The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Arguing for the win

The Los Rios Debate Team finished first in California last season and ranked second among community colleges in the entire nation. The team is (beginning with the first row, left to right): Aninda Chowdhury, Mohamed Umbashi, Natalie Lenhart, Noreen Javed, Sharaya Souza, Rebecca Silva, Meng Vue, Michael Edwards, Jared Anderson, Sara Beth Brooks, Olivia Gover. Kate Paloy | [email protected]

Studying the opposition’s weaknesses. Running technical drills. Hours upon hours of strategy sessions. Practice, practice, practice.

This isn’t a game. Members of the Los Rios debate team work around the clock to prepare for tournaments. And they play to win.

The work has paid off. Last season, Los Rios finished third in its region, first in California, and ranked second among community colleges in the nation, according to
debate team coach Jared Anderson. While the team is composed mostly of City College students, Anderson said that all students from the Los Rios district are eligible
to debate under the Los Rios umbrella.

The team has high hopes to maintain or improve upon those rankings this year.

“The mantra on our team is ‘leave nothing to chance,’” said communication major Sara Beth Brooks, 27. “We walk in there prepared with a plan.”

This is Brooks’ second year on the debate team, making her a senior member. She and her partner, political science major Sharaya Souza, 23, kicked the year off
right, making it to the final round in their division in the first tournament of the year at San Francisco State University.

“At least keep our winning records open,” Souza said of her goals this season. “At minimum I want to at least break past semi-finals.”

Anderson believes that being a community college has some disadvantages. While most debaters from four-year universities have been debating since high school,
most members of the Los Rios’ team are learning debate for the first time. This year has brought 10 new debaters to the team, and Anderson doesn’t see this as a fallback.
“We have a whole crew of brand new people that are learning it [debate], and learning it very fast,” said Anderson. “They work really hard and have been immediately
Los Rios, while enjoying success in the debate community, has to deal with the constant change of team members. Most university debaters in the varsity divisions
have four years of debate under their belt with the same team members. The team can change drastically from year to year because of factors like transferring, needing
to get a job or not getting into the classes they need, said Anderson.

“I get returning students who have life experience, financial challenges,” said Anderson. “But these aren’t reasons to lower my expectations of success. These are
obstacles to overcome.”
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Anderson makes his debate team do the work to win. Without the resources and budget of the four-year university competitors, Anderson works with what he has and strives to create a team culture based on preparation, research, healthy competition and teamwork.

“Other schools have graduate school assistants helping with research and coaching,” said Anderson. “We don’t have those resources. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s one
that we fight.”

Anderson debated for the Los Rios debate team back in the mid-’90s before transferring to Cal Poly. Coaching the team since 2007, Anderson realizes the challenges
of coaching a community college team, but also sees the potential to win.

“The expectations I set are not the same as other community colleges set for their teams,” said Anderson. “I will not accept the challenges we have. They are merely
obstacles. I don’t accept that we are only a community college and can’t compete.”

Anderson works hard to create a team culture among his debaters. The students do their research as a team, and they win and lose as a team.

“We are focused more heavily on the team aspect than other schools might be,” said Anderson. “Which I think really contributes to the success.”

That success comes from the dedication of the debaters like Brooks and Souza. When asked what she does to prepare for tournaments, Brooks chuckles.
“I eat lots of chocolate,” said Brooks. The other part is mostly research. Anderson said Brooks will do more research in her two years of debate then she will in
graduate school.

“What separates us is the dedication to the pursuit of winning,” said Brooks. “We have a reputation of being sticks in the mud because in between tournaments we work.”
The dedication to walking into a tournament knowing their arguments, having studied the opposition and preparing a plan has made the Los Rios Debate Team a force
to be reckoned with.

“We want to continue to represent Los Rios in an incredible way in the debate community,” said Brooks. “We have a name. People know who we are. They are going to have to work to beat us.”

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