Drew McCormick Wins VictoryBriefs

Finals of VBT: Regan Grishaber (Aliso Niguel RG) v. Andrew McCormick (Strake AM)

We’ll post full elim results and speaker awards once the final packet is up.

LOS ANGELES, CA.—Congratulations to Strake Jesuit’s Drew McCormick for defeating Aliso Niguel’s Regan Grishaber to win The VictoryBriefs Tournament (VBT). In addition, Drew was top seed and top speaker – the debate tournament version of winning the “triple crown”. Drew is coached by Jerry Christ, Chris Castillo, Daniel Imas, Todd Liipfert and Murvin Auzenne; Regan is coached by Jason Zhou.

Strake Jesuit College AM Advances without debating
PV Peninsula HZ Advances without debating
Walt Whitman JL Advances without debating
PV Peninsula DT Advances without debating
New Orleans Jesuit JP Advances without debating
Aliso Niguel RG Advances without debating
Apple Valley LS Advances without debating
College Prep SS Advances without debating
Monta Vista High Scho MJ Advances without debating
West Des Moines Valle MS Advances without debating
Lynbrook JU (Aff) defeated Strake Jesuit College JD
Loyola BO (Aff) defeated Bainbridge Island NV
Strake Jesuit College JH (Aff) defeated Bainbridge Island AT
Keller TF (Neg) defeated Harvard Westlake Uppe SH
Strake Jesuit College CS (Aff) defeated Torrey Pines KJ
Brentwood MS (Neg) defeated Walt Whitman DM
Brentwood ND (Neg) defeated Meadows EH
Harvard Westlake Uppe AS (Neg) defeated Palo Alto TC
Hockaday CC (Aff) defeated Torrey Pines EL
Tahoma CD (Aff) defeated Loyola MH
Loyola AB (Aff) defeated Winston Churchill AW
New Orleans Jesuit JH (Neg) defeated Harker MJ
Loyola Blakefield TC (Aff) defeated Harvard Westlake Uppe AB
College Prep PM (Aff) defeated Hockaday RB
Brentwood KA (Aff) defeated Harvard Westlake Uppe BG
Hockaday MC (Aff) defeated Meadows RF
Northland Christian RD (Neg) defeated Loyola TP
Hockaday AZ (Aff) defeated Harvard Westlake Uppe AK
Strake Jesuit College JA (Aff) defeated Apple Valley JG
Harvard Westlake Uppe MO (Aff) defeated Hockaday KQ
West Des Moines Valle MN (Aff) defeated Keller KS
Los Altos SB (Neg) defeated La Costa Canyon Indep BC

Strake Jesuit College AM (Aff) defeated Los Altos SB
PV Peninsula HZ (Neg) defeated West Des Moines Valle MN
Walt Whitman JL (Neg) defeated Harvard Westlake Uppe MO
PV Peninsula DT (Neg) defeated Strake Jesuit College JA
New Orleans Jesuit JP (Neg) defeated Hockaday AZ
Aliso Niguel RG (Neg) defeated Northland Christian RD
Apple Valley LS (Neg) defeated Hockaday MC
Brentwood KA (Aff) defeated College Prep SS
Monta Vista High Scho MJ (Neg) defeated College Prep PM
Loyola Blakefield TC (Neg) defeated West Des Moines Valle MS
New Orleans Jesuit JH (Neg) defeated Lynbrook JU
Loyola BO Advances Over Loyola AB
Strake Jesuit College JH (Neg) defeated Tahoma CD
Hockaday CC (Neg) defeated Keller TF
Strake Jesuit College CS (Aff) defeated Harvard Westlake Uppe AS
Brentwood ND Advances Over Brentwood MS

Strake AM (aff) def. Brentwood ND (Nalia Dharani) 3-0 (Brundage, Pearce, Pielstick)
Loyola BO (neg) def. Jesuit JP (Jacob Pritt) 2-1 (Brundage, *Castillo, Parker)
Strake CS (aff) def. PV Peninsula HZ (Henry Zhang) 2-1 (Babb, *McHugh, Melin)
Aliso Niguel RG (aff) def. Jesuit JH (Jim Huang) 3-0 (Lawrence, McGinnis, Theis)
Hockaday CC (neg) def. Walt Whitman JL (Jessica Levy) 3-0 (Castillo, McGinnis, Theis)
Apple Valley LS (neg) def. Loyola-Blakefield TC (Tom Cameron) 2-1 (Lawrence, Melin, *Scoggin)
Strake JH (aff) def. PV Peninsula DT (Daniel Tartakovsky) 2-1 (*Lawrence, Scoggin, Traber)
Brentwood KA (neg) def. Monte Vista MJ (Michelle Jiang) 2-1 (Imas, McHugh, *Traber)

Strake AM (aff) def. Brentwood KA 3-0 (Brundage, Pearce, Scoggin)
Strake CS (neg) def. Apple Valley LS (Luke Stuttgen) 3-0 (Babb, Melin, Torson)
Aliso Niguel RG (neg) def. Hockaday CC (Christine Chen) 3-0 (Castillo, Imas, Traber)
Loyola BO (neg) def . Strake JH (John Heizelman) 2-1 (*Norris, Theis, Zerbib-Berda)

Strake AM (aff) def. Loyola BO (Bob Overing) 2-1 (*Brundage, Theis, Zerbib-Berda)
Aliso Niguel RG (aff) def. Strake CS (Clay Spence) 2-1 (Torson, *Traber, Scoggin)

Strake AM (neg) def. Aliso Niguel RG (Regan Grishaber) 2-1 (Torson, Traber *Scoggin)

Champion: Strake AM (Andrew McCormick)

  • Anonymous

    One organization that is working to bridge the resource gap between the big and small schools in Texas is the Texas Debate Collective. I attended their camp this past summer, and a high percentage of their students were on full scholarships. You can find information on http://www.texasdebatecollective.com. As you can imagine, they’re always looking for more funds to support the inclusion of more students and their coaches in their new teacher’s institute to train coaches and try and create programs in poorer schools by training the students how to teach debate to their students. I think it’s a great organization that gets ignored a lot of the time, and I would like to let people that could take advantage of it know about it.

    • Anonymous

      training the coaches how to teach debate to their students*

    • I think the TDC model is fantastic and what they are doing for the debate community is great. My only problem is that there seems to be a lack of diversity in the staff when it comes to debate styles. VBI, NSD, UNT, and other camps have a diverse enough staff to fit the stylistic desires of all students — philosophy, theory, the “LARP,” truth testing, critical, etc. For the most part, the TDC staff seems very one sided in this regard.

