The University of Missouri-Kansas City Debate Team can boast it has the best speakers in the country.
Corey Fisher, a junior in Communication Studies, placed first out of 210 speakers at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national championship in Binghamton, New York. And his debate partner, Anthony Joseph, placed second.
“It was the first time the same school had the top two speakers since 2004,” said Malcolm Gordon, assistant director of UMKC Debate. “This is amazing. Unlike athletic competitions, there are no divisions separating schools in college policy debate — we compete against Harvard, Northwestern, Dartmouth, Berkley, Emory and many other prestigious institutions.”
Fisher and Joseph won three tournaments for UMKC since winter break. Fisher took top speaker at five of the seven tournaments of the season.
“I feel so excited and honored,” Fisher said.
The entire UMKC Debate Team placed eighth at the tournament. The National Debate Tournament (NDT) was held the same week, also in Binghamton, New York.
The NDT is slightly more competitive, with a few more of the top teams going there than the CEDA tournament. At the NDT, UMKC went 6-2 in preliminary rounds, defeating teams from University of Georgia, University of Texas- Austin, George Mason University, Mary Washington, Emory University and Northwestern University. UMKC then advanced to the round of 32, where it defeated the University of Kentucky. UMKC lost in the Sweet 16 to another team from University of Kentucky.
Fisher, who was the top speaker at CEDA, finished as the 20th speaker at the NDT. Joseph was the 28th speaker.
UMKC has had a debate program since the 1950s. In recent history, UMKC won three consecutive national titles in the 90s, placed in the top 32 eight different times in 2000s, including a finals appearance in 2007.
UMKC recruits students from all over the country, including Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Florida and Washington.
“We’re lucky,” Gordon said. “Missouri and Kansas have such wonderful high school debate programs that many come from local schools.” Fisher, who attended Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, is among them. Joseph attended high school in Arkansas.