Zebra Tales
Arjun '24

Arguably an Awesome Time

I fiddle with my tie briefly and reach for the bottle of water to soothe my voice, hoarse from hours on end of speaking. Darting my eyes across the ideas scribbled on the paper in front of me, I am bewildered by the prospect of converting this incoherent scramble into a logically sound, eight-minute speech within the next few secondsthe content of which I’ll probably never remember. Yet, somehow, I’m always able to pull it off. As the opposition finishes their speech, I make eye contact with my partner for a split second and give a reassuring nod before I stand up and button my suit.
“Thank you, Mister Speaker.”

Last Sunday, Groton’s Debating Society headed to Roxbury Latin for its annual tournament – the first in-person competition in nearly three years! 

At the onset of the Pandemic, the Debating Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS) opted to hold its tournaments online. While the opportunity to compete during such difficult times was greatly appreciated, hours of arguing with other students through a Zoom screen could often be exhausting, to say the least. Nonetheless, under the guidance of Mr. Michael Gnozzio ‘03 and heads Steven ‘22 and Jiacheng ‘22, Groton has been able to produce some of the most robust debate results in its history. As the worst of the pandemic ebbs away, though, heads Rowen ‘23 and Amy ‘23 are leading our return to in-person competing. 

In the hours leading up to the Roxbury Latin tournament, my partner (Husayn ‘24) and I were torn by a mixture of emotions: we were excited to experience the high-adrenaline rush of in-person competition, but neither of us had ever experienced the notorious intensity that accompanies it. Though both of us had prior experience, there is a certain level of mental preparation for in-person debates that cannot be gained through a screen. 

For the tournament, the Groton squad consisted of a wide spectrum of experience – while some had been on the team for years and spent much of the summer preparing, many had only stepped on the Circle for the first time only a few days prior and were newcomers the world of debate. Nonetheless, all members of the team were determined to live up to the monumental nature of this tournament and shared a ferocious appetite for victory. 

The debate itself consisted of three consecutive rounds of extemporaneous parliamentary debate – competitors are only given ten minutes to craft arguments with a given prompt, which can pertain to anything ranging from public policy to moral conundrums. Our three resolutions focused on US-Taiwan relations, the removal of Confederate monuments, and voting reform in Congress. Carefully applying the advice that we had picked up over the last few years and pushing aside any reservations we had, Husayn and I successfully generated arguments and fended off opponents’ attacks. 

 After the rounds had concluded, the entire Groton team reconvened to enjoy some much-needed snacks, hear scores, and gossip about our experiences. The tournament scores revealed that we were off to a great start to the season, with both our Novice and Advanced totals surpassing historically strong programs such as Exeter, Deerfield, and St. Sebastian’s. 

The tournament was thrilling, and I look forward to spending more time competing with the team in person this year!