One of the last – and largest – speech and debate events of the year, the Tournament of Champions (TOC) has a tradition of gathering the greatest debaters from across the nation every year. Sixteen Heritage students were invited to spend April 28 – May 1 at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, competing in categories ranging from Congress to oral interpretation.
With a selective process to choose competitors, only those who rank high enough at other events throughout the year are allowed to attend the TOC, hence the name.
An individual must earn two “bids” to the tournament by advancing to elimination rounds at specific national tournaments such as Emory, Harvard and Yale. The process seeks to guarantee that each competitor will perform to the best of his or her ability.
“At most other national tournaments, there are a lot of people who arrive just to fulfill an obligation for class or just to have fun on the trips,” junior Nicolas Fonseca, a Congressional debater, said. “What’s great about the Tournament of Champions is that everyone who shows up is willing to work really hard to get to the final round.”
The competition itself was run by the Tournament of Champions Advisory Committee, a group made up of a few elite coaches and tournament sponsors who have been involved in the debate community for decades.
“While most other tournaments have topics submitted by students, the TOC topics are drafted by the committee and tailored to be really niche and facilitate interesting research and debate,” Fonseca explained.
Topics ranged from policies reprioritizing aid to Colombia to renegotiating international defense agreements, and students spent weeks preparing individually and as a group before the tournament.
Fonseca and sophomore Chase Freeman made it to semifinals for Congress, while sophomore Jordyn Allen advanced to the semifinals for program oral interpretation. Senior Jonah Platovsky and junior Jordan Parker, partners who compete in public forum debate, advanced to the elimination rounds.
“The TOC is one of my favorite tournaments all year,” Fonseca said. “It has a really competitive and prestigious atmosphere, but also is scheduled well enough to have a really relaxed and fun experience debating various topics.”
A full list of awards can be found below.
Program oral interpretation, semifinal– Sophomore Jordyn Allen
Public forum, elimination- Senior Jonah Platovsky and junior Jordan Parker
Congress, semifinal- Junior Nicolas Fonseca and sophomore Chase Freeman