Boston Debate League

The BDL Travel Team Takes on "Big Lex"

January, 23, 2023 | By Roger Nix

The 2023 Lexington Winter Invitational (“Big Lex”) Highlights

The BDL Travel Team celebrated MLK weekend by competing in the Lexington Winter Invitational (aka “Big Lex”), held at Lexington High School. This tournament marked BDL’s first in-person travel tournament since early 2020, and the debaters’ excitement reflected that opportunity. Travel tournaments are an opportunity for BDL debaters to test what they have learned against national competition. At this tournament, schools from around the Northeast, DC, and Florida, brought some of the strongest teams in the country to compete. The Varsity division at this tournament is particularly competitive, with all quarterfinalists earning a bid to the Tournament of Champions – the most prestigious high school debate tournament in the country.

Three BDL teams participated in the Varsity division, all for the first time at this level. Sophomores Lucas Golding and Ella Verinder from Boston Latin Academy earned a 3-3 record, arguing primarily about the imperialist impacts of NATO around the world. Sophomore Rowan Mozak and freshman Alana Laforest also from Boston Latin Academy won two of their six debates, arguing primarily about how NATO could make certain changes to better address climate change. Senior Youssef Souayah and junior Ai Mei Zhang from O’Bryant HS also had a 2-4 record, and their affirmative case focused on how NATO could improve its cybersecurity. All six debaters have been debating since middle school in BDL.

In the Novice division, which has the same open evidence and research format as the Varsity division, only students with fewer than 25 lifetime rounds of debate or students in their first year of debate are allowed to compete. Juniors Christian Bodden (Fenway HS) and Bivan Prajapati (Prospect Hill Academy) teamed up to earn a 3-3 record, arguing an affirmative case about banning gene editing in humans. Junior Presley Simelus and senior Helena De Almeida from Prospect Hill Academy won two of their six debates arguing about how NATO could improve its oversight of biotech to curb the use of bioweapons. Freshman Silas Wickenden earned a 3-3 record arguing primarily about how NATO could better use biotech to help avoid the next global pandemic.

All six teams represented BDL positively in the larger debate community and could not have done so without the hard work of tournament prep and onsite coaches. BDL’s Travel Team coach, Mosie Burke (BDL alum), has been working with students weekly since debate camp in August. Tournament prep-session coaches Josh Martin (long time BDL volunteer and former HS & college debater) and Gabe Ritter (BDL & WUDL volunteer, former HS debater) both spent numerous hours with students online in advance of the tournament helping them prepare for the rigorous competition. Onsite at the tournament, BDL judges and chaperones also helped our teams navigate the competition. They included Jake LoRocco (frequent BDL volunteer and former HS debater), Josh Nixon (BDL staff member, long-time volunteer, and BDL alum), Ariella Taylor (BDL alum), Jakhi Dean (BDL alum & current BDL coach), Stacy Tran (BDL alum), Olivia George (BDL senior), Brandon Ren (BDL junior), and Kevin Tan (BDL sophomore).