ULV debate team wins nationals

Posted April 13, 2007

The University of La Verne debate team came out victorious for the first time in the United States National Championships on Sunday.

In previous years, ULV would make it into the semi-finals but could never take the title home, something that became referred to as the “semi-finalist curse.”

However, the team, made up of Rob Ruiz and Josh Martin, was able to break the curse and bring glory to La Verne.

“I’m very proud of both Rob and Josh and the whole team that have represented the University,” ULV debate coach Ian Lising said. “It’s always a pleasure to see them grow and to succeed.”

“People have seen Rob and Josh before and they know what they are capable of,” Lising said. “They know that they are a team to be feared.” Ruiz, a senior political science major, and Martin, a senior speech communications major, spent many hours preparing for this competition.

“Josh and I studied so much and we read so much that we were ready for anything,” Ruiz said.

Even though they were confident, it was impossible to know whether or not they would be able to win and Lising is still trying to take it all in.

The competition was held on Saturday and Sunday at the Claremont Colleges with six preliminary rounds, one semifinalist round and of course the final round.

Seventeen universities were in attendance from all over the United States and Canada. Making the final round along with ULV was Portland State University, Loyola Marymount University and Alberta/Calgary.

The final debate was about whether the United Nations should outlaw private militias. ULV debated against it.

The finalists were given 15 minutes to prepare for the competition which is why competitors must study and understand all issues to easily retrieve and be able to use the information.

La Verne sent seven teams to Nationals because of its proximity to the university. The debate teams compete in seven international tournaments but usually sends only a few if not only one team to tournaments because of the distance and the inability to pay for all of the costs.

Lising selects the teams that are able to compete based on their ability and dedication. He also picks teams who work well together and have good chemistry.

The ULV debate team is made up of 72 students and practice is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Simulated tournaments are held to practice, find out weaknesses and to see which two people make the best partners.

The next major competition will be the World Championships that will take place in December in Thailand. Martin and Ruiz will most likely be partners and are both looking forward to competing with each other.

Lising cannot predict how well the team will do next year because he says debating is like no other activity. “There is no guarantee,” Lising said.

He said that one year a team can have a fantastic show and the next year come in last.

In 2000, the ULV debate team was a World Championships finalist losing to Harvard as well as another school. They are currently ranked 21st out of 429 universities worldwide.

Ginny Ceballos can be reached at gceballos@ulv.edu.

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