MHS hosted and took fourth place at the inaugural Doug Tschetter Novice Championship Debate Tournament held on January 7. The late Doug Tschetter was a teacher and debate coach at MHS from 1978-2014. He influenced hundreds of students, debaters, and fellow coaches, not only in Milbank, but across South Dakota.
Kathy Tyler, who now serves as the Bulldogs’ coach, said, “Mr. Tschetter was revered by many as one of the top debate coaches in the nation, and he had a special place in his heart for novice debaters.”
Mr. Tschetter was only the seventh person in the history of the U.S. to earn his seventh diamond in debate coaching. In 2016, he added his eighth diamond. In 2018, he was inducted into the South Dakota Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
He also helped institute the debate camp-workshop that has been conducted on the campus of SDSU for nearly 30 years and was named the South Dakota Debate Coach of the Year four times in his career: in 1991, 1998, 2003, and 2014.Tyler explained, “The idea of a novice debate championship had been a conversation for many years. Novice debaters have their regular season during first semester debate class, but few get a chance to experience a true championship tournament. With support from numerous coaches, a novice championship became a reality this year.”
She said the tournament included 46 (23 teams) novice public forum and 17 novice Lincoln-Douglas debaters from Sioux Falls Jefferson, Sioux Falls Washington, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, Lennox, Aberdeen, Brookings, Harrisburg, and Milbank.
“In addition, over 60 lay judges kept the school hopping with debates — both on-topic and off — good conversation, and memories of their debate careers with Mr. Tschetter,” Tyler said.
Sioux Falls Jefferson and Harrisburg dominated the event. They walked away with the top five places in Lincoln-Douglas and four of the top eight places in Public Forum. A Brookings team placed second in Public Forum. Milbank’s team of Jericho Jones and Elexia Quintanilla reached the semi-finals and placed fourth.
Tyler commended Marnie VanLith for “stepping up the plate when she realized her partner was unable to attend, and she partnered with a Harrisburg debater in the same situation.” They placed ninth.
“It was a good day only accomplished with the help of so many,” Tyler acknowledged. “Championship tournaments need a huge judge pool to ensure there are three judges in each round.”
In addition to former debaters from all over South Dakota, judges included a Tennessean, numerous Minnesotans, a former student from Missouri, another student from Des Moines, and a UCLA staff member. Over fifty people from the Milbank community also volunteered to judge the rounds. They joined varsity debaters from participating schools who were part of a judge pool for the first time and had the opportunity to view that aspect of a debate.
Tyler offered kudos to Deb Underwood, the director of food service for the Milbank School District, for feeding over 100 judges and coaches with amazing options. MHS Parents also contributed bars, soups, cookies, veggies, and rolls.
Qualon Grant, Shane Spiering, Ivy Lewno, Rylen Frerichs, and Max Schuelke assisted in setting up the tournament and continued to make sure things ran smoothly.
What’s next for Milbank debaters? According to Tyler, the Bulldogs have five major tournaments before the national qualifier and South Dakota’s state debate tournaments. MHS travels to Sioux Falls Lincoln on Friday, January 13.