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Nevada’s Alderman takes Top Individual Speaker at National Collegiate Debate Tournament

Three University of Nevada, Reno teams compete in national tournament

RENO, Nev. – Although his debate coach jokingly calls him the “Lady Gaga of Debate,” due to the humor and personality he brings each time he takes the podium, make no mistake. University of Nevada, Reno senior Max Alderman is a force to be reckoned with in the debate community. On Saturday, he was named Top Individual Speaker at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s Championship Tournament in Colorado Springs, beating out 306 top collegiate debaters for the number one spot in one of the two major collegiate championships in the country.

University of Nevada, Reno senior Max Alderman was named Top Individual Speaker at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s Championship Tournament on Saturday.

Alderman placed second individually in the tournament last year, but this year, “He blew away the competition,” said Phil Sharp, Nevada’s debate coach and director of forensics. “It was just his talent as a speaker and his knowledge. He’s very well-informed and he’s just been blessed with a likability that you can’t deny.”

In the awards ceremony held late Saturday evening, Alderman was also recognized as an All-American, one of only four debaters in the nation to receive the honor this year, in recognition of the numerous tournaments and top-speaker awards he has earned during his debate career.

In addition to taking the top individual honors in the tournament, Alderman helped the United States to pull off a tie with the powerful Irish debaters for the first time in the 16-year-old U.S.-Irish debate competition that kicks off the tournament, held each year around Saint Patrick’s Day. Three top senior debaters from across the country are chosen to represent the United States each year.

Nevada is one of only two universities to have been represented in the event three years in a row, with Matthew Hogan and David Pena (now alumni) representing the United States in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

The Irish debaters are always known for their humor and ability to win over the audience in the fun-spirited event that they have won every year, but that’s where Sharp accurately predicted that Alderman could make it a real contest this year. Although Alderman, a National Merit Scholar, is extremely bright, aspiring to attend law school or pursue his doctorate after he graduates in December, Sharp says it is Alderman’s ability to let his personality shine through that often distinguishes him when he competes.

“Max’s friendly nature, humor and personality have endeared him to many,” he said. “His performance in the debate against the Irish was by far recognized with the largest applause from the audience. He truly stole the show with his wit and brilliance.”

Two years ago, Alderman teamed up with aforementioned Nevada teammate Pena to take first place as a debate duo in both this tournament and the other major national tournament. Last weekend, he teamed up with Nevada freshman Jonathon McGuire to place fifth in the national tournament, among a field of more than 150 teams. McGuire was the sole freshman to make it to the tournament’s “Sweet 16.” Fellow Nevada debaters Steve Prior and Travis Salley, along with Aaron and Nidsa Mouritsen, a brother and sister team, also competed.

Alderman, a philosophy and political science major, plans to hang up his debating hat to allow him to prepare for application to the prestigious Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship Programs. He was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department in a highly competitive process similar to the Fulbright Scholarship Program, earning him the opportunity to spend two months in Korea this summer in an intense program to learn the language. He says giving up debate will be difficult for him.

“It’s been such a big part of my life for such a long time,” he said. “Just getting to hang out with kids from across the country and exchange ideas about politics and issues with some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met – that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most. It was really a lot of fun.”

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Photo Cutline: University of Nevada, Reno senior Max Alderman was named Top Individual Speaker at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s Championship Tournament on Saturday.

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students. The University is home to the state’s medical school and one of the country’s largest study-abroad programs, and offers outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties. For more information, visit The University of Nevada, Reno is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. 

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