TOC At-Large Information

The TOC has announced that it will post first round at-large acceptances on its official website this afternoon. Follow this link: and see “recent blog posts” at the bottom of the page. We will re-post the list here when it’s made publicly available.

Debaters/Judges currently entered:

  • Totally off topic, but I have two extra rooms near campus at the SprigHill Suites. Kings w/ a sofa bed at a solid rate ($107 per night), checking in on the 26th and out on the first. Free internet and free breakfast. The hotel is walking distance from campus. If you (or anyone you know) need them, let me know and I will change the reservation over. If you are already
    booked at the SpringHill at a higher rate, you can take this and cancel two of your more expensive rooms.

  • Has anyone been pulled off the wait list yet?

    • Anonymous

      Unfortunately not. It’s going to be a shame if the drops don’t get to spot number two.

  • Quinn Olivarez

    has it been decided if toc will use 7 or 8 rounds yet?

  • Graham Tierney

    Unrelated to the rest of this, if anyone is still looking for a judge for TOC I am available to go.  Covering flight costs would probably be enough, you can email me at if you’re interested.  

  • Anonymous

    Question for Lexy/Dave/any other current/former members of the at large cmte:

    Why is it that the rankings of the committee members are kept secret?  The BCS discloses how each computer formula ranked the teams.  The coaches poll discloses how each coach voted.   The committee for March Madness had an ESPN special on the selection process. Ib college policy, they disclose how each cmte member voted in the selection of first and second round at-larges.  Why isn’t that the case with at large selections at the TOC?

  • John Scoggin

    I don’t understand why we even need a committee to do this. I get the impression it takes them a lot of time, and some of them are already using formulas and stuff for their personal rankings (Lexy). I think if we just made objective rules about what type of single bid constituted enough for an at large, that would seem to solve all the problems. In my mind if you go semis or beyond at an octos bid or finals at any quarters/semis tournament or win a finals tournament that should be good enough for an at large. It doesn’t matter if you like my particular suggestion, the whole idea is you just come up with a system beforehand, make it however inclusive or exclusive people desire and then just go with that. The only downside I see is that you have little control over whether there are 65 or 80 debaters at the tournament, this doesn’t really bother me. No one that was outside of the top 40 during the season has won the TOC that I can remember, so to get this fired about about who is or is not included at that level seems pointless to me.

    • While the at large system might do better with more consistent standards, I don’t think a purely mathematical approach is the best solution. Your proposal would just take the current standard (2 bids) and reduce it slightly (2 bids or 1 impressive bid or 1 bid+3 bid rounds). The purpose of the at large system isn’t to offer a slightly lower threshold to meet but to allow people who were good enough to meet the current threshold (2 bids) but didn’t because of extenuating circumstances. I think the Jalon controversy makes it clear that this is the position that at large committee holds. Without taking a stance on that specific case, I do think it is the right approach generally.

      • John Scoggin

        That distinction seems trivial, not to mention as I already pointed out many of the committee members are already using formulae and such as part of their ranking system. Seems like the downside of allowing subjectivity (dealing with stuff like this thread… its been worse in previous years) would far outweigh whatever potential downside you bring up. My personal solution would be to get rid of the process in its entirety, but I know that this is something that people want so I figure it might as well make it more objective if that is possible.

  • Quick reminder to everyone complaining about politics. Virtually the only people who have any incentive to obtain a lot of knowledge about the relative strengths of tournaments and/or debaters do so because they have some stake in the activity, and that almost always translates into having some agenda that favors a school or group of schools above others.  And even the few of us who have no dog in the fight have our own biases and preconceived ideas of where good debaters are likely to come from (or not), to what extent diversity and year in school should play into the decision-making process. 
    The alternative to people making biased decisions with political interests in mind is people making biased decisions without any particular interest and without good and detailed information. You can take a position on which is worse, but let’s not pretend the trade-off doesn’t exist. 

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think ‘no information’ is the alternative many people are advocating for; they are advocating for transparency (i.e. Fritz’s paradigm idea) so that people know what certain members’ biases are and can adapt.

  • Anonymous

    anybody got in from the waitlist yet? how many people come off of it usually?

  • Anonymous

    Ah, the annual at-large flamewar. Congrats to NSD Update for hosting this year’s rendition of this wonderful LD tradition! Many more to you. 

  • Quinn Olivarez

    semi-unrelated, but if you need a judge obligation covered @ toc, shoot me an email; I’ll be up there already. 

  • Anonymous

    Hey Rebar, what would be the best way to contact you if I needed to speak with you?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Rebar, what would be the best way to contact you if I needed to talk to you?

    • Say something stupid on the internet, wait for him to point out how stupid it is

  • My question is: will anyone ever NOT be butthurt over the at-large decisions? 

