NAU debater ranked in top three nationwide, faces Irish champs

Senior Carrie Menapace, a member of the NAU forensics team, has earned her way to being one of the top three college-level debaters in the country, according to a national review board of directors of forensics.

Along with the other members of the top three—Allison Westfhal from the Claremont Colleges and Matt Paxton from Western Washington University—Menapace competed against Ireland’s three best debaters in a demonstration debate March 22. Each year, these “Irish debates” signal the start of the National Parliamentary Debate Association tournament. The 2007 NPDA tournament took place March 23-25 at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

“I think work and dedication has put me where I am, but I am still awestruck,” Menapace said. “I saw the Irish debates during my first year in collegiate competition, and I knew that if I could end my debate career on such a high note, I would be proud of what I had accomplished.”

According to Menapace, the Irish debates presented “a whole new ball game” for both teams. American debate is quick-hitting and full of jargon, whereas the Irish tend to plan a more formal presentation. Also, both teams are made up of people who normally do not debate together. Menapace worked with complete strangers, as did the members of the Irish team.

The topic of debate was “The United Nations sanctions toward Iraq are justified,” and the Americans were the opposition team.

“Getting to interact with the Irish team before and after the debates was a great learning experience,” Menapace said. “The Irish teams are known for being funny, and we were all cracking jokes at each other.”

Menapace found herself surprisingly nervous at the beginning of her speech. “It was strange because I’ve spoken in front of groups just as large, but it was always in my own territory and with my regular partner,” she said. Despite the nerves, Menapace said she enjoyed herself and felt honored to participate.

No official winner was chosen for the debate, yet Menapace described the experience as “nerve-wracking, but still very fun.”

Information about the NPDA Nationals is available online.