Matt Cline ’19 Qualifies for World Debate Championships

On the day of the qualifying debates for the world championships, Matthew Cline ’19 thought that he had not made the cut because he placed third overall. But the day after, while examining the judges’ ballots, Cline found that there had been a calculation error in the points. Finding this mathematical error led Cline to discover he had actually qualified for the debate championships by two points.

“To qualify for the world tournament, a debater has to finish with the first place individual score at a qualifying tournament. When our team first received results, they showed that I had finished in third place. But when I saw the ballots from the judges, I noticed that the tournament organizers had made a math error. They had added the scores incorrectly, so my score was recorded as two points lower than it should have been,” said Cline.

Cline continued, “The judges corrected the mistake, which allowed me to move into first place. All this happened on the day after the tournament. It was very nerve-wracking to wait as the judges decided whether or not to correct my score.”

Cline will be traveling to South Africa for the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships, an annual junior tournament. He has only spent a little more than one year debating with the Philomathean Society (Philo) on campus and participating in formal debate competitions. Cline claims that a large factor of his growth as a debater was the support of other Philo members.

“That progression wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my fellow club members. They push me to be my very best as a debater, collaborator, and leader. They support me when I fail, and, in times like this, they are endlessly encouraging when I succeed. This achievement is very gratifying, and I’m proud to know that I set a lofty goal for myself and reached it,” said Cline.

Quinn Robinson ’19, another member of Philo, describes Cline’s behavior as energetic and critical when needed.

“He’s always insanely hyped in our group chat whenever anyone wins, with lots of caps lock used. During prep time, he’s supportive but also cognizant of the fact that the best points are needed — he’s not afraid to tell you if a point is weak, but he’s also quick to latch onto an idea you supply he thinks is golden,” said Robinson.

Shyan Koul ’19, another teammate of Cline’s, described Cline’s humility in his approach to his own accomplishments.

“Matt always encourages those around him to be their best and helps everyone believe in themselves. He’s also very humble, which makes it easier to take in his advice,” said Koul.

This humility shows through in Cline’s assertion that he still has a lot of practicing to do before the debate.

“I feel more or less prepared. I know I need to keep practicing, so I don’t get rusty. Still, Philo has some other tremendous debaters that bring out the best in me. One of my favorite ways to prepare is to watch videos of other great debaters. My YouTube history is filled with videos of debates of all sorts,” said Cline.

When asked about Cline’s readiness in preparing for the upcoming debate, Robinson and Koul asserted their confidence in Cline’s strong skills.

Robinson said, “He’s just a solidly comprehensive speaker overall. His cadence is nice, he doesn’t stumble over his words, and he has impressive organizational ability when it comes to tracking every point being put forward and his rebuttal and supporting evidence on each.”