Tournament of Champion At Larges Announced

The first wave of At Larges to the LD TOC were announced on Wednesday, April 3, via email to the coaches and also (for the first time) on the TOC web page. First-round recipients are listed below:

Collegiate School- Andrew O’Donohue
Harvard-Westlake- Tommy Choi
La Costa Canyon- Brennan Caruthers
Northland Christian- Morgan Lawson
Walt Whitman- Daisy Massey

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  • Adnan Toric

    Congrats to the people that got at-larges. I didn’t get one. That ends my debate career. Even though I didn’t compete often on the national circuit, it was fun.

  • travisfife

    I just wanted to say congrats to the 5 who got the at-larges. I know first hand that it is not a fun experience waiting for the decisions and finally getting the news is huge.The process is what it is but you got another life in this fucked up game so make it count (whatever that means to you).

    On the issue of small schools real quick: I feel like I’m pretty sympathetic to the claims being made by those who either didn’t get it or who they were rooting for didn’t get in. I was the first student from my school to get a bid, go to the TOC, and even make it to elims of a bid tournament. I have to agree that the at-large process seems set up to fail. From my experience what really disadvantages small school debaters is an unfamiliarity with the process. When I applied last year my coach sat around for a few hours thinking about what to write in the letter and simply didn’t know what to do. If it wasn’t for Kris Wright’s advice, I very well could’ve not gotten the at-large. I think this speaks to a under appreciated way privilege influences the process. It’s not so much a conscious preference (or at least I’m inclined to hope not) to “bigger” schools, but rather their coaches just know the process and thus have a better chance at succeeding. This seems supported by objectively qualified debaters (I don’t know of any this year cause I don’t follow this stuff) that get denied for reasons people don’t understand.

    To me the solution is two fold: 1) people who have been through the process should be open about how it works, approaches they used, ect. This seems really really easy for us to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t even realize at-large was happening until I saw facebook statuses about it so I missed the chance this year. 2) Perhaps the TOC could publish a paragraph or something for each one of the committee members on what they’re looking for. I mean I think most colleges do this (however vaguely) and we have judge paradigms, so why not committee members. Otherwise the only people who know what the committee wants are the people who know the committee members, not small school XX who has 5 bid rounds and quarters at an octos bid.

    Just some thoughts from someone still pulling for the underdogs in this activity. If you want a copy of my at-large letter for a reference next year or something you should let me know on Facebook or

  • Aggregate

    Why the hell did Tommy get the at-large? It’s amazing; this “committee” never ceases to amuse me. There were tons of applicants that were more qualified than this kid, and he lost to at least 3 at-large applicants from what I can count. I mean, why are applicants with much more impressive wins (that beat him, I might add) being ranked lower than him? In addition, he got his bid at Alta. I mean seriously? Why does that even count as a bid—it’s the most joke tournament of the year by far. This debater couldn’t even get to the freaking bid round at Golden Desert. They are supposed to be picking those that have a high likelihood of doing well at the TOC, but if you can’t get to a bid round at a semis bid, you shouldn’t be going to the TOC. This is what his app looked like: 1 bid at Alta, couldn’t win a single other bid round much less get to bid rounds with ample opportunity, is the brother of a good debater, goes to snobby rich school?

    This is how I see it: there’s a clear bias for schools like Harvard-Westlake that simply convolute the entire at-large process. They have the money, they have the resources, they have that Asian guy with the glasses who runs a camp or some crap. <– Don’t piss this guy off; give his debaters the at-large consecutive years in a row and you’ll be A-Okay!

    You’re going to say that he had a lot of breaks and a legitimate amount of bid rounds compared to others in the field, and that’s why he got it over other people. So did Monica—if they were decided purely on number of bid rounds and break rounds gotten to, then surely Monica should have gotten the at-large. There are more applicants that were more deserving of the spot, but even the existence of ONE person more qualified than him should be enough.

    This is simply ridiculous and unfair to debaters who do lots of work but have less capital. Not to mention the fact that there are more qualified debaters that will have no chance next year to go to the TOC. And ya want to know why? Because they will graduate, and that will be it for them. Bad choice TOC committee. Bad choice. I’m not sure why they want to re-learn this lesson every year where Harvard-Westlake gets to have the at-large acceptance from a nonsenior.

    • Annie Zhu

      lol “brother of a good debater”…yeah Michelle’s enormous influence over the TOC committee is what got him through

    • Guest

      asshole alert

      also your grammar sucks you idiot

  • Two things:

    First, congratulations to all of the At Large recipients.

