EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 21, 2011

Danville man is a debating star

DANVILLE — There's no debating the fact Daniel Hanson is one of the best at what he does.

The 21-year-old college student from Danville recently competed in the World Universities Debating Championships in Botswana, Africa.

It's the largest debate tournament in the world, featuring approximately 320 teams from 40 countries, including 65 teams from the United States.

Hanson, a senior at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, and partner Alex Pepper of Virginia finished 86th, considered a significant achievement, according to associate professor Steven Jones, the group's adviser.

"It was a great experience," said Hanson, who graduated from Calvary Christian School in Derry.

While finishing in the top 150 is excellent, coming in where they did was especially gratifying, he said.

"It's something pretty difficult to do," Hanson said.

Although any college debating team can enter the competition, they have to be highly skilled to make it past the first of nine preliminary rounds held over three days, Jones said. The top 32 teams then advance to a championship bracket. Another team from Grove City finished 132nd. The winning team was from Monash University of Australia.

Jones, who has advised the team for two decades, said Hanson is among the cream of the crop in the debating world.

"He is among the two or three brightest students I've ever encountered," he said. "He knows a lot about everything, but has a great degree of theoretical knowledge."

Debaters must be able to tackle any topic thrown their way and present clear, persuasive arguments. The topics at the championship included everything from whether Zimbabwe should be invaded to whether central banks should set limits on government spending, Hanson said.

"There is no good way to prepare," he said. "It's difficult to anticipate what can be asked at the world championship."

While his usual debate partner was a high school national champion, Hanson didn't become interested in debating until college. He has some ideas about why he became so successful.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
New Hampshire

ET Videos