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October 26, 2023

Tapia tallying trail of debate accolades (with video)

From Santa Clara to Coppell, Coppell High School sophomore Kaitlyn Tapia has had a passion for debate since fourth grade. 

While residing in California, Tapia participated in her first debate camp at Santa Clara University as the only sixth grader amongst high school students. She left the summer camp after winning first place at the camp’s last tournament. 

“That’s kind of when I knew, I have a knack for this kind of thing,” Tapia said. 

After experimenting with various activities like horseback riding while growing up, Tapia found debate the most interesting. She unknowingly followed the path of her father, Patrick Tapia, who had also been involved in debate throughout high school at Loyola High School of Los Angeles and at the University of Southern California. 

“Debate is a little more secluded than other extracurriculars,” Kaitlyn said. “It is more exclusive to people who share the same interests. We’re all sort of geeks on the same topics.” 

While in seventh grade, she attended the 35th Stanford Invitational and received first place in the public forum for middle schools. Tapia then attended Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas for her freshman year to continue policy debate and moved to Coppell the following year.

“It’s really great to be prioritized at CHS debate, being able to go to tournaments without having to worry about fees because the school usually covers that for us, being able to travel internationally, do a lot more tournaments and get better that way,” Kaitlyn said. 

This year she has qualified for the Tournament of Champions at the University of Kentucky after acquiring a bid at St. Mark’s Heart of Texas invitational and gaining an at-large qualification. To qualify in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, students must earn at least two bids to participate, however, Kaitlyn earned entry with only one bid.

Coppell High School sophomore Kaitlyn Tapia qualified for the Tournament of Champions, held this month at the University of Kentucky. Tapia has been involved in competitive debate for the past seven years. (Kayla Nguyen)

Debate is an activity that often demands a lot of your time, but I have never met someone who is as dedicated to the program as she is,” CHS senior LD captain Sirini Karunadasa said. “Traveling to different tournaments, while everyone’s sleeping or listening to music, Kaitlyn is out there highlighting, cutting cards [compiling excerpts of evidence] and reading articles. She just has such an amazing work ethic and is dedicated.” 

What Kaitlyn values most from debate is the community. She wants to build community and develop the program. Through online tournaments during the pandemic, Kaitlyn communicated with various individuals globally. 

“It’s really easy to form tight bonds with the people involved,” Kaitlyn said. “All of my best friends are in debate, all across the nation, even in Taipei and India.”

At CHS, Kaitlyn helps her peers by staying after school to help first year debaters, volunteers her time teaching at the LD class for the Coppell Debate Academy and coaching other varsity students. 

“I think the trick for her is feeling like it’s her place to coach students, even those who are older than her, which can be intimidating for a sophomore,” Coppell debate director Dr. Jason Sykes said. “But she’s so friendly that I think that people are really accepting of it.”

She serves as a program lead for a nonprofit organization, YAPA Kids, where she works online, alongside other high school students to develop debate skills of elementary school and middle school students. 

“We want to make sure that those in more rural debate leagues, who don’t have access to go to a center or academies have access to these resources,” Kaitlyn said. “It was a problem that I had when I was starting out in debate.”

After high school, she aspires to utilize her love for teaching to become a debate coach or judge at debate tournaments, after completing education for law and business. 

“Debate is going to be integral in helping me with both the skills and application process for whatever I decide to do,” Kaitlyn said. 

She plans on helping peers develop their passions for the activity, reach high levels of competitive success and provide her knowledge as a resource to future students. 

“I think what’s really exciting to think about is the next two years,” Sykes said. “Not only will she be able to have success in terms of her own competitive journey, but she’s also the student who is able to have an impact on the program for years after she graduates.” 

Follow @CHSCampusNews on X.

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About the Contributors
Minori Kunte
Minori Kunte, Staff Cartoonist
Minori Kunte is a junior and the staff cartoonist for The Sidekick. She spends her time singing for the Madrigals and A Capella. In her free time outside of school, she enjoys painting scenic locations she’s spotted and making vlogs of her vacations for herself and her family to watch. Her favorite movie of all time is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She enjoys watching Anne With An E and The 100, while snacking on Brookside Acai Dark Chocolate and Skinny Pop. She feels inspired when looking at art made by Anna-Laura Sullivan and Bob Ross. You can contact her at [email protected]
Kayla Nguyen
Kayla Nguyen, Executive Photography Editor
Kayla is a junior and the Executive Photography Editor for The Sidekick. She loves music and trying out new coffee shops with friends. Kayla loves taking photos and is especially a fan of sports photography. Outside of The Sidekick she loves running her digital camera instagram account (@kaylasdigicams) and going to work.

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