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UNT debate students named to Texas All State Forensic Squad

Two members of the UNT Debate Team are among eight students from Texas colleges and universities named to this year's Texas All State Forensic Squad.

Garrett Hammonds, a junior communications studies and political science major from Royse City, and Abron Hester, a junior political science major from Harker Heights, were recognized by the Texas Interscholastic Forensics Association for their academic and competitive success for the entire season.

This academic year, Hammonds and Hester are competing as partners in parliamentary debate tournaments sanctioned by the National Parliamentary Debate Association, the largest national intercollegiate debate organization in the U.S. In October, the two took first place at a tournament at Texas Christian University. They advanced to the semifinal or quarterfinal round of the four other tournaments they participated in during the 2015 fall semester and this semester. They have posted a 26-9 win/loss record in rounds.

In addition, at the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association state championship tournament held earlier this month, Hester was named the fourth best speaker and Hammonds the fifth best speaker out of 46 students.

Brian Lain, UNT's director of debate and an associate professor of communication studies, said having two UNT debaters named to the All State Forensic Squad is "a wonderful accomplishment for UNT that recognizes our success in the state of Texas this year."

He noted that UNT students have had a long record of success at policy debate tournaments, which offer a single topic that students argue for an academic year.

"We have just significantly expanded our parliamentary debate and individual event offerings, and to have such great competitors this early is fantastic," Lain said. "I am very proud of both Garrett and Abe because the All Texas squad recognizes both curricular and co-curricular achievement."

Hester, who has competed with the UNT Debate Team for three semesters, said he chose parliamentary debate over policy debate because it focuses more on rhetoric. The topics for the two-student teams change for every tournament round, and the teams only have 15 minutes to prepare their arguments before a round begins, he said.

"It helps your critical thinking and public thinking skills. In policy debate, you spend hours on research, because you argue the same case for every competition," said Hester, a member of the National Guard who plans to attend law school and work as a military lawyer after graduating from UNT in 2017.

Hammonds competed in policy debate during high school, but switched to parliamentary when he joined the UNT Debate Team last semester.

"Parliamentary focuses on the style and type of argument for what you are debating, not just technical skills," he said. He plans to become a high school speech and debate coach after graduating from UNT in 2017.

Posted on: Wed 02 March 2016

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