MURRAY, Ky. — Two members of the Murray State University Speech and Debate Union (SDU) took home the top title in an online Team International Parliamentary Debate Association championship held in late April.

Organized by the west coast chapter of the Climb the Mountain debate program, the online competition was held in place of in-person events cancelled amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Students Victoria “Yoshi” Lindsey and Garrett Kieser were undefeated with a 6-0 record throughout the competition, topping universities from around the nation.

 Two members of the Murray State University Speech and Debate Union (SDU) took home the top title in an online Team International Parliamentary Debate Association championship held in late April.
 Two members of the Murray State University Speech and Debate Union (SDU) took home the top title in an online Team International Parliamentary Debate Association championship held in late April.

“Often, other schools don’t want to recognize us as competition because we’re a smaller university,” said Lindsey, an SDU officer and junior organizational communication major from Breckinridge County, Kentucky. “Winning makes them rethink that.”

“I was glad that with the help of the team, I was able to bring some gold to the Blue and Gold,” added Kieser, a freshman economics student from Locust Hill, Kentucky. 

Lindsey and Kieser represented the University’s Richmond and Hart residential colleges, respectively.

Dr. Crystal Rae Coel, the SDU’s outgoing director, has built a speech and debate dynasty in her years with the program. Her teams have won numerous individual awards and team championships, both at the regional and national level. Last year, the SDU took home the novice national title led by performances from students Kyle Heideman and Kaylea Wilson.

The team is led by President Christopher Stewart II, vice presidents Rachel Fischer and Brennan Hughes and head debate coach Joshua Sanders. Graduate assistant directors Ryan Goke and Sydney Hayden, along with coaches Shirley Ransdell and Michaela Molnar, round out the SDU’s support staff.

Organizational communication professor Dr. Lou Davidson Tillson will take the reins from Coel as the SDU looks to defend its title.

“I remain proud of the dedicated and talented students within the Speech and Debate Union,” Coel said. “I am not surprised they won. I am thrilled to leave them with the competent and seasoned Dr. Lou Davidson Tillson, whose expertise in speech and debate will enhance this solid program and help the students to exceed expectations.”

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