  • One organization that is working to bridge the resource gap
    between the big and small schools in Texas is the Texas Debate Collective. I
    attended their camp this past summer, and it was full of students on full
    scholarships. You can find information on http://texasdebatecollective.com/.
    As you can imagine, they’re always looking for funds to support the inclusion
    of more and more students as well as coaches for their new teacher’s institute
    to train coaches and try and create programs in poorer schools by training the
    coaches how to teach debate to their students. I think it’s a great
    organization that gets ignored a lot of the time, and I would just like to let
    people that might not know about it in Texas or nationally know about it.

  • Congrats to Drew and especially to Regan for finals as a 2nd year debater 

  • Octas for Strake CS and PV Peninsula HZ was *McHugh Octas for Apple Valley LS was *Scoggin 

  • Congrats on the win, Drew! It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad your hard work is paying off. Congrats to Clay, John, Jonathan, and Jeremy on great performances as well – it’s a pleasure to work with y’all.

    As a side note, I wanted to address how the tournament was run, both because I think it’s important for others to know in considering attending in the future and because I think there should be an incentive for the tournament to improve. Frankly, it is unacceptable for a tournament of this caliber that charges such high entry/judging fees (I think it’s around $300 to hire a judge and $100 entry fees) to give non-mutual panels, especially in late outrounds, without notifying the debaters or their coaches (or including a provision in the invitation that they reserve the right to use non-mutual judges i.e. Greenhill’s no prefs past quarters policy). A large part of the issue, in my opinion, is only hiring a few judges, most of whom the tournament was aware could not stay for outrounds on Monday. I’m not blaming the tab room staff at all (Lexy Green, etc.), who in my opinion were very professional about the unfortunate situation, but I do think that the tournament needs to accept responsibility for the prestige that the community has chosen to bestow upon it – if a tournament is an octas bid, it owes the debaters who spend their time and money to come to that tournament what they expect. If the tournament invested money in something else for the competitors like trophies (or even donating it to charity, like Meadows does), fewer hired judges might be appropriate. When the trophies are just small, plastic frames saying how you did, there really isn’t an excuse to put so little towards improving the tournament.

    That’s my two cents.

    • http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/470192791/10mm_10mm_Thickness_of_Clear_Acrylic.html

      It cost 3 dollars for each trophy. I call Shenanigans. I mean its california, 100$ is a 5th grader’s allowance. WE WANT GOLDEN CHALICES 

    • I don’t want to speak for Mike in terms of the logistics associated with all this (frankly because I’m don’t know all the details), but I will say this: I think it’s a bit unfair to highlight this situation in a world where (a) a judge who we believed would be there in the morning wasn’t, (b) the judge who was subbed in is a *widely* respected and capable critic (whether you preference him or not), and (c) these things happen even at the best of tournaments.

      While the tournament could potentially hire *more* judges, I know that it flies many of its judges in at great expense to ensure that the people judging are in fact highly capable judges. 

      For what it’s worth, I’m sure this feedback will be taken seriously, and we’ll make every effort to improve the tournament each year. Fees notwithstanding, I know the tournament isn’t a money-maker (unlike a number of bid tournaments, particular college-run events), and we aim to provide the community with a quality service.

      Even among tournaments “bestowed” with “prestige,” I think a sober comparison of octas-bid tournaments would reflect pretty favorably upon the VBT. I don’t think I have to point many fingers to remind you that a number of national tournaments have judging pools that are arguably far less consistent, and some have had considerable and systemic difficulty honoring preferences. I’d also submit that a fair assessment of VBT over the years suggests that it’s certainly been one of the most consistently well judged national tournaments. An isolated event (in one round, where the difference was between a 2 and a 3) at one iteration of the tournament shouldn’t detract from that.

      From what I can tell, most debaters and teams had an excellent experience this year. Perhaps it’s not the best tournament for folks hunting for golden chalices (lol—and we’ll get right on that, Drew), but if I were debating and only picked 4 octas-bid tourneys to attend, I’d have a hard time finding 4 to pick over the VBT. If folks do have any feedback or recommendations they’d like heard, please feel free to get in touch with me at stephenbabb5@gmail.com (I can’t promise I’ll follow up on this particular thread regularly).

      • If this is about the quarters round when Rebar and I were given ballots when we had left the tournament, then it is worth noting that neither one of us were obligated to judge quarters. We both probably should have checked with tab to make sure we didn’t have a ballot anyway, and/or tab should have told us that we were going to be given quarters ballot, even though it was past our obligation, so as to preserve mutuality. Honestly, tab, Rebar, and I probably all tripped up a little bit. I decided to go eat Mexican food rather than judge the Drew/Kyle round, but I also didn’t know I was supposed to be judging. Shit happens. 

        • Yah, I’m certainly not calling you or Rebar out—I have no idea what happened, and we need to be prepared for contingencies either way. We’ll make sure that happens next year.

          • Rebar Niemi

            i probably should have checked with tab, but I hadn’t been on the list of obligated judges for Monday and I assumed that if I wasn’t going to be used for octas I wouldn’t be in quarters. This was a faulty assumption, and I definitely think that me missing that round was partially my fault – and I’m sorry about it. Nonetheless, I thought it was weird that there were less than 30 total kids watching outrounds from octas on. It’s like 90% of the tournament didn’t know where they were or care. And it seemed like the facility could barely support that number of spectators/hangers on. It felt like a round robin. Not necessarily a good or bad thing, but I’ve never felt like that at VBT before. 

          • Very true. Not only were there not very many spectators, but I think pretty much all of the spectators were either teammates of people that were still competing, or students of coaches who had to come back to judge octas. That was about it. 

      • Daniel Moerner

        The concern with VBT is not that it’s worse than other octas bids, or that it had a bad panel. The concern is that the quality and organization of the tournament have both gone consistently downhill over the past several years. I don’t think that Babb means to suggest that we should only compare octas bids by their judging pools, and I basically agree that the judging is fine. (Fine in the sense of being adequate.) But I think that for a large tournament the responsibilities go FAR beyond providing a few better hired judges.

        Several complaints:
        1. Expensive food
        2. Mediocre or non-existent judge food
        3. The expensive food trucks proceeding to run out of food.
        4. Moving to a 3-day tournament while dropping a prelim and proceeding to consistently run 1-2 hours late.
        5. No reliable updates from the tabroom about when pairings will come out. (“10 more minutes” stretched into 30 minutes or longer numerous times.)
        6. A text/email system is good in principle…but then why have runners for ballots between flights? And despite this, the tournament continually ran late.
        7. Kicking students and judges out of the common room at night before rounds are over.
        8. Two years in a row, being locked out of the same building for the same late-night rounds on Saturday night.
        9. Frankly, the trophies have always been bad.

