The University of Richmond Debate and Forensics Team was set to compete in the Collegiate Forensics Association tournament in Ottawa, Canada, from Oct. 21 to 30. However, the team canceled its appearance because of financial setbacks and a novice team.
The club’s president, junior Annie Waters, shared that the main reasons for the cancellation were the rising costs for travel, which amounted to approximately $20,000, with incomplete passport information and a number of participants arriving late. Costs aside, little urgency among possible participants added to the cancellation.
While Waters expressed her disappointment with the cancellation of the competition, it was lessened by other event cancellations during the height of COVID-19. She said it felt like another setback.
The team’s coach Roger Mancastroppa, associate director of the Academic Skills Center, shared that outside of financial costs, the low level of experience among interested students supported their decision.
“The biggest thing was we have a really young team this year, we graduated so many of our folks. We only had two debaters come back,” he said.
He said that competing on an international scale for the first time would have been too intimidating for the students who just joined the team.
First-year Kyle Giardine was one of the few students who was supposed to compete in Ottawa.
“I would have obviously liked to go because it would’ve been nice, but there'll be more opportunities in the future, so I'm not too upset,” Giardine said.
Despite the circumstances that led to the team’s cancellation of the Ottawa tournament, Waters maintained that the team will continue to prepare for the next competition, with hopes for the same level of enthusiasm in the team.
“I hope that there's still some excitement for competing after this loss,” Waters said.
The club meets twice a week, preparing for competitions through mock debates and prompts. Members of the Collegiate Forensics Association, which UR is a part of, regularly participate in 4-8 competitions within the circuit, Mancastroppa said. The Ottawa conference was the first international competition of the year.
“We field the smallest teams every single year in the Collegiate Forensics Association, and yet very, very consistently out of 16-18 teams we’ll take fourth, fifth, sixth [place],” Mancastroppa said.
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Mancastroppa said he was excited about the club's future plans.
“Randolph Macon is just up the road… They're also really interested in doing some more exhibition-like stuff, which I think really gives us a chance to get these folks warmed up,” he said.
Contact lifestyle writer Gareth Woo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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