Sibling pair is a winning combo for Mount Si’s debate team
November 14, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Arguing siblings are never a welcome sight for any parent, unless the siblings in question end the argument by getting an award.
Meet Ryan and Andrew Hartman, brothers who have become standouts in a Mount Si High School debate squad poised for another run at the state tournament.
The siblings have earned wins this season at tourneys in Gig Harbor and last month in Walla Walla.
In Gig Harbor, three out of Mount Si High School’s five teams earned awards, with the Hartman brothers taking first place in the Open Public Forum category. Of the four awards in the tournament, three went to Mount Si.
In Walla Walla, the Hartmans’ teams won first and second place. It was Ryan’s first year participating in the prestigious competition.
Future tournaments include trips to the University of Puget Sound, Tahoma High School, Federal Way and Auburn-Riverside High School
Seventeen-year-old Andrew is cool and collected while 16-year-old Ryan is more passionate and feisty, and the combination has yielded great results, they said.
“Debating with my brother is really fun, because we get the chance to take advantage of a dynamic other teams don’t have,” Andrew said. “We basically spend all our waking moments working on debate, and we have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with each other that other teams don’t have.”
Judges appreciate Ryan’s passion, Andrew said.
“When he stands up to deliver a speech, you can tell he’s really invested,” he said. “And the judges can tell that. I wish I could be as passionate as he is.”
Ryan praised his sibling’s “more logical” approach to debating.
“I know that my partner is not going to get super mad at me, win or lose,” Ryan said. “We are going to work hard and get better.”
Ryan said debating with his brother was “really cool.”
Siblings are still siblings and sometimes during practice, debates end in stalemates.
“We do that a lot,” Ryan said. “Sometimes, we just can’t agree, and some other times, one of us wins and it helps us against other teams because we already discussed it ourselves.”
Last year, they participated in the novice category. They had so much success, Andrew said, that they skipped intermediate to move on to Open, the equivalent of varsity.
“We thought it would be best to be in a category where we could see some real competition,” Andrew said. “It’s made us better debaters overall.”
Opponents this season have included schools from Oregon, Idaho, California, Washington and Utah. Unlike last year, they have not debated Canadian teams.
Anybody can be a good debater, Andrew said — just need to practice. And learn to stay cool.
“That’s a big one,” he said. “Even as an expert debater, you find yourself rolling your eyes or huffing under your breath.”
All the training in the world may not help you stay cool while in a real debate, he said. It does help, he added, to remember your turn is coming.
“You gotta realize you will get your opportunity, but your opportunity is not mocking your opponent,” he said. “It’s keeping cool and collected and realizing you’ll have your chance to show the judge you’re right and your opponent is wrong.”
Other than that, debate is an open game, said Andrew, a self-described introvert before he discovered debate.
“The more you do it, the more you learn to be a debater, to express your opinions clearly and come up with a clear argument,” he said. “The more time you put into it, it puts you in the mindset of a debater.”
That mindset never goes away, Andrew said. Not during the offseason, not during dinnertime.
“My parents actually enjoy it,” Andrew said. “At heart, they like argumentation and the different sides of issues.”
At the dinner table, ideas flow freely, which aids them as debaters, he said.
“We can constantly express our opinion and talk about advantages and disadvantages,” Andrew said, “without worrying about anybody telling us to stop.”
This season, the idea is to not stop until state, in the spring. Last year was Ryan’s first year debating and the duo finished with a 3-3 record at state, so this year they want more.
“Making it to the top ranks or even to win state would be awesome,” he said.
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org.