    Second, when did it become the norm to post anonymously even if you are posting something entirely noncontroversial? Do none of you value your names?

    • I think students and coaches have come to harbor overblown fears regarding the political ramifications of what they have to say. Anonymity helps to keep discussions going, even if it frequently has bad consequences, but I often feel like more of us need to embody the spirit of the olden days of LD and sometimes be willing to say “damn the torpedoes” and speak without the wall of anonymity. Of course, it does not help that in the current climate it’s become something of a standard move to (disingenuously, I think) accuse the critics of coaches or tournaments of attacking students where nothing of the sort is intended. Or worse — some people think it is somehow ok to sling unsubstantiated accusations of racism or sexism at people. I think this is as repugnant as it gets. How people in this community get the idea that it’s ok to call someone a racist or a sexist, which is, in our culture, something akin to calling them a monstrous human being, when they know nothing about the relevant person, is beyond me. And doing this plainly trivializes the force of those accusations by weaponizing them and turning them into tools to knock down debate rivals. These days, those who say what they think aren’t just subject to political consequences, but a kind of Pharisaical moralizing indictment. This kind of thing ought to be rejected at all costs if we do not want to constantly walk on eggshells.

      This sanctimonious moralizing is, I think, of comparatively recent vintage. In my time there were plenty of flame wars in debate. It’s just that those disputes did not typically involve painting the opposition as forces of nightmarish, demoniac evil. I wish we could make our way back to something like that, since I doubt there will ever be a debate community free of flame wars and battles between political rivals.

      (This is not an endorsement of any of the criticisms of coaches or tournaments we’ve seen on this website this year, much less the ones entertained on the present thread. My point is more general in nature.)

    • Aggregate

      None of us value our names.

  • I think a lot of people are misunderstanding a little how at large applications get evaluated. “Number of bid rounds” is not a very important category, and perhaps even a detriment. If someone has many chances to fully qual and doesn’t that isn’t viewed as very impressive. The single most important part of a bid application is wins vs people likely to be at the tournament (fully qualed and other people applying)-this has been echoed by every committee member in LD and policy I have asked. I have no idea of the “wins” factor of people who got it vs people who didn’t but if you want to make a case for bias that is the data you need to be looking at.

    • sjadler

      I don’t dispute what you say about committee members’ testimonials, but I think a lot of bid rounds could only be conceived as a detriment if you’re comparing between two debaters where one didn’t get to compete very often–that is, access to tournaments rather than success at tournaments attended.

      It seems obvious to me that, sure, someone with seven bid rounds had many opportunities to qual–but so did a debater who attended seven bid tournaments and DIDN’T reach seven bid rounds (assuming equal/proportional numbers of tournaments attended). A student who could only attend two bid tourneys might have a case here for extraneous reasons, but obviously many bid rounds is better than someone consistently coming up short of bid rounds if both debaters were at the tournament.

      Still, if that’s how committee members are making judgments, then you’re probably right that that’s the important data for evaluating bias.

    • Each committee member evaluates At Large applications according to their own criteria. It is a subjective evaluation, and the final tally takes into account the rankings of all members.

      The “received wisdom” I had heard prior to becoming a member of the committee was that there was a certain balance that might be struck. Frequent participation in elims was a benefit to a point, but past a certain point the failure to “get it done” despite frequent appearance in elims might become a detriment. I imagine different members of the committee evaluate these kinds of things differently.

      One interesting note: a lot of folks mention in their arguments that their preferred applicant dropped their bid-round to debaters who went on to win the tournament or otherwise do well. The variable “Dropped Bid Round To Highly-Seeded Opponent” is, of course, a proxy for the variable “Cleared Low.”

  • Paras Kumar

    Honestly I think this community suffers from dementia. By April 18th (2 weeks from now), this thread will die and the outrage will have subsided. As always. Rage on my friends.

    PS: Sorry you got robbed Monica. I enjoyed judging you this year!

  • Guest111

    This discussion has gone down a very predictable road….

    I think toomuchtime’s post makes it clear that Tommy was very deserving of an at-large. In fact, I think that data shows that the people who got at-larges were all very deserving.

    Here is one thing I don’t get… When we talk about committee bias why do we only talk about Harvard Westlake? After all, Bietz only has one spot on the TOC committee. This year another school has an unprecedented three spots on the committee, after having two spots the last couple of years. Where is the outrage? I have a feeling if that school were Harvard Westlake or Greenhill there would already by a 100+ post thread demanding AT or Bietz be fired. Makes me think these complaints are really about something else entirely…

    To be clear I think the debate from the school that has three committee spots is one of the most deserving, just thought the choice of targets on this thread was interesting.

