Talking Saints Host International Online Teaching Tournament

Pictured left to right: First-years Paxton Sheppard, Charlie Said, Catherine Dudley, Amelia Carstens, Sara Bocquin
Thursday, September 29, 2022

HELENA – Carroll College’s Talking Saints invited the world to stream into Montana for its online Teaching Tournament, and debate teams from Ghana and India accepted the invitation – with a team from the Women’s College of New Delhi winning the open division on September 18.

“Nobody enjoyed the isolation during the pandemic but online competition literally brought the debate world together,” said coach Brent Northup. “This educational tournament tripled in size when we moved online. This year’s entry included teams from nine states, plus Ghana and India. Competing against Florida, Mississippi, Illinois, Ghana and India was simultaneously educational and intimidating for our students.”

With most of Carroll’s upperclass teams judging and administering the tournament, the first-year teams carried the purple banner, winning nine awards.

Two of Carroll’s first-year teams advanced to the final round of Novice, with Paxton Sheppard of Rigby, ID, and Charlie Said, of Seattle, WA, finishing second behind a team from the Air Force Academy. Amelia Carsten of Bremerton, WA, and Sara Bocquin of Laurel, MT, also competed in finals.

Sheppard and Said tied for top speaker in the novice division, with three more Talking Saints finishing in the top 10: Catherine Dudley, Amelia Carstens and Sarah Osmon.

The Carroll teams appreciated the diversity of teams in the field. In the first round, the topic was on the merits of the British monarchy.

“It was very interesting to hear how Indian teams viewed that,” said Sheppard.

Carroll debaters sought out the Indian women online for conversation.

“It was especially great to talk to them after rounds, they were really friendly,” said first-year Sara Bocquin. “My partner and I loved getting to learn from them as competitors.”

The win by the Indian women was even more impressive, given the 12-hour time difference – Montana afternoon debates took place in the middle of the night in New Delhi.

“The tournament was strange being online but it was definitely worth it to compete with teams from India,” said Said. “They were very knowledgeable and well-spoken. And impressively high energy, given that it was 3 am where they were!”

The Teaching Tournament, whose motto is “education before competition and teaching before trophies,” began with workshops for both beginners and experienced debaters. The awards are rocks and minerals from the Rocky Mountain region.

“We mail the minerals with a note congratulating them on their win and inviting them to pass their piece of a mountain onto some young person in their life – their own child, perhaps – to encourage them to climb their own mountain,” said Northup. “A bit corny, perhaps, but in keeping with our hope that the weekend has a spiritual purpose beyond winning and losing.”