Broad Run’s Greatest: Ben Bressette


Aliza Ahmad, Author


Photo Credits : Ben Bressette

In Part 2 we cover Broad Run’s Greatest debater, Senior Ben Bressette! Ben is the captain of Broad Run’s congressional team as well as the entire Speech and Debate team.

Ben has competed in speech and debate since he was 13 years old. “which means that I’ve been a debater for the last five years of my life,” said Bressette. “My primary event has been Congressional Debate. I’ve kept coming back to Congress because of the breadth of knowledge about the world that it’s created in me due to the sheer volume of topics you’re expected to prepare for, and because of how spontaneous it is. No one Congress round has ever been the same in my five years of competing.” He said. 

What makes Ben such a successful debater? According to Ben “There honestly isn’t very much to it. Over the years, I’ve learned that what you put into this activity is exactly what you get out of it. I’ve been most successful when I’ve been willing to basically every free moment I’ve had for several weeks researching and preparing speeches for an upcoming tournament.” 

The second thing Ben mentioned was his attitude. “My attitude has had a lot to do with my performance. At the end of my sophomore year, I went to a free online debate camp and received a critique from an experienced former high school debater, that completely obliterated my self-esteem. The next day, I went to a practice tournament that was run by the camp and completely bombed it — I didn’t even break to the final round, even though I had done Congress for three years at that point. Two months later, I got 4th place in finals at Yale — a completely unprecedented achievement for someone who had never even gotten a TOC bid before. When I go into a tournament believing that I will fail, I almost always do. Instead, I try not to create any major expectations for myself.” 

“All I can possibly know is that I’ve done my best to prepare. If I don’t break to an elimination round, then good — now I have the rest of my weekend to myself! But if I do break to an elimination round, I recognize that it’s probably just about as random as having not broken at all. I’m just thankful that by some great accident, I’ve made it.” He said. 

With all that hard work and the right attitude Ben has accomplished a lot over the past 5 years. A career total of 7 bids to the Tournament of Champions in Congressional Debate, placing 3rd in 2021. He has qualified for NCFL Nationals in Congressional Debate every year of high school. He place 2nd  in Congressional Debate at the 2021 NCFL Grand National, 4th place in Congressional Debate at the 2020 Yale University Invitational, 2nd place in Congressional Debate at VHSL States, 3rd place in Congressional Debate at the 2021 Pennsbury Falcon Invitational, two-time quarterfinalist in Congressional Debate at the 2020 and 2021 Harvard University Invitational. Ben also earned the Preliminary Session Leadership Award for Congressional Debate at the 2021 Harvard University Invitational.

Ben has several other Debate related achievements, but he claims his biggest achievement of all is…

“The resurgence that we’ve had on the team in Congress over the last two years. When I was a sophomore, Congress was practically just three people. Now,about doubled in size, with about 20 active members in total. Our members consistently do an incredible job competitively — just today, Maryam Imran made 11th place in finals at Pennsbury (a national circuit tournament!), and we’ve already qualified 9 people for Metrofinals in March, which is the tournament that determines who from the DC-Metro area goes to NCFL Nationals in May. But more than that, I think we have a really strong team culture and sense of camaraderie in Congress.It definitely sounds cliche, but trophies and awards are temporary, while the community that we’ve built here in Congress will last for years.”

Being a Captain and part of the team for several years, means Ben’s had the chance to see people grow as debater’s. “I’m so proud of everyone, but especially my Congress kids. Aaryan, Amara, Maryam, and Rayaan — I couldn’t be prouder to have anyone else inherit this team. It’s been one of the greatest honors of my life so far to watch you guys grow as debaters and into the amazing human beings that you are over the last 2-3 years.”

While those 4 are the OG’s of congress, this is what Ben had to say about the newbies. “Titiksha, Riddhisha, Rujuta, Robin, Anna, Audrey, Nara, Chelsea, Aparna, Anjali, Fatima, Satjeev, and Vyasa — you are all the future of this team. Your effort has not gone unnoticed, no matter how many tournaments you went to or how well you did. Just seeing you guys at practices has been the sole reason why I’ve stuck with this activity this year.”

Maryam describes Ben to be “one of the best Congress captains BRHS will ever have.” she added that “Not only is he responsible and an experienced debater, but he knows how to effectively teach new debaters the ways of Congress without making it confusing or  awkward.He’s tons of fun to be around, and we all look up to him a lot!”

“I’d credit our coach, Mr. Dunning, with the strength of our team. He is the definition of what it means to live a thoughtful and fulfilled life. He takes the time to interact with and listen to nearly all of the members of our team, and when you’ve known him for as long as I have, you begin to realize that debate is about so much more than debating — it’s about fostering a genuine curiosity for the world around you and everything it has to offer, and recognizing that it’s incumbent upon you to be an active, meaningful part of it using the power of your voice, and most importantly, your skepticism.” We all love JD, he’s an icon. Now back to Ben. 

Mr Dunning describes Ben as “One of the most passionate debaters,” he said. “The best part of our five-year adventure together is seeing how his drive to perfect his craft infects others with a similar enthusiasm and enjoyment of critical thinking and competition.”

Good luck to Ben in all his future endeavors! We will miss you here at Broad Run, and in the Speech and Debate community once you graduate later this year. 

“Sapere aude, always.” – Ben Bressette