    • I don’t really care to get involved in this discussion, but your claim that there are three people representing one school is factually inaccurate. Jonathan Massey and Eric Palmer are both affiliated with Walt Whitman. While Ari Parker was previously affiliated, he now has no ties to the program and is the Director of Debate at Byram Hills.

    • Perhaps there is no outrage because there is no school with three representatives on the committee. The current composition of the committee is:

      Mike Bietz (Harvard Westlake)
      George Clemens (Lake Highland)
      Jon Cruz (Bronx Science)
      Jeff Gans (Eastside Catholic)
      Lexy Green (CPS)
      Jonathan Massey (Walt Whitman)
      Dave McGinnis (Valley)
      Dan Meyers (Presentation)
      Eric Palmer (Walt Whitman)
      Ari Parker (Byram Hills)
      Aaron Timmons (Greenhill)
      Joe Vaughan (Scarsdale)
      Pam Cady-Wycoff (Apple Valley)

  • TooMuchTime

    This post is not intended to convey an opinion. Instead of slandering the debaters who received the at-larges and blindly asserting that others are “more deserving”, let’s just take a look at the stats, similar to those that the committee had when making their decisions, and try to see as objectively as possible who was selected and why.

    NOTE: The data below includes stats from only the 19 octos and quarters bid tournaments (including CPS, originally a semis but ultimately assumed USC’s 4 bids) and analyzes the performances of the debaters that meet the following conditions– 1) bolded on Ben Koh’s bid list post indicating an at-large application (thanks so much for all you do for the community), and 2) attended 3 or more of the 19 tournaments in question. This is not to classify the other debaters as “less worthy” or “inferior”, not does it mean to illegitimate success of debaters at smaller tournaments; it is simply because I had to enter the data for 21 debaters at 19 tournaments by hand, and I’m pretty sure I’m already developing carpel tunnel. I believe this is still representative of the performance of these debaters overall as the competitors at these larger tournaments seem to be more representative of the pool of debaters against whom the applicants would be competing at TOC (another generalization, but a necessary one to avoid infinite regression…wow, I’m too involved in debate). Also, win % is calculated as 100*(prelim wins + elim wins)/total # prelims, NOT total # prelims + outrounds so as not to skew the percentage towards debaters who got the 4-2 screw at the expense of those who cleared and lost in doubles.

    Brace yourselves: data is coming.

    –School NAME (year)
    Tournament 1: record, finish
    Tournament 2: record, finish
    etc. [alphabetical by school]

    –Brentwood JACOB CHORCHES (2015)

    Apple Valley: 3-4
    Berkeley: 5-1, triples to Ella Kuzmenko
    Bronx: 4-3
    CPS: 3-3
    Glenbrooks: 3-4
    Stanford: 5-2, doubles to Monica Amestoy
    Valley: 4-2, triples to Ben Ulene
    Yale: 3-3

    –Collegiate ANDREW O’DONAHUE (?)]

    Bronx: 5-2, triples to Larry Milstein

    Harvard: 4-2, doubles to Danny DeBois
    Lexington: 5-1, octos to Terrance Lonam
    Sunvitational: 4-2, octos to Tillman Huett
    Yale: 5-1, octos to Megan Nubel

    –Cypress Woods SHAWN XIONG (?)

    Greenhill: 2-4
    Harvard: 4-2, triples to Jeremy Dang

    St. Marks: 3-3

    –Flintridge Sacred Heart MONICA AMESTOY (2013)
    Alta: 6-1, octos to Julie Engel
    Apple Valley: 4-3, doubles to Michael Harris
    Berkeley: 5-1, doubles to Jon Lewis

    Bronx: 4-3

    CPS: 4-2, octos to Daniel Tartakovsky

    Glenbrooks: 4-3

    Lexington: 4-2, doubles to Adam Tomasi

    Meadows: 3-3
    Stanford: 5-2, octos to Henry Zhang

    Valley: 4-2, doubles to Shai Szulanski
    VBT: 4-2, quarters to Michael Harris
    Yale: 4-2, triples to Ben Ulene