        Also, one of the top 4 octas bids? VBT is CLEARLY an order of magnitude or more worse than these four: Greenhill, Valley, Apple Valley, Glenbrooks. They are all well-run tournaments that others have a lot to learn from. 

        (For the sake of full disclosure, miscommunication between myself and the tournament led to my not being present on Monday morning, but this was communicated in advance.)

        • Daniel,

          I think some of these concerns are valid, and I while it’s my impression that some of the circumstances were difficult to control for (at VBT or other tournaments where some of the same issues arise), I can assure you we’ll do some trouble-shooting and put on a better show next year. It’s disappointing to me if even one person didn’t have a positive experience, so thanks for the feedback.


    • Speaking of judge preference sheets, can anyone get to 10 1’s on the Emory judge preference form, let alone 16? The hired judge pool has three judges I preferred (out of *thirteen* total): Larry Liu, Martin Sigalow, and Sophie Ruff. In fact, I only recognized some of the hired judges because I’m a dinosaur, and happened to remember that said individual(s) debated Glenbrook North (in policy) sometime in the early-aughts. 
      Ironically, the Barkley Forum’s indifference towards their hired judge pool is probably costing them money; if they pretended to care about LD, perhaps they would have more than 96 entries. It’s not too late for the BF to fix their judge pool before this weekend: prod LD folks in Atlanta, e.g. Maeshal Abid and Michael Roytman, to attend by sweetening their judge contracts, offer to hire highly-preferred coaches who currently aren’t scheduled to judge on a per-round basis, and reach out to Southerners who might be able to drive or take cheap short-hop flights, e.g. Garrett Jackson and Travis Smith. Together, we can make the Barkley Forum a prestigious LD tournament again!

  • Ankur Mandhania

    I’ve been out the game this year, but i’ll just drop this offer into this conversation: as a currently unemployed reasonably successful LD coach, I will give any students from disadvantaged backgrounds any help I can give them.  

    Law school means, unfortunately, that this isn’t as great a deal as it sounds – I am not free most weekends, have geographic restrictions, etc.  However, I am always available via email to look over cases/blocks/whatever, and perhaps over IM or phone to help you think about strategy (if you’re nice enough, I might even learn how to use Skype for you!).  You should also note that I won’t be doing a ton (if any) topic research, making this more valuable for the young debater who is trying to figure out how the circuit works than for the lone wolf who has already experienced some circuit success.  

    As a budding lawyer, of course, I have to impose some constraints on this:

    (1) My academics have to come first – sorry, this one is not negotiable.  This should not interfere with most of the help I can give you (emails can be answered while I’m not in lecture), but hey.
    (2) I have to insist on this being revenue-neutral for me – for instance, if you’re in the NYC area and want me to come to your school, I expect you to pay my subway fare round trip.  I don’t want to make money on debate coaching, and I’ll do what I can to keep your costs low, but losing $$ = not OK for a grad student, y’know?
    (3) In the unlikely event of my judging ever again, I will constrain myself from you and expect you to do the same.  Depending on your view of my judging, this may be another benefit from taking me up on this.
    (4) I have no way of enforcing this, but I’d like you to make a similar offer to high schoolers once you graduate.  As a debater, I was helped a lot by many fantastic, generous coaches (Dave McGinnis, Adam Nelson, Jenny Savage, and Dan Meyers head the very very long list), and am doing this in large part from gratitude – I’m not as baller as those folks, but I think this would be a really cool tradition to continue in our community.

    If you’re interested, I am reachable on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ankur.mandhania, and via email at ankur AT nyu DOT edu.

  • Anonymous

    So as the only debater in VBT doubles without a high profile coach (I’m of the opinion that Barrett is one of the better coaches out there but low profile non the less) I feel very comfortably saying that the only thing i want from people is to not be ass-holes (not sure if that’s appropriate but it’s fitting). I’ve hit prep-outs, debated the biggest schools, and debated people with 10x more rep but by far the hardest thing to do is to keep going after hearing things like “how the hell did KellerTF break?” or “Keller won that round? must be illegit.” The feeling of being excluded and like you don’t belong is the hardest part of debate. I don’t want charity coaching or favors i just want people to not be dicks when they’re hitting me or for coaches to treat me poorly cause they haven’t heard of school. 

    Also, making friends is the best thing any small school can do in debate. Tournaments are a lot better and easier when you know people and can talk to other debaters. 

    • Anonymous

      Oh and a camp should try to hire Barrett. He’s the man. 

    • Quinn Olivarez

      it would be nice if at-larges also reflected this sentiment.

    • I agree. Rather than try and be a “lone wolf”, I think its a good idea network with people both from schools both small and big so you don’t feel so excluded. Being accused of fixing judging after winning a bid round for the first time felt terrible, especially after a less than spectacular year, but luckily I had a few people support me. Approaching people with 3 bids can be intimidating,  but I think theres a general misconception that sense your school isn’t funded, debaters by nature will curbstomp you to the sidewalk and steal your milk money. Sure, if your hitting top seeds its likely they prepped you out, but you should still talk to them as you stand outside the door to the round. 

  • Dave McGinnis

    What debate needs is (A) lasting commitments from coaches and (B) commitment to building programs rather than coaching individuals.

    I have no problem in a vacuum with first-year-outs coaching individual students, but someone who elects to coach/build a program is going to provide vastly more good (more debate/person/hours, perhaps) than someone who just works with one or two kids.

    I don’t mean to say that everyone should do that. Do what you like, do what makes you happy. But if your goal is to promote debate as broadly as possible, look for a program to work with rather than one or more individuals.

    As far as the thesis of this topic, it seems kind of ridiculous. Observing that the “power debate schools” overperform at competitive tournaments is about as surprising (and as relevant) as observing that the stronger people win the weight-lifting competitions. If your operational definition is “schools that do good at debate,” you should be neither shocked nor concerned that programs so identified… you know… do good at debate.

    • Anonymous

      What operational definition do you suggest using instead? Again, I’m open to alternatives.

      • Teams that:
        a) Have the resources and logistical freedom to travel. Many school districts (like the Cy-Fair district in which I coach) have virtually no funding for debate (the funding for athletics is nearly 40x higher) and also have extreme restrictions on travel (students are only allowed to leave the state twice for school-sanctioned activities).

        b) Have committed coaches. Many schools have a swim coach or speech teacher as their “coach” that have never heard of Joy of Tournaments and think the NFL is about football. Obviously, students at such programs are going to struggle if they can’t even register for tournaments properly. Schools need dedicated coaches who not only know and have experience with debate, but are also willing to take on the role of a teacher.

