Cambridge’s Nico Leis makes debate playoffs

Performed solo in debate

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MILTON, Ga.—Nico Leis, a Cambridge High School debater, went “maverick” at the first tournament of the debate season at Wake Forest University from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9.

Policy debate is a partner activity, where one team consists of two people. Very rarely does a team consist of only one person – called going “maverick” – as it brings multiple disadvantages and makes it harder to compete.

“When I first heard the news that I would be going to the tournament ‘maverick,’ I instantly began questioning if I’d even be able to go anymore,” Leis said. “Most of the accommodations had already been planned out, taking two people into account – not one.”

However, Leis had to compete with these disadvantages given that his partner could not attend.

“When you don’t have a partner, you’re basically taking all the responsibility on your shoulders,” he said. “I had to argue more points and talk for longer periods of time during the debate than any other average debater did.”

Leis was able to win five out of six rounds and make it to the playoffs despite the fact that one-person teams have a harder time competing and that most tournaments don’t allow them to make it to the playoffs (called breaking in debate). He was also awarded the fourth best speaker out of 67 debaters at the tournament, and made it to the top 16 teams of the break rounds.

Leis’ interest in debate was sparked after meeting many varsity debaters and under the apprenticeship of Tucker Boyce, former captain of the Alpharetta High School debate team and qualifier for many prestigious national tournaments. Moreover, Leis attended debate camp, the Spartan Debate Institute, for three weeks at Michigan State University, which prompted him to start competitively debating.

“I was intrigued by the level of knowledge and discussion of in-depth topics that debaters had,” Leis said, “Tucker taught me the basics and then I read books at camp and at school to make myself better.”

Cambridge does not have an organized debate team; Leis and his debate partner are the co-founders of the program at their school. Unlike most other high schools, the team does not have a coach, nor does the school offer a debate class, making it difficult to be competitive with teams from all over the country.

Leis and his partner are working hard to be successful in order to promote the growth of the debate program and to successfully establish it. They have been talking to debate coaches from other schools and the administration at their own school.

Anyone who would like to provide a one-time donation or ongoing sponsorship of the Cambridge debate teams can contact Madeleine Patrick at Cambridge High School at Patrick@fultonschools.org.