    –Harvard-Westlake TOMMY CHOI (2014)
    Alta: 7-0, semis to James Callison

    Berkeley: 5-1, triples to David Kading

    Blake: 5-1, octos to Chris Kymn
    Bronx: 4-3, doubles to Rebecca Kuang

    CPS: 4-2, octos to Henry Zhang

    Stanford: 5-2, doubles to Henry Zhang

    –Hockaday CHLOE NAGUIB (2014)

    Blake: 4-2, triples to Shelby Heitner

    Bronx: 5-2, triples to Jackson Lallas

    Glenbrooks: 4-3

    Harvard: 5-1, octos to Rebecca Kuang

    Valley: 4-2, doubles to Jack Ave

    –Kent Denver JAMES CALLISON (2013)
    Alta: 6-1, victor

    Apple Valley: 3-4
    Berkeley: 6-0, doubles to McKay Giller

    Glenbrooks: 4-3

    Greenhill: 3-3

    –La Costa Canyon BRENNAN CARUTHERS (2013)

    Berkeley: 6-0, quarters to Matt Gmitro

    Blake: 4-2, triples to Jack Ave

    CPS: 5-1, doubles to Srikar Pyda

    Lexington: 4-2, doubles to Charlotte Lawrence

    Meadows: 5-1, octos to McKay Giller
    VBT: 4-2, doubles to Akhil Jalan

    –Lake Highland JULIAN ALVAREZ (2013)

    Apple Valley: 4-3
    Bronx: 4-3

    Crestian: 4-2, doubles to Jake Steirn
    Glenbrooks: 4-3

    Greenhill: 4-2

    Harvard: 4-2, triples to Travis Chen

    Lexington: 4-2

    Sunvitational: 5-1, octos to Grant Reiter
    Valley: 5-1, quarters to Grant Laverty

    –Livingston JESSICA XU (2013)
    Bronx: 3-4

    Harvard: 4-2, doubles to Adam Tomasi

    Yale: 3-3

    –Loyola BEN KOH (2013)
    Alta: 4-3
    Berkeley: 4-2, triples to Brendan Gallagher

    CPS: 4-2, doubles to Arjun Tambe

    Glenbrooks: 3-4

    Greenhill: 2-4

    St. Marks: 4-2, octos to Travis Chen
    Stanford: 5-2, octos to Haziq Siddiqi

    VBT: 4-2, doubles to Michael O’Krent

    –Lynbrook DHRUV WALIA (2015)
    Alta: 6-1, finals to James Callison

    Berkeley: 5-1, doubles to Adam Roke

    CPS: 3-3

    St. Marks: 3-3

    VBT: 3-3

    –Northland Christian MORGAN LAWSON (2013)

    Apple Valley: 5-2, doubles to Daniel Tartakovsky

    Berkeley: 6-0, octos to Jon Lewis

    Glenbrooks: 4-3

    Greenhill: 4-2

    Lexington: 4-2, doubles to Terrance Lonam

    St. Marks: 4-2, doubles to Jordan Durrani

    VBT: 4-2, doubles to Michael Harris

    –Okoboji JACK AVE (2013)

    Apple Valley: 4-3

    Blake: 4-2, doubles to Jessica Levy

    Harvard: 4-2, triples to Arjun Tambe

    Valley: 5-1, octos to Jon Lewis

    –Presentation MAYA KAUL (2013)

    Apple Valley: 4-3

    Berkeley: 4-2

    Crestian: 5-1, semis to Eli Hymson
    CPS: 3-3

    Stanford: 6-1, doubles to Claire Kueffner

    VBT: 3-3

    –PV Peninula JAMES ZHANG (2015)

    Bronx: 2-5

    CPS: 4-2

    Harvard: 3-3

    Stanford: 5-2, walked over in octos by Akhil Jalan

    VBT: 3-3

    –Sammamish ELLA KUZMENKO (2013)
    Alta: 5-2, octos to Dhruv Walia

    Berkeley: 4-2, doubles to Andrew Glantz

    Blake: 3-3

    Stanford: 4-3

    –Scarsdale NOAH THALER (2014)

    Apple Valley: 4-3

    Glenbrooks: 5-2

    Harvard: 4-2, triples to Henry Zhang

    Lexington: 4-2, doubles to Shai Szulanski

    Yale: 6-0, walked over in quarters by Larry Milstein

    –Southlake Carroll DJORN PATEL (?)
    Emory: 4-2, octos to Adam Hoffman
    Glenbrooks: 4-3

    Greenhill: 3-3

    Harvard: 3-3

    St. Marks: 4-2, doubles to Michael Harris (TX, not CA)

