A Short History of the Manchester Essex Debate Team 1971-2005
It was the bottom of the 7th inning on an overcast, drizzly night in Lexington, Kentucky. The Lexington Legends were locked in a 5-5 tie with the infamous Hickory Crawdads. The audience was spellbound; looking out over the bleachers, one could catch the typical sights of a spring ball game: people buying crackerjacks from the wandering vendors, entire families sporting their team’s colors, and fans frantically diving over seats to catch renegade foul balls. As the Legends’ famed cleanup hitter stepped to the plate, one could allow his gaze to settle on a man pictured on the big screen located above left field before realizing that it was none other than Timothy Averill dancing to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”
While other debate teams are busy pouring through heaps of evidence they have read and reread, Manchester Essex debaters are probably outside throwing a frisby, letting out the stress that has built up in anticipation of their next bout. And while other coaches are fervently prepping their students on the ins and outs of eminent domain’s ethical dilemmas the night before a major national tournament, Aves can probably be found devilishly placing tea cups on unsuspecting debaters’ ears at the local Chinese restaurant. It is not that Manchester Essex’s students are not academically dedicated; they have simply always been the team to maintain the precious balance between work and play. Following Aves’ boogie at the stadium, he correctly foresaw a walk-off homer that would put Lexington ahead 6 5. In the same sense, he correctly foresaw the triumph that Manchester Essex would enjoy the next day to end the 2006 debate season – a first place closeout at the Tournament of Champions in Public Forum Debate. After 35 years of research, commitment, and perseverance led by Mr. Averill, the Manchester Essex Debate Team continues to stand true to two fundamental philosophies -that sheer work will never lead to success unless it is supplemented with enjoyment and fun, and that every student, no matter his capability or promise, deserves the chance to learn debate and acquire the skills that accompany this incredible activity. With multiple National Championships through the years, a plethora of unforgettable memories, and the program’s accessibility to all who wish to take advantage of it, debate has made a lasting impression on generations of students. As the team travels to Dallas, Texas, this June to compete at the National Forensic League Grand National Tournament, it will take with it the same ideology that has already led to victories at Yale, The Glenbrooks, and TOC’s this year, and one can only expect that the four debaters representing Manchester Essex will enjoy similar success.
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