From left, Amylin Hicks, Zeeshan Babar, Cade Soulsby-Monroy, Emily Svahn, Maizie Fernandes, John Herrington, Harry Hathaway, Lauren Buchanan and Dr. Cody H. Smith.

With just 30 minutes to prepare an argument on a topic ranging from Brexit to basketball, College of the Mainland student Lauren Buchanan is used to working under pressure.

“Building a case during the 30 minutes before the debate is the stressful part. Going up there, nerves just go away. It’s not as scary as it may seem,” said Buchanan, of Dickinson. “You can take skills outside the debate room. Now any college presentation is a piece of cake because you have to debate eight times a day in a tournament. Since I started debate, I’m a lot more confident in saying my opinion in and outside of class because I know I can back it up with facts.”

Combating topics from Brexit to sports, College of the Mainland students triumphed as the eighth-ranked college or university in the nation out of 138 teams – the best ranking for COM ever.

Plus, COM students Cade Soulsby-Monroy, Lauren Buchanan and John Herrington placed third, fourth and sixth in the nation, respectively, out of 493 novice debaters. In junior varsity division, student Harry Hathaway earned fourth place out of 220 debaters from colleges and universities nationwide.

“International Public Debate Association tournaments are extemporaneous debates. You have 30 minutes to prepare for your topic and 30 minutes to debate,” said Dr. Cody H. Smith, COM professor and Debate Team advisor.

At the national debate tournament at Arkansas Tech University, COM finished as the top community college in addition to students earning top rankings.

Soulsby-Monroy, 22, of League City, debated hot topics such as whether hate speech should be considered free speech, pop culture and current events.

“Debate is helping me learn how to research better and formulate ideas better,” said Soulsby-Monroy.

John Herrington, of Dickinson, is majoring in general studies and said debate hones skills valuable in his classes.

“I used to hate public speaking but now I kind of enjoy it,” said Herrington. “Being together is fun because we work so well as a team.”

Harry Hathaway, of Alvin, is in his second year of debate and said the debate team has grown closer throughout debating and traveling together.

“It makes it easier to communicate with other groups. Debate gives a lot of people a voice,” said Hathaway.

In addition, Smith was nominated for the Coach of the Year Award.

The COM Debate Team is open to all COM students and no prior experience is required.

For more information on the COM Debate Team, contact Smith at 409-933-8211 or