Debate’s New Direction

The debate and forensics team is looking for success with a new coach and several young members

The Ferris State debate and forensics team is starting out a successful year under the direction of a new coach and a relatively all freshman team.

T.J. Lakin was hired on at the beginning of the semester as the new debate coach and Director of Forensics and joins Professors Sandy Alspach and Cami Sanderson in coaching the team.

Lakin is optimistic about all the freshmen on the young squad this year and said that he is “looking forward to watching them grow and learn.”

He brings several years of experience to the team having competed in debate for three years and forensics for four years in high school. He also participated in cross-examination debate his first semester at Washburn University.

While attending Syracuse Law, he became interested in teaching and began coaching debate at a local high school. He then went on to start the debate program at a community college as well.

Ali Nienaber, a freshman in the communications and paralegal programs, is new to debate, but is a veteran in forensics. She participated in forensics for four years in high school and competed at the state level.

Regarding participating in debate she said “it’s kind of crazy, but fun” and hopes to advance to the quarterfinal round in the next competition.

The team has already partaken in their first competition against roughly twenty other teams at the “Age of Aquarius” Tournament on Oct. 15 to 17 hosted by Ball State University.

Although none of the team members advanced to the final rounds, Sam Callen and Andrea Wood won three out of their four duo debate rounds, earning fourth place after finally losing to Miami of Ohio in the quarterfinals.

Lakin said that had all the team members’ performances been totaled for a team score, Ferris would have placed somewhere around fourth place overall.

With an almost all freshman team, Lakin is faced with both challenges and advantages. He said the one upside is that he can shape the team with his teaching style, yet still use the tradition from teams past.

“It’s too bad several people chose not to come back this year,” said Lakin. “But the energy and enthusiasm of the young squad is refreshing.”

The team will next travel to Lousiana State University-Shreveport this weekend to compete in the Red River Swing Tournament.