Hyder (seated) with North Texas debaters.
1911, GREEN AND WHITE PENNANTS flew over Denton, college administrators
canceled classes and people lined streets, eager to cheer on the
home team in a morning parade. Others prepared for the afternoon
banquet and pep rally.
today like preparation for a football game was North Texas State
Normal Colleges way to pump up for a debate.
than 90 years, debate has been a tradition at UNT. John Gossett,
chair of the Department of Communication Studies and former debate
coach, calls it an academic sport, one in which UNT debaters have
captured national attention through the years.
UNT debaters Keith Parks (48) and David Cotten (48)
won first place at the National Debate Tournament the national
championship for collegiate debate just one year after it
was established. Since then, North Texas teams have placed in the
national tournament seven times.
top finishes, debaters Anne Hodges Morgan (62) and John Swaney
(63) earned fifth place in the 1962 national tournament. Morgan
was named the National Womens Collegiate Debate and Extemporaneous
Speaking Champion that year, and the team also appeared on the nationally
televised Sinclair Oil TV debate series, winning a $1,000 prize.
ago, Eli Holloway (99) and current student Kenda Cunningham
earned fifth place at the national tournament, where judges named
Holloway the 10th-best speaker.
is as necessary for debate as it is for athletic competition. Teams
often spend 30 to 40 hours a week preparing massive amounts of research
and doing practice rounds, speeches and speaking drills.
(72), who won the Texas state debate championship as a high
school senior before joining the North Texas squad, remembers especially
well one tournament and the consequences of poor preparation.
Kelley and I had a good tournament year as freshmen in 68-69
and qualified for freshman nationals in Louisville, Davis
says. Dr. Bill Medley was assigned by [William] DeMougeot
to coach us for the tournament. We only had a week to prepare, but
hey, we thought we were damn good.
their coaches insisted the men practice, so they went through the
motions, but at the tournament their lack of preparation showed.
stunk up the place, he says. Our logic was ill, our
persuasion was non, and our quoted authorities deserted us like
witnesses at a Mafia trial. We died with our wing-tips on.
practice sessions produced not only better debaters, but fast friends,
says Shari Leslie Davis (72).
of the intensity that comes with debating, its easier to carry
on those friendships, says Shari, who married fellow debater
Bob. I think those bonds are always a little stronger.
their playing days
countless hours practicing, playing and pouring themselves into
their sport, some debaters move on to the coaching ranks.
(85), one of Harvards debate coaches, began her love
of college debate at UNT.
a political science major, I originally wanted to go to law school,
but I loved debating so much I decided to become a coach,
debate partner, Joel Rollins (84, 89 M.A.), currently
serves as the director of the debate program at the University of
Texas at Austin.
debating allowed him to enhance what he learned in the classroom.
helped me substantially, Rollins says. As far as teaching
me research and critical thinking skills, it did more than any formal
R. DeMougeot (seated) directed the debate program from 1954
to 1971 and from 1979 to 1981.
Texas debaters relive past victories and recall shared memories
at a breakfast during Homecoming each year, but Gossett says he
wants to expand communication to more than just an annual event.
He has created a database of contact information to provide former
debaters with an easy way to keep in touch.
trying to let our graduates know they are part of a family,
Gossett says. Were not just putting them on a conveyer
belt to get them in and out as fast as possible. We are developing
friendships that are based on relationships that will last a lifetime.
a former UNT debater and would like your information entered into
the database, call Gossett at (940) 565-2588 or send an e-mail to
year marks the 18th time in the last 19 years that UNT debaters
have earned invitations to the annual National Debate Tournament.
Juniors Kenda Cunningham and John Hines received an at-large
invitation, reserved for the top 16 teams in the nation based
on season performance. They ended as octafinalists
ranking in the top 16 at this years tournament,
held at Baylor University in March.
Scotty Gottbreht and Julian Gagnon received an invitation
after placing third at a qualifying tournament in Wichita,
Kan. They posted a 4-4 record in the preliminary rounds at
Baylor a good performance for a young team, says coach
Josh Hoe, lecturer in communication studies.