  • Brock Takeshi

    yay for michael! he’s so nice! I debated him at Berkley. He destroyed me. But was nice about it!

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s strange that a community so pseudo-concerned with equality is ignoring the disparity in at-larges affecting women and African Americans. If anything, this years at-large acceptances should be a good representation of that constant problem.

    I also agree with much that has already been said.  We can clearly see that the at-large process has been supremely influenced by the reputation of power-house schools i.e. meadows and HVWL. I don’t see any reason why a kid from meadows and HVWL should get to go to TOC over Connor. After all, what the committee seems to have forgotten is that Meadows and HVWL succeed because of their school not the kids. Connor has had to overcome more hurdles.

    • As someone who coaches a “small school debater,” but debated at a “big school” I think it’s incredibly misguided to say that “Meadows and HVWL succeed because of their school not the kids.” Ed, Fink, and Michelle are incredibly smart, talented debaters. I’d like to think JRob, Cole, and I had success because we were at least kinda good at debate, not just because we went to Northland. But hell, maybe I’m the misguided one.

      • Jared, do you honestly think that if you had applied for an at-large last year, that you would not have had at least some advantage in the process, being from Northland Christian? 

        • Probably, but that’s not his comment. I was specifically addressing: “After all, what the committee seems to have forgotten is that Meadows and HVWL succeed because of their school not the kids.”

          • Jared I agree completely that the school one attends has no impact on the level of intelligence, skill, or tenacity in the debater. The point to be made is that schools like these allow their debaters to attend FAR more tournaments and get far more experience. While many debaters at these schools often write their own positions and such, they also generally have large theory/A2 files written by their coaching staff. I think in many cases this leaves more time for them to work on drills etc. that make them some of the most technically proficient debaters in the nation. I don’t mean to pass blanket judgements on “large-team” schools. The size of the school is obviously not the sole causation for a debaters success, but the foundation in resources certainly can have an impact on the number of bids they receive. 

          • Oh, I completely agree. If anything, resource disparity is an issue I take very seriously after coaching Ty to the TOC this year. Perhaps I just felt that “anon885’s” wording was significantly over-inclusive and excessively strong.

          • Josh Roberts

            yeah that $3000 northland gave us every year for our program was a real game changer

          • That’s $3000 more than most schools. 

          • I’m not sure exactly how sarcastic this statement was supposed to be but consider how fortunate the Northland program was to receive $3,000 worth of support from their school’s budget. My experience with my school’s debate club was that we received virtually no funding from a building budget and had to raise money to send students even to local tournaments through fundraising, hosting a tournament, and mandating all club members to pay a $75 fee annually. Next year Tahoma Senior High School will be cutting its policy debate squad because we lack the resources to pay the registration fees even at tournaments within Washington State. The few thousand dollars in funding that your school provided certainly did not provide you the travel capabilities to succeed on the national circuit like you did–in fact no amount of resources could replace your hard work and dedication–but it certainly provided a solid foundation for a forensics club that could foster steady competition and provide some semblance of a coaching staff. I would not consider $3,000 a sum to scoff at. 

          • Josh Roberts

            to clarify, there was a significant amount of sarcasm in my comment. the northland program was in existence for 6 years when i graduated, it was started by my uncle and both parents with zero funding, or support for the program, and my dad (who was my head coach) took home $0 from that job. 

            I’m not going to get into an in depth argument, especially online, because to be frank, i really just dont care who thinks they did or didn’t deserve an at large. i dont know you, connor, never saw you debate, and have no clue how well you did this year. im happy for mokrent because i coach him, and this concludes my contribution to this thread. 

          • darn im so gullible

          • Anonymous

            Nothing you just said was responsive to Connor on any level. This concludes my contribution to this thread.

          • Josh Roberts

            good job, buddy. you got me. 

          • Josh, I genuinely and sincerely think that it was really cool that your family started a debate program at your high school. I mean that. But, insinuating that you never had any institutional advantages, and complaining about the small amount of funding you got, when you know perfectly well that most programs out there get zero funding, is just asinine and douchey. I debated for a school that no one’s ever heard of, and now coach for schools that no one’s ever heard of. If I’ve learned anything from that experience, it’s that this activity is horribly elitist. People from small schools don’t complain about their situation because they want people to feel sorry for them. Debating without resources is really goddamned difficult. If you can’t understand that, at least pretend to. People who have lived privileged lives don’t understand how inaccessible this activity is, even to people who are comfortably middle class. You don’t have a goddamn clue how much work students like Connor (and others) have had to put into debate to overcome financial barriers, so keep your snide remarks to yourself. I would say this concludes my contribution to this thread, but it probably doesn’t. 

          •  Thank you Fritz.

