MAD is an enormously successful club with a proud history, littered with debaters whose feats are the stuff of legend. Kim Little, Ben Richards, and the great Martin Sorensen to name a few. And now, there should be a page in MAD history to devote to Tim Sonnreich – a debater whose record as at least the equal, if not the better, of all of them.
Tim started his MAD career as a kid who was nervous about debating at an IV level, and his first few years in MAD were spent adjudicating. However, as his confidence grew, Tim wanted to give debating a try, and meticulously prepared for his first tournament, the 2000 World Championships in Sydney. Tim debated in Monash F, a team that broke 32nd, and then proceeded to knock the #1 ranked team and tournament favorites out of the tournament in the Octo-Final. They were eliminated in the quarters, but Tim had broken, and ranked 45 in the world, at his first ever IV.
This however was not the highlight of Tim’s Worlds debating career. He made the Semi Finals in 2001 and made the prestigious Grand Final in 2003. In the Grand Final, a debate where Tim and Luke drew Opening Government and were shut out of the rest of the debate, Monash was considered extraordinarily unlucky to have lost. In 2004 he adjudicated the Semi Finals and in 2005 he adjudicated the Grand Final. He is one of only a handful of people in the history of the World Championships to have both debated in and adjudicated the Grand Final.
This Worlds record is impressive enough, however it was Tim’s achievements at Australasians that are truly astonishing.
Tim won the Australasian title an incredible three times, one of only two debaters in the history of the tournament to do so. The first win came at his first attempt in 2000, in a team widely acknowledged as perhaps the best MAD debating team in the history of the club. He also ranked 5th best speaker of the tournament. This was an amazing feat, but there was more still to come. Tim won the tournament again the next year (2001), being the only surviving member of the 2000 team. Most recently, he won the tournament in 2004, again with different team mates.
However, perhaps Tim’s most significant achievement was being crowned the Best Speaker in Australasia, not once, but twice, in 2002 and 2003. To win a Best Speaker trophy once is an incredible achievement, but to win it twice requires an enormous level of dedication and talent. The only other debater in Australasian history to the same feat was Martin Sorensen, and his achievements were considered so significant that the trophy is now named in his honour.
In his 8 years in MAD, Tim never missed a finals series in any IV that he debated in, and in five Australs, he never walked away without a trophy.
I can only speak for my years in MAD, but there is no doubt in my mind that Tim is the most consistently outstanding debater that I have ever had the privilege of seeing or debating against. It was his deep general knowledge, but mainly his impeccable logic, that made him one of the most respected and feared debaters on the world circuit, and formed a debating CV which is unmatched in its depth and class.
I have personally seen generations of debaters, whether they be MAD, MUDS, school kids or otherwise, be motivated by watching Tim debate. The experience of watching him in action was inspiring – it made you want to become a better debater yourself. Tim’s absolute dedication to his craft makes him the ideal role model for all MAD members looking to make the most out of their talent.
Contribution to the Club
Outside of his debating achievements, Tim dedicated a great deal of is time to serving MAD. He served as an exec member 4 times, fulfilling difficult roles such as External Officer, Secretary, and most recently, President in 2004.
However, Tim’s most significant contributions to MAD were in other roles. He was a great supporter of the MDR and the Asia Tour at the time of their inception and has taken responsibility for both these projects over a number of years. Tim was the editor of the MDR twice, and has been an integral part of establishing it as the leading journal in its field. Tim has also been an integral part of the Asia Tour for many years, both as a trainer, but more importantly, as an organiser. His skills and contacts have been critical in the continuing success of the Tour, and consequently, critical to the continued financial success of MAD.
However, Tim’s most important contribution to MAD is something much less visible. Inspired by his absolute love of debating, Tim was dedicated to helping others in the club improve their skills and make the most out of their talent. Whether it be volunteering to hold a matter session on a specific topic, doing a practice debate or simply discussing tactics over a few beers, Tim was always there to help. He helped to train several generations of MAD debaters, and will undoubtedly be there to do so in the future as well.
Tim’s significant contribution to the club, extraordinary debating record and absolute love of debating makes him one of the great MAD members. His achievements should be remembered and should serve as an inspiration to future MADies – a pertinent reminder to anyone that if you are dedicated enough, that you too can become one of the best debaters in the world.
I can think of no better way to honour Tim than to make him a life member of this great club and I commend his nomination to you all.
Nominated by Michael Stagg