humbling.”

Debate program members also garnered several awards from the CEDA South Central regional chapter during the national tournament, including:

  • Debater of the Year – Brian Rubaie.
  • Assistant Coach of the Year – Scott Herndon.
  • Director of the Year – Christopher Burk.

The March tournaments marked the last occasions for Rubaie to compete as a UT Dallas debater, and he said he’s enjoyed watching the highs and lows of the group during the past four seasons of competition.

“I feel lucky to have been a member of the UT Dallas debate family,” said Rubaie. “This year’s squad is the most experienced group of debaters I’ve been around since arriving in 2006.

“When we were invited to selective ‘Round Robin’ tournaments for the top 10 teams at Kentucky and Dartmouth and didn’t have our best performances, the University stood by us. I’m really proud of everything we accomplished as a team. There’s no other squad in the entire country I’d rather be associated with.”

Rubaie will continue his education at UT Dallas next year and serve as an assistant coach of debate.

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June 17, 2018