        These are my suggestions for an operational definition.

        • I would expand the definition of coach to include some form of circuit awareness. For example, my school does have a debate coach who is good on the local circuit, which is very lay and traditional, but is lost when it comes to the nature of circuit debate and cant offer any help on the circuit.

  • I’m not sure what my comments mean seeing as I coach a resource heavy team in Harker, but I debated for a team that no one would consider a “power program.” My 4 years in debate have taught me three things in regards to resource disparity in debate:

    First, no one on the circuit really gives a shit. Cameron forfeited CPS finals 4 years ago to discuss this issue, and that generated a lot of discussion for about 2 weeks and then died off. Just like every other issue in debate. For example, everyone discussed gender bias in debate on this forum for about a week and then all of a sudden the issue died. I’m glad this conversation is happening, but, and you can mark my words, come February 10th, no one will be posting on this thread. 

    Second, resource disparity in inevitable. Whether we like it or not, debate is a competitive activity. And just like every other competitive activity, the teams with the most money are the best off to compete (although the New York Knicks continually manage to suck year after year–quite an accomplishment in my opinion). 

    Third, that being said, we as a community can help make the situation better:

    a. Adopt kids from smaller programs. Brentwood and I shared prep last year, and I think Cory, Kyle, and I found it to be an incredibly mutually advantageous relationship. It also let me see how big teams operate, an invaluable asset for defeating those very same big teams that year. Letting small-school kids into the other side of the periphery helps make the situation better.

    b. Continue utilizing the internet. Adler’s doing a great service to the community through these videos. Honestly, I don’t think small-school kids are that badly off. With all the videos online, a kid who wants to get good can get good. 

    c. Camps need to continue giving scholarships to younger kids. Shout out to VBI for letting me attend between 9th and 10th grade at a severely discounted price. We should prefer kids from schools without programs in my opinion.

    d. Tournaments need to be cognizant of this problem. I went to 1 tournament my freshman year, 3 my sophomore year, 6 my junior year, and 9 my senior year. The only reason I could go to 9 my senior year is because so many tournament directors waived off my fees. I don’t know if this was because I helped increased the quality of the pool or because they were just kind-hearted, but waiving fees is such a huge help for kids who have a limited amount of money.

    Fourth, for kids reading this forum that are “resource disadvantaged”. A few pieces of advice:

    a. Make friends. It helps combat the prep disadvantage, makes you feel included at tournaments, and most importantly, gets you housing. I didn’t stay in a single hotel my senior year other than at ToC because I had friends from debate at every tournament I went to that could house me. I saved probably close to 1000 dollars that way.

    b. Work harder. What you lack in resources you can make up in talent.

    c. Utilize the internet and email prominent debaters for help. Almost no one says no to emails asking for help–if you have questions about something, email someone who you think will know how to answer the question.

    d. Approach people about your situation. You can’t be helped if you don’t help yourself. Email tournament directors and let them know about your situation and see if they can help you. You’ll find that a lot of the big school teams on the circuit are ran by really kind and well-intentioned people.

    e. Relish your situation. It’s so much sweeter to beat the machines knowing you did all your own prep and thought of your own strategy. 


    Editted*: Whoever calls Jacob a big school debater is a moron. Dude does all his own prep and always has.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with a lot of your suggestions for ways individual debaters can help themselves, and I’m glad you’re contributing to the conversation. 

      Just one final note on the Jesuit thing that I think might help clarify the discussion: I don’t think the ‘power programs’/big-school labels entail lazy debaters who don’t do their own prep. I recognize that Jacob and Jim have worked very hard for their success. My point in classifying Jesuit a powerful program this year is just about parity, or how the team has become a mainstay of sorts.

      NOJ might not be the largest of these programs, but I still think they meet the relevant characteristics. NOJ has qualled at least four debaters during my participation in debate, and has had at least six students bid (albeit two from ghost bids at a regional tournament, but still bids). NOJ has also cleared a debater at TOC recently and has a coach who worked at a major camp (regardless of how much prep he does).

      Maybe I’m not using the right diagnostic criteria. What do you think a better determination of ‘powerful’ program or not is? I’m certainly open to alternative definitions.

      • Justin Pearce is 50% of the NOJ coaching staff, and he is The Man. And when I say “The Man,” I mean that he is a chill dude, and not a part of the establishment that is trying to keep us down. 

      • Anonymous

        I’d suggest some different diagnostic criteria for what determines what a “power” program is.  You’re qualifying power programs right now based upon results.  I would qualify a power program based upon resources.  Your underlying assumption is that greater resources produce greater results.  But this isn’t always the case.  Instead of looking at results with that inherent assumption, why not just classify power programs as those that have more resources?  

        I’d lay out several types of resources that are important.  1. Coaching, 2. Student Body (size, diversity, financial status), and 3. Money.  Money is obviously the most important because money can affect both coaching (by hiring more or better coaches) and by providing students with more opportunities to succeed (e.g. by sending kids to camps or paying for more kids to go to tournaments).  There may be others, of course.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.  This is the more proper metric, though, I think – to look at resources of each program.  

        If Strake Jesuit happened to not qual any debaters to TOC in one year, they wouldn’t cease to be a “power” program.  Their debaters just didn’t succeed as much that year.  If Strake’s budget got suddenly eliminated and no one would coach for them anymore, then they would cease to be a “power” program because they would no longer have a resource advantage over the average program.  Similarly, when New Orleans Jesuit quals two debaters with 14 bids total (or however many it may be now) that doesn’t mean they’ve suddenly become a “power” program; it means their debaters have succeeded that year.  What would matter to NOJ’s classification as “power” would relate to money, coaching, student resources, etc.  Power programs should be classified based on resources, rather than results, to be more accurate to what the discussion is about in my view.On a note unrelated to criteria, though, I think the gripe about “power” programs is silly.  Perhaps I’m in a unique situation with respect to this, but I have been involved with a program at the bottom of the national circuit and with one at the top.  In 2006 I was a senior at New Orleans Jesuit.  Our team consisted of one person (me) and one coach (Travis Smith).  The team competed only in LD the entire year with no outside coaching.  Travis had no experience with LD at the time and his last experience with debate was competing in Policy in high school.  Our budget was small, a fraction of what “power” program budgets were.  We could only afford to pay for the entry fees of students at tournaments, nothing more.  With one previous year of circuit debate, I qualled for Nats and TOC but never seriously competed in outrounds of big tournaments.  No one else on the team had any sort of success nationally.  The next year we qualled no one for TOC.  Fast forward six years.  It’s now 2012.  I’m an assistant coach at New Orleans Jesuit.  We currently have one head coach, three assistant coaches, 5 ALDers, 5 NLDers, and 4 Public Forum teams.  We compete in the outrounds of every tournament we go to.  Our top two debaters are at the top of bid lists, both received invites to MBA, both will go to TOC, and one broke at TOC last year.  What is different now, six years later? Not much.  We recruit much in the way we did that first year in 2006 when I was the only returning member of the team. Our budget is basically the same and still nothing compared to budgets of “power” programs.  We have two assistant coaches who work for nothing and pay another assistant a small amount.  The difference is that our kids work hard.  Each year they got better, and each year they taught younger kids on the team to work hard and get better.  