    Valley: 3-3
    VBT: 4-2, triples to Miriam Kelberg

    –Torrey Pines ADAM ROKE (2013)

    Berkeley: 6-0, semis to Matt Gmitro
    CPS: 4-2, doubles to Daniel Tartakovsky

    Meadows: 5-2, octos to Andrew Glantz
    Valley: 3-3

    –Walt Whitman DAISY MASSEY (2014)

    Apple Valley: 5-2, doubles to Yang Yi

    Blake: 4-2, doubles to Richard Shmickler

    Bronx: 5-2, doubles to Jeremy Dang

    Glenbrooks: 6-1, doubles to Ram Prasaad

    Greenhill: 5-1, doubles to Leah Shapiro

    Harvard: 5-1, doubles to Adam Hoffman

    School NAME (# of counted tournaments) – win %
    [highest % at the top, alphabetical by school when same %]

    Harvard-Westlake TOMMY CHOI (6) – 80.4%
    Walt Whitman DAISY MASSEY (6) – 80.4%

    Torrey Pines ADAM ROKE (4) – 79.3%

    La Costa Canyon BRENNAN CARUTHERS (7) – 79.2%
    Collegiate ANDREW O’DONAHUE (5) – 77.8%

    Scarsdale NOAH THALER (6) – 74.3%

    Northland Christian MORGAN LAWSON (7) – 72.3%

    Kent Denver JAMES CALLISON (5) – 71.8%

    Hockaday CHLOE NAGUIB (5) – 71.4%
    Okoboji JACK AVE (4) – 71.4%

    Lynbrook DHRUV WALIA (5) – 69.4%
    Lake Highland JULIAN ALVAREZ (9) – 68.9%
    Presentation MAYA KAUL (6) – 68.3%

    Flintridge Sacred Heart MONICA AMESTOY (13) – 66.3%

    Sammamish ELLA KUZMENKO (5) – 61.8%

    Southlake Carroll DJORN PATEL (7) – 60.9%

    Loyola BEN KOH (8) – 58.3%

    Brentwood JACOB CHORCHES (8) – 57.7%

    Livingston JESSICA XU (4) – 57.7%
    PV Peninula JAMES ZHANG (5) – 54.5%

    Cypress Woods SHAWN XIONG (3) – 50%

    In addition, Daisy Massey, Tommy Choi, Andrew O’Donahue, and Brennan Caruthers all had perfect clearing percentages, breaking at every tournament they attended.

    Commence informed discussion.

    • I went 4-2 (screwed) at Lexington and I dropped in triples at Harvard to Adam.

      Not that this matters much now, but my record at the beginning of the season at tournaments like Yale and Bronx is largely irrelevant because I started debating very differently during the Jan-Feb topic. This is relevant to these stats because this was the way I planned on debating at TOC.

      I think this post further goes to show how small school debaters (or NO school debaters, like myself) have limited access to success in the activity. Ella, Jack, and I were able to make it to a whopping 4 octos/quarters bid tournaments. Everyone else, who was at least representing schools or from big schools, competed in at least five or upwards of five octos/quarters bid tournaments. Some of these at large candidates have been to up to 8 octos/quarters bids tournaments. That’s twice as many as some of us.

      Am I saying that big school debaters don’t work hard and don’t deserve their success? No. But they have more access to success because they have the resources to go to more tournaments.

      Am I saying that had Ella, Jack, and I been able to make it to more tournaments, we would have come out on top? No, I’m not. I’m saying that we didn’t even get the chance to do so because we couldn’t go to most of these major tournaments.

      Am I saying that we should have gotten the at large bids over the big school debaters just because we’re disadvantaged? No, of course not, but maybe the committee should have taken our disadvantages into more consideration, seeing as to how 4 out of 5 at larges chosen are from big programs.

      I get zero support from my school, and when I say zero, I freaking mean zero. I am not allowed to use my school name in my code. Per my school district’s policy, no student is allowed to use the school’s name unless a teacher from the school accompanies them on the trip. I’ve had to register as an independent entry for tournaments. TOC rules say independent entries aren’t allowed so my parents and I begged them to send a teacher chaperone with me to tournaments. They said they couldn’t put out the resources to send a teacher all over the Northeast with me. My parents and I had to beg my school administration for permission to even apply for the at large. In my case, not only did my school not help me with debate, but they even limited my ability to debate.

