Perkins Places 4th at UIL State Congressional Tournament

Kristen Orsak, Editor

Perkins receives his 4th place medal.

Senior Mark Perkins placed 4th out of 58 competitors at the UIL State Congressional Debate Tournament on January, 14th and 15th, at the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, TX.

“It’s an achievement because of what it represents,” Perkins said. “I am very excited that I was able to medal, but I am also very excited that now people can know that someone from Center can be competitive on the state level. I hope it incentivizes other debaters and other competitors to achieve greatness.”

According to the National Speech and Debate Association, “Congressional debate is a mock legislative assembly competition where students draft bills (proposed laws) and resolutions (position statements), which they and their peers later debate and vote to pass into law and then take action on by voting for or against the legislation.” Perkins has done well in this form of debate for consecutive years.

“I have been to five UIL State Tournaments,” Perkins said, “Three of those were for Cross-Examination Debate and two of those were for Congressional Debate, and out of those five times, I was a state medalist three times.”

This is a rarity for kids from Center, TX, but the debate program has been successful for many years. Their progress continues to show each year. Perkins on his own leaves a legacy because of this success.

“Legacy has always been this thing that people bring up to me, regarding debate specifically, and I always tell them that my legacy is not what I am concerned with,” Perkins said. “I care about the legacy of this program, and I hope that this program continues to succeed. On top of that, I have faith that it will.”

This was the end of a chapter for Perkins for this particular form of debate.

“Coming back from State, I feel an overwhelming sense of closure,” Perkins said. “I’ve done what I needed to do in my four years as a debater, and it is a nice close to the main events that I happen to do.”

Douglas Moore has coached Perkins for the past four years through debate and also subjects of life.

“Mr. Moore is put in an awkward position as a coach,” Perkins said. “He isn’t on the sidelines calling my plays; he can’t discuss rules with the referees when a bad call happens. Mr. Moore is the best kind of coach- the type that doesn’t program you but gives you the materials and freedom to build. That man has given me more value than any medal ever could.”

That man has given me more value than any medal ever could.”

— Perkins

Perkins measures his success based on a philosophy that Moore has instilled in his mind.

“While the medals are nice, they really become less than an heirloom,” Perkins said. “I hope that people realize that the medal is not the ultimate goal, and that was something that my coach told me. You are not there for a little piece of metal on a ribbon. You are just doing the best that you can do, and if you are doing the best that you can do, then you will be accomplished.”

Moore has been able to view the growth in Perkins throughout the years, and he accounts that growth to the drive Perkins possesses.

“I am very proud of Mark,” Moore said. “I have been able to watch him grow not only as a debater but also as a person. It has been a great privilege to coach him through the years. As a debate coach, I don’t have much influence on what happens. I tell them what to do and throw them in. You learn as you go, and Mark has done exceptionally well in that department.”

Perkins has become somewhat of a teacher to many of the students in the debate program. Throughout the years, he has shown his peers what he knows and has inspired them to learn as much as they can.

“I do debate because of the knowledge that I obtain from debate,” Perkins said. “[and] I do it because of the joy that I get from seeing other people obtain knowledge. At this point, I am obsessed with that aspect of it. The competition is wonderful, but it is meaningless compared to what I feel is the major reason you should join academic programs: the experiences that you gain, and because it makes you a better person.”

As a senior, Perkins’ experience at his last State Congressional Tournament was somewhat bittersweet.

“I am very happy that I am done with Congress,” Perkins said. “Not because I don’t like Congress. In fact, I love Congress, and it is my favorite type of debate. I am happy that it is over because I believe that I have gotten what I needed out of Congress and this program.”

Overall, debate has proven to be a great experience for Perkins throughout the years.

“I know it’s quite geeky, but debate has become my true love,” Perkins said. “If I could say anything to the community at large, it would be to incentivize your youth to join. Debate sharpens the mind, strengthens the voice, opens the heart, and it might just get you out of a parking ticket if you use it right.”