Dec. 9, 2015
It’s a pretty fantastic time to be a Spartan, no? Thanks to one more thrilling, last-minute win, the football team is ranked No. 3 and headed to the national playoffs. (I think my heart went back to normal sometime around 4 a.m. Sunday) Our basketball team continued its unbeaten streak and is ranked No. 1 in the country.
MSU is certainly in the national spotlight and it feels pretty darn good. But did you know there’s another Spartan team ranked in the top three in the nation? That would be the MSU Debate Team. That’s right, there are national weekly rankings of debate and we’re ranked No. 3 — right ahead of Harvard.
I’ve met a lot of Spartans in my time here — students, faculty members, employees, alumni and athletes. While we’re all playing on our own fields, there are common threads that run through every Spartan. Whether reaching higher to score a needed touchdown, or studying harder to secure a Rhodes scholarship like MSU soccer captain Sarah Kovan just did, there’s a never-ending drive to succeed. It doesn’t matter if a Spartan is shooting three-pointers or debating energy policy — giving up is never an option.
While freshman running back LJ Scott certainly made everyone’s week with his touchdown, another player did something I thought was extremely cool. Darien Harris, fifth-year senior linebacker and three-year letter winner, tweeted this yesterday:
This is what being a Spartan is all about. We’re ALL Spartans, we stand together and we cheer each other on. Harris, whose name is known by every sportscaster in the country, took the time to shout out his pride for these other outstanding, nationally ranked students. His hashtags are everything. He gets it. Challenge us in anything? He is absolutely right. He knows that Spartans are winners. Spartans are smart, driven, determined and will face any challenge presented.
The debate team tweeted back their appreciation to Harris and their pride in the football team. I absolutely love this. It doesn’t matter that one student is a football player from Maryland and the winning debate duo are debaters from Illinois and Wisconsin. It doesn’t matter that they may have never crossed paths before. Now that they’re at Michigan State they understand that they’re all part of the MSU team.
Margaret Strong and Tyler Thur are the members of that debate duo. Strong is a senior mathematics major and Thur is a majoring in international relations. They say that just like athletic coaches, the debate coaches are working around the clock to scout opponents, come up with new and innovative strategies and lead practices. It’s the Spartan way. Read their STUDENT VIEW: Debating the Issues, to learn more about their success.
Fierce dedication to one’s work is another trait that Spartans share. Fred Warner is a nematologist (one who studies nematodes, or worms) and senior academic specialist in the Department of Plant Soil And Microbial Sciences. He spends 20 to 40 hours a week at his microscope in an effort to make sure the world has healthy soils. He enrolled as a freshman in 1975 and considers himself a Spartan for Life. Read his FACULTY VOICE: The Unseen Enemy, to learn more about his work.
While you’re cheering on the MSU athletic teams, take a minute to cheer on the countless other Spartans winning different kinds of battles — against disease, environmental crises, crime, educational challenges, food insecurity and more. Don’t ever bet against a Spartan because they have the will to win no matter what it takes.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner