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British Parli Team Makes Strong Showing in NYC

February 8th, 2011

By Gracy Howard; originally published in the PHC Herald, 4 February 2011. Pictures by Claire Rossell.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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PHC Parli competitors in New York City

When junior Zach Enos stepped up to speak in the final round of the British Parli Tournament last weekend, he knew he was in for a battle. He was arguing against a motion that would allow employers to contractually require employees to refrain from having children.

“I was really feeling pressure at an ideological level to combat this because of what I believed,” Enos said. “I felt like I was defending the family.”

This last weekend, eight Patrick Henry College debate teams competed in New York City at the Gotham Debates. It was only PHC’s third British Parli tournament, and they had to compete against 52 teams. But despite the numerous difficulties, the teams did well.

Almost half of the teams broke to the next round. Enos and his teammate, junior Ian Reid, placed third in the tournament. In addition, junior Micah Walters and sophomore Cordell Asbenson made it to quarter-finals.

“There was definitely room for improvement, but for it being the first British Parli tournament that most people had ever gone to, I think they did really well,” freshman Claire Rossell said. Rossell and her partner, sophomore Nick Barden, almost broke with eight points.

“I think even aside from actual scores the team learned a phenomenal amount,” sophomore Jonathan Jero said. “I know a lot of people (myself included) could see improvement round-to-round.”

The tournament’s greatest success was Enos and Reid’s performance during finals.

“I think that seeing Zach and Ian in the final round made that a goal for everyone else who watched it,” Rossell said. “We said, ‘Oh, wow. This is how you do it.’ That set the bar high for everyone else.”

Going into the round, Reid said that they purposefully decided to “enjoy ourselves and have a good time,” because of everything they had already accomplished. As a result, they were more relaxed.

Throughout the round, both Enos and Reid used wit, humor, and rhetoric to draw in their listeners and refute the arguments of the opposing team.

Juniors Ian Reid and Zachary Enos prepare for their final round of the tournament

“I wanted to make their arguments look ridiculous,” Enos said. “It was neat to see students and coaches from secular universities enjoying my defense of the family.”

“Our goal was to provide a show, in a way, for everyone who was still there at the end of the tournament,” Reid said. “We were laughing at ourselves, and it was just a really enjoyable experience.”

“Zach’s speech was amazing,” Rossell said. “Obviously, just from a rhetorical standpoint, it was really sound...There was this excitement in the whole room, because everyone’s agreeing with him and knocking on their desks. It was neat to see how he could use his rhetorical skills to promote a family in that secular environment.”

Rossell decided to record Enos’ speech, and then posted it on her Facebook page; it received over 20 “likes” and several comments as well.

“Zach’s speech has been raved about for the past few days on campus,” Reid said.

Enos and Reid have now placed second and third at British Parli tournaments; at the next tournament in Connecticut, they hope to place first. In addition, Enos said they would like for 50% of the PHC teams to break, and for the college to be consistently represented in the final rounds.

But the PHC teams are not just about debating well. Aside from their performance during the tournament last weekend, the PHC teams made an impact in a deeper, more serious way.

Before the rounds begin each day, the debate team always prays as a group. On the first day, a member of another team walked up to Jero and asked him in the hall if he was from “the praying school.”

“PHC often stands out at tournaments for using theoretical arguments and for wearing suits, but we got a chance at the Gotham Debates to stand out for another reason, one for which we should be proud,” Jero said. “Hearing that means people are watching us, and I would be happy to lose as many rounds as I debate if I represent Christ well at tournament.”

View junior Zach Enos's final speech, available on our Facebook Fan Page.