Talking Saints Host International Teaching Tournament

Talking Saints - Jase Frost, Davis Thompson, Ashlynne Jeffries, Hadley Wilcox, Brad Tomasovic

“Education before competition and teaching before trophies” 

 Above: Pictured left to right: Jase Frost, Davis Thompson, Ashlynne Jeffries, Hadley Wilcox, Brad Tomasovic

HELENA – Competing against teams located a long ways from Last Chance Gulch – including New Delhi, Saskatoon, Mississippi and Tennessee – the Carroll College Talking Saints opened their season by winning three awards at The Teaching Tournament, an online tournament hosted by Carroll, September 15-17.

The Teaching Tournament is a novice-focused event that begins with workshops for beginners and ends with a tournament.

Carroll’s first-year team of Brad Tomasovic of Great Falls and Ashlynne Jeffries of Vancouver, Washington, placed second. Two other Carroll first year teams reached the semifinals: Hadley Wilcox of Kennewick, Washington, and Jase Frost of Ronan, Montana; and Davis Thompson of East Helena and partner Emily Mowat of Billings.

The Teaching Tournament, in its 12th year, has built a loyal following. This year’s event included colleges from seven states and three countries, including the Air Force Academy, the University of Mississippi and Indraprastha College for Women in New Delhi. Vanderbilt University of Nashville, Tennessee, beat Carroll in the championship round.

“The Teaching Tournament used to be a small in-person tournament that might draw 25 teams from neighboring states,” said coach Brent Northup. “When the pandemic forced us online in 2020, the tournament exploded into a worldwide field. The event is focused on training beginners. Coaches and students embraced our philosophy of education before competition and teaching before trophies.”

The youngest Carroll students competed while most of the older Talking Saints judged and helped administer the event, which began Friday night with an open forum on sportsmanship. Carroll’s juniors and seniors enjoyed their role as educators and mentors to the new young debaters.

“I remember judging a team first round, who seemed timid and nervous,” said junior Spencer McDonald from Missoula. “I judged the same team just a few rounds later and they were so outspoken. They had their hands up for questions and I could tell that they were growing. I, too, had learned. I loved lifting the teams up in critiques after the rounds, and guiding them through their first tournament. I’m so glad to be a part of the community that spearheads BP (British Parliamentary Debate) in the West.”

Team president Finlay Bates also judged. Bate’s own journey started as a beginner four years ago, when he joined the team from Portland, Oregon.

“Carroll continues to offer this tournament year after year because it is a true gift to the debate community,” said Bates. “It has been an honor to have debated and judged this tournament the last four years. I think it brings the humanity and relaxed environment that is necessary in something as competitive as debate.”

The young Carroll teams enjoyed competing against teams from other countries and distant states.

“I loved it,” said Tomasovic. “It was fun to encounter the different perspectives and debate styles of different schools. I also didn't expect such a wide variety of judging styles, but I'm glad I had the teaching tournament so early on to introduce me to that.”

“I felt it was a very valuable experience and I enjoyed it a lot,” said Jeffries. “I liked being able to debate against schools from a lot of different areas, as well as hear feedback from a wide variety of judges. I definitely feel more confident about debate post-competition.”