            Speaking as someone who has had to jump over or navigate around most of them, the barriers in the activity are absolute insane. I have to spend this entire fundraising to help offset the $1500 cost of sending me, a PF team and our coach to the TOC. Berkeley was $600 out of pocket, Bronx was around the same. And yes, I am comfortably middle class but because of these and other barriers, the TOC will be my the 10th and final circuit tournament of my  career. From what I have read on this thread people have had to overcome similar problems due to the inaccessible nature of the activity. It’s really sad that, as Fritz pointed out, people don’t have a goddamned clue. You don’t need to give special benefits or praises or whatever on debaters from small schools, nobody is asking for that, but please don’t make snide or disparaging comments about financial or other barriers.

          • Josh Roberts

            I can imagine they put in a lot, and I never doubted that.

          • Frankly, I have no idea why you felt the need to post that. Why your program history is relevant, i don’t know–the fact of the matter is that your program has structural advantages that others don’t. It’s awesome that your parents were so proactive in creating a power program–I’m sure every debater would love parents that active. That said, there’s no need to talk down upon those that don’t have the privilege. I’m sure you were trying to be funny or something– or maybe you’re trying to defend your kid, i wouldn’t know. Either way, totally uncalled for and had nothing to do with what Connor was saying.  I just think it’s sad to see one of the most successful debaters in this activity openly mock the lack of accessibility for certain debaters. 

          • Josh Roberts

            Nick, the best debaters always know their debater and program history. Duh it’s relevant. (on a more serious note, i wasn’t ever mocking connor. i refuse to seriously get involved in this debate, so my asinine comments were made solely to break the tension because reading the same thing over and over again year after year gets a bit tedious. i get it’s an important issue – i just have nothing noteworthy to add/suggest.)

            On an unrelated note, congrats to the 50% of you that will be competing in this year’s elims. 

      • The funny thing is that Northland Christian, for all its rep in recent years, was virtually unheard of nationally just 7-8 years ago. How short our institutional memories are. 

    • Anonymous

      At the risk of sounding bigoted (which Im not), women and African-Americans would probably get more at-larges if they applied for them. I only counted one female who applied for an at-large, and no african-americans.

      • Rebar Niemi

        at the risk of sounding anti-white (which i am), this activity gets off on white males making everyone else uncomfortable with their conduct and then claiming its the fault of the other group. 

        availability bias or is it selection bias. idk. probably both. 

        • Anonymous

          Whether or not the activity does “get off” on making others uncomfortable (which i dont think it does), you cant blame the selection committee for not choosing non-white or female debaters if there arent any applying.

          • Rebar Niemi

            yeah, you’re absolutely right. they don’t even get any pleasure or benefit out of exclusion because that would ruin their being smug about it not being their fault. 

          • Because I really enjoy playing identity politics, and categorizing people based on skin color and gender, I will point out that Lynbrook had two at-large applicants who were both female and not white.  There may have been others; I’m not sure.

      • Dammit Geraldo, stop blaming it all on Trayvon!

  • This is completely off topic, but if anyone in the 2012 class is coming to UC berkeley and has any questions, feel free to facebook message me! 

  • Anonymous

    Everyone should take note to Conner and Robbie Steirn for not getting at larges. Robbie got a bid and losses 3 bid rounds all on 2-1 s. Conner has also done well. Props to amyn and Travis definitely deserving the at larges

  • Congrats to my homie TFife, well deserved man!

  • I haven’t commented on here before however, I would like to say congratulations to Travis on getting a well deserved at-large. He is by far one of the hardest working kids in the community and really deserved this opportunity. I know the committee is taking some heat right now however, thank you for giving Travis the opportunity to debate.

    • Despite the community taking heat, I haven’t heard people saying anything negative about Travis. People seem to view his at-large as deserved and legitimate.

  • Rebar Niemi

    congrats t. fife from keller. rowston is a good coach – fife is a good debater. 

  • This really pisses me off. I being a naive child thought that the TOC’s would give at larges to those who are deserving. Instead it was presented to members of schools that have a prominent name in the debate community. I’m going to start pointing fucking fingers out because I’m really angry. Michael O’ Kreintz from HW IS A SOPHOMORE HE HAS 2 MORE FUCKING YEARS. Also, he is not as a good a debater as many of the SENIORS on that list. Strike 1. SHAI FROM BRONX IS THE MOST  UNDESERVING PERSON TO GO TO THE TOCS. HE BID AT EMORY. THE EASIEST. FUCKING. BID. OF THE YEAR. AT CAMP HE WAS SO FUCKING BAD I ALMOST STARTED LAUGHING. Strike 2. FINALLY. ZACH EDELMEN FROM DID NOT DESERVE THE AT LARGE. HE BID AT AN EASY BID WHICH WAS DOMINATED BY SCARSDALE. THERE WERE ALMOST NO GOOD CIRCUIT SCHOOLS AT THAT TOURNAMENT. I AM VERY UNHAPPY WITH THIS YEAR’S AT LARGES. NOTE: I AM NOT A PERSON WHO HAS APPLIED FOR AN AT LARGE. I AM A QUALIFIED DEBATER FROM A “SMALL” SCHOOL. ONCE AGAIN MY FAITH IN THE CIRCUIT COMMUNITY IS GONE.

