COVID-19 precautions drastically affect the debate team

Members of the debate team have adjusted to online tournaments and a new debate coach

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By Alex Owens

Due to COVID-19, the debate team gathers via Zoom to rehearse and prepare.

Madison Burrow, JAG reporter/photographer

COVID-19 has brought many changes to this year’s debate season, affecting everything from daily practices to tournaments. Between switching over to online Zoom debates, the loss of debate coach Sohail Jouya and new hybrid scheduling, all debate students are having to adjust to the new arrangements.

Even though debate tournaments are online, plenty have already occurred over the summer and during the current school year. The team has been able to have practice debates with other teams and according to senior Adam White, relatively work in the same way they have in the past.

“It’s a lot more flexible because we can just schedule a meeting whenever,” White said. 

These changes have impacted all debate members, including independent debaters. Independent debaters are self-funded and can’t receive any school resources or coaching. However, White believes that a more flexible schedule is a positive aspect to being in debate seperate from Mill Valley.

Debaters senior Adam White and sophomores Isaac Steiner and Sarah Johnston listen to junior Noah Reed discuss their debate topic. (By Alex Owens)

“We are able to more freely choose what tournaments were able to go to,” White says. “However a lot of the tournaments we would like to go to don’t accept independent entries.”

Debate practices this year are an entirely different experience from the usual routine. Last year’s process consisted of staying after school for two to three hours to work either independently or as a team. This year looks a little different. 

“This year we have scheduled meetings/practice debates. We spend a lot less time together and a lot more time individually working. So we do the same amount of work just in a different manner,” White said. 

White says one of the most difficult adjustments was Jouya’s absence, versus the switch to online debate.

“The issue this year is the whole switching coaches situation and being able to get everyone on the same page,” White said. “Especially on the hybrid schedule where we can’t really see each other and have in-person practices. It’s really tough to communicate, especially with the indoor/outdoor coaching situation that we’ve had.”

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