        Of course we offer good coaching and formation for kids in our program.  Many programs do.  The difference in success is often how hard the students work.  Will Mcgrew comes from a program that isn’t even on the map and he now has 3 TOC bids.  He works hard for his success and it pays off.  Our program resources have hardly changed in 6 years.  Yet now we are one of the top programs in LD.  That’s a testament to our kids and to the stability that Travis has finally brought to the team by staying for the longest of any of our coaches since the 90s.  The point is that it doesn’t take some special handicapping to change a program from bottom of the barrel to cream of the crop.  It takes hard work on the part of the kids, a minimal institutional support, and good, stable coaching. As far as individual debaters go, I think everyone should open their arms to help kids trying to succeed in the activity. 

        • Anonymous

          Thank you for the thorough feedback. I agree that resources do probably have more in determining the ‘power’ than success (especially given Dave’s criticism of ‘powerful’ programs definitionally doing well). The problem I see in this metric, though, is that team resources are not public: there is no way to know, say, that Tim Hogan and Cherian Koshy were working for very little when with AV, or NOJ’s current situation you just described. Maybe that just indicates more that we should focus on solutions regardless of who fits what label rather than debating the label itself.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, I definitely agree that it’s much harder to classify whether teams are “power” programs based on a metric of resources because resources aren’t public disclosed items, like tournament results are.  I’m not saying that it’s an easier metric to use, merely that it’s more appropriate given the nature of the issue.  The “problem” people have with power programs is that they supposedly have a structural advantage over non-power programs that allows them to succeed.  If the assumption is that there is a structural advantage that makes a school a “power,” then a metric that focuses on resources is more apt than one that focuses on tournament results.  

            As far as focusing on solutions, I don’t think “solutions” per se need to be sought.  Certainly I advocate helping individual “lone wolf” debaters and allowing smaller schools to travel/work jointly with larger schools.  But that’s something for individual programs and debaters to work out themselves.  I don’t think the community should enact changes or attempt to rectify the situation of certain schools dominating (or missing from) the circuit, so long as debaters are not actually prevented from participating in the activity.  
            My point about NOJ’s success is that small, irrelevant programs can become powerful, or at least successful in the community with no outside help.  I also think the converse is true.  Dominant programs can slip into irrelevance fairly quickly (Isidore Newman is an example).  These things come and go and there are tides in the community.  Some programs may dominate for a period and then lose ground.  Others may be irrelevant before coming to prominence.  Still others may have staying power to be dominant for a stretch.  But I’d argue that there is natural movement that does not require any action to alter the situation as it may progress without interference.  

          • Anonymous

            I think you’re right that program status fluctuates in the status quo and that things come in tides, but I’m not sure I understand why that means no solutions should be sought. 

            You say that we should not be particularly concerned as long as certain debaters are not prevented from competing, but I think that situation happens quite frequently. If Mercer Island (my high school) had said I could not travel without a chaperone or sharing a hotel room with a team, I would have been out of luck because when I contacted people looking to share costs, I almost always either got no response or was turned down (the notable exceptions to this: Carlton Bone, who housed me for free at NDCA my junior year; Erik Legried and Blake let me stay with them for Voices; Patrick Graham and I shared housing for Emory). I know that certain programs have their own constraints about wanting their kids to be comfortable, not over-crowded, etc., but I wish there were more programs like Bronx and Whitman who went out of their way to extend opportunities to people.

            The housing/chaperone issue is only one thing; what about the funds to travel? The resources to find someone to work with you so that if you do manage to travel, you are not a lone debater sitting at a table by yourself at a tournament with nobody to help you break in to the circuit? I agree with you in that I’m not sold on whether programs should be FORCED to offer more opportunities to others, but it’d certainly be great if organizations like Voices, NSD, VBI, etc., incentivized help during the season, not just at camp.

          • Anonymous

            I guess I wasn’t specific enough in regards to my comments about “solutions.” I don’t disagree that certain solutions are available, or that solutions should be sought for by those who have that power.  My argument was that I don’t think solutions for the community at large need to be sought.  I didn’t really expound much on the rationale for that thought, so I’ll do so here.  

            The problems you bring up are fair ones, but it’s simply not feasible for the community as a whole to either institute solutions to them, or to enact reform; and, in my opinion, it shouldn’t.  Those types of measures are best left to individuals, individual programs, and individual camps to decide themselves.  Take the example of a school not allowing a student to travel without a chaperone.  Nothing the community as a whole can do will be able to force a school to change its policy, or accept non-school/non-parent chaperones.  Likewise, it would be up to each camp or tournament to sponsor “scholarships” to certain tournaments.  E.g. VBI could perhaps sponsor 2 free spots to VBT, for example.  Or, another example, a high quality debater could agree with a camp to teach at the camp in exchange for the camp sponsoring the student to attend tournaments.  As it is now, many camps waive tuition for less fortunate students, and some tournaments also will pay for students to attend the tournament, depending on the student’s situation.  However, it’s unlikely that the circuit as a whole could have a system like this because, as you stated, individual tournaments, camps, and teams are constrained by their own resources.  Additionally, tournaments and camps prefer not to trumpet their beneficence, since it might seem unfair to others.  These sorts of benefits will likely always be at the discretion of camp directors/tournament directors and at the request of individuals in need.The best thing to do is for programs with resources to be open to helping individual debaters or smaller programs, for camps to continue to be willing to sponsor debaters to get good training, and for tournaments to be open to paying for debaters to attend.  All of these solutions currently happen, however they are at the initiative of individuals who want to take advantage of them and the discretion of those willing to provide.  I just don’t see how there could be a circuit-wide solution.  The feasible solutions have been thought of, there just isn’t a way to institutionalize them.  They have to be sought by individuals who want to take advantage of them and offered by those with the resources to provide them.  

