The Perfect Parli Pair

Meet Kasie Leung (‘23) and Eli Browne (‘23

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Kasie Leung (‘23) and Eli Browne (‘23) first debated together in the Bishop’s Spring Classic in eighth grade and have been a standout pair ever since.

Lily Gover, Staff Writer

You can see the chemistry between Kasie Leung (‘23) and Eli Browne (‘23) even in a normal conversation. They’re one of those pairs that quite literally finish each other’s sentences.  

Throughout their Speech and Debate careers, that chemistry has been evident in every tournament. Last year, the duo came in second place at the SDIVSL State Quals A Parli/Public Forum, or Parli Squals, sending them to the California High School Speech Association State Tournament, or the State Tournament. 

According to Speech and Debate Coach Mr. Matthew Valji, usually six to ten students usually make it. This year they qualified again, ending as semi-finalists.  He detailed, “To get to the state tournament, you have to be one of the best teams in all of the region…The top six is what will qualify, but they were top four, so they got to state.” 

Kasie and Eli started participating in Speech and Debate in 8th grade. However, Kasie showed up to her first informational meeting in seventh grade. Upon hearing that Kasie had tried to join the team this early, Eli exclaimed with laughter, “Did they let you?” The answer to that question is no, but one year later the middle school pair began to practice with the high school Speech and Debate team.

Mr. Valji recalled, “It was very obvious from the beginning that they were brilliant, thoughtful and quick, which are important things to be when you want to do Debate. And they were naturals, even if they didn’t necessarily have all of the skills yet that they needed to be successful.”

Their first tournament was the Bishop’s Spring Classic, an inter-school scrimmage in which (mostly) high school pairs from Bishop’s compete against each other. Starting out their Debate careers with a bang, the eighth-grade pair beat out all the high schoolers and won the tournament. 

This is an amazing accomplishment, but Kasie and Eli are very modest about it. When describing this tournament, Kasie briefly added with a laugh, “also, we may have won.” Eli then added, “We stayed partners from that tournament, and we just kept going.”

So, what makes this Debate pair so successful? “So the first thing is that they do the work,” explained Mr. Valji. “They are organized. They are on top of current events and important political issues. When given a topic, they have the skills needed to drill deeply into that topic in a relatively short period of time.” 

Another huge part of their success is how they work together and complement each other’s strengths. They compete in the Parliamentary Debate event, or Parli, as most debaters would say. There are three speeches in the event for each team. The first speech details why one side should win, the second is a rebuttal speech, and the last acts as a summary, recapping what points each side made and why one side is better. 

Kasie delivers the first and last speeches, and Eli gives what he described as “the nitty-gritty rebuttal speech.” They both do their parts differently, but very effectively. Eli explained, “There are pairs that are super one-sided, but I’ve never really felt that with our pair,” as Kasie responded with an “aww.” 

Their speaking styles are also quite dissimilar but complementary. Kasie observed, “I’m a very big passionate speaker, and Eli’s very composed. He’s super, super good at speaking without stuttering.” While he described his style as “robotic,” Mr. Valji observed “Eli tends to be somewhat more structured in his style. He’s more of the newscaster and someone you might see on CNN.” Kasie reinforced that “he’s super technical, and he’s always super logical.

 

One major reason why this pair has such a good dynamic is just because they are great friends. Upon asking about their friendship, Kasie first joked, “Actually I can’t stand you and I’m only in it for the Parli trophies, Eli; now’s a good time for me to break this to you.” After a moment of laughter, they explained how their friendship leads to their success on the debate stage. Kasie described, “Knowing each other well outside of Debate gives us more room to be open and honest with each other.” This allows them to give each other feedback and keep improving. Additionally, they can tell when one of them might need a confidence boost or some encouragement.  

When they debated online, their understanding of each other became useful. Kasie described, “We’d be on the same Google Doc [during the round], and Eli would write out a conclusion for me or write extra points for me to say, or I would take notes for him. Without communicating with words, we would just know how to help each other out.”

Undeniably, this pair wins a lot, but that does not mean there aren’t rough tournaments. This year, there were a few times that they did not get the results they wanted, but Eli remembered their positive response. “We should debate because we like to debate” became their mentality, and as Kasie explained, “We learned to stop prioritizing results and stop caring so much about how we do and be more focused on having fun and improving as speakers.” 

This perspective allows them to be successful while enjoying the road to that success. When asked about their goal for this year, Eli reflected, “You could say our goal is to qualify for the state tournament, but at the end of the day, state is not the overarching goal… Debate is fun regardless of whether or not you win everything.” 

They also attribute a lot of their success to the entire Bishop’s Speech and Debate team, especially the Parli program. Eli explained, “We get to debate against pairs who are also some of the best in the county at practice.” Kasie is also extremely grateful for the other pairs, adding “That’s what I was gonna say, a huge shoutout to all of the other Bishop’s Parli teams because if we don’t have anyone to practice against, we don’t really have a program.”

The program has made a huge impact on them, and they have also made a huge impact on the program. Kasie and Eli also help to educate younger students in Debate. Mr. Valji acknowledged, “Their biggest standout area is that they don’t just do debates for themselves. They do Debate because they want to help others do well also.”

This year at the State tournament on April 29 to May 1, Kasie and Eli made it to the quarterfinals. According to Mr. Valji, “This is the furthest that Kasie and Eli [have ever gotten], and the furthest of any Bishop’s Parliamentary Debate team in team history…So they’re basically the best Parliamentary Debate team we’ve ever had.”

Regardless, in the end, they are there because they truly love to Debate, especially together as a team. They’re in it to win it, but also to have fun.