Senior Andrea Abrams steps into the room for the final debate and makes eye contact with her opponent- an old friend from Johnson who had moved to Reagan’s rival team.
At that moment, she knew she couldn’t take it easy on her. Abrams took a deep breath.
“It was a big moment for me because last year, I actually ended up placing second and this year as my senior year, I knew I wanted to get first,” Abrams said. “So I went in with the mindset that I have to compete the entire time and I have to stay strong the entire time, and that I wouldn’t stop until I finished.”
Abrams has been a member of the debate team for a long time, starting in sixth grade. She originally joined because she wanted to be a lawyer.
“But at the final tournament, a judge wrote on my ballot, ‘You’re really good. Please continue to debate,’” Abrams said. “That person ended up becoming my mentor at Johnson. His name was Abhiv.”
Abrams and Abhiv went to camps at UT and Baylor together, and Abrams began to enjoy debate more.
“Debate has allowed me to be myself with all of the people who are on the team,” she said. “So this year, it was way more of a family.”
Debate served as a safe space for Abrams; it was a place where she could have smart discussions with her peers while having fun and cracking jokes. She has won awards since her freshman year.
“The first tournament I won was my first varsity tournament, the MacArthur tournament,” she said. “I ended up winning that one and that one was my longest tournament because I ended up going into finals at 1:30 in the morning.”
Abrams has won about six tournaments throughout her high school career. This year, she’s placed in practically all of the tournaments she’s gone to. She recently placed first at the UIL Districts competition for Lincoln Douglas, or LD, debate.
“It’s a style of debate that was based off the premise of the Lincoln Douglas debate way back then. And it was the first kind of presidential debate that there was,” Abrams said.”So now we see that each side has 13 minutes of speaking time, but it’s broken up into five different speeches.”
Debate is a male dominated extracurricular; Abrams is the only girl on the team competing in LD and the only one from San Antonio that qualifies for state in that category.
“Being in mainly male dominated activities is not new to me. I’ve played football my seventh and eighth grade year so I’m used to being around the guys,” she said. “But in debate it’s different because I’ve received a lot of ballots and notes from the judges saying ‘Hey, stop coming off so aggressive’ because as a female when you assert yourself against a male, they see it as aggressive behavior.”
Abram’s speaker points were once docked because she confronted a male opponent that continued to interrupt her. He received no penalty.
“There are multiple instances like that, that if as a female you have to be able to stand on your own two feet by yourself and assert yourself or else they’ll run you over,” she said. “And that’s something I’ve taught the female novices on the team who do compete in different domain events and not let that happen.”