Snowed-in debaters salvage tournament THE BLIZZARD OF 1993

March 15, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

Hundreds of college students and their coaches from 58 colleges and universities across the country who converged on Baltimore County for a debate tournament found themselves socked in by a blizzard at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn and facing the prospect of a wasted trip.

The tournament began Friday at Towson State University, but the 330 students and coaches found they didn't need a university to engage in verbal combat -- they reorganized the competition to use 66 motel rooms instead.

"This could have been a disaster," said Nick Burnett, debate coach for California State University at Sacramento.

"A lot of people spent a big part of their budget to get here. It cost over $3,000 to bring six kids here."

"We had 132 debate teams from 58 schools from across the United States," said Dr. Brenda Logue, a Towson State professor and director of forensics. "We were all stuck in the hotel. There was nothing else for us to do. We might as well have a national debate tournament."

So, with shopping malls closed because of snow, with the Bullets and Skipjacks games canceled and church services and other events canceled or closed all around the region, the forensics show went on.

Mr. Burnett said his California students had seen snow before but added, "They've never seen anything like this. They were so excited. They wanted to run outside and make snow angels."

The Californians may have been amazed, or those from Louisiana State University.

But, with highways still blocked by snowdrifts and flight schedules disrupted by airport closings, the team from the University of Alaska at Anchorage probably felt right at home.

Debaters and coaches remained uncertain how soon they would be getting home. But who could complain?

"We've been held up here for two days now," said Coach Burnett. "This is not exactly roughing it. I couldn't imagine being snowbound in a nicer place."

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