The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE debate duo finds success arguing in competition

By Leah Bosworth/ne news editor

NE students Brandon Wimmer and Sean Gilliland understand the importance of an unforgettable performance on and off the stage.

They are not actors. They are debaters.

“It is a performance,” Wimmer said. “You don’t necessarily believe what you’re up there saying, but you have to wholeheartedly believe it while you’re saying it.”

The two have competed as a team in parliamentary debate for about five months now.

Debate coach Paulinda Krug steps in between students Sean Gilliland (left) and Brandon Wimmer (right) who make up the NE Campus parliamentary debate team. The duo won second place in a state tournament earlier this spring.
Casey Holder/The Collegian

In a parliamentary debate, a team is on one of two sides. The teammates either support the resolution or argue against it — the house or the opposition. Before the debate process begins, the teams must choose from three possible resolution topics. One is a metaphor, one is a value and one is a policy.

The opposition first decides which topic it wants to eliminate from the selection, then the house decides which of the two remaining topics it wants to do away with. The final, surviving topic is what the participants shape their performance around.

After 15 minutes of prep, it’s showtime.

The first time Wimmer and Gilliland performed as a team was against four-year colleges from Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas at the Red River Classic tournament.

They both felt “flustered and nervous as hell” stepping into unknown territory with unfamiliar faces and little knowledge of the forensics competition system.

“Our first debate, we misread the round postings, showed up to the wrong room with the wrong side of the debate prepared, found out and had to run, with one minute left, to our [correct] round,” Wimmer said.

After the sprint, the duo had to re-assess their side of the argument and put faith in one another’s ability to deliver a well-founded opposition on the spot.

“Our prep time was wasted,” Gilliland said. “But we didn’t necessarily feel like we were going to be slaughtered.”

They were not eaten alive and walked away from the tournament with the top novice award in parliamentary debate.

Wimmer and Gilliland agree that the “debate goddess” helped them to fine-tune and combine their personal arguing strategies since that debut. The goddess is NE adjunct speech instructor and debate coach Paulinda Krug, or just Krug as she prefers to be called.

Krug has coached students in debate for 25 years. This is her first semester to coach at TCC.

“I always knew since I was in high school that I wanted to teach speech,” she said. “When I went to college and became an educator, they had a good teacher program, and they had a good speech program, and I got on the traveling debate team and found it has a life of its own.”

Twice a week, Gilliland and Wimmer meet with Krug for an intense coaching session where she drills them on the validity of their arguments and poses strategies and defenses the other side may use against them.

“She walks us through plausible arguments, tries to get us to think outside of the box and is always looking to expand our sources,” Wimmer said.

As a coach, Krug understands what makes a team stand out from the others.

Wimmer and Gilliland are well-respected and well-known as debaters among their fellow competitors, she said, but they are also well-liked as people.

“Their reputation is good after a very short amount of time,” she said. “They really have a good balance, and they really have a good interaction.”

Gilliland and Wimmer confirmed the significance of having an honest and credible standing after they placed second in parliamentary debate in February at the Texas Community College Forensics State Tournament.

“You want people to know that you’re honest, and then you win by technique and by being good,” Krug said.

Gilliland and Wimmer agree that teams will not advance with an arrogant or disrespectful attitude or by misleading competitors with “obscure or squirrely” definitions. They said everyone is there hoping to do well, but if a team takes things too seriously, the fun of the debate is killed, and other teams will not want to compete with them.

“We want teams to want to argue with us,” Gilliland said.

“Sean and I go in there wanting to win, but we want a good debate,” Wimmer said. “And more than anything, we’re there to enjoy ourselves and have a good discussion — we want it to be entertaining for everyone.”

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