      All my debate expenses came from out-of-pocket. I had to hire my own coach, register myself for tournaments, find hired judges (because I refuse to subject my parents to judging), book hotel rooms, and book train or bus tickets by myself. I’ve had to rely on very generous people like Jon Cruz and Chetan Hertzig to house me or let me ride in their buses to tournaments.

      I have no teammates to help scout or prep or walk over. My coach lives a few thousand miles away. At tournaments, I am mostly alone. The kind of positions I’ve been running are especially not conducive to not having support at tournaments. I am not made of steel. It has been rough.

      I am not trying to throw myself a pity party here, I just want others to see into the debate experience of small school debaters. I’ve always thought that personal anecdotes are the best for conveying this kind of information.

      But I am still one of the fortunate ones. I was able to afford to hire a coach, to go to summer camps, and to pay all these tournament/hired judging/lodging/travel expenses.

      I’m not the only one who has gone through this. Aside from Ella, Jack, and I, there are many small school debaters who don’t get a fighting chance because they don’t have the resources this activity requires of you to be successful. At the very least, small school debaters are disadvantaged in the amount of tournaments they can show up to. This problem is typically unique to small school or lone wolf debaters.

      No, it’s not the big schools’ faults that we have to go through this. No, we shouldn’t hate them because they have resources and we don’t.

      Yes, there have been many successful small school debaters in the past. My lab leaders this summer were both extremely successful lone wolf debaters and I admire both of them greatly. They were able to overcome the disadvantages of being a small school debater and still come out on top. They’ve inspired me and other small school debaters. However, the existence of successful lone wolf debaters cannot negate the fact that lone wolf debaters have limited access to success in the activity. Some have gotten past their disadvantages, most have not.

      I, like everyone else here, am astonished that Monica did not receive the at large. Monica is currently one of the most successful female debaters. Not only that, she is from a school with a small program. On top of that, she had 7 bid rounds and a bid from an octos tournament.

      This year, there are so few female competitors and so few small schools represented at the top level. Something needs to change.

      • Obviously I completely agree with Jessica. I do understand and respect the decisions made by the at large committee, but I also think there is a massive misrepresentation of small school debaters at TOC.

        As my school coach explained to me today, “I thought the problem of small programs being ostracized and discouraged was over. Or maybe I was just looking through a rose colored glass”. I am extremely excited to see Brennan make it and I think he will do an excellent job at the TOC as a small program debater.

        However, do not believe the committee takes into account financial ability, travel restrictions, school restrictions along with other disabilities many debaters face. I am not making these arguments to justify why I should be at TOC. I am making these arguments to help improve the system for years to come.

        As Jess stated, I personally have faced many obstacles to attend tournaments even three hours away. Over the past several years, the cost of travel and tournament expenses has increase while the Okoboji debate team’s funding, like many others, has been cut. My parents, while encouraging and supportive, are financially unable to pay a dime for debate. I have worked over six part time jobs in order to pay for camp, car rides, tournament entry fees, hotel rooms, and food, just so I can compete with students who seem to have these luxuries given to them on a silver platter.

        I was able to attend many tournaments because of the kindness of tournament directors, such as Dave McGinnis, who offered entry at no charge and were more than happy to help my team. I was unfortunately unable to attend several planned tournaments such as Glenbrooks when my mom was laid off in October and I have done everything in my power to go to as many as possible. I have never been able to hire a coach but fortunately, Matt Zavislan was able to help me extremely this year. Many students aren’t that lucky.

        I don’t want this to sound like a plea for me to get into the TOC. This is plea for future debaters who are like me. This is a plea for debaters like Maisie Baldwin, who suffered major travel restrictions from her state of Missouri. This is a plea for debaters like Jessica, who don’t have a supportive school. This is a plea for the future of debate.

        I believe that we can prevent this monopolization of the activity by recognizing these disadvantages. I urge any TOC committee member that reads this to please help those in need next year. Give a program a shot at proving themselves as a powerful LD school. Give these ‘lone wolves’ a voice.

        For any and all friends of the activity, I urge you to please be aware of this problem. After I graduate, I plan on proactively helping as many disadvantaged students as possible. I love this activity with all of my heart and I want as many people to be heard as possible, no matter their financial situation.

        • Well, I can tell you that I did take account of those kinds of factors when I filled out my ballot. I debated for a school in Ohio that had never before sent anyone to TOC, and which never has since. I know full well that it is not easy to debate without a program behind you.

          • Then I think we are taking a step in the right direction.

