By: Sharon Aron Baron
From childhood friends to national champions, there is no debate that Parkland residents Nicholas Mancini and Giorgio Rabbini are going places. After a long journey, the seniors from North Broward Preparatory School are now 2019 Tournament of Champions winners in High School Policy Debate.
Held at the University of Kentucky each year on the last weekend in April, the invitation-only Tournament of Champions is considered to be the championship of the national circuit – and one of the most prestigious and competitive high school debate tournaments in the U.S.
Best friends since they were three years old, Mancini and Rabbini played both baseball and soccer together.
“My earliest memory of Nick and I as children was playing Parkland Little League T-ball. At that time, we were both attending North Broward Prep,” said Rabbini.
He said winning felt amazing, especially right after that moment and it made it seem like all of their hard work over the past four years had really paid off.
“Going into the tournament, Nick and I were confident that we were going to become champions,” said Rabbini, “but with debate you never know. Any team on any given day can come out on top.”
Mancini, who lives in Parkland Isles, said winning this particular award has been a year in the making. Beginning last summer, the pair spent seven weeks researching and preparing for their arguments at debate camp at both Wake Forest in Winston-Salem and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where a lot of their research came from online journals, obscure documents, professional releases and government documents.
The topic this year was immigration reform and it is the same topic for the entire year. During the season, the pair refined their arguments and wrote different cases.
During a tournament, teams have to be prepared to argue both the affirmative and the negative against their competitors.
“You have to be prepared for both sides,” said Mancini. “The way the tournament works, we get a team and we get whether we are affirm or neg.”
For instance, one of the popular affirmative arguments for immigration reform is to allow refugees in to the country and list the positives. On the negative side, they would argue how an influx of immigrants would upset the economy or cause political backlash that would derail important bills from passing through congress.
At the Tournament of Champions, only one team out of 150 competitors will win High School Policy Debate and students can’t just sign up for the competition – they must prove their abilities throughout the year.
Much like sports, pursuing debate is not an inexpensive endeavor. Just this year, the pair have traveled all over the U.S.to compete including: Texas, New York, California, Illinois, Georgia, Minnesota and Kentucky. Parents must pay for airfare and hotels, and to be competitive, students will need to attend camp over the summer which can cost around $6,000.
Rabbini, who lives in Fox Ridge, was accepted into the University of Michigan where he will be majoring in political science and minoring in African American Studies.
“I am not fully decided on what I want to be one day, but I either want to go to law school or become a public-policy maker with the specific goal of helping African American communities.”
Accepted to Dartmouth College this fall, Mancini will continue with debate while he studies political science and environmental studies.
“I want to go into law school,” he said. “I’m not entirely sure on a career, but it would be great to be an environmental lawyer and work at the United Nations to promote global economic stability.”
Rabbini said he will be continuing debate at the University of Michigan and cannot wait to begin researching the upcoming college topic.
“It is going to be a very unique experience because it is will be the first time I won’t have Nick by my side preparing with me for the upcoming debate tournament.”