Debater of the Year
No student had ever brought home the award before R.J. Crace, ’10 telecommunications major, claimed the prize.

At the 2010 National Education Debate Association (NEDA) tournament in March, Crace became the first undergraduate student in the country to receive the President’s Award for outstanding contribution to public debate, an honor typically given to coaches or teams participating in the competition. 

Mike Bauer, coach of Ball State’s debate team, said Crace’s recognition was well-deserved and all the more an honor given Crace’s capacity to overcome the challenges of his disabilities. Crace, who is blind, also suffers from severe hearing impairment.

“His accomplishments are exceptional considering the barriers he must overcome to compete in debate,” said Bauer, a communications studies instructor. “His personality has a positive effect on those around him.”

Crace said he’s enjoyed working with peers who are such talented debaters. He’s discovered that both debating and broadcasting require many of the same skills.

“In both, you have to be short and concise,” he says, “You have to make your arguments understandable and let your audience know why they should care about what you’re telling them.”

Ball State won the team national championship title at the 2010 NEDA tournament—its third in as many years. Combined with Crace’s award and a host of other student honors, the team had its most successful appearance in its near 20-year history of participating in NEDA, a collegiate debate association emphasizing typical public forum debate.