A Golden Year for CRLS Debate Club

Anneliese Mattox, Contributing Writer

It was clear that the year would be a remarkable one when the top two winning teams at the Gracia Burkill Memorial debate tournament in November were both from the CRLS junior class. Sophia Robertson and Anneliese Mattox co-championed with Lily Grodzins and Elaine Wen while a fully female group of CRLS debaters attended alongside them.

The CRLS debate club engages in Public Forum (PF) debate, in which two people from the same school debate together against other pairings or “teams” from other schools in what is called a round. From there it usually proceeds like regular tournaments with preliminary rounds, elimination rounds, and finals to determine the rankings. Debaters also receive individual speaker points which are used to determine the ranking of individual debaters within a tournament. This year the CRLS debate team saw astounding successes in both individual and team rankings, and with talent and teamwork on the rise, future success is imminent.

Our team has seen a lot of growth this year, and it’s amazing to see how much of a community we’ve become.

In March the CRLS debate team sent a record-breaking eight pairs to the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League State Debate Finals. Among these eight, five were novice teams, another record broken this year by CRLS debate. The tournament was a smashing success for many CRLS teams but especially for debaters Sophia Robertson and Sebastian Prasanna who are currently the second-best team in the state of Massachusetts. Robertson broke another CRLS record by receiving the highest speaker points overall, making her the top speaker in the state of Massachusetts. When asked to comment, Robertson ‘24 told the Register Forum, “Our team has seen a lot of growth this year, and it’s amazing to see how much of a community we’ve become…I think our team’s success next year depends on us continuing to build this team spirit, through our debate summer program, early-year tournaments, and team events.” Even as the year comes to a close she continues to drive CRLS debate forward. 

But the debate club’s high rankings do not end there, with Robertson and Prasanna qualifying for the most prestigious and competitive national debate tournament, the Tournament of Champions.

The club’s most recent success lies in debaters Lily Grodzins and Elaine Wen, who represented  CRLS at the National Catholic Forensic League Nationals in Kentucky. To get to nationals, Grodzins and Wen had to qualify by ranking high enough at a qualifier tournament, which is impressive to begin with. Grodzins and Wen have a similarly incredible track record, and it doesn’t get much better than nationals. Grodzins ‘24 summed it up perfectly by saying, “Nationals was a culmination of our hard work and a massive growing experience. Debating outside of the Massachusetts circuit really opened my eyes to the culture of debate. I am thankful for the opportunity to go, learn, and bring my knowledge back to the team because my passion and pride for debate really lies in watching the team grow and flourish.” Evidently, community is well valued in CRLS debate. 

With all of their successes this year, there is nothing but hope for a bright and victorious future for the debate team, which, in case you are curious, serves cookies at every meeting.