    • Let’s look at the bright side. At least all the people who got spots this year have bids…

    • Anonymous


      Ohio Valley would like a word

      • Anonymous

        ahahh you used critique and public forum in the same sentence!!!!!!

    •  Dude, I believe that the TOC at large selection process is a very political event and I believe there are certainly people who should have received at-larges that did not. However, I don’t think we ought to discredit/attack people in a public forum for being undeserving. What if Michael, Shai or Zach see this post? That would be pretty fucking terrible. It’s okay to be upset, I was having a discussion about this with people earlier, but it’s probably not something that should be posted publicly.

    • I think this post is really inappropriate. We all probably learned pretty early in elementary school that “It’s OK to be mad but it’s not OK to be mean.” This post is mean. It’s not productive, it’s definitely not nice, and no one is going to take that many caps seriously. If you have problems with that at-large process, you might want to try addressing it in a professional and mature way. 

      My faith in the community is weakened when I see things like this. If we can’t all be friends, let’s at least have some respect for people. 

      Congrats to everyone who got an at-large and s/o to Edelman. I think those speed drills really paid off 😉 

      Edited for formatting

    • I think the content of “unhappy”s post is definitely mean and can/should be rewritten, but the spirit of what s/he is saying isn’t that far off from the truth. How does one justify those 3 people getting at larges over Connor Durkin? It sucks to be comparative, but that’s what the at large process is all about.

      I simply don’t understand. Can people on the committee please justify their decisions? What’s more absurd is that the ToC takes 80 bucks from students just to APPLY–it seems like transparency isn’t ridiculous to ask for given the fees.

      • Anonymous

        to be fair, the TOC website notes that the at-large application is free if “there is less than a 25% change [sic] of any at-large application being accepted based on space available”

        i have no idea how they calculate that, but it seems like something

      • The fact that Connor Durkin didn’t get the at-large is actually just absurd, I was looking over the results of tournaments I can see/talking to people who would know more specifics and I don’t  quite understand what happened.

        The TOC committee ought to publish a series of criteria by which they evaluate applicants and, especially since they effectively can end debate careers, they owe it to the people not-selected to release what would be effectively reasons for decisions as to why they picked certain people over others.

      • +1 to Paras.

        First off, I’d like to congratulate all of the debaters that received at-larges–Although I haven’t seen all of them debate, I am sure that all are uniquely deserving of their at-larges and do not deserve any of the criticism levied at them. 
        That said… as one of Connor’s coaches, I feel as though an extremely deserving debater was excluded from a rightful at-large. As a debater from an, up until now, unheard of school (Tahoma–home of the ‘Tahomiez’ ) he has led his school into the national spotlight, taken advantage of the three national tournaments he was able to attend as a senior, and has dominated Washington State debate. With 5 dropped bid rounds (4 of which were 2-1 decisions) and a circuit bid, I find it extraordinary that he wasn’t a first round acceptance. Perhaps other kids had sick applications (and maybe they did– I honestly wouldn’t know), but if this exemption has taught me anything, it’s that there needs to be more transparency in the at large process. My perception is that it’s been some combination of Opportunity, Geographical representation, Competitive success, School’s success, and recommendations… Again, I could be totally incorrect in those assumptions, but Connor seems to come straight to mind when I think of deserving debaters in this category. Perhaps more openness in the system, or a clear method of choosing at larges, would alleviate such confusion in the future.

        Thanks, guys
        And congrats again to the recipients 

        Nick Blanchette

        • Bingo

        • Rebar Niemi

          lol alta is a “circuit bid” nice try

          • Rebar Niemi

            actually i thought alta was a good tournament. personally, i probably would have ranked everyone a little differently – but if i heard correctly that connor is 2nd on the waitlist you’ll get in nearly guaranteed.

            …also who won state this year? o that’s rite bainbridge. ~ ; { ) >

            oh hey and who won the tahoma invitational for the 4th year in a row? bainbridge. 

            nick, are you coming to kentucky? connor, i’m sure i’ll see you there. 

          • Anonymous

            Rebar, do you happen to know how many people have gotten off of the waitlist in recent years?

