Northside Debate Beats Its Personal Best
by Sophie Lee
Four of Northside’s very own debaters were lucky enough to find themselves at this year’s Tournament of Champions (TOC), held in Lexington, Kentucky. Two of them were Luther Snagel, Adv. 800, and Aidan Kane, Adv. 808 who have been debating together for two years and both joined Debate their freshman year. The other pair were Alex Pinheiro, Adv. 907, and Magalie Ortiz, Adv. 911, who made this the first time in Northside history that two debate pairs went to the TOC at the same time. Kane and Snagel were elated to be able to compete at the national level and are only the second team in Northside history to make it that far. Unfortunately, neither them nor the other pair made it far enough into the competition to get a “break” which is the top 18 teams.
“The fact that you are there is already pretty insane. The accomplishment is getting there. It’s less about the tournament and more about the year’s overall performance,” said Kane. It certainly sounds like they had a great time there, recounting the late nights in the hotel room shared with fellow debate students, some of whom went to neighboring CPS school, Walter Payton. When they were not hanging out, they were getting down to business, debating seven rounds in the competition. Each round was about two and a half hours long. Kane and Snagel ended up winning two and losing five rounds. Despite the less than optimal outcome, they said that the debates were really interesting and apparently got pretty weird. There were a few rounds that focused on trans identity and queer theory and then took a dark turn when one team tried to claim that “intentionally infecting people with HIV was a good form of politics.” Snagel explained their response saying, “During one of the cross examination periods where I got to ask them questions, I literally spent three minutes asking this student why it is good to get AIDS and die and he could not answer me. And then we just won the debate.”
Snagel and Kane also explained how happy they were to be joined by an old friend at the tournament. “Aaron Davis is a former debater who was the first black person to go to the TOC in the early 2000s and always helps us out there,” said Snagel. The national tournament is a time for students from all over the country to come together and share their opinions. These beliefs are shaped by the students’ regional backgrounds, racial identities, political leanings, and more. Snagel added, “Last year, a black team won the ToC, so it has come a long way.”
Whatever the outcome of the tournament, Snagel and Kane both have a very bright debate future ahead of them. Next year, Snagel will be attending Northwestern University and Kane will be attending the University of Michigan. “They are both powerhouse debate colleges and they debate each other a lot,” said Snagel. Kane explained that this means that they will most likely end up debating each other at some point. It will certainly be interesting to see how the long-time partners will react to being on opposite ends of an argument. The two also explained how college life is going to change their relationship to debate. “We do critical debate in high school, which is like philosophy instead of politics and economics, and the two colleges we are going to are known for more policy arguments,” said Snagel. Kane agreed with that analysis saying, “Michigan is sixty-forty I would say. It’s going to be interesting to go to those traditionally policy schools with our style of debate.”