Apr 5, 2007    #054
Contact: Amanda Lepper
(816) 235-1592

UMKC Debate Team makes first trip to final round of national championship

The tale of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Debate Team’s run at the national championship is one of David and many Goliaths. With a budget just a fraction of what big hitters like Harvard and Dartmouth enjoy and even less man power to support their research and preparation, seniors Amy Foster and Malcolm Gordon upset three of the top six ranked teams in the preliminary rounds and grabbed a second-place finish – the best in school history.

Ranked 15th entering the competition, UMKC merely hoped to make it to the quarter finals of the 61st Annual National Debate Tournament, hosted March 28 through April 2 in Dallas. But after knocking off the likes of high-ranked Northwestern University and the University of California-Berkley, this charismatic duo had the crowd rooting for the underdog.

“It was probably the first time in the past 20 years that a squad our size has made it to the final round,” said Matt Vega, the Debate Team’s head coach and interim director. “We had a lot of people cheering for us.”

Foster, a Wellington, Fla., native, has a talent for dissecting her opponents’ arguments and throwing her own back four-fold, while Gordon carries a presence into a debate that gives the appearance he’s winning an argument even if the odds are stacked against him. However, both say their success was motivated by their senior status.

“We realized it was the last day we were ever going to debate for UMKC,” Gordon said. “Most of the other teams were younger and just starting out and have several more years ahead of them.”

Gordon and Foster will earn their undergraduate degrees this May and plan to continue on to gradate programs at UMKC. Foster aspires to become a lawyer, while Gordon will earn a master’s degree in communications with hopes of coaching a collegiate-level debate team someday.

After seven straight wins, UMKC was defeated by Emory University in the final round, which stretched into the early-morning hours Tuesday. Individually, Gordon also won honors as the fifth best speaker of the tournament, adding one more trophy to the load of awards they hauled home after two weeks competing on the road. Foster and Gordon are coached by Vega, Justin Stanley, Todd Jordan and Linda Collier.

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences, and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).



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