There’s No Debate: Will Elliott is a Persuasive Powerhouse

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Nick Winebrenner, Staff Writer

After joining the debate team later than intended, senior Will Elliott had some ground to cover. And that he did. Just a couple of weeks ago, Will won 6th place in the Illinois Tournament of Champions debate. 

The Illinois Tournament of Champions is an invite-only debate with 64 of the state’s best debaters who earn their invitations through consistent, quality speaking throughout a season.

During this tournament, Will reached the final round and placed 6th out of the top 17. This phenomenal showing earned Will a bid into the National Tournament of Champions. His brother, Peter Elliott described the tournament as, “The Super Bowl of high school debate.” 

In his career, Will has especially shined in ICDA tournaments, amassing 12 trophies in 13 contests. Debate coach John Wanninger explains why Will is able to be so dominant at these tournaments.

“Will really wants to learn about everything. Whatever debate topic it is, he’ll go above and beyond to learn about it to make sure he can debate any side,” said Wanninger.

For the past several years, Will Elliott has shined at LFHS: being Student Council President, Speech Director for the Debate Team, Illinois Congressional Debate Association Team Captain, and a writer for the Forest Scout. Will has become practically famous at the high school. 

“It is an honor to work with Will in the Student Council and Debate. Whether it be our team meetings or ICDA tournaments, Will is always leading our team and we couldn’t ask for a better mentor,” said junior teammate Joey Nassar.

On top of all this, Will gave a TED Talk last year, hilariously and scientifically explaining how to craft the most popular TED Talk possible. 

All this energy and confidence he brings to the stage, was clearly evident during his career of debate. 

“What really sets Will apart is his natural speaking ability,” Coach Wanninger said. “He has a natural presence every time he speaks during debates.”

Although all this confidence seems to come naturally to Will, he believes it stems from the camaraderie of the debate team. 

“Debate is just so energizing to me. I remember having a 30 minutes conversation about the Democratic primary after our meeting with some of our officers, which is something I can’t really do with the soccer team,” Will said.

Will is spending his next four years at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. While he’s there he hopes to stay civically engaged and hopeful for the future. 

“I cannot wait to see what Will does in the future,” said close friend Henry Russell. “He deserves absolutely everything he’s worked for.”