          • Anonymous

            I think we’re largely in agreement. It’s just frustrating to me that so little will happen then because individuals will assume others will cover it, but I suppose that’s an inevitability of sorts. I think it’s good, though, to give good press to teams like Whitman and Bronx so that maybe other programs will feel encouraged to earn some similarly good rep.


  • I was initially somewhat reticent to post when I first saw this but after Adler asked me and I read more of the comments, I guess I do want to say something. Obviously Evanston is by no means a power program. When I was a freshman we didn’t even really have much of a team at all, and I didn’t start debate until I was a sophomore. That year there was only one other LDer, who was a senior and who might have gone to VBI, I think, and who had only competed on the circuit at Glenbrooks (which actually is in our backyard) and maybe Blake once. In any event, we got a new coach when I was a sophomore, Jeff Hannan, who really made an effort to make us a national circuit-competitive team. But Jeff, as great as he his, had been out of LD for a while, so we didn’t really do well when I was a sophomore because we were so out of step with circuit norms. Then last year we were able to hire Dan Jennis to coach LD. Dan’s taught at VBI, but not for a few years, so I wouldn’t really characterize him as a high-profile coach. But he’s definitely a fantastic coach, and I think what he did in turning me from a debater who went 1-5 at Harvard to one who took a ballot from Martin Sigalow in a bid round in less than a year by himself while finishing up college is pretty remarkable. This year I’ve been much more successful, and I think that’s due to a combination of Dan’s continued efforts, a fantastic experience at NSD over the summer, and less generic casing (like my boy Albert). That’s really my story.

    What do I take away from my experience? A few things. First, having a good LD coach matters. Jeff is a great head coach and has created an increasingly successful team out of scratch, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to compete without a dedicated LD coach. This is especially true because I’ve only been to one “major” camp; anything else is too cost-prohibitive for me. Second, though, having a good LD coach is most beneficial when that coach is up to date on circuit norms. The discrepancy between my success junior and senior years is really in my mind due to the fact that I learned technical, circuit things (especially theory-related) that Dan simply couldn’t teach me because of his lack of involvement with the circuit at a high level in recent years. This means that students with access to neither camp nor the most up-to-date coaches (I refuse to say “best”) are probably screwed for the most part in my opinion. 

    Third, resources do matter. This is true both on a school-wide and personal level. On a school level, I go to a public school that has failed to meet NCLB standards for the past several years and has a significant socioeconomically disadvantaged population. This significantly hampers our recruiting efforts as it relates to the talent we have to draw from. Besides me, we’ve been lucky to find a few other LDers who are quite talented, but we still only really have 3 varsity debaters including me, and I’m the only one who’s ever even been in a bid round. I really think this does matter. In addition to the collaborative benefit that comes from having others to help to shoulder the workload and discuss ideas when a coach is unavailable, rep-wise I think having 3 debaters in octas of Glenbrooks, for example, does more than having 1 in quarters, no matter how stunningly attractive and intelligent that 1 may be. And if you deny that rep matters, I will laugh at you. On a personal level, I just can’t afford private coaching. I’ve already mentioned camp. And as our PF/congress team grows (at a far higher rate than LD), the cost of tournaments has gone up dramatically for me this year as the number of plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc has increased while our budget has not. This can be frustrating, as it makes it hard for to get the level of Jan/Feb pre-TOC competitive experience others have. 

    I think that’s all I have to rant about at the present moment. None of this ought to be taken to diminish the amazing achievements of a lot of “power program” debaters, nor should it be taken as personal horn-tooting except in the most tongue-in-cheek way. These are just observations. I don’t know what the solutions are or even a nice pithy description of the problem. All I can offer is the story of what’s happened to me and what I think about it. 

  • Steven, I don’t really understand your creation of the “power program” label.  While there are certainly programs that we can all agree fall under that classification, you seem to be picking really arbitrary factors to distinguish “power programs” with “non-power programs.”  For example, I wouldn’t classify NOJ as a “power program.” Jim and I became successful by working really hard; Travis and Justin haven’t written any of our prep for this topic and don’t even attend all of the tournaments we go too.  I’m not trying to say we’re disadvantaged or anything; I’m just saying it’s ridiculous to make these distinctions and talk about these statistics without some sort of objective separation of power schools and non-power schools.  Ultimately, though, I agree with you and Fritz that prep sharing/FYOs agreeing to coach small school kids in addition too/instead of big schools is a step in the right direction to solve the problem.  I just think that creating these distinctions and calling out certain programs doesn’t really help fix anything.

    (Edit for formatting)

    • Anonymous

      I don’t mean to call anybody out; I apologize I’d I came off as demeaning your accomplishments. As I noted above, I think debaters at powerful programs are still responsible for a large degree of their success. I ultimately agree with you that solving whatever disparity does exist matters more than debating who specifically falls in which category.

      Still, I don’t think the selection is THAT arbitrary: NOJ has had a student in TOC outrounds in the past three years; it has a coach who was a VBI lab leader; it has qualified at least four different kids to TOC in the years I’ve been involved in debate. While it might not be AS resource-heavy as some other schools, I think it’s fair to include this year’s NOJ as a powerful program.

    • I agree with a lot of what has been posted here
      My debate experience was similar to Matt’s, and I therefore had a lot of obstacles to becoming successful. I was the first debater from my school to be interested in circuit debate, and as a result, I was placed in one of the lower labs at VBI the summer after my freshman year. Over the past 2 years, I have partially offset my lack of debate knowledge by hiring a series of coaches (JP Gooderham, Caroline Sherrard, and Maddy Stein). Additionally, my limited success sophomore year resulted in my placement in one of the higher labs at VBI, which allowed me to work with several extremely helpful former debaters (notably Jane Kessner, BSK, Babb, Paras Kumar, Jake Nebel, Marshall Thompson, etc).

      Nevertheless, the single most important factor in improving my debate skills has been working with other DEBATERS, most notably the New Orleans Jesuit Team. Since becoming friends with Jim and Jacob last year, my understanding of debate has improved dramatically. Our collaboration started with my bombarding them with (and their answering) questions about metaethics, theory, and various other topics and has now reached the point where we essentially prep together as one team. I cannot even begin to explain the benefits of working with Jim and Jacob, and I suggest that all lone wolf debaters try to collaborate with more established programs. I would like to note however that my improvement resulted from my working with JIM and JACOB, NOT with their coaches (although I know for a fact that both are extremely devoted and competent).

