University of the Cumberlands’ debate team took first place overall at the St. Anselm College Debate Tournament this past December. They beat 15 other teams from top colleges and ivy league schools in order to claim the victory.

This marks the third tournament championship the team won during the fall semester alone. (The team also took first place at Bellevue College and at Tennessee Tech University earlier in fall.)

“It was another great win for the team,” said Jay Bourne, a professor at Cumberlands and the debate team’s coach. “We enjoyed competing in debate rounds against universities from New York to Oregon and everywhere in between.”

Three debaters advanced to out rounds in competition. Elaine Leslie (senior; Owensboro, KY) took first place overall as Tournament Champion. Leslie also took home second place for Speaker, and Noah Parker (senior; Church Hill, TN) took home fourth place in the same category. Jordan Floyd (senior; Corbin, KY) and John Ahlf (freshman; Williamsburg, KY) both reached the quarterfinal round of competition. Floyd won Top Speaker for the tournament.

Team members call themselves “Debatriots,” a wordplay between “debate” and Cumberlands’ mascot, a Patriot. While these Debatriots certainly have a sense of fun, when it comes to competitions, they don’t come just to play. They come to win.

The team is currently the national champion in Debate Division I. The team is also the national champion for the Quality Award, given by the National Christian College Forensics Association at a tournament in 2018 to the team with the most points earned per competitor.

In the past 20 years, the Cumberlands debate team has won eight national championships. They also took home one team championship from a competition in Montreal, Canada. The team has finished in the top three at nationals more than 20 times. Over the years, they have earned more than 25 individual national championships in speech and debate.

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction offering quality undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and online degree programs. Learn more at