          •  Last year a large number got in. We had one who was somewhere around the middle of the wait list get in on April 21.

          • Anonymous

            Just one more question, could you tell me how long the wait list currently is? I get that there’s no guarantee, but for instance where does #7 fit in on the waitlist?

          •  25 applications – 6 admissions = 19.

          •  Sooo technically everyone should have their money refunded because the chance of getting an at large was below 25%. (6/24 = 24%)
            Just saying.

          • So the ToC would have made $1030 by letting one more kid in.

          • Rebar Niemi

            the toc is going to keep the money. duh.

          • This 





          • Rebar Niemi

            in case anyone was confused, that emoticon is a winking evil genie. 

          • A little up in the air, but we’ll see

          • 7/8 debaters who earned bids at Alta got bids elsewhere. The 8th student, Connor, still reached the bid round at 5 other tournaments. Those 8 students were from 3 different states. Alta is no Glenbrooks, but it was more legit than it has been in the past.

    • Dude I know right, Dulles AK and that Keller kid are from such big schools!

      • That’s 2 out of 5. Also, the objective succeses of a few other “small school” debaters probably outweigh those of the debaters selected. Huge congrats on everyone who received the at large, there was probably some subjective difference in their applications, but it would be nice if the committee could explain their reasoning behind their decisions. 

      • Anonymous

        I hear Dulles has a private jet. And 5 coaches writing prep outs

        • I heard Tahoma had some kid earn a bid this year and another kid get into Yale or something. Actually, that might have been the same kid. Not important. Anyway, those are quite possibly the most exciting things to ever happen to Maple Valley, Washington. What a year!

          But seriously, let’s not turn this discussion into the “my school doesn’t give a shit about debate” olympics.

    • 1) please learn to disable your caps lock key. If you are unable to do so I think your local Geek Squad/Genuis Bar will be more than happy to assist you.
      2) this is pretty much my reaction to this absurdly ill-considered comment:

    • Dave McGinnis

      I’m always hesitant to reply to these kinds of rants because I don’t want to lend credence to them. Also, the at large applications are not “public” documents so it’s not within my purview to share details from them. 

      That said, no one is ever completely happy with the at large list. I compared the folks who got the at larges to the folks that I ranked, and went back over my reasoning for ranking kids as I did. There were a couple of surprises on the list and a couple of kids I ranked highly who didn’t make it. That’s the nature of the process. 

      The important point is that none of the people on the at large committee includes “comes from big school” in their list of criteria for ranking the at larges. Hell, given the competition among committee members’ schools, I would think politics would work AGAINST “big” schools getting in, if anything. In the cases of all three of the people you are picking on I could easily justify a high ranking, even in comparison to the people you are lauding over them. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily better, just that there is a case to be made. And this is how it shook out.

      If you don’t want to get left out of the at large process, get two bids. The TOC is exclusionary by design. I have coached a lot of TOC qualifiers but I have coached vastly more students who did not qualify and (A) they lived and in some cases thrived, and (B) some of them were better debaters and better people than kids who did qual. 

      Chill out. It’s an important tournament, but it’s just a tournament.

      • Anonymous

        Do you seriously think that Scarsdale and Bronx Science did not engage in some sort of horse-trading to each get their kids accepted? Or that other programs/committee members don’t do similarly? Competition among committee members’ schools doesn’t matter when they collude to help each other out. That way, they each benefit.

        Not a single committee member in LD had their at-large candidate left off the list. They were all admitted first-wave.

        It is great if you don’t participate in these corrupt practices, but others who do should be held accountable.

        The TOC is certainly exclusionary, but it isn’t meant to exclude via political connections. It is meant to ‘exclude’ based on objective qualification/transparency of admission, and it should try to emulate those goals more in the future.

        • As a committee member, I am seriously bummed to have been left out of the horse trading conspiracy. Jon & Joe: where is my pony? I would have ranked your kids higher if I’d known that I might be bribed to do so. 😉

        • This is factually incorrect. While the applying committee members did get one of their applicants in, they had others that did not get in. Being on the committee does not guarantee getting your at-large applicants into the tournament. Last year my at-large applicant got in off of the wait list a mere week before the tournament. I have had several applicants who never got in, a couple who were admitted immediately, and a few who got in via the wait list (one a mere 24 hours before the tournament).

          The biggest advantage committee members have is familiarity with the application. Due to our experience, we know what sorts of information is persuasive, what is unusual, and what is just plain confusing. As a result, it is possible that committee members write better applications than those less familiar with the process.

          This year, as always, we received a few applications where there was no additional information given on the second page. These applications included a few from underrepresented schools/regions, but without any information to put the front of the application in context, I found it hard to evaluate them. When you apply for an at-large, please take advantage of the opportunity to give additional information on the back of the application.