      I realize however that joining a relatively well-established team is not an option for many (if not most) lone wolf debaters. Nevertheless, I still think it is possible to succeed by collaborating with other debaters. Even if you can’t share prep with another school, you should try to improve by talking to better, more-experienced debaters. As I noted early, my early conversations with Jim and Jacob dramatically improved my debate skills. In addition to Jim and Jacob, several other debaters (notably Sammi Cannold and Lizzie Tao) were always willing to give me advice and help me improve. Collaborating with debaters of your own skill level can also be extremely helpful by sharing ideas, strategies, knowledge, blocks, cases, etc. Personally, sharing ideas, etc with debaters like Ingrid Yin and Samantha Hom has been an extremely beneficial experience.

      I think that this problem is one that can be easily fixed if we all make a commitment to help debaters who are structurally disadvantaged. For established schools and experienced coaches, that means that you should make an effort to let lone wolf debaters join your team, as schools such as Whitman and Jesuit have done. For the community as a whole, it means that next time a novice from a small local school chats us asking what theory or metaethics is, we should explain fully so that they may have similar opportunities to those of debaters from established programs.

  • Anonymous

    Jonathan Horowitz made the point below that Loyola Blakefield probably is not a power program; I agree with his assessment, but Tom does have access to multiple major camp lab leaders as coaching through his relationship with Walt Whitman (consistently a great program in terms of helping small schools debaters). 

    I think I also might have made an oversight in leaving out the PV boys, although there’s an interesting discussion to be had there. Their program is fairly young, and they were the first debaters from their school to qualify in LD, but they also have coaching from a two-time TOC champion and a very dedicated team coach in Samantha Weiss. 

    Maybe my observation should be more about the importance of high-profile coaching than about a team’s historical success. I know that there should be some obvious correlation between high-profile coaches and one’s own competitive success, if we assume that the coaching’s effect is what it is touted to be. But even there, if this coaching does improve own’s debate, wouldn’t it make sense to spread the great coaching? Or to do something to quell the disparity in access to it?

    • Rebar Niemi

      steven, i believe PV shares prep with Apple Valley – their program is clearly sustained by the dedication and wherewithal of Mrs. Weiss and the students, but I think the combo of AV and Chris probably puts them in contention to be a power program, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep growing. 

      Major rule of debate: success begets success. Every one of these schools was bad at LD at some point.

  • Anonymous

    I’m kind of disturbed by the breakdown of kids in doubles. Of the 32 participants, only four come from non-power programs (maybe five, depending whether you include Lynbrook as a historical power): Connor Durkin from Tahoma, Regan Grishaber from Aliso Niguel, Michelle Kiang from Monte Vista, Travis Fife from Keller, and Jonathan Uesato from Lynbrook. And of those four or five non-power kids, only one is not coached by someone who was a prominent enough debater to have been a VBI lab leader in the past few summers.

    I don’t know what the breakdown was of the VBT field of ‘power program’ debaters vs. non-power programs, but it seems like four or five is a pretty small number in the doubles field. Does anyone know if that result is typical? I get that some of this is that programs become power programs from winning a lot, so naturally those that are ‘power programs’ will tend to have kids with more success (i.e. NOJ’s emergence as a power program with two MBA invites and solid coaching from Travis Smith and Justn Pearce), but it still seems like something is off here.

    What do people think some solutions to the problem might be? Last weekend I discussed at Lexington with some people the idea of power programs asking their FYO hires to also take on a few pro bono students as a condition of their being hired. I’m not sure that is the optimal solution, but I’m interested in at least hearing what other people have to say.

    NOTE: None of this is to take away from the success of the debaters at these power programs; clearly it takes a lot of work to make it to the bid round at VBT, and it is a terrific accomplishment. I just can’t help but wonder, though, whether some other students might have worked just as hard and not had the resources to capitalize on their efforts.

    • Steven, the power vs. non-power disparity is a definite problem in the community. I do understand that a large part of why these programs do well is because the students deserve it. However, coming from a school where I am the only person who competes on the circuit and a state that make travel almost prohibitively expensive, I can tell you that its difficult to compete in terms of preparation and, most importantly, the lack of a team  means that you miss out a lot in terms of practice debates and drills since you need to be almost completely self-regulating.

      I’m not trying to complain, but I think my story probably illustrates
      some of the problems with the power vs. non-power disparity. I’m a senior and founded my schools LD program four years ago. Our school’s coach had no knowledge or experience of LD and so I was self-taught. My first experience with anything circuit related was camp after my freshman year where I was in bottom lab and so didn’t get exposure to what the circuit was like. The only time I debated on the circuit sophomore year was at Alta which was a real eye-opener for me. I went back to camp that summer and, that year, I had to write all my own prep, had nobody to drills with and do practice rounds with. I went to three tournaments. Was 4-3 at GBX, lost in doubles at Alta and was a 4-2 screw at Berkeley. This year I have finally had more of an opportunity to get exposure to the circuit and picked up my two bids at Valley and Alta. As is stands, and is likely to remain, the TOC will be the 10th circuit tournament of my career and I will have only one tournament on the topic (Berkeley) prior. And although some details are unique, I would be willing to be that there are dozens of debaters who are in similar, or even worse, circumstances than I am. I was fortunate that my parents are middle class and that my grandparents were willing to chip in to pay for travel and tournament expenses because it I have to pay between $500 and $800 out of pocket to travel. I can only imagine how others might have even greater limitations.

      I managed to survive by spending dozens of hours reading books, articles and basically anything I could find and then spending even more time writing nuanced, unique cases. But the prep differential is still astounding and sometimes you realize you just don’t have things that you probably need or that would help. Honestly, the current norms of debate which seem to emphasize preparation hurt non-powers because they simply are overmatched coming into the round. It would take a lot more work to win a football game if all of your opponents touchdowns were worth 9 points and yours were only worth the standard 6.

      • Steven, 

        I think two more parameters are probably necessary to make a conclusive statement on whether nor not “non-power schools” were disproportionately represented at this tournament. I would like to see the percentage of competitors from “non-power schools” that were in the pool in its entirety, and the number of “non-power schools” that were represented in triples. 

        • Anonymous

          I just went to the JOT warm room, and here is what I found:

          These were the programs I coded as ‘power programs’: Apple Valley; Brentwood; College Prep; Harvard-Westlake; Hockaday; Los Altos; Loyola; Meadows; New Orleans Jesuit; Northland Christian; Strake Jesuit; Walt Whitman; and Valley. 

