ROXBURY, NJ – The Roxbury High School Debate Team, which last month won the Northwest Debate League Championship, was honored Tuesday by the township mayor and council.

Four members of the team attended the council meeting, where Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley presented them with recognition awards. The championship was the first in three decades for a Roxbury High School debate team.

“It must be so exciting,” said Crowley. “30 years. We … hear about all the work and effort you put into this and then it seemed that you could win it. I’m sure that will compel you now for the next couple of years.”

Sign Up for E-News

Debate Team Advisor Elizabeth Heddy, who was also honored with a certificate from the township, said the odds were against Roxbury. “We went in with a small team,” she said. “In the league you go against … much larger programs and we were able to not only keep up with them but actually win.”

Heddy said the competition “came down to the last round.” By that point, the Roxbury debaters knew they had their opponents “on the ropes” and they “kept their confidence and ended up triumphing.”

Heddy noted the team was not only small but also young, with only one senior. “I know that we will be enemy number one when we arrive next year for our season and we are going to start preparing this week,” she said.

Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo drew some chuckles when he pointed out the arguing abilities he honed while on the school debate team were not always appreciated by his parents. “I remember when I was on the debate team in high school,” DeFillippo said. “The skill set was very helpful throughout my career, but it was the same skillset that my parents complained about all the time.

The team members were also given recognition awards from the state Legislature.

The team is composed of James Morley, Talia Atanasio, Christopher Lange, Anavil Patel, Brody Hagender, Storm Moeller and Patricia Lalo.