University of Tennessee Debate Team: National Champions

by Mickayla Stogsdill; edited by Denizhan Pak

After clutching both the Southeast Regional Championship here in Knoxville and the State Championship at Carson Newman in February, it was no doubt that the University of Tennessee’s Debate Team would represent well at IPDA’s 2016 National Tournament in Baytown, Texas on March 31st through April 3rd.

After a 15 hour car ride and much needed showers, about ten members of our team huddled into the auditorium for the first rounds of individual debates. IPDA had one of its largest Championships yet, with almost 500 debaters competing. Topics varied from drones strikes, which candidate will take the White House, dislike buttons on Facebook, and whether Marx was really “right.” After the first eight preliminary rounds, UTK’s Debate Team secured five seed positions with at least one in all four divisions.

Entering the double-octa finals Caroline Rogers, Mickayla Stogsdill, Stephen Boyette, Patrick Hanlon, and Spencer Hinton were all prepared to intellectually fight as hard as they could to try to reach their coveted division National Championship. Out-round topics included presidential primaries, meta-IPDA, philosophy, and even the Royals of Britain.

Following a tough series of breaks, Mickayla Stogsdill reached the final round with the resolution “We are who we choose to be.” Philosophy is rarely a debate topic because of its abstract nature, so it tested both the team as a whole and Mickayla individually. After her short 30 minute preparation, Mickayla went into the round with the burden of proving that our choices are pre-determined through “biological endowments,” like gender, race, and birthplace. Proceeding the round, she won with a 4–3 decision.

Mickayla Stogsdill debating the resolution “We are who we choose to be” in the National Championship Round

With a very tight margin, Mickayla Stogsdill took home the Novice National Championship. She did all of this with the support and help of the team. As a result the University of Tennessee — Knoxville Debate Team has won their third consecutive National Championship.

Over 200 colleges participated within IPDA during the 2015–2016 Season. UTK’s Debate Team 2015–2016 season highlights include 13th Novice Season Long Debater, 6th Novice Season Long Speaker, 8th Season Long Novice Squad, 11th Pro Season Long Speaker, 8th Season Long Pro Squad, and seven total Season Championships.

If interested in learning more about the University of Tennessee’s Debate Team, email

2016 IPDA Nationals- Baytown, Texas (Left to Right: Denizhan Pak, Mickayla Stogsdill, Dustin Dias, Spencer Hinton, Christina Gore, Brandon Carpenter, Patrick Hanlon, Stephen Boyette)

Like us on Facebook:

Follow us on Instagram:

#utkdebate #govols

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.