Freshmen Debaters Learn the Ropes

Sanika Nayak, World News Editor

The tumult and chatter of the nervous but excited crowd carries through the air. Laptops are out, brows furrowed in concentration. Speeches are being practiced, research is frantically being completed.  To outsiders, this may seem like a hectic scene, but for the Westwood Debaters, it’s just another tournament–another chance to prove their worth in the realm of debate.

Debate has been a popular extracurricular at Westwood for many years. Although the teachers may come and go, student interest has always been high. Freshmen are especially enthusiastic, looking to debate to widen their horizons and learn new things.

“I was very scared to talk in front of people, but I joined debate to conquer my fear of public speaking. Debate really opens you up to the real world.” Neeharika Bandlapalli ‘18 said.

Although many freshmen debaters start out shy and unsure, others come in with candid confidence and love the thrill of standing at the speaker’s podium.

“I already loved to argue and speak in front of people about my views. Debate was the perfect place for me.” John Cho ‘18 said.

Much like athletes before a game, the freshmen debaters certainly feel the pressure during rounds. For the freshmen, it took a while to fall into the swing of things. They had a lot to prove and tournament outcomes were everything to them.

“I used to get really nervous before my rounds, because I felt obligated to show people that I could do it. I don’t get as nervous now because I’ve gotten the hang of things,” Rishabh Shah ‘18 said.

Debate is notoriously known for being very time consuming as elaborate cases need to be written and extensive research needs to be done. Unexpected events can cause catastrophe, and every debater has had their fair share of embarrassing or scary moments.

“My scariest moment this year was when my laptop ran out of battery right before my round,” Dhruva Mambapoor ‘18 said. “Luckily, my mom brought me a new laptop so I was able to avoid having to forfeit.”

Despite the hard work, debaters never fail to have a good time. Tournaments are a great opportunity to spend time with friends.

“My favorite part was in house because I was able to hang out with all my friends and debate with them.” Mambapoor said. “We had a great time.”

For most freshmen, sooner or later all the long hours paid off.

“If you put in work, you confidence level increases dramatically,” Bandlapalli said. “Nothing beats the satisfaction of winning.”

The freshmen debaters have all grown to appreciate debate, and would recommend it to incoming freshmen as well.

“My biggest piece of advice would be to not put off your work because it will help you in the long run. Also, don’t be scared of Mr. Wang. Although he may be intimidating, he is really cool and passionate about debate.” Rohith Mandavilli ‘18 said.

Whether it’s nerve-wracking tournaments or fun times with friends, it is clear that debate is an exciting experience. After all, a person seems to learn a lot from the perspective of the podium.