Debaters reach quarterfinals at invitational tournament

Senior+Anaika+Miller+and+junior+Luke+Ballmer+show+off+the+quarterfinal+trophies+they+received+at+a+debate+tournament+last+weekend.+Credit%3A+Felicia+Perez%2FThe+Foothill+Dragon+Press.

Caitlin Trude

Senior Anaika Miller and junior Luke Ballmer show off the quarterfinal trophies they received at a debate tournament last weekend. Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press.
Senior Anaika Miller and junior Luke Ballmer show off the quarterfinal trophies they received at a debate tournament last weekend. Credit: Felicia Perez/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Senior Anaika Miller and junior Luke Ballmer snagged trophies this weekend after they placed in quarterfinals at the three-day Martin Luther King invitational at James Logan High School in Union City.

“I didn’t think we’d make it past octo-finals, so I was really impressed,” Miller said.

Ballmer and Miller were one of 100 teams that participated in parliamentary debate at the tournament. While Ballmer has participated in parliamentary debate before, this was Miller’s first time competing in the event and it was the first time the two had ever debated together.

“We really worked well as a team,” Ballmer said. “It was a good thing to realize.”

The team won four of their five preliminary rounds and lost in the quarterfinal round while debating against the resolution “People on Social Security should perform public service.”

Ballmer attributed their success to “weaseling” their way into quarterfinals. Though the two lost on a unanimous ballot, Ballmer and Miller remained unabashed.

“Other teams came from big private schools… We came with one team – our grandparents driving us – and we ended up winning eleventh seed!” Ballmer said. “It was really shocking, looking at it from an overall perspective.”

Point of Information, a web site that follows high school parliamentary debate, now ranks Ballmer and Miller in the top 30 parliamentary teams in the state.

Because the MLK invitational was not planned as a tournament by Foothill’s Speech & Debate team, Ballmer and Miller entered the competition independently to gain extra experience.

“Because we were entering independently, Luke’s grandparents stepped up and drove us all the way there and chaperoned us, and Luke’s grandmother judged for us,” Miller said.

“It was a very do-it-yourself tournament,” Ballmer added.

Though debate coach and English teacher Jennifer Kindred did not attend the tournament, she was proud of the victory that Ballmer and Miller brought home.

“I was impressed because northern California is incredibly competitive… Northern California always walks away with everything,” Kindred said. “I think the fact that they made it to quarterfinals was impressive.”

Despite the duo’s success in Union City, Kindred prefers the usual unity of the Speech & Debate team.

“I don’t want to make this a habit, going rogue to a tournament,” Kindred said with a smile.

With their quarterfinal success at the MLK invitational, Ballmer and Miller were able to add more hardware to the Speech & Debate trophy collection.

“These trophies are bigger than first or second place trophies,” Ballmer said.

“We actually lost on purpose because we wanted to get the better trophies,” Miller added jokingly.

Anaika Miller serves as the Editor in Chief of The Foothill Dragon Press.

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