The Debate Team Persists with No Sponsor


Emma Dewey

Lin attends a virtual debate tournament.

Sarah Dewey, Staff Writer

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, the debate team meets in the mock courtroom, perfecting their arguments and practicing how fast they can relay them. 

Seniors and co-captains Anvitha Suram and Ambuja Sharma circulate the room, leading and instructing their peers. 

While the majority of this responsibility usually would fall to the official adult sponsor of the team, this year, there is none, which has been an obstacle for the group. 

Plus, 11 of the members are first-year debaters. 

“It can definitely be rough at times,” Sharma said. 

Some students on the team participated in middle school debate, but high school debate is a whole different ballpark. At this level of debate, speeches are required to be much longer, and arguments more technical. 

In the absence of a faculty sponsor, Karen Allen, who is in charge of debate at Hopewell Middle School, has been helping Cambridge’s team in an unofficial capacity.   

Allen can’t attend meetings, though, and this means the task of coaching the team usually falls to the captains. They email or text with her about once a week. 

“It’s very nostalgic to be working with her again after all these years,” said Sharma. 

Suram and Sharma have been coming up with drills and exercises for the debaters. At the team’s weekly meetings, the captains give the students exercises to practice speaking before telling them about their upcoming tournaments. 

“Having dedicated co-captains as coaches has still allowed us to do well,” said Trendan Lin, a junior and co-captain of the team. 

Sharma and Suram have been debating for six years, and Lin for five. 

“We’ve never really had a coach [in high school],” Suram said. “We’ve just had to rely on what past captains have taught us.” 

The team has had to adapt to the different environment of having captains as leaders of everything, rather than having a coach to fall back on. 

“Not having a coach has impacted our more experienced debaters the most, since it becomes difficult to remain competitive at a high level,” said Lin. 

Although this year has been hard for the team, they said they are doing everything they can to be prepared for tournaments. With a few of these competitions right around the corner, students are putting final touches on their speeches. They said they are working hard to put their best foot forward this season. 

“This year has definitely been a challenge,” said Suram. “All we can do is try our best.”