Talking Saints Crisscross the Globe Virtually

L-R: Madi McDonald, June LePage, Anna Brown
Thursday, November 4, 2021

HELENA – Can’t be in three places at once? Don’t tell that to the Carroll College Talking Saints who, on Saturday, October 30, had eight first-year debaters competing in London, England, four debaters competing in Geneva, New York, and five more students competing in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

First-year partners Madi McDonald of Missoula and June LePage of Lewistown, Montana, reached the championship round in the President’s Cup Novice Tournament hosted virtually by University College London.

They competed through the night – surviving an unwelcome fire alarm in Guadalupe Hall.

“Most of our novice debaters were trying to bank some sleep in Guad around midnight when the fire alarm went off and they were evacuated to the PE Center,” said coach Brent Northup. “I got a panicked cellphone call saying they weren’t dressed yet and that their computers were still in their dorm rooms – and they faced a 1:30 a.m. online check in. I told them that somebody probably pulled a fire alarm, and to keep the faith. Sure enough, within the hour they were allowed home. They jumped into their competition clothes and headed to their classrooms in St. Charles to compete. Another routine day at the office.”

The Carroll novice teams faced daunting competition from around the world. In the championship round, McDonald and LePage competed against the winner from the London School of Economics, as well as teams from Eastern Europe and India.

In an online competition at Colorado College, junior Nicole Williams of Seeley Lake won prose interpretation, junior Mariah Hurd of Seattle placed third in poetry and first-year Anna Brown from Olympia, Washington, was top novice in extemporaneous speaking.

“Nicole’s victory was particularly sweet,” said Northup. “She works so hard, and is always asking for extra practices. She’s one of those dedicated souls who never thinks she’s ready enough, but always performs beautifully. Everybody was thrilled for Nicole.”

Anna Brown actually competed on two continents in one day – North America (Colorado) and Europe (England).

“Anna’s partner chose Colorado, but Anna wanted to sample the London international debate competition,” said Northup. “She also wanted to warm up her speech events. She asked if there was any way to do both on the same day? There was one round at 8 a.m. our time in both locations, so we had to be creative.”

London agreed to use Brown as a reserve, assigning her to rounds when they were short a debater, which sometimes happens. She debated with Lisa from France in the first round, and Joseph from London in two later rounds.

“London gave Anna the 8 a.m. Saturday round off, so she crossed the Atlantic to compete in Colorado then,” said Northup. “Because she started around Friday midnight and competed in the championship rounds in Colorado, she was speaking for 18 hours without a break. But she was upbeat and cheerful the whole time, and was named top novice extemp speaker. And she won two rounds in London with her new friends from Europe. Amazing weekend for Anna. What a fearless, irrepressible spirit.”

Brown enjoyed the all-night adventure.

“It was a great learning experience with lots of caffeine,” said Brown. “It taught me time management and how to take naps between rounds.”

The Carroll teams in New York at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, faced some of the finest teams in North America including Harvard, Yale and the University of Toronto.

“Juniors Roisin O’Neill (Lake Oswego, Oregon) and Vinny Gallardo (Butte) beat Harvard in an early round, but didn’t make the championship rounds,” said Northup. “Sophomores Finlay Bates (Forest Grove, Oregon) and Elissa Mazkour (Lebanon) earned high ranks in some of their rounds, too. But when the dust cleared, the Ivies advanced to the championships and we went home – bruised a bit, but encouraged by top ranks against top teams.”

The Talking Saints next competition will be the regional championships online at Linfield College on November 12-14.