Hockaday Hosts Largest Debate Tournament in its History


Students convene from all around Texas at Hockaday’s 38th annual tournament.

Debate Social Chair junior Emma Deshpande and Public Forum Captain senior Aleena Tariq, stood behind the concessions next to a plethora of food in the small gym last Friday. During breaks between rounds and meal times, debaters from all over Texas, approached them to purchase food and drinks. Soon, the debaters started up conversations and new friends were quickly made.

This Friday from 3:30 p.m. to midnight and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Hockaday hosted its 38th tournament -the largest in its history with the number of participants, judges, coaches and parents nearing 900 in total.

Ever since last May, debate students and their coaches Jordan Innerarity, Assistant Director of Debate & Forensics and Director of Debate and Forensics, Dr. Chuck Walts, have been planning for the tournament.

Debate students contributed in several aspects, from baking desserts for the concession stand to asking businesses such as Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Fat Straws and Raising Canes to donate meals for this event. Some have even found people to volunteer for judging rounds.

In addition, the debate team prepared trophies and rooms used in judging rounds. Caution tape marked off teachers’ desks in rooms where rounds were hosted.

“There are 104 rooms on campus that we can consider using as debate rooms,” Innerarity said. “There’s probably a little more than that if we add in administration offices but we are not using any of those rooms. But we are using 103.”

At the actual tournament, debate students from all four forms were assigned a task in the ballot table, tab room, concession stand or in the hall as a monitor.

In addition to the extensive preparations by the debate students and coaches, the rest of the Upper School was dismissed at 2:30 p.m. on Friday to prepare for the influx of debaters coming from all over. To accommodate the large number of participants, rooms in the main building, science building, portables, the ARC and Lower School were used to host rounds.

For this tournament, Hockaday was able to obtain a qualifier for the national tournament in Public Forum Debate and individual events as well.

“That’s why I think a lot of people are coming,” Innerarity said. “There’s also no other tournament in the DFW area this weekend. Normally there’s two so it kind makes the caos a little less for one school but this year we had the perfect storm of we are the only tournament this weekend.”

According to Innerarity, the money raised from this tournament will benefit a round robin tournament in the spring consisting of 24 girls.

While the rounds were hosted all around campus, the action occurred in the small gym where events were posted, students purchased food and prepared for their next round.

Debater Nick Hadsell from Keller High School thinks that this tournament has been run well. “I’ve had really great judges and really great rounds,” Hadsell said. “Every single one of them has had some sort of substance. That was really nice to get out of the round.”

To ensure that everything runs smoothly, rules were also in place. Participants were not allowed on the Lower School playgrounds, the pond, the boarding department and graduation terrace.

For Hockaday students, hosting a tournament was a experience in its own. “You get the debate experience without the stress of actually debating,” Deshpande said.

Tariq agreed. “It’s just fun,” she said. “Usually we are the ones going to tournaments, sitting in cafeterias that we don’t know but now it’s our time.”