David Lawrence and Peter Cooney have a bevy of after-school activities at their fingertips at Bishop Seabury Academy. But the pair wanted an opportunity to do some competitive arguing.
So this school year saw the debut of the school’s debate team, and the six-man group is now on its way to the state tournament.
And they’ve done it all without a coach.
“Seabury’s very good about seeing what its students want to do and then creating a program around that,” junior and co-captain Lawrence said. “We like not having a coach. That fact that we’re student-led is what makes the camaraderie and the team so strong.”
The team, made up of Lawrence, Cooney, a sophomore and co-captain, juniors William Wolfe and Guy Williams and freshmen Martin Sicilian and Jacob Strayer, spent the past weekend arguing its way to state by qualifying at the regional tournament at Fort Scott High School. The Bishop Seabury team is the only Class 1A debate team in the entire state, and it competesagainst much larger schools. But that hasn’t hindered its successful season. The team has a 46-32 record in varsity debate.
“We’re very happy as a team since we had no expectations coming in, and to do so well was fantastic for us,” Lawrence said.
Cooney said the team had learned a lot in regard to what it needs to do to prepare for the state tournament.
“We’ve got what we need down, and all we need to do is polish it up,” he said. “Doing really well at state is within our grasp. It’s a possibility. We can do even better at state.”
Only four team members can compete at the regional and state level. Seabury’s two teams, Lawrence with Cooney and Wolfe with Strayer, tied for second at the regional competition. They’ll be heading to Goddard in January to compete against seven other schools in the Class 3A debate tournament.
The two founders are confident that the team will outlast their stay at the school.
“Peter and I have both agreed that this debate team that we’ve created is very strong and will definitely continue beyond us,” Lawrence said.