Talking Saints Win in Calgary

Thursday, October 27, 2022

HELENA – Carroll College’s Talking Saints, passports in hand, crossed the border and brought home the championship from the Calgary Fall Open held on October 29-30.

Carroll was the only American college entered, competing against colleges from Canada’s western provinces. The in-person tournament, held at the University of Calgary, is exclusively for first-year college debaters, and has been held online the past two pandemic years.

The team of Paxton Sheppard, from Rigby, Idaho, and Charlie Said, from Seattle, Washington, won the tournament and swept the top two speaker awards. Said was first, with Sheppard second. Amelia Carstens of Bremerton, Washington, was 10th best speaker. Carstens and her partner Sara Bocquin of Laurel, Montana, reached the semifinals in debate.

“I was very proud of the new team members, who all debated so well,” said coach Brent Northup. “But most of all I loved hearing stories from the Canadian debaters telling me how much they loved debating Carroll because our teams were so friendly and so good. We were truly embraced by the Canadian students. After I got home, I received congratulatory emails from Saskatoon and Edmonton inviting us to their events. We made good lasting friendships.”

The win was the second time Carroll has won the Calgary event. Frank Stumbo and Alex Thielman won the event in 2015, with Stumbo named top speaker.

The Talking Saints enjoyed the trip and the competition. Some were traveling out of the country for the first time, and many were competing in their first in-person debate tournament.

“I’ve never been to Canada before, so this was a great first experience,” said Mary Knight of Denver, Colorado. “Starting off with the quintessential Tim Hortons, I feel like I really got to experience Canada and to explore a city bigger than Helena, which is, granted, most cities.”

“Canada was an incredible experience,” said Bocquin. “Debating against students from another country gave us an opportunity to make international friends and learn more about each other’s country. The people were very kind.”

Olivia Smith, from Bozeman, Montana, said her best memories included the warmth of the Canadians, the refreshing diversity of competitors, great baklava and “rocking out to the song ‘Ottawa’ during the van rides.”

Smith, and all her teammates, were the first to pound their tables in pride when their teammates won the championship round.

Carroll’s winning team was thrilled.

“The experience in Canada was great. I really enjoyed visiting Calgary,” said Said. “It was a great honor to win. I’m glad to have helped bring glory to Carroll! Hopefully we’ll get the chance to debate Canadians again soon.”