University of Mary Washington Debate Team seniors Colin McElhinny and Thomas Pacheco talked their way to the top on March 16 when they won the American Debate Association National Championship at Liberty University. Pacheco received The Julia Burke Award for Character and Excellence in American Debate Association Policy Debate.
“UMW Debate had a great weekend – winning the championship and the Burke Award speaks volumes about the quality of our squad effort,” said Judd D. Kimball, assistant debate coach at UMW. “We are very pleased to bring home a national championship in debate to UMW.”
McElhinny and Pacheco finished as the second seed after the preliminary rounds, with five wins and one loss to the defending champion and top seed Wake Forest University. Throughout the preliminary rounds, their opponents included teams from Liberty, George Mason University and University of Houston. In the elimination rounds, they debated Vanderbilt in the quarters and University of Minnesota in the semifinals. In the final round, they had a rematch with Wake Forest, and successfully defeated them on a unanimous decision. Pacheco was recognized as the competition’s fifth-place speaker and McElhinny ranked third.
The Burke award is given to a student whose qualities include “excellence in and passion for debate, a commitment to helping others, love and respect for the American Debate Association policy debate community and dedication to maintaining friendships despite the pressures of competition.” Students are nominated by coaches and peers, with the winner determined by a ballot of the students competing at the tournament.
The American Debate Association was founded in 1986, and this was the 27th year it has held a national tournament. This is the second American Debate Association National Championship title for UMW. The team also won the title in 2009.
UMW Debate concludes its regular competitive season at the National Debate Tournament at Indiana University next week, followed by multiple public debate competitions throughout the region. Follow @UMWDebate on twitter for the latest updates.