Debate team sets goals sky high

By Gabriella Scibetta

The Saluki Debate Team has three new additions this year: two debaters and a new coach.

Todd Graham, director of the team, said Ben Reid, Zach Schneider and Aditya Sharma have recently joined the team.

Graham said Reid, a graduate student from Kansas City, Mo., studying communication studies, has been appointed as a coach because he has a long history of success in academic debate.


“Ben was an outstanding debater, having finished second and third at the national championships,” Graham said.

Sharma, a junior from California studying business economics, and Schneider, a senior from Chicago studying Computer Science, are the two new debaters on this year’s team.

“I’ve had a fairly easy time adjusting to the team so far; the coaches are all supportive and passionate about debate, and I’ve enjoyed working with each of them thus far,” Schneider said.

Joshua Rivera, a senior from Chicago studying political science and economics, said in an email he is excited to work with Schneider and Sharma as new debaters. He said the two bring a fresh perspective to the team.

Sharma said he chose to attend the university because he wanted to join the best debate team in the country.

Graham said he recruited Sharma because he is eager to improve his skills and will help contribute to the team’s attempt at a third consecutive national title.

“I liked Aditya when I saw him debate,” Graham said. “But more than that, he demonstrated a willingness to improve, to work hard and he wants to be the best. He fit in well with our idea of a hard worker with desire is to be even better.”


Graham said he evaluates work ethic, quick thinking and the desire to learn difficult subjects when recruiting potential team members. He said recruiting for debate is much like recruiting for a sports team.

“I travel to high school debate tournaments and community college debate tournaments looking for talented debaters. I usually travel to anywhere from five to eight tournaments for the exclusive purpose of scouting,” Graham said. “I don’t have to recruit the best debaters I see, but I need to make sure they have a basic enough understanding and enough experience, that once they get here they will be able to make the jump into high gear.”

Gabriella Scibetta can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @GScibetta_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 254