        • You are a total stud, Jackson. And I am really proud of what you’ve accomplished. Debate has taught you a lot more than how to argue. Even though you’ve got an underdog story, you can run with the pack.

          You’re a true friend and have such a good heart. <3

          • Yeah, I still remember that one time at Caucus in 2011 that I was terrified because it was my first real $ircuit tournament. And Lucy had told me that I was affirming to Valley’s A spot and that I was going to get slaughtered, but you handed out brownies with me and helped me get through and introduced me to all your friends.

            ^faith in the nat cir community.

    • Jack Ave also was 5-1 at Dowling losing the bid round (quarters) to Richard Shmikler and 6-0 at Westside losing in the bid round (semis).

  • Thelonelywolf

    Didn’t Daisy basically stop debating for the second half of the season?

    • Yes. At Harvard, she was just shopping at the book store.

  • James Callison

    While I appreciate the support and firmly agree that Monica not receiving an at-large is a huge loss, I really don’t think your last bit is fair. I know most of the at-large recipients and I have no doubts that they have every right to be there. They have put in the time. They have dedicated themselves. And they truly deserve every reward bestowed upon them. And as for the dig at Tommy, that is really not very nice at all. HW quals people, not based on anything else but hard work and skill. I think Tommy is an amazing addition to the TOC pool, and I think he has done more than enough to prove it to everyone this year. I really hope you don’t take this as an attack on you; it isn’t. It is simply me disagreeing with the notion that these recipients’ success should be attacked (They’re just kids doing their best and being rewarded for it. NONE of them should be ever put down in a community that should ALWAYS be supportive.). I do really appreciate the defense, but everyone on this list is equally, and probably more, defendable.

  • “Apparently doing well at one round robin is enough.”

    If this is an insinuation that Brennan didn’t deserve an at-large, then you’re an abject moron.

    Dude was co-champ of the Cal RR, got to quarters at Cal, was 2nd speaker at Cal, 3rd speaker at Stanford, 3rd place at the Lex RR, 9th speaker at Lexington, 7th speaker at UT, and 5th speaker and 2nd seed at Meadows. He cleared at every tournament he went to and debated in multiple bid rounds. If I recall correctly, he beat 12 qualled debaters this year, including 6 the weekend of Cal alone. He also debates for a small program that has never sent an LD debater to the TOC before, and the extent of his “coaching” is basically talking bullshit about debate with me, Paras Kumar, and Cameron Baghai. Do you really want to start this debate?

    • Not to mention that he only started debating seriously this year and his upward trend of improvement is incoherently amazing, obvy peeking at Berk (and still going strong leggo king kai). Not to mention that he probably works twice as hard as anyone else I’ve observed (not exaggeration) and yet is extremely humble and friendly. There might be some other issues with the at-large list, but I personally am glad that Brennan is on it.

  • Gus

    Honestly, I am so fucking dissapointed with the current At Large process; WHY IS SOMEONE WHO GOT A BID AT ALTA GETTING AN AT LARGE OVER OTHER MORE DESERVING DEBATERS. Bias for Harvard Westlake is defintely being taken to far, why the hell is an undeserving junior getting a spot over deserving seniors, not only should progress at bid tournaments be taken into account and the bid tourney itself, but age and graduating year should be taken into account too, along with who debaters beat. I am a qualled debater who is just fucking dissapointed with the current debate community, these kids from big schools only get good because they go to those schools, kids from smaller schools who who have also done a fuck ton better should be given so much more precedence cause of the fact that they work so much harder, even with odds against them. Debaters who most of their success is due to walk overs or huge ass prepouts or getting hacked for which is verifiable by most of the community defintely should not be given this large of consideration especially when they haven’t even fucking done well. Also, why the fuck is someone who’s bid is a ghost bid even given slightly more consideration than other much more talented debaters. Also, there’s probably a reason someone got to 6 bid rounds.

    • TheConscientiousDebater

      Well first off, let’s be a little more courteous here.

      off, you can’t just disregard debaters like those from harvard westlake
      from the at large process. You make it seem as if these debaters have no
      skill and haven’t amounted to anything in their entire debate careers. I
      mean, let’s not forget that they’ve been working for 3+ years of their
      life trying to get to the place they’re at now. I believe, although you
      may be correct in that some schools are more known in the debate world,
      you come into the problem where there is no solution to the problem you
      say exists. What do we do, disregard the “harvard westlakes” from the at
      large application entirely? But what does this mean–Do we start
      giving preference to smaller schools? It seems as if the bias occurs
      either way. The committee makes their decisions based on what they’re
      given and who they see is best fit for the tournament.They would
      not have let someone from a “harvard westlake” type school to at large
      without at least giving some respect to the other applicants. They understand what is a “good” and “bad” debater in the debate realm and legitimately know how to decide problems such as those at-larges. I would like to congratulate
      the debaters who got the at-larges and recognize that the level of
      debaters competing for these limited amount of spots is extremely high.

