SM South debate team brings home national championship from D.C.

SM South debate national champs

Shawnee Mission South juniors Clare Bradley (left) and Brooklynn Hato (right) won nationals over Memorial Day weekend. Photo via SM South Speech and Debate Twitter.

Shawnee Mission South’s debate team won a national championship at the 2022 National Catholic Forensic League on Memorial Day weekend.

Why it matters: Carolyn Cook, SM South’s debate and forensics sponsor, said this is potentially the first debate championship in the school’s history — and definitely in the last two decades.

  • The NCFL tournament is one of a few top speech and debate tournaments in the nation, Cook said.
  • Only six teams from the Kansas City area make it to the national tournament, according to Cook.
  • Students spent countless hours researching and practicing throughout the fall season to qualify for the tournament.

The victory: Clare Bradley and Brooklynn Hato won the NCFL national championship. The topic for this tournament was access to safe and clean drinking water through policy in the United States, she said.

  • Some teams’ arguments focused on agricultural run off or putting an end to fracking, Cook said.
  • Bradley and Hato, both of whom are juniors, argued a negative position to win the championship.
  • The pair’s winning argument explained how fixing any one issue — in this case, fracking — does not mean every person in the U.S. will have access to clean and safe drinking water.
  • Bradley and Hato also emphasized how Black and brown impoverished communities are disproportionately impacted by this issue.

What’s next: Cook said SM South debate will compete at the National Speech and Debate Association tournament in Louisville, Ky. in a couple of weeks. Shawnee Mission West and Shawnee Mission North will also compete in this tournament, she said.

Key quote: “When I started four years ago, this was a big goal that this group of kids had — that, eventually, we want to be competitive on the national circuit,” Cook said. “I don’t think anybody would’ve said four years ago, ‘We want to go win nationals,’ we were just like ‘we want to be competitive nationally.’ It’s pretty cool to see them do this.”