The Saint Thomas Academy Debate Team is a competitive team that participates in tournaments sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League, the Minnesota Debate Teachers’ Association, and several national organizations. The team is open to all students grades 6-12, though younger students may not be eligible to compete in some championship tournaments. The team shares coaches with our sister school Visitation—an arrangement that dates from 2006. The boys and girls compete as part of the same team for most invitational tournaments, but as separate schools for championship tournaments.
There are several different debate formats contested in Minnesota. At present, the STA team focuses on Lincoln-Douglas (Value) debate, which is a one-on-one format focusing on propositions of philosophy and value. At one time, STA was a national power in Policy (Cross- Examination) Debate, which is a two-on-two format debating government policies. (STA has not competed in Public Forum, Classic, or Congressional debate.)
The debate year begins in mid-August and continues through and national tournaments for which debaters have qualified (the last of these is in mid-June). National circuit tournaments begin in September and Minnesota tournaments begin in October. Invitational tournaments may involve anywhere from eight to two hundred schools with programs of varying sizes. (There is no “regular season” of matches between two schools at a time, largely because teams are of such different sizes. The tournament format allows for all debaters from a school to compete during each round and each event.) Proficient debaters have the opportunity to compete at tournaments all over the country. Since 1995, STA debaters have earned major awards at tournaments in more than twenty different states and the District of Columbia.
STA won the 2001 Minnesota State Championship and the 2001 National Catholic Forensic League Championship in policy debate. STA has sent numerous debaters to the state tournament and to the NSDA (formerly NFL) and NCFL championships as well as to the National Tournament of Champions. Several STA alumni including Mark Ahlstrom (’95), Scott Phillips (’01), and the late Brian Plunkett (‘10) continued in the activity as coaches.