Montgomery Cup: another debate team win at international contest

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Members of the Talking Mules debate team spent spring break in the UK earning the Montgomery Cup. (Photo submitted)
Members of the Talking Mules debate team spent spring break in the UK earning the Montgomery Cup. (Photo submitted)

Story by DEVIN R. NEGRETE, for The Muleskinner—
While many students partied their spring break away, the Talking Mules were busy competing overseas to bring home the Montgomery Cup for the second consecutive year, making 10 wins in the last 13 years.
The tour is a competition in British Parliamentary debate. Four teams debate each other using their knowledge, wit and humor on a resolution or a topic. Out of the four teams, two argue in favor and two argue against the resolution.
The Talking Mules, which consists of Matt Gilmore, Mariah Suddarth, Micah Chrisman, Ryan Michael and Derek Pritchett, competed against six schools from Scotland, England and Ireland. “We compete against some of the most competitive English Speaking Societies in the United Kingdom, so naturally our competition was great and quite challenging,” Suddarth said.
“Debate in the UK is quite a bit different than our traditional formats of debate,” said instructor Nicole Freeman. “They approach it more as a lively discussion, focused on philosophical ideas, common sense and history.”
Because of the variation in styles between the United Kingdom and the U.S., most of the team’s preparation focused on their persuasion while using some wit and humor to match the UK debaters.
The Talking Mules also held multiple private and public debates around campus and throughout the community during the school year to help them prepare.  “We also spend a lot of time watching and reading the BBC,” Freeman said.
The strategies the team has used against the English Speaking Society are somewhat different than when they compete against schools in the U.S. Suddarth said the most important strategy they use to bring home a win is to keep an open-mind and have fun with it.
The Talking Mules took two teams on the tour this year, which was helpful given the point system that was used for each debate. The system is broken up into three different types of points. Three points are awarded for first place, two points for second place and one point for third place. Since there were two teams, they were able to earn up to five points per debate. This helped the Talking Mules secure the win, giving them a 22-15 victory and the Montgomery Cup.
Now that the Talking Mules have secured the Montgomery Cup for a second year, the future is looking very promising. “We are a team that is growing quickly and we have a great talent base,” Freeman said. “We have a lot of extremely talented individuals that are still young in their career, so the future looks great for us in both debate and speech events, which we also compete in during the year.” Freeman said she expects the program to grow within the next year and be just as successful as they were this year.
The Talking Mules not only came back to the U.S with the Montgomery Cup, but also the experience from debating overseas. “No amount of research and intellect can account for the actual experiences that we are exposed to overseas,” Suddarth said. “It puts any hard work and research we’ve done about this specific area into a real world perspective.”
For more information about the Talking Mules, email Freeman at [email protected]