King’s students Brie Dukeshire and Abigail Trevino have been teammates on Sodales: the Dalhousie and King’s College Debating Society for four years but they never competed together until last fall. At the very last minute, they entered as a team in the first ever Gorsebrook Cup debate tournament at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Dukeshire and Trevino blew away their expectations and their competition. The pair finished first in all six rounds and were named the first and second speakers overall at the competition.
“I literally practiced my facial expression to be very composed if we didn’t [win], because I didn’t think we would,” said Trevino, who is in her fourth year of a journalism major and anthropology minor. “So, when they called our name it was just such genuine joy and shock.”
“One person will be responsible primarily for delivering argumentation for your side, whereas the other person will be responsible primarily for providing refutation that tears down the other team’s arguments. So, if one person is stronger in one area, generally you want to try to find a partner who is stronger in the other area.” —Brie Dukeshire
Once you look at their resumes, there’s nothing shocking about their performance.
Dukeshire, a fifth-year student majoring in international development with a minor in environmental sustainability, helped the Saint Mary’s Debating Society get off the ground in 2017 and was excited to participate in the school’s inaugural tournament.
“It was really cool to see it come full circle,” she said. Dukeshire is used to life coming full circle. She was part of the first ever debate club at Truro Junior High, where she is now a debate coach.
Trevino spent two years learning world school debate style while studying abroad, attending and debating in competitions with the world’s best. “We got demolished by the Pakistani National Team in our very first round, in my first ever tournament. After experiencing that I was like, ‘Woah, I want to debate like they do.’ ”
The ability to argue one side of a motion or another has led Dukeshire and Trevino to success in tournaments, but it has also benefited them in and outside the classroom.
“Even if it’s a topic that seemingly has a right answer, or a moral answer, that’s not always the only way to look at it.”—Abigail Trevino
“I think it has been invaluable to me in real life,” Dukeshire said. She credited debate for her being able to think critically but quickly, while weighing options on both sides of an argument. She believes debate helped her excel in Foundation Year Program, and vice versa: “In terms of my studies, it has propelled me forward as a student in ways that no study strategy ever could.”
As an aspiring journalist, those skills go a long way for Trevino, too. Debate has trained her how to approach a story from every angle. But above all else, it has taught both of them how to look at things differently and to be more understanding. It’s probably why the team is so close.
“I think Sodales has kind of become my family here,” Trevino said. “We’re a team in every sense of the word just like an athletic team would be, right? We have movie nights together, we go out for food, we support each other if someone is having a tough time. You can talk to anyone on the team.”
Sodales holds practices every Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. in room 238 of the Life Sciences Centre at Dalhousie. New members are welcome at any time of the year. No experience is necessary.