Years of hard work paid off when twelfth-grader Edward Brunicardi earned a silver key at one of the hardest tournaments in the Barkley Forum at Emory University for Speech and Debate.
Ten other Pine View Speech and Debate members attended the tournament from Jan. 25 to 27, but only Brunicardi qualified for semi-finals in Congressional Debate. In this category, a person debates over a bill and legislation on a certain topic, which can range from domestic issues to foreign policy issues.
Before the semi-finals, Brunicardi competed in three preliminary rounds, each lasting three hours, with one hour allocated for a specific bill. Congressional Debate initially had 134 people competing, resulting in seven preliminary rounds with 20 people in each. The semi-finalists then competed to qualify for the finals in two rounds, including a total of 18 participants. The first day consisted of two preliminary rounds and the second day had the third preliminary and the semifinal round. In the end, Brunicardi ended up debating for a total of 12 hours, in addition to the time he spent practicing an hour per day for a week.
The first round was rough for every competitor due to a new rule implemented into the debate. The new rule, the hour-cap, limited all competitors to speak about a certain bill for one hour, unlike other debates in which the competitors could talk for as long as they pleased. The maximum time each person could speak for was nine minutes per round. This new system changed Brunicardi’s method by speaking earlier in the round, rather than normally speaking later during the round. “Everyone is trying to vie for that speech on that certain bill, and as a result that made the environment more cutthroat,” Brunicardi said.
Brunicardi started Speech and Debate his freshmen year in Public Forum Debate, which depended more on solid evidence than presenting broader concepts. He partnered with a fellow student, placing seventh on Novice states. However, after his partner left the club, he decided to join Congressional Debate, where his skills in solid debate shined. Since starting Congressional Debate during his sophomore year, Brunicardi had to work hard and adjust to the event, and eventually, he became one of the captains. Becoming a mentor in his own right, Brunicardi often shares advice with his novices. “This is a safe space, no matter how bad you think your speech is … I want you to give your speech with complete and utmost effort because if you don’t try now or don’t give a speech now, how will you be able to do it … in front of 100 spectators?’” Brunicardi said.
A favorite memory Brunicardi recollects was when he practiced for a tournament at midnight with his roommates. During one of those practices, a revelation of his occurred when he was advised to be more vulnerable and more open to the audience when he spoke. According to Brunicardi, he felt as if that moment had given him a different perspective of presenting towards an audience. “I am actually talking to people, not one on one basis, but several people at one time, so that is what speaking is, not just explaining your ideas, but sharing your ideas,” Brunicardi said.