          I cannot speak for the other committee members, but I will share with you the factors I consider in ranking the applicants. I start with a numerical system that gives points for the bid and rounds beyond the bid, as well as partial points for rounds within two of the bid. That sets my initial order. I then tinker with the order based on several factors, including wins against TOC qualified debaters and at-large applicants, split decisions in bid rounds, bad luck (tournament errors, being aff. in every elim. round, etc.), hardship, representation (gender, region, ethnicity…), and my personal knowledge of the debaters’ skills. This last factor benefits debaters who attend the tournaments I do, but is balanced by the attempt to keep the committee geographically diverse.

          To write a good application, include information about factors that prevented you from attending tournaments (if there were any). This includes financial and geographic challenges, illness, etc. List the qualified debaters you have beaten (include the tournament and judge). List any other likely at-large applicants you have beaten (include the tournament and judge). If you are from a group that is underrepresented at the TOC, make sure I know it. If I don’t know you, it may be hard for me to guess your gender or ethnicity. It will also help me read your application if you are concise. Bullet points and lists are great. A full page of dense prose is harder to wade through. Things that lots of folks include, but that don’t seem relevant to me, are how nice and hard working you are, your leadership on your team or in your community, and your successes (academic and otherwise) outside of the world of debate. Perhaps other committee members are swayed by these factors, but I am not.

          • Lexy, I really respect you, but I think that your post (probably unintentionally) signifies many of the things that are wrong about the at-large application process. Namely, it highlights the utter lack of consistency in what is appealing to the TOC committee. I remain firmly convinced that my student, Connor Durkin, who applied for an at-large, was unfairly and egregiously denied a spot, in favor of debaters whom many people (including others on the TOC committee) agree were both objectively and subjectively less “deserving.” What’s done is done, and my kid probably will still get in (he’s #2 on the waitlist), but the fact still remains that he was left out for questionable reasons.

            You very clearly laid out what is and is not persuasive to you on an at-large application. Unless someone personally knows you well enough to have insider knowledge as to what you look for on an at-large app, it seems like filling out the app is a shot in the dark. I actually spoke to you briefly at Berkeley about what goes into filling out an at-large app, because I had never had a student apply for an at-large before, and I figured you were a good person to talk to. You mentioned many of the same things in your post above, but not all of them. Specifically, you didn’t mention that you dislike long blocks of text and emphasis on hard work and determination. Right off the bat, that would indicate you were not particularly persuaded by the letter that I wrote on behalf of my student. 

            This is not to say that your method of sorting out at-large applications is flawed, because I don’t think it is. Rather, what troubles me is that there seems to be so much arbitrary variance from one committee member to another, in terms of what appeals to them. For example, you mention that you don’t like long, essay-like letters, and prefer bullet points. On the other hand, another member of the TOC committee told me explicitly that he liked the letter I wrote on Connor’s behalf, and that it “really showed my passion as a coach.” If there is so much variance from one committee member to another, how can people possibly craft universally-appealing at large apps? The only people that might have that knowledge are the students of other members of the committee, which gives them an unfair advantage. And so, when I see my student, who was the only at-large applicant who reached the bid round at every tournament he went to, and was top seed at two TOC-bid tournaments, and overcame tremendous personal and financial obstacles to compete on the national circuit, get passed up for an at-large in favor of privileged Bronx Science, Scarsdale, and Harvard-Westlake kids, it really bothers me. But, it especially bothers me to know that the only reason my kid was passed up might have been because, after a lot of thinking, I decided to write an essay on his behalf instead of listing off bullet points.

            I think that if there was more transparency in the system (for example, if committee members published a few sentences explaining why they ranked each debater the way they did), then more people would have access to information about how exactly one puts together a persuasive at-large application, and that would decrease the advantage kids have by simply having coaches who are familiar with the system. At the very least, perhaps committee members could post online “paradigms” for what they look for in an at-large app, similar to judging paradigms.To me, making students pay $80 to send in apps, with no knowledge as to how those apps will be evaluated is tantamount to making students debate in front of judges who don’t have any paradigm and won’t give an RFD after the round. It’s not fair, it’s not educational, and it gives an absurd advantage to those who are lucky enough to know the judge.

          • Anonymous

            I think Fritz’s paradigm idea is fantastic. I understand hesitations to posting the final list of rankings because someone ends up at the bottom, but this form of transparency seems very clearly good to me.

          • Let me clarify on the bullet points v. essay format issue. This is not something I favor in my rankings. I’m not saying that I will rank the kid with bullet points above the kid with a page of dense prose. What I am saying is that it is easier for me to get the information I need if some of it is presented in list form. Committee members had  to read 25 of these applications this year. Our rankings were due the day after my grades were due. We are busy people. Anything you can do to make it easier for us to extract the useful information from your application is a good idea.

