Tip of Texas wins fifth straight title at revived, energized 2022 Texas Great Debate
In National Hispanic Institute parlance, Tip of Texas refers the region highlighting talent from Cameron County, especially Brownsville. But it’s also become synonymous with winning the Silver Cup. The Tip of Texas team won the 2022 Texas Great Debate at Schreiner University in Kerrville, which ran from June 11-14, making it five straight titles and a decima that only began in 2011.
For Tip of Texas PA Tino Villarreal, who became involved in training Great Debate students when he left NHI staff in 2008 to return to his hometown, the journey shows the potential that all of this year’s teams displayed.
“The rebuilding started in 2009 with one coach, three adults, and we only were able to recruit 18 kids,” he recalled. “And we worked our tails off to train as best as possible — because we knew that was going to be our coaching staff that we would trust in the future. In 2010, we had more coaches, we were able to take 32 kids to the Great Debate. And with 32, we were able to place second. And then in 2011, it was our first full team and our first championship.”
Villarreal saw, in the return from COVID-19 that shifted the Texas Great Debate to an online event for two years, the spirit of those earlier Tip teams in places like Austin and North Texas that brought smaller, well-coached teams to Schreiner.
“I just think people forget the journey,” he reflected. “And I saw a lot of regions now after COVID, and it reminded me that they’re in the same position that we were in in 2008 and 2009 … the energy was back, that feel of NHI, its enthusiasm and passion was back, and that was really good to see. Like I said, a lot of different teams were able to break into the Sweet 16, and that was amazing for me to watch.”
Mark C. Tuschak, Vice President for Student Recruitment, External Affairs, Marketing and Communications at Schreiner, also noticed the incredible energy brought to his campus with the 169 participating students.
“Schreiner is proud to partner with the National Hispanic Institute to host this 2022 Texas Great Debate,” he remarked during Monday evening’s awards ceremony. Like NHI’s leaders, Tuschak was faced with the quandary of keeping students safe but aiming to get them back together in person during the pandemic. “One of the first things that we did to try to figure out how to bring the students back. Because what we knew was that for students to learn, it had to be on campus with their teachers and mentors and friends. And we did everything possible to bring our students back.”
Top performing students in the individual categories included:
All-State: Linda Villarreal, Carroll HS (Corpus Christi) and Fatima Mejia, Coronado HS (El Paso)
2nd Place: Monet Munoz, Coronado HS, and Victoria Galindo, Coronado HS (El Paso)
1st Place: Mara Flores, TMI Episcopal and Avery Parvin, Providence Catholic School (San Antonio)
All-State: Camila Garza, Saint Joseph Academy (Tip of Texas)
2nd Place: Ana Butron, Saint Joseph Academy (Tip of Texas)
1st Place: Melina Balcorta, El Paso Leadership Acaademy East (El Paso)
All-State: Bella Garza, Incarnate Word Academy (Houston)
2nd Place: Sofia Garcia, Fort Worth Country Day (North Texas)
1st Place: Katie Longoria, Veterans Memorial HS, Brownsville (Tip of Texas)
All State: Isa Matamoros, LASA (Austin) and Marifer Caballero, Veterans Memorial HS (Tip of Texas)
2nd Place: Regina Garcia, Saint Joseph Academy and Emile Gonzalez, Saint Joseph Academy (Tip of Texas)
1st Place: Dylan Orozco, Central Catholic HS, and Aidan Gonzalez, Central Catholic HS (San Antonio)
3rd Place: House Maxwell, Yarelli Ovando, IDEA Pharr College Prep (RGV); POD Teammates: Alejandro Carrizales, Central Catholic HS (San Antonio); Robert Valdez, Central Catholic HS (San Antonio); Christina Pansing, Lamar Academy (RGV); Bruno Zuniga, Uplift North Hills Prep (North Texas)
2nd Place: House Maxwell, James Hernandez, Central Catholic HS (San Antonio); POD Teammates: Esme Rodriguez, Yes Prep North Central (Houston); Jaqueline Herrera, IDEA Weslaco Pike (RGV); Brianna Figueroa, Carroll HS, (Corpus Christi); Ciannah Degante, Juan Navarro Early College HS (Austin)
1st Place: House Magnolia, Tabitha Kennedy, St. Anthony Catholic HS (San Antonio); POD Teammates: Debanhi Hernandez, IDEA Weslaco Pike (RGV); Emily Chapa (Corpus Christi), Flour Bluff HS; Andy Morales, El Paso Leadership Academy East (El Paso); Allison Alvarez, Uplift North Hills Prep (North Texas)
The most improved students for each region at the 2022 Texas Great Debate, as announced by PAs and coaches, included.
Austin: Julia Chaplin, Juan Navarro Early College HS
Corpus Christi: Brianna Figueroa, Carroll HS
El Paso: Alvaro Vasquez, El Paso Leadership Academy East
Houston: Celeste Landeros, Mayde Creek HS
North Texas: Olivia Richey, Texas Connections Academy
RGV: Debanhi Hernandez, IDEA Weslaco Pike
San Antonio: Simon Ramirez, St. Anthony Catholic HS
Tip of Texas: Adrian Alfaro, Saint Joseph Academy