Debate team numbers spike from offseason recruiting

By Mickey Winfield: Freedom New Mexico

Word of mouth travels fast, especially within the walls of Portales High School.

When PHS students heard that four members of their debate team competed in the national competition last spring in Las Vegas, Nev., many more wanted to participate.

The club went from a little more than a dozen members last year, to more than 30 participants this fall.

“Publicity is a really great tool for recruiting,” Portales junior and debate team member Christian Townsend said. “Those of us who were still left realized that with half of our team having just graduated, we needed to find new people. So there was a big recruiting drive.”

Speech and debate covers several different types of speaking competitions including dramatic and humorous interpretations, a student Congress and classic debate events.

The four club members who made the trip to nationals include Townsend, Joseph Sisneros, Sunny Liu and Daniel Perez.

“When I first showed up, I walked into the room and I was just kind of shocked,” Townsend said, “because I saw people from all different looks, all different ages, all walks of life — all gathered in one room.”

And right from the start, Townsend knew what he was up against.

“Just from their regular conversations you could tell that these were not ordinary, normal teenagers,” Townsend said. “Whereas most teenagers would be talking about something social, three of them were debating oil prices. And they weren’t even in (a) debate (event), they were just arguing with each other.”

Becky Walker is the head coach of the Portales speech and debate team

“We’re real excited,”