          The criteria I used for selection were loose, so some schools were on the margin but ultimately not included: PV Peninsula; Lynbrook; Harker; Palo Alto. The latter three each fail the metric of having had a debater in elimination rounds of the TOC in the past three years, whereas the former is a very young program. (Loyola has not had an elimination rounds participant in those three years, but it has qualled four debaters in the two years leading up to this season, and has a very very very high number of team bids thus far this year.)

          Coding for those schools as ‘power programs,’ I found 77/151 individuals in the field to represent such schools. Coding as such, 25/32 debaters in double-octafinals represented such ‘power programs’; in trips, 37/54 debaters represented power programs (and 6/10 who byed, this figure admittedly not very disproportionate). I have not conducted statistical t-tests on these figures, but a rough eyeballing says that power program debaters make up just over half the field, but 2/3 – 3/4 of those in elimination rounds (I did not calculate the standard deviation to see if this is a statistically significant finding).

          In these cases of successful ‘non-power debaters,’ though, they nearly all have access to power coaching. There is not a representative from local circuit LA schools among the bunch, for instance. Instead, the ‘non-power’ debaters have still managed to employ former TOC champions, VBI lab leaders, etc., as coaches. There is nothing wrong with their doing so–it is their prerogative–but it is something to consider when trying to improve access for other ‘non-power’ debaters.

          I think it’d also be interesting to see how the VBT breakdown compared to other circuit tournaments. Loyola and Brentwood, for instance, brought a ton of debaters here, presumably because of its SoCal location. What happens at a tournament like the Glenbrooks, where is really isn’t in the backyard of one power program? Is the field distribution filled with more non-powers, but elimination rounds still dominated by the major programs? There are lots of interesting questions to be explored.

          • Anonymous

            you should compare vbt with columbia to see how a tournament with less bids and a more regional draw stacks up in “power” success in comparison to one such as vbt

          • Anonymous

            Many ‘power progams’ did not attend Columbia. Given that, the variations between rate of power debaters in the field v. in elims is of limited utility–it could represent more about individual squads than about the categories as a whole.

            Still, Scarsdale and Bronx (probably the only two who meet the criteria, and each present in only a limited capacity of their squads) represented 8/32 of debaters in outrounds. The field was a size of 88, I believe, and Bronx and Scarsdale combined for nine of those debaters. 

            To clarify, ‘power programs’ were roughly one-tenth the field, but one quarter the elimination round participants. In octafinals, they were at least 5/16 participants. They were 3/8 in quarterfinals, 2/4 in semifinals, and 1/2 in finals. Essentially, the rate rose as elimination rounds progressed, (although I’ve already explained why this metric is limited). It seems even at Columbia there was some dominance by ‘power programs.’

    • Jonathan Horowitz

      I have a question Steven, what counts as a “power program?”

      For example, while Tom has had a great year for Loyola Blakefield, he is the second debater in Loyola history to fully qualify for the TOC. (Connor at larged) Last year was the first time Loyola had anybody in LD attend TOC (the other kid who qualified did not attend) and the second year ever where anybody from Loyola ever qualified to the TOC (our policy A team qualified 2 years ago to mark the first Loyola attendees of TOC).

      So then is Loyola a power program? I would say no but you can obviously quibble with that and for good reasons.

      I do think there’s a large economic disparity in LD and Jim Menick calling it the $ircuit is not totally out of place but I don’t think it’s through power programs but rich and talented debaters. 

      • Anonymous

        I think you bring up a good point in mentioning Tom. That was my oversight in classifying him a power program debater, or perhaps my misreading (because of the multiple Loyola-proper debaters in doubles). Loyola Blakefield is likely not a traditional power, nor does it staff (to my knowledge) someone who worked at one of the major two/three camps in the past few years. Even including Tom, though, he has the privilege of working with Walt Whitman team’s terrific coaching staff, on top of Loyola Blakefield’s own great coaches (Note: again, not to belittle Tom’s own large contributions to his success).

        I am not sure what exactly constitutes a power program, but I do want to point out that Walt Whitman has been a consistently great model for helping debaters from smaller programs. Karlyn traveled with them her senior year, and this year they’ve ‘adopted’ both Tom and CESJDS’s Elana Leone. I know Bronx also lets some debaters travel with them for tournaments if they need a chaperone, although I do not believe the students share prep in those cases. Regardless, the community could use more teams who are so focused on helping kids access opportunities.

    • Resource inequality, just like gender and racial inequality, is another issue that can probably be alleviated, but would require some proactive effort on the part of the debate community. There probably are some pragmatic things that could be done to resolve problems of resource inequality in debate. The reason so-called “power house” schools do well is that (a) they are often wealthy private schools with a student body that they can draw talent from and (b) they can hire more coaches to cultivate that talent. It is rare for debaters to find success on the national circuit to do so without some help from a dedicated coach. In my opinion, then, the best solution is for college students who coach debate (such as myself) to maybe forego the extra $100-$200 in beer money per topic to coach kids who would not otherwise be able to afford a coach. For what it’s worth, 2/5 of the students that Steven mentioned are coached by me, and I coach them for MUCH less than a lot of other coaches charge. I don’t just coach them just for the money (although it is certainly nice), I coach them because it’s something I
      enjoy doing and the kids I work with are smart, hardworking, and good kids. I understand the allure of prestigious coaching jobs and fat paychecks, but it would be really cool if college-aged coaches would be willing to replace (or more realistically, supplement) their big-school coaching gigs with coaching offers from small-school debaters. I know that a lot of well-established programs prohibit their coaches from coaching other students. Maybe they should ease up on these restrictions. If people are only coaching for the money, then coaching is not for them. There are so many more valuable and useful things you can do in your early 20’s. If you coach because you enjoy doing it, then consider taking a chance on some smart kids from schools you’ve never heard of. Working with a small group of talented and dedicated students can be a really enjoyable experience.  

      The big schools can also probably do some things to help resolve the resource inequality in debate. Allowing debaters without access to resources to share some of their prep and/or coaching goes a long way. Michelle Jiang shares prep with MVLA. Last year, Paras Kumar shared prep with Brentwood. Both debaters benefited tremendously from it. If big schools were more willing to extend some of their resources to talented students with fewer resources, that would be another way to alleviate the problem.

      • I couldn’t agree with Fritz more. I’m not trying to sound arrogant, but rather provide additional empirics for this argument. I signed on to coach Ty and Cy-Woods for virtually nothing. In less than a year, I’ve taken a team with some local success, to qualifying its first debater to the TOC and making it a program to be reckoned with in Texas. Ty is living proof that disadvantaged students (he lives below the poverty line) can have success if FYO’s are willing to stay in the activity and help programs like Cy-Woods for little pay.