Bonding with Beane

Niamh Clarke, Opinion Editor

This year alone, our debate team has attended 18 tournaments, become the district champions for policy debate, won a tournament in dramatic interpretation and informative speaking, and made finals in many other events.

And who do we have to thank for all these achievements? Why, the wonderful Mr. Beane. No, not the comedian from the famous 90’s T.V. show, Mr. Beane the award-winning debate coach here at Langham.

Originally from Charleston, West Virginia, young Eric Beane moved to Houston when he was only eight years old, and did pretty much all his growing up in our bustling city. And while Charleston still holds a special place in his heart, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“I’m pretty thankful that I had the opportunity to come to Texas,” Beane said. “And a lot of people, you know, when they graduate high school want to get as far away from their family as they can. But I love Houston too much. This is my new home and I am very happy to be working here.”

But it wasn’t always easy for Beane. Throughout his younger years he dealt with a lot of anxiety and as a result, had some trouble fitting in.

“It’s strange I guess because I am the debate coach,” Beane said. “But I had a lot of problems speaking and talking to people and was always very nervous and very anxious when I spoke to others. And I was just very very lucky that I found Speech and Debate when I was young.”

Entering High School, Beane had yet to find his passion and noticed his friends were constantly busy with after-school activities. That’s when he learned about the debate team offered at his campus.

“My friends were never able to hang out on the weekends at all. So I finally was just like, why? Why can’t any of you hang out?” Beane said. “All of them said they were at debate tournaments over the weekends. So I was like, well I’m going to try it out because I want to hang out with my friends. And I guess the rest is history.”

Winning his first debate tournament got him “hooked” and he never looked back. Beane first attended college at the University of Texas, San Antonio on a full-ride debate scholarship. However, he soon realized the San Antonio lifestyle didn’t quite suite him, so he came back home to the University of Houston. Becoming one of the first students at UH to receive a scholarship for debate and meeting his fiance, a fellow competitor, at a competition.

“The only reason I went to UTSA was because they offered me a full ride, anyone who offers you a full ride for anything, you gotta at least consider it,” Beane said. “Then I realized that I just didn’t like my teammates and I felt sort of isolated out there. So I transferred, and they had just started their speech and debate program [at UH].”

And like any other student, whether it be high school or college, Beane struggled to figure out which career he wanted to pursue, at one point even considering Psychology.

“Initially, when I got out of high school and went to college, I wanted to be a Psychiatrist,” Beane said. “I had a tough time deciding between whether I wanted to be a Psychiatrist or if I wanted to be a teacher and debate coach. But honestly the thing that pushed me away from Psychology and into teaching was when I took Calculus 2, I decided I didn’t want to hate my life.”

But teaching seems to be the best choice Beane could’ve made. He thoroughly enjoys all aspects of his job, especially coaching.

“When I was in high school, I thought it was super fun to go to debate tournaments, and as a coach, I still think it’s super fun to go to debate tournaments,” Beane said. “I help the students get ready for their competitions. They brainstorm arguments and I come up with 1000 counter-arguments. I love the research, the preparation, and the trips we go on. I think it’s all super fun.”

Our debate team, despite being small, has made incredible achievements over the last few years, bringing home vast amounts of trophies. And although the glittering trophies are great eye candy, they have a much deeper meaning to Mr. Beane and the rest of the debate team.

“These awards are a physical manifestation of our success and our hard work,” Beane said. “We keep them out in the open as a reminder to work hard, because if we work hard then we can get some giant trophies. It goes to show how much these kids put into it and how much they get out of it.”

Mr. Beane couldn’t be prouder of his student’s ambition and the accomplishments they have made in their Speech and Debate career’s so far. And having spent most of his high school days researching and writing speeches, he is well aware of how time-consuming debate can be for his students.

“The kind of work burden that you go through when you are in a debate in high school, the amount of research that you do is equivalent to someone who is doing a master’s thesis,” Beane said. “That at a high school level. The amount of rigor, in my opinion, is pretty hard to keep up with. But the people that come and do speech and debate have my utmost respect because I know just how difficult it can be.”

As this year’s seniors prepare to enter the world as adults, Mr. Beane hopes that the 2019 class will try their very best to not be ‘dogmatic,’ as we begin to make the decisions that could shape this nation, and possibly the world.

“What I mean by ‘dogmatic’ is do not give in to the pure ideology that surrounds us in the socio-political landscape we exist in,” Mr. Beane said. “My advice to the seniors is to be open to the possibility that you may be wrong, it is very hard to accept that what you believe may not be right, but our task as educators and citizens of this world is to be open to the possibility we may be wrong and to look at something from both sides of the issue. Because when we can understand where people are coming from, that is when we’ll be able to connect people and bridge those connections and differences that really define us.”