Author: Joseph Hall // Social Media Editor// Joseph@SRMMA.COM
The City College debate team has a national title to its credit, a who’s who of influential alumni, including a current chief justice and a Hollywood actress, is the only team on campus that competes against four-year universities and still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, according to team member Sunam Kumar.
“We are the only team that competes in a sport that actually uses academics directly to win,” says Kumar, 19, an engineering major.
Last season the debate team was ranked as the third best community college team nationally while on its way to winning the Western National Novice Championship with two first-year college debaters.
The two-member championship team, which includes Kumar and Lydia Evans, 18, majors in both English and communications, won at the Western National Championship tournament, which annually brings together more than 200 individual debate teams from across the country.
The speech and debate team has placed in the semifinals, quarter finals and been in the top eight in the Western National Championships every year since 2007 but had never brought home this particular trophy.
The debate team beat San Francisco State in the quarters, Fullerton State in the semifinal and Pepperdine University in the finals of the tournament.
“It was like the movie ‘The Mighty Ducks.’ When they won the trophy, we cried,” Evans says.
The debate team’s head coach Jared Anderson echoed Evans’ sentiment about the championship; the win exemplified the strength of the team he says.
Now, with the title of ‘defending national champions’ to accompany its list of famous debate team alumni, team members and coaches say they want the recognition and support that goes along with being the defending champions.
“Our success is directly related to the work ethic we instill in our team members and their personal dedication to the quality work that showcases their own talents by doing the best with the resources we have to offer,” Anderson says.
The Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA), which is the governing body of collegiate speech and debate, recognized the Los Rios and Debate team by awarding themfor their work in the public sphere. The team was recognized by CEDA as second in the country, among all colleges including four year universities, at delivering the goals of civil discussion and effective communication to the public.
“The award is not just for our competitive abilities but for our ability to develop and apply the skills of critical thinking and competent speaking to the community,” Anderson says.
The debate team is not only in the business of producing championship quality debate talent but also bolsters a noteworthy list of former alumni, including California chief justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and actress Jessica Chastain.
Cantil-Sakauye is the first Asian American and the second woman to serve as the California chief justice; she competed on the City College speech and debate team in 1978.
Jessica Chastain came to City College after graduating from El Camino high school and joined the debate team from 1996-1997 before she attended Juilliard to major in drama.
Chastain’s current films include titles such as “The Help,” “The Tree of Life” and the recent espionage thriller “The Debt.”
This season, Kumar says she expects to return to the National Championship but is working with her team to win the Western Junior Varisity National Championship.
That is what Anderson says he expects from his team considering they are bigger than ever before with almost 30 members this season.
“I refuse to accept the limitations of a small school,” Anderson says.
This season the team continues its work in the community with an event called Hot Topix, Anderson says. These events are debates held by the team involving pressing and topical issues.
Hot Topix include special guest mediators who have ties to the Sacramento community. This year’s Hot Topix, scheduled for Oct. 28 in the City College student center, will be mediated by Jackie Boor, author of “Inside the President’s Helicopter.”
Kumar says she believes that the debate team deserves to be seen in the same light as other programs on campus. Recognition and support are what is needed to help the team continue to carry on the City College championship way, according to Anderson.
“We were ranked third last year,” Anderson says. “This year we are striving to be ranked first or second, but all the support we can get helps.