The legacy of a team


The Congressional Debate team listening and taking notes during a lunch meeting to their captain Victoria Bevard. The team was preparing for an upcoming tournament.

Manu Onteeru, Staff Writer

Starting a team from the bottom to having it become the best in Virginia is a difficult feat, but senior Victoria Bevard has managed to do it.

Bevard, the captain and founder of the TJ Congressional Debate team, has taken the team from its original three people to the largest Congressional Debate team in Virginia.

“Congressional Debate is one of the four major types of debate and is practiced on both a robust Virginia local circuit and nationally,” said Bevard, “In Congressional Debate, we face a variety of current issues at each tournament and debate whether to pass or fail legislation.  We focus on both content analysis and convincing presentation.”

Recently, the team placed second at the Wakeforest Earlybird National Tournament, and came fourth at the GMU Patriot Games Classic for team sweepstakes.

“Our team always puts forth our best effort at all our tournaments, both local and national.  I’m proud to have a great officer core and an actively involved team that ensures that newer members get the coaching they need and experienced members can turn to the team to build their skills further,” said Bevard “I couldn’t be happier with our team rapport and inclusiveness.”

Freshman Aditya Kumar felt the same about the success and cohesiveness of the team.

“I love the Congressional Debate team because of our spirit and camaraderie,” said Kumar “it has not only improved my knowledge of world affairs, research abilities, and speaking skills, but made me belong to a greater debate community.”

On the local WACFL (Washington Arlington Catholic Forensic League) circuit, the team has accumulated 9 awards over the past three tournaments, qualifying ten students to the Metro Final tournament, more than any other school in the region.

Bevard was the winner of the Metro Final tournament that occurred last May. In addition, Bevard won the Virginia National Speech and Debate Association tournament, allowing her to attend one of the largest Congressional Debate tournaments in the country, where she came in first place.

“I was immensely proud when I won the NSDA championships, and when asked to comment at the time, I responded, “I hope that this shows my teammates that anything is possible.”  I hope that my success against the odds stands as a testament that a successful debater doesn’t have to come from a preexisting debate school,” said Bevard, “We can overcome our circumstances and define our achievement.”

The start and continued success of this team, though, is credited to many individuals, such as their coach, Mrs. Bakke, and Dr. Woodwell, who allows the team to practice in his classroom during lunch.

“Really, there are so many people I owe for all the help and support I’ve received.  In many ways, my amazing coach, Ms. Bakke, who agreed to found our team way back in freshman year is the reason I was ever able to do anything.” said Bevard, “Never forget the people who allowed you to get to where you are.  Don’t forget to go back and contribute to the community that made you who you are.”

The team has worked very hard to get to where they are today, a place that no one expected them to be three years ago.

“A winning team works harder and longer than any other team,” says sophomore officer Dany Matar, “Each member contributes to the strength of the team. Alone, success is harder to reach. As an officer, I couldn’t be more proud of this team that has reached success together.”