Debate Hawks Mentor Asbury Park High School Students

Student Coaches Offer Skills For Debate Tournaments and Beyond


Every Tuesday afternoon, the University Debate Hawks, along with their head coach Dr. Joseph Patten, meet at Asbury Park High School and run an hour-long debate workshop.

The Asbury Park students learn about argument construc­tion and are educated on the general rules of debate. This year, the efforts put forth in the weekly workshops were brought to full realization in the form of The 2013 Newark Invitational, a debate tournament headed by the Jersey Urban Debate League, an organization devoted to sup­porting the practice of debate for “predominantly African-Ameri­can and Latino students.”

The program is going into its third year with success going beyond the debate tournaments. One hundred percent of the par­ticipants over the past three years have gone to colleges such as: College of New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickenson, Brookdale Com­munity College, Rutgers and Monmouth University.

Dr. Joseph Patten, head coach of the debate team, said, “Watching our debaters coach the Asbury kids every Tuesday afternoon and then take them to debate tournaments on week­ends around the tri-state area is beyond fun. It’s inspiring to see our students volunteer their time to quite literally help to trans­form the lives of our Asbury students. It just doesn’t get any better than this in life.”

For many of the Asbury debat­ers, it is their first time entering the realm of policy debate, and with that, comes the uneasiness and nervousness of competition. Davon Byers, a first-time de­bater and sophomore at Asbury Park High School described his experience as initially “Nerve-racking, but after getting used to everything, [debate] became fun.” Byers also noted that the instruction he received from his Monmouth coaches gave him the needed preparation for entering his first tournament.

Speaking skills, public posture, analytics, critical thinking and speed reading are just a few of the crucial skills debate offers college bound students.

This training also allows for the winning results that Asbury Park High School students Iman-Tume Hall and Jerome Smith received in their very first round.

Lisa Miranda, debater and sophomore at Asbury Park High School observed the readiness of her fellow teammates and herself.

“I felt like we did well, considering this was our first tournament,” said Miranda.

The mentoring program offers the opportunity for Monmouth students to put their knowledge of debate to uses outside of competition and facilitate the growth of future college students.

One University student coach, Samuel Maynard, a junior political science major, described the vital skills that debate offers students preparing to enter college, “It really prepares students to analyze information and think critically about issues that affect them.

It provides them with a real edge entering the college’s community. It also provides students with a concept of what ‘real’ academic work is like, which is something that even current college students are disgracefully foreign to.”

In addition to shaping the minds of future college students, the MU coaching staff is also gaining useful experience particular to their majors.

Lianne Kulik, a senior education major, describes her coaching obligations as “A fantastic opportunity to enter the teaching environment before graduation and witness [the students’] success in the debate world as an extension of my efforts as their educator. I also find solace in the fact that this group of kids is so eager to learn and improve on their mistakes, it makes this whole experience beneficial to all who participate.”

As the year progresses, the Asbury Park High School debate team are set to encounter at least two more tournaments in New York City and Baltimore, respectively. Before the season ends, the staff and team hope to win an entire tournament, which is not that tall of an order since last year they did just that in Baltimore.

PHOTO COURTESY of Dr. Joseph Patten