Speech and Debate Team Compete in 25th Montgomery Cup

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  • Manuel Reyes, graduate student, works alongside teammates at Trinity College in Dublin. Trinity College is considered a US equal to an Ivy League collegiate competitor.

  • The Talking Mules took a tour of Deal Castle, as well as other locations along the way. Deal Castle is a Tudor artillery castle located in Walmer, England.

  • The Talking Mules were accompanied by students who documented their experince through photos and videos. The Montgomery Cup enters its 25th year in 2023, and UCM has competed in the tournament 23 times, emerging with 16 overall wins.

  • The seal of the College Historical Society of Dublin, the team traveled throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. The seal refers to the debating society at Trinity College Dublin, established in the 1770s. Photos by Stephanie Rogers

The University of Central Missouri’s Talking Mules Speech and Debate team traveled overseas to Ireland and the United Kingdom to compete in the Montgomery Cup. This was the 25th Montgomery Cup, established and led by UCM Forensics Director Jack Rogers.

  “They are literally changed people,” Rogers said. “Their eyes are open to a great big broad world out there.” 

 The Taking Mules often debate world issues, with one of their topics during The Cup being, ‘This house believes that all news outlets should be forced to operate as nonprofits.’ The British debate style the students learn to compete in the British Parliamentary style debate and each team has to argue for their side of the table, either in favor or against. 

  “The trip is very hands-on,” said Graduate Student Manuel Reyes. “I get to see different cultures and learn different debating styles and I get to learn about the history of the places we visit.”

  The team competed against three different universities overseas, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales and Imperial College in London, England. 

  “I am very excited about Trinity,” said Speech and Debate Assistant Coach Sydney Crank. “It’s a prestigious college. To have these kids debate against a school like Trinity is life-changing.” 

  Competing at a school like Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, is comparable to UCM debating an Ivy League collegiate-level competitor, such as Harvard University. 

  For example, according to UCM’s Alumni Foundation, UCM’s endowment is $40 million, while Trinity College’s is $1.4 billion, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

  “It’s kind of like David vs. Goliath,” said Crank. “It’s a well-known university, and they’re respected for their debate society. It feels cool to say, ‘Oh, we’re going to debate one of the top debate teams in the world.’ What a cool opportunity and experience.” 

  The Cup was initially designed to give students an outside-the-classroom immersive experience into another culture, teach them about British-style debate and open their eyes to different worldviews. 

  “I’ve had several students who all they had wanted to do was graduate college and go back to their hometown,” Rogers said. “Now all of a sudden, they’re thinking about, ‘oh my gosh, there’s a big bright world out there, I want to travel, I want to see if there is a job in the big city,’ and suddenly they begin to believe that the world is full of possibilities for them.”