West debate senior spotlight: Catherine Yang

Jane Lam, Print Assistant Copy Editor

The West High Speech and Debate team has had a prolific history at West, recently being awarded the IHSSA state debate title for the third year in a row. This would not have been possible without the hard work of the coaches and student debaters. One student, Catherine Yang ’23, stands out. Yang has been a part of the program since freshman year and is the Public Forum team captain and has championed in many debate tournaments throughout her career. WSS interviewed Yang as she reflects on her debate career at West.

What made you join debate?

“That is a pretty simple question, but it’s also somewhat difficult because the reason I joined is not why I stayed. I joined way back in freshman year, because I moved here right before freshman year so I just joined all of the clubs I had any niche interest in. I joined PF specifically as my event when a few of my friends were like, ‘Hey, I’ll do this partner event if you’re like my partner’… Everything changed sophomore year and the reason I stayed was because it’s honestly kind of addicting like the adrenaline rush you get in a round is not only exciting, but it’s also valuable. It boosts your confidence when you win a round and even if it doesn’t, it feels cool to have that much knowledge about random international topics and be able to debate with someone on an academic level that really just shows your critical thinking skills.”

What was the most rewarding part of debate?

“I really just enjoyed building a community that’s really non-toxic, which I think is somewhat rare in debate, just because it can get very competitive very quickly, especially within a smaller school.”

What achievements are you most proud of?

“When I think of my success and debate. I don’t think about the material successes. Winning a few tournaments, that’s pretty solid, becoming first speaker that’s pretty good, but I think just legitimately building the team that I didn’t have when I started debate is genuinely the best like the best achievement so far. And I know that sounds really cheesy once again, but I am genuinely really proud of our team.”