BPCC Debate team earns national honor

By Stefanie Bryant | sbryant@ktalnews.tv

Published 04/16 2014 10:15AM

Updated 04/16 2014 10:21AM

BPCC debaters Prince Lofton (front left), Erika Hill (rear left) and David Tillmon (rear right) along with part of the Lee College (Baytown, TX) debate team at the 2014 IPDA National Championship Tournament.
Team Captain Erika Hill finished her 2013-2014 season in the varsity division of debate as the #1 ranked community college student in the nation while novice division debater Prince Lofton finished the year as the #3 ranked community college student. 
“Both Erika and Prince have put in a tremendous amount of work to earn these honors, and I’m extremely proud of all they have accomplished,” said BPCC Coach Bob Alexander.

Alexander was also named the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year at the IPDA’s annual awards banquet held on Sunday, April 13 at Middle Tennessee State University.  He becomes the first coach from a community college to earn this award. In the past, the award had only been given to coaches for university debate programs.

Beginning in 2006, the International Public Debate Association began honoring a “Coach of the Year” each year.  In 2009, the organization renamed the award the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year, in honor of the late Bennett Strange, who coached the Louisiana College Debate Team from 1988-2006 and taught for a semester at BPCC in 2006. 
“To be mentioned in the same sentence with Bennett is an honor,” said Alexander. “He was a man of character and commitment to excellence who, though he was coaching a small program in Louisiana, developed a national reputation.”

“As for the ‘Coach of the Year’ honor, this isn’t truly an award for one individual, but it’s reflective of our entire program.  I owe this to former BPCC Chancellor Tom Carlton and Dean Holly French-Hart who first took a chance and backed the creation this team, as well as current BPCC Chancellor Jim Henderson, Dean Ray Scott Crawford and Associate Dean Rona Leber who have shown tremendous support for the program.” 

In addition to the individual awards, the BPCC Team wrapped up the 2013-2014 season with its most successful year to date, earning 31 awards and 4 championships.

Alexander applauds the dedicated students on the team.  “Most of all, it is our student competitors who are the face of the program,” said Alexander. “This year we’ve competed against programs from West Point in the northeast, to Whitworth in the northwest, Texas A&M International in the south and virtually everywhere in between. Natalie Banks, Erika Hill, Prince Lofton and David Tillmon were the BPCC students who represented the team this year and this award is representative of the quality of the reputation that those four have developed.”

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