Debate Team Finishes Fall Semester as No. 1 Team in Nation

The ranking was compiled through the team’s finishes during its top four tournaments during the semester.

Adam Testerman

Adam Testerman

Most people want to learn and be well-spoken about current events. The Parliamentary Debate team at Texas Tech University has excelled in those topics, as well as developing clear and concise arguments.

Adam Testerman, director of forensics and an instructor in the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech, has helped the debate team finish the semester as the top-ranked college debate team in the country.

Testerman said this ranking was calculated through the performances of the debate team’s top four teams during its top four tournaments. The debate team attended five tournaments in the fall, including tournaments at Rice University, the University of California at Berkley and Washburn University.

“The debate team placed in at least semifinals at each of these tournaments and took the title at two of them,” Testerman said. “We won the Rice tournament and closed out in the finals at Washburn.”

Testerman, who was a member of the debate team when he attended Texas Tech, has been the director of the team since 2015. Since then, Testerman said the team has experienced significant growth.

Before Testerman came in, the debate team had not advanced to outrounds in any major tournament. But that has changed in the past two-and-a-half-years.

“We’ve claimed several tournament championships and placed teams as high as 10th in the country at the national tournament,” Testerman said.

The growth from last year to this year is because of the high-level transfer students the team recruited. Testerman said the team now has three to four teams that can compete against any other team in the country instead of having just one successful top team.

Cody Gustafson, a sophomore communication studies major from Lindale and a member of the Texas Tech debate team, said at the end of the spring semester the team amped up the work load and increased the amount of preparation so it could be successful for the national tournament. That work ethic has spilled over to this year.

Testerman said preparation for the team involves placing students in as many practice rounds and one-on-one coaching sessions as possible. The preparation also includes writing research files covering different topics that will be covered in upcoming tournaments, including decreasing opioid abuse and Russian foreign policy.

“Our preparation is based on working really hard, practicing as much as possible and researching a diverse set of arguments,” Testerman said.

Gustafson said it feels great to be a member of a team that is ranked first in the nation. With only two or three members not returning to the team next year, Gustafson hopes the debate team will have success for years to come.

Testerman said the coaches do their best to promote a team culture that prioritizes hard work, dedication and growth. The coaches expect consistency because the team replicates what works.

Testerman said the support the university gives the team allows it to travel to the most competitive tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments give students the opportunity to learn from high-level instructors in different programs around the country that help the students build their arguments.

“Exposure to high-level debate on a consistent basis allows us to be positioned for deep runs at the national tournament,” Testerman said. “Not every university supports their team the way we do.”

The team wants to continue its success into the next semester. The team’s job, Testerman said, is to push for positive results in the next semester and be ready to bring the team’s best performance at the national tournament at the end of March.

Testerman said the next semester starts with one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year, the Mile High Swing on the campus of the University of Utah. Students have already been assigned work to prepare for that tournament.

“We really want to put our best foot forward,” Testerman said, “because success at Mile High often previews success at the national championships.”

Gustafson said he is confident the team will continue to succeed if it continues to work and prepare as much as it did during this semester.

“We will just have to continue to ride the wave and continue to work hard to ensure we have as successful a semester as we did in the fall,” Gustafson said. “We are really focused and have a few teams that really have a chance to win a national championship, so we just have to keep our minds right and keep working hard.”


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College of Media & Communication

College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech offers undergraduate degrees in various communications-related disciplines including:

The College also offers graduate degrees in communications to prepare students for careers in the communications industry, communications research and academia.

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Communication Studies

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A degree in Communication Studies has never been more valuable and marketable than in the global, networked world of the 21st century. Through a dynamic and diverse curriculum that spans interpersonal, intercultural, and organizational communication as well as rhetoric and public affairs, students develop communication skills aimed at enhancing their personal, professional, and public lives.


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