The 44th Annual Newman Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament

The Newman Speech & Debate team hosts its annual tournament and describes their success so far this season.


On December 9th, about 500 competitors flooded Newman’s campus from about 40 schools in 10 states around the country. It was the first in person Newman Invitational Speech & Debate Tournament in 3 years (since 2019). As students began arriving on campus at 2:00 PM, Newman debate team members began escorting them to the Henson Auditorium, where they waited while the team finished setting up the tournament.

At 4 PM, debaters began heading to the Dining Hall, where they waited and prepared for their rounds to start. The entire campus was packed from the Stern building in the lower school to the Jolly Science and Technology Center in the upper school. The lower school classrooms were used for speech competitions, along with the judges’ lounge in Aronson Hall; meanwhile, the upper and middle school buildings were used for debate rounds and tab room.

The Newman team had several different jobs to help the tournament run smoothly. Most team members served as hallway monitors, escorting debaters to their competition spaces and answering any questions from the visiting students. The senior debaters served as building supervisors, ensuring rounds were starting on time with all competitors and judges were present and reporting any issues to Tab Room. Finally, four students served in the tab room, communicating with building monitors and helping out wherever they were needed. Each person had assigned shift times and breaks, and they had a chance to study for their approaching exams.

The tournament was directed by Mr. Vincent, the Newman Speech & Debate Team head coach, and assisted by Associate Directors Greg Malis and Alma Nicholson, former tournament directors. Mr. Malis describes Mr. Vincent’s first year directing an in-person NIT: “He successfully navigated some of the unexpected challenges, like needing to alter the schedule in the middle of the tournament and working with a group of parent volunteers who were hosting the NIT for their first time.”

The Newman Speech and Debate team has had a successful season so far with about 40 members on the team. They have traveled to New York, Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Mississippi, along with several in-state tournaments. In the spring semester, the team will be traveling to Georgia and California before the end of the season in March, when the district and state tournaments will take place.

Mr. Vincent describes the team’s recent success: “It has been a record breaking season. The national caliber of the team’s success is high. We have students ranked in the top 20 of the country right now. While the team is the largest it has ever been in school history, it is also equally enjoyable to watch students develop valuable skills that transfer far beyond the competition space. The team is as big as it currently is because the environment the school has created allows students explore their talents and interests in acting, public speaking, and competitive debate events. What I am most excited for is how young and talented the team is, and I look forward to continued celebration of success with our students and the Newman community in an activity that’s really important to me.”

Jack Laurent, a junior Lincoln-Douglass debater, notes: “It was really great to meet debaters from all around the country and develop lasting friendships with people who enjoy debate as much as I do.” Outside of the competition room, debaters are able to interact with each other in a friendly manner and learn more about people from different cities and states, while still being able to see those same people again, especially at tournaments in Louisiana.

This year’s district tournament, which qualifies students for the National Speech & Debate Association Tournament in June, will take place on March 10th at Newman, while the state tournament will be held in Lafayette on March 23rd. The team hopes to get as many national qualifications as possible, while also securing a state championship title the following week. Wish the team luck!