            I am not saying that there is no place for essay form on the application. It is, for example, the best format for describing hardship, issues of representation, etc. For me, the ideal application has a paragraph dedicated to each of any of these issues, followed by lists of wins over TOC qualified debaters (including those debaters numbers of bids and judges), followed by a list of wins over other at-large applicants. It’s just easier for me to see that the applicant has defeated 8 TOC qualified debaters, including several with 4 or more bids, if that is presented in list form.

          •  @facebook-750429005:disqus “The only people that might have that knowledge are the students of other
            members of the committee, which gives them an unfair advantage.”

            Not really. We rank independently. We never discuss how we do our rankings, though we do see each others rankings at the TOC meeting. There are often new committee members about whom we couldn’t know anything. When I wrote the list of factors I consider, I explicitly said I was speaking for myself because I really do not know what the other committee members prioritize.

            When I wrote that committee members know, “what sort of information is persuasive, what is unusual, and what is just plain confusing,” I meant that we know this from our personal experience in ranking applications. I know what applications are effective with me, but I do not know the priorities of the other committee members.

          • Anonymous

            “While the applying committee members did get one of their applicants in, they had others that did not get in”

            So basically, it’s not enough that all/most of those big school members on the committee get ONE of their kids in? They need to get more kids for people to concede that the system is skewed towards privileged schools?

    • Michael O’Krent

      This is Mokrent.  I usually don’t post on nsd because I have much better things to do with my time. In fact,right now, I’m in Shanghai on a school trip. I shouldn’t be paying attention to any of this at all. So please take note of the severity with which I have interpreted the tone of your comment. I just feel the need to say something.

      First, and most importantly, if you’re going to insult me, please spell my name right, especially if there’s a link to the at-large list on this page. I did at-large, but I have not met this O’kreintz you speak of. It seems to me that you are not paying attention to what is going on around you. I don’t know who you are, but clearly you don’t know me if you don’t even know who I am.

      Your main problem with my at-large seems to be that I’m a sophomore.  Ok, that’s reasonable.  I really did think that my being a sophomore would adversely impact my chances; that could still be true.  However, picking out my age as the sole reason to deny the at-large is arbitrary.  The purpose of the at-large process is to pick the debaters with one bid that most deserve to go to TOC based on their performance during the year.  There is no separation of criteria for qualifications between regular TOC applications and at-large applications.  They are both for the TOC.  TOC accepts regular applications based on who is qualified.  The at-large process works the same way.  The qualified debaters are accepted.  This means that the fact that my application was an at large shouldn’t make a difference in selection criteria.  The way the TOC selects applicants is based on skill – they pick debaters that they think are capable of debating well.  If age should factor into the criteria, then TOC should have denied Jim Huang’s application last year because he was a freshman at the time.  That should sound weird because he had qualified to TOC.  Likewise, denying my application based on my age because I’m one of those that “HAS 2 MORE FUCKING YEARS”  (I mean, I think 2 more regular years is plenty of time for a good debate career, but you know, I’m down for the fucking too) doesn’t make any sense.

      Your sentence about my debate skill is so descriptive that I don’t even know how to respond to it.
      You did not see my application.  You clearly are not familiar with my record if you don’t know my name.  (Although you did get the apostrophe, props for that)

      I don’t want to get into too much detail about the other at-large recipients, but basically I disagree with everything you said.
      Please do get a life, though, having one is quite fun.  The street vendors here sell them for like $2.
      Oh also Travis and Shai — BSKBabb Lab represent! (Because enough people from the lab aren’t already going to TOC)

      Edited for formatting

      •  I think, although poorly worded in the original post, the sophomore concern is actually the major one. While I do not mean to discount you deserving an at-large or not (as you said, I haven’t seen your application), I think the problem with accepting underclassmen for at-large spots is that they have multiple years during which they will probably qualify (I have very little doubt you will fully qual next year). However, for people who are seniors, they have no other chances to attend the TOC since their high school career is over. I don’t think at-large apps should be dismissed because of age, but I do think consideration should be given to the fact that freshman, sophomores and even juniors have other chances, while seniors do not.

        All that being said, congrats on the at-large and for qualifying to the TOC as a sophomore. That is quite an impressive achievement.

        • Anonymous

          There are plenty of mediocre seniors (not to imply that ANY of the seniors on the at large list are) and to say they should accepted over a qualified sophomore makes no sense because the TOC isn’t about letting everyone in, its an exclusionary tournament meant to only let in the most talented. To say that talent should be dismissed for age is ridiculous and arbitrary, and would illegitimate the TOC as tournament for the best and brightest only to one for the best of the oldest.

