May 1, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Debate Team Wins First State Championship

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Forensics (Speech and Debate) Team won the 2014 Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association state debate championship tournament, held April 18-19 at Morehouse College. 

Dr. Michael Eaves, director of forensics at VSU, said that the team brought home the traveling trophy, for overall combined effort, and had two debaters, J.B. Desselle and Keven Rudrow, win the final round of competition.

“Both are seniors and how fitting too that this was their last tournament,” he shared.

Desselle described the win as a “fairy tale ending” to his time at VSU. He joined VSU’s Forensics (Speech and Debate) Team as a freshman and credited the program with helping him discover a passion for international affairs, which he plans to study as a graduate student at the University of Miami after graduating with his undergraduate degree on May 10.

Rudrow said winning state “was very exciting. I think there are still moments when I think back and it all seems very surreal. As a freshman and sophomore, I remember watching all of the state champions take the stage and thinking, I really want to be the state champion one day, and it happened.” He plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech communications at VSU after graduating with his undergraduate degree in December. His goal is to help coach the university’s next winning debate team.   

Debate teams from nine Georgia institutions of higher education, including the four-time defending champion Georgia Institute of Technology team, participated in the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association state debate championship tournament, which was started in 2010. This year marks the first time VSU has won the event.

Three members of the VSU team brought home individual awards. Desselle earned first place, speaker, out of 46 debaters. Allante Fairley, a sophomore American Sign Language interpreting major, placed second overall. Erin Taliaferro, a sophomore Spanish major, secured seventh place honors.

"Since this was our first ever state victory, I was so fulfilled and it is a dream come true," Eaves said.

While Kevin Bryant, the team's assistant coach, was unable to travel to Morehouse College, Eaves said that his contributions to the team throughout the season were evident at the state event.

The VSU Forensics (Speech and Debate) Team is open to all majors on campus and does not require previous experience, Eaves noted. The team competes in regional and national level competitions and participates in parliamentary debate as well as individual events, including impromptu speaking, extemporaneous speaking, informative speaking, persuasion, dramatic interpretation, dramatic duo, poetry interpretation, and more.  

Contact Dr. Michael Eaves at (229) 259-5116 or for more information.