Binghamton University’s nationally ranked Speech and Debate Team has added another award to its collection.
Earlier this month, T.J. Buttgereit, a senior double-majoring in history and philosophy, politics and law, was chosen as the recipient of the Michael K. Davis Award, which is given each year to a senior debater from the northeastern United States who began their college debate career as a novice and has since excelled in competition.
It is the first time a member of the BU team has won the award. The award is sponsored by the Cross Examination Debate Association, which is the largest intercollegiate policy debate federation in the country.
The debate team had two Sweet 16 finishes at nationals last year and was ranked as the sixth-best debate program in the United States. Buttgereit was also named to the Cross Examination Debate Association’s All-American Team.
Buttgereit said his success was largely due to the team’s coaching staff, led by director Joseph Leeson-Schatz, and his teammates.
“I think I got this award because I was fortunate enough to go to a school and join a debate program that really invested in my success,” Buttgereit wrote in an email. “When you start debate in college, you are really behind when competing against people that have already been debating for at least four years when they enter college. The people who’ve taught me debate, Jesse Smith [‘16], Joe Leeson-Schatz, Trevor Reddick [‘15] and too many others to count who helped me really grow into who I am now as both a person and a competitor are definitely the reason I got the award.”
The team’s president, James Allan, a junior double-majoring in political science and history, said he believes the program’s strong support and focus on its novice team is the key to its successes.
“The award just speaks to the incredible job our coaching staff has done to develop our novice program,” Allan wrote in an email. “The novice division is for those who are new to policy debate, so Binghamton does a great job turning interested and intelligent students into nationally competitive monsters.”
Allan said Buttgereit is continuing to grow as a debater, which is why he was chosen as the recipient of the award.
“Although T.J. may not want to boast, he received the Michael K. David award because he’s the most successful debater in the northeast this year, bar none,” Allan wrote. “He’s collected speaker awards like candy, he’s appeared in late elimination rounds at a handful of national tournaments and he still takes the time to assist less experienced members of the team to develop their voices and hone their research skills.”
Buttgereit said he and his teammates are looking forward to continuing their successful season at various national debate tournaments in the upcoming weeks, and the award validates the hard work of the entire team.
“Most of the debaters from Binghamton in recent years start in college rather than high school, and so our mission as a program has been to teach debate to freshmen and sophomores in college in a way that allows them to compete against debaters with [high] school experience who are given scholarships to compete [at] schools like Harvard, Wake Forest, Emory, and Northwestern,” Buttgereit wrote. “I think the [Michael K. David] award really shows that we’ve been successful in that task, and I think it is something for Binghamton to be proud of.”