          • Anonymous

            “and would illegitimate the TOC as tournament for the best and brightest only to one for the best of the oldest”

            Last year someone got in without any bids. I think that ship sailed?

          • Ya, and that person made it to the runoff round and was 1 ballot away from clearing to octos despite having first hand experience with the disgusting white-privledgedness pervading this activity. Get over yourself.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not looking to turn this into a repeat of last year, but “AnonDebater” was concerned with the meritocracy of the TOC declining if people got in based on something besides bids, and I replied saying that a debater got in without any bids last year. the uniqueness overwhelmed the link.

          •  I think you misunderstand my point, I’m not saying a mediocre senior should get precedence over a qualified sophomore, I’m saying that a qualified senior should always get precedence over a qualified sophomore. I’m advocating age as a consideration, not an overwhelming criterion for attendance. 

          • Anonymous

            I was probably too extreme in saying mediocre seniors, but I still think that since the at large pool is made up of a limited number of slots that must be ranked, its a zero-sum game; someone is always more qualified than someone else. To try and detract from someone’s qualifications because they are young is still to illegitimate the qual process by saying that working hard and being better than the rest (of the at larges) isn’t enough, you also have have to be old enough. It sad that some debaters won’t go to the TOC, but that doesn’t mean they deserve it more than someone else

          •  Read “a consideration.” If a younger debater is clearly more qualified or more deserving than an older debater I’m not advocating giving the spot to the older debater because he’s older. Let’s be honest, probably more than 6 of the 25 people that applied deserved an at-large. In that case, it would seem to make sense to me that we consider age as a factor since younger debaters will have future opportunities while senior debaters will not. That doesn’t make that at-large process illegitimate, or even decrease the legitimacy of the qual process since both the younger and senior debater deserve spots.

            Also, just to be clear, I am not trying to say that people like Michael should not have received at at-large. I don’t know the specifics of each application of the logic of the committee, my arguments are purely hypothetical.

      • Anonymous

        Who is this Mokrent you talk about?

  • I would like to know where I am on the wait-list. Has anyone who did not receive an at-large in the first round get a notification?

    • I know my coach e-mailed Andrea Reed for confirmation that none of our debaters had gotten the at-large(s), and she responded with the wait-list locations for each one of us. She didn’t just send it though, we had to request it.

  • Anonymous

    who else at larged


    Meadows- Ryan Fink

    John Foster Dulles- Amyn Kassam

    Scarsdale- Zach Edelman

    Keller High School- Travis Fife

    Bronx Science-Shai Szulanski

    Harvard-Westlake-Michael O’Krent

  • Anonymous

    Fink got the at large! 😀

  • Dave McGinnis

    Sophie speaks truth. I usually book a month out. I tried to book two days ago and *everything* is full. All of the hotels I usually go to were completely booked. We got rooms but not at the world’s choicest spot. If you have not yet booked your hotel do it *now.*

    •  I book around one week after the previous year’s TOC.

  • Anonymous

    when do results come out and how do we no who got in

  • Sophie Ruff

    I wonder if the people running TOC noticed that the dates this year fall during the Rolex Kentucky 3 day event, one of the largest spectator horseback riding competitions in the US. It’s at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. There are typically 50-100 thousand people there to watch from all around the country, so this may make hotel reservations interesting, not to mention potentially more expensive..

    • Rebar Niemi

      if you’re going you probably need hotel reservations asap or like last month more like – guess this only applies to at larges but srsly if you haven’t booked get on it.

    • Moses Sloven

      Are you going to be participating in the Rolex Kentucky 3 day event?

    •  It was on the Rolex weekend last year as well.

  • Does anyone know exactly when at-large decisions will be released?

  • Dave McGinnis

    Andrea Reed has provided detailed instructions on how to use

    That site is used by a lot of college policy programs, as well as several California high school events, most notably Cal Berkeley. 

    The site is pretty easy to use and arguably more intuitive than JOT, but give yourself some time to get used to the entry system if you haven’t used it before. Starting with no experience, using Ms. Reed’s helpful guides, I imagine it’d take you 5 or 10 minutes to do the whole process.

  • So do people applying for an at large need to enter in

  • if you go on debateresults and hit “details” for LD TOC it says “Lincoln-Douglas with 7 rounds” — is 7 rounds official?

    • I assumed it would be 8 rounds because that is the judge requirement for bringing 2 debaters. If the tournament is 7 rounds, it seems wrong to require 8 rounds of judging as opposed to the much easier to fulfill 7.

  • Anonymous

    What is

    • Anonymous

      i believe its what they use in college policy debate

  • For people who are “entered” that only have 1 bid, are those people who received at larges or simply put their at-large apps in?

    • Anonymous

      Have their apps in.