Speech and Debate Duo Rises to Top Rankings

March 30, 2018

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Earning Rankings and Life-Long Skills on the Team

Mr. Dolan, speech and debate coach at Lake Mary Prep, points to a T-shirt on his classroom wall that reads, “Those who stay will be champions.”

Like most sports or activities, participating on the debate team requires time and dedication. Members on the team pour in hours late at night to read and practice their speeches and travel most weekends of the school year. But those who persevere, will become champions, says Mr. Dolan.

Debate duo juniors Albi Manfredi and Andrew Huang have certainly embodied that spirit on the team. They worked their way to number 6 in the country in public forum debate this school year.

But, “It’s a long journey,” said Andrew, and you can’t get there overnight or in a single tournament. 

How This Duo Ranked #6 in Public Forum Debate

Albi and Andrew had to travel to 14 different tournaments in Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Illinois and California to compete and earn their title. The rankings aren’t based on a simple win-lose structure, but rather on points awarded at large tournaments.

“You just keep going to different tournaments and debating and doing your best. And then you learn new skills and new things every time,” said Albi.

On top of their newly achieved ranking, Albi and Andrew qualified to go to the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky in April and the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) National Championships in Ft. Lauderdale in June. They’re also crossing their fingers to qualify for a third national championship in Washington, D.C.

When They Make Time for School Work

You might be wondering, “How do these kids attend school if they’re always traveling?” Well, they simply Skype into classes when they’re out of state. While they were in California for 10 days for a tournament, the duo Skyped into classes to stay on top of their curriculum, and Mr. Dolan even Skyped into his economics classes to teach his students.

The duo has found a delicate balance of staying on top of their competition and staying on top of their schoolwork.

Where This Debating Experience Will Take Them

The skills Albi and Andrew have learned while participating on the speech and debate team won’t stay behind at Lake Mary Prep. But rather, they’ll carry them over into their futures and use them thrive in their careers.

For Albi, he pushes himself every day to hopefully earn a speech and debate scholarship to become an intellectual property lawyer. He says the skills he’s learning and perfecting while on the team will help him with his verbal and written communication in the law field.

Andrew would also like to work towards a law degree, but he sees himself in corporate law. His experience on the team fine tunes his ability to communicate with and understand others, which is a skill he can keep in his tool belt and leverage in the business world, he says.

But Albi and Andrew, and the 13 other members on the debate team, thank Mr. Dolan for getting them to where they are today. Mr. Dolan says he pushes his team every day and enjoys watching them grow and improve throughout their high school careers.



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