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March 4, 2022

Babcock brothers choose JCCC’s debate program for great coaches and tournament opportunities

It was the beginning of the fall semester, the season’s opening tournament. “We didn’t expect much going into it,” says JCCC student Thomas Babcock. “I don’t think anyone thought we’d do that well,” confirms his brother, Travis, also a JCCC student.

But against the odds, Team Babcock beat the giant, the University of Michigan. “That’s when we realized this JCCC team could compete with the best in the country,” says their coach, Justin Stanley.

And now, their performance at a tournament midway through the year has qualified them to compete at the National Debate Tournament in March – the only community college team going to nationals.

When it comes to debate, Team Babcock continues to advance JCCC to the next round.

No debating their success

"JCCC offers students the opportunity to work with one of most dedicated debate coaching staffs in the nation.' JCCC debater Thomas B.

According to Stanley, Communication Studies Professor and Debate Coach, that first tournament set the tone for JCCC’s debate program this year. Not only was the Babcock brothers’ win against top-ranked Michigan an amazing upset, but in the next round, the team won one ballot (out of three) against Harvard.

Right after winter break, the Babcock brothers also took the coveted “boots” trophy away from the University of Kansas (KU). The traveling trophy styled like cowboy boots goes to the team with the best preliminary score at the Texas Two Step, a set of tournaments hosted by the University of Texas. “KU had won it two years in a row,” says Thomas. “But we went six and zero in both tournaments and were the only team to do that. So JCCC walked away with the boots.”

Stanley says JCCC is one of only a handful of community colleges competing against four-year schools like the University of California, Berkeley, Dartmouth, Emory, Wake Forest and KU.

Winning team chooses JCCC

Thomas and Travis were looking forward to going to a four-year university. The identical twins had worked hard to become a successful debate team competing nationally while attending Mill Valley High School in Shawnee. They were eager to compete at the college level. But a month before classes started, the university informed them the debate program had been disbanded.

“We were reeling,” says Travis. So they reached out to Stanley. “We thought JCCC had the strongest program and would give us the best opportunity to compete,” says Thomas. Stanley welcomed the Babcocks onto the 16-member team, making space for them at the last minute.

“JCCC really supports the debate program, sending us to major tournaments across the country,” says Travis. “The coaches are excellent and great at helping you prep. This has been one of our best experiences in debate.” During their time at JCCC, the Babcocks:

  • Qualified for the National Debate Tournament two years in a row
  • Became the first JCCC team invited to the Rutgers Round Robin, an exclusive tournament for the top 25 teams
  • Won the District 3 (Central U.S.) tournament with a perfect 6-0 record. Thomas received an award for 1st speaker and Travis, 3rd speaker.
  • Captured the “boots” traveling trophy at the Texas Two Step
  • Placed in the top 32 teams at every major tournament they attended

As the Babcocks complete their associate degrees and likely transfer to Wichita State, their role on the debate team has strengthened their teammates, some who are new to debate and others who hope to follow in their national footsteps.

Does your future include debate?

Although you don’t need previous debate skills to join the team, you must first enroll in the class. According to Coach Stanley, the team welcomes seasoned, as well as first-year, debaters. Anyone who wants to improve their research and communications skills can enroll and participate. Successful debate students are hard workers, motivated by competition, who go above and beyond class requirements.

Debate is ideal for students considering law careers or degrees in philosophy and communications studies.