Tonganoxie grad snags national debate title
John Bretthauer's thrilled with his second national win in college debate.
"It's great," Bretthauer said Monday. "It's awesome to know I won national champion -- I and my partner and our school overall won the national title."
Bretthauer, a sophomore at Kansas City Kansas Community College, won national champion in team policy debates for the second consecutive year.
The competition was held two weeks ago in Philadelphia.
In both this year's and last year's competitions, Bretthauer's partner was Peter Lawson, a graduate of Leavenworth High School. The topic of this year's debate was how to decrease consumption of fossil fuel in the United States. Of course, its timeliness made the subject even more interesting.
"So we talked about real-world current events, like global warming and the effects it has on earth," Bretthauer said.
Bretthauer, who is the son of Diane and Jerry Bretthauer, Tonganoxie, said he participated in debate in high school. Bretthauer graduated from Tonganoxie High School in 2003.
"I went to two tournaments my senior year in high school," Bretthauer said, explaining he was more involved in high school forensics than in debate.
The forensics and debate experience has paid off, he said.
"It helps you to speak in front of the public, to people you don't know," Bretthauer said.
Because of debate, Bretthauer has done more traveling in college than he otherwise would have.
Last year's national tournament was in Los Angeles. And during this year's spring break, Bretthauer traveled to San Francisco where he was named an all-American in debate. Each year only 30 students are chosen from 120 universities and community colleges, said the 20-year-old Bretthauer.
Bretthauer, who isn't sure where he'll attend college in the fall, said he plans to major in secondary education and eventually teach history.
He said his family background and small-town upbringing may be a key to his success in debate.
"Having a huge family kind of helps, being socialized in the family," Bretthauer said, noting his mother was one of nine children and his father one of eight. "And growing up in a small town makes you friendlier -- being nice is a big part of debate."