Trophies from former debate team displayed in WIB

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Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 5:10pm

For over 30 years, Professor Neil Warren was the debate coach at what was then the College of Eastern Utah. During his career, he and his students won over 202 trophies and 125 plaques as a team in tournaments throughout the United States. Some of those trophies are being displayed in the West Instructional Building in a case that is 24 feet long, six and a half feet tall, and two feet deep.

The story behind these trophies all started with a promise between former CEU President Ryan Thomas and Warren. When the old Main Building was torn down, the debate trophies were stored in the attic of the SAC building. President Thomas told Warren that the trophies would be temporarily stored until a proper case could be built for them. Eight years later, Chancellor Joe Peterson and Vice Chancellor Brad King, set up a fundraiser to raise money to make a trophies case for the debate team and their hard work. Because of this, the promise between Thomas and Warren is now fulfilled.

There are 202 trophies and 72 plaques are on display in the WIB trophy case. Although this case is huge, it was not big enough to hold all of the plaques won by the debate team over the years. All of the trophies and plaques that are displayed were won as a team. All of the individual student trophies and some plaques that were not first placed finishes, are not being displayed. Some of the plaques are being combined so they could fit all of the plaques into the case. Most of the trophies and plaques being displayed are national tournament awards. Most of the trophies were won when Warren was the coach, but some are from before and after Warren was at CEU. The earliest trophies are from 1951 and the more recent is from 2000, the year the debate team was dropped.

Warren had been a debate coach for over 37 years. He was at Carbon High School for five years and 32 years at CEU. During his time as the debate coach at CEU, he and his students won over 202 team trophies and 125 team plaques. He and his students also set the record for the number of trophies won in one year. In 1991, Warren and his students won 272 team and individual trophies. According to Warren that is a phenomenal amount, but that was not good enough for the team because the next year they beat their record and took home 273 team and individual trophies. Warren expressed that the students really worked hard and they would pay for some of the trips and they would stay overnight in institute buildings and school gyms just to go to the debate meets.

Neal is not sure how many trophies he and his teams earned while he was the coach, but he is happy that they are now on a permanent display at USU Eastern. Warren is proud of the hard work of his students from over the years. “I feel wonderful that the trophies are now on display. It is not for me, but for the kids who did all of the work. They, or anyone, can visit USU Eastern and see the display and say that they did a good job. And that is the truth; they worked hard and did a great job”.

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