Although Cathedral Prep may not be able to boast the largest debate program around, it certainly has brought out the best in many of its students, such as Daanish Bhatti. What started out as being a surprising schedule change became a unique passion for Daanish.
On the second day of his sophomore year, Daanish’s parents switched his schedule without him knowing. The outlying class that Daanish was then forced to take was debate. At first, he hated it. “My first debate was actually against McDowell’s varsity team, and me and my partner were clueless and ended up getting crushed. So, after that being my first real experience, I really didn’t like it and couldn’t wait to get out of the class,” he said.
The interesting aspect in all of this, as Daanish explained, was that he usually doesn’t struggle that much in anything, despite it being a brand new concept to him. He embraced the challenge, and the more time and effort he poured into it, he not only saw brightening results, but a newfound passion.
Prep has returned three debate coaches (who happen to be Prep alumni) in order to mentor the current debaters along with Mr. Pituch, who is still ultimately the head of the program. Daanish spoke of his coaching, saying, “They know what it’s like to graduate from the school and translate their debate skills to other facets of the world. So, being able to talk to them about that sort of stuff is really cool.”
Another favorite aspect of debate for Daanish is traveling. He loves being able to compete in all different parts of the country, such as Michigan and Kentucky, to visit prominent universities, and to experience more memories with his teammates right by his side.
Another great memory Daanish had was Debate Camp at Northwestern University. He said he met some of the smartest, most intelligent people he’s ever gotten a chance to know. In addition to just meeting them, he actually had the opportunity to even catch up with some of them at different tournaments throughout the country. This speaks to how universal and valued debate is. Daanish’s largest accomplishment to date was being ranked as part of the top 32 teams of the CFL’s (Catholic Forensic League) national tournament.
Along with many others, Daanish believes the skills he’s developed through debate will further his academic prowess in college and prepare him better for his career. “Being able to speak and speak fast, having the ability to read and comprehend information quickly, and even simply having persuasion techniques will all be beneficial in whatever field I decide to go into.” Daanish went on to say, “I’m not saying that sports aren’t important, as I participate in track and field myself, but I feel comfortable saying that you will gain more successful skills from debate than any sport you could possibly be involved in.” Daanish has his mind set on long-term goals and is doing everything in his power to prepare himself for the real world.
As far as advice goes, Daanish urges current and future students to get involved with debate and to stay involved. However, he offers one important and hard-to-grasp tip for many: be prepared to lose. He says that debate is an acquired technique that takes time and patience in order to excel in. In fact, Daanish says that it wasn’t until this year that he began actually feeling confident in the debate room.
Mr. William Pituch, head of the Debate program, spoke of Daanish’s debate career saying, “Daanish joined the program as a sophomore [and] made some huge strides over the last year and over this summer. He attended institutes at Northwestern the last two summers. He is a hard worker and immerses himself in the material. He is extremely knowledgeable on the topics. He has been an excellent teacher for the younger debaters, getting them prepared, focused, and excited about learning how to debate at a nationally competitive level.”
In Daanish’s opinion, the main reason people tend to stray from speech/debate programs is because they don’t want to do more school outside of school, essentially. Debate requires a large amount concentration and research that people just aren’t willing to give a chance. Daanish sure was, though, and his only regret was that he didn’t start soon enough. He now teaches the debate class and has found his new love. So what are you waiting for? Consider taking a debate class in the future, it may be just what you are looking for.