    • While I agree with the theme, that we as a community need to acknowledge and attempt to address structural nepotism, I think we should hesitate to call out specific debaters for “not being deserving.” I’m not going to pretend to know what qualifies a student as deserving of an at-large and I sure as hell think that there are people who were deserving of a spot at the TOC (my own debater included) but I think it’s really problematic to denigrate the achievements or successes of one debater in order to emphasize flaws within the system. Think how that would suck to be the kid who was told, on a public forum, that they didn’t deserve to go to TOC. I don’t care what you say to your friends in private, I can’t claim to never have made disparaging remarks to friends when frustrated or otherwise upset, but when you bring your words into the public forum you need to be cognizant of what your words seem to imply.

      • Expository Exposer

        These kind of ideas really only function to exclude people. I don’t understand why it is the case that it’s somehow intrinsically “bad” to criticize those who got spots—it seems like this is really just a defense of censorship to avoid hurting people’s feelings. First, it hurts other people’s feelings when they get shafted on the at-large process because they don’t go to Harvard-Westlake. It hurts feelings when the at-large process is not fair. Hurt feelings are not some unique thing that is reserved to those now open to criticism. This debate activity is not going to survive if we constantly sit around and pretend to be afraid of hurting other’s feelings.

        Second, your comment seems to imply that everything that the TOC committee does is beyond criticism and that what they do is just right. They do the exact same thing in there. They denigrate the achievements and inflate the achievements of specific debaters and ultimately rank them based on ambiguous and erratic criteria. Why are other concerned people not allowed to do the same thing?

        Third, there is no question about any of the people applying being qualified or not. This is not what the at-large process is about. It’s about giving the at-large to people that will do the best at the TOC, who deserve it the most, and who have the best achievements. I think there is a serious skew in what these supposed “achievements” really mean. It’s obvious that they are inflated, and I feel like allowing people to discuss the legitimacy of these in an open way (i.e. something not exclusive like the closed doors of the committee) where biases can easily be pointed out by others is actually necessary. Why are the criticisms of debaters’ achievements by committee members the end-all-be-all, but the second someone makes a comment on a public forum criticizing an achievement, you get to say that this “hurts feelings” and that the TOC just knows what is right? Again, the criticisms aren’t even to say people, for example Tommy, are bad debaters, but rather that they are not the most deserving to get the at-large. It’s just true.

        • I think you missed the point of my post. I’m not saying we can’t criticize the TOC committee or challenge nepotism in the activity, in fact my post concedes that these are two very important discussions to be had. Anybody who has ever read the things I’ve posted on this site knows that I am as big an advocate as any for small school debaters (I coached debaters without compensation this year because they came from small schools and couldn’t afford both coaching and competition). I was criticizing the way the OP went about these forms of criticism; referring to people as “undeserving juniors” who’s “success is due to walk overs or huge ass prepouts or getting hacked for” is problematic. If we want to have a discussion about the factors that should be considered, for instance seniority, diversity etc. I’m all for that, but attacking students who had no say in the process isn’t the way to go about that.

          • anon94

            on the contrary, i think you missed the point of that post. they are saying that criticizing specific debaters is good because hurt feelings dont matter and the committee is going to do it anyway. you just kinda…repeated your first post .

          • I’m not sure how this is a valid reading of either of these posts…. either in content or in how they respond to one another.

            Expository Exposer makes three main claims, 1) that I am promoting a kind of censorship to protect people’s feelings 2) that I believe the TOC committee is beyond censorship and 3) that discussions of “deservingness” is important.

            My post adresses all three of these argumentsin that I take the stance that we can still criticize the TOC committee and argue that certain people deserved a spot at TOC but that when doing so we need to be mindful of the effects that our words can have on people. In fact, even the most basic, surface reading of my post makes it clear that I agree with the substance of what has been said but disagree with the way in which it is being said. This position is entirely reasonable.

            Moreover the reason I “kinda repeated [my] first post” is because the second was a clarification. What does it mean to clarify, you may ask? Repeating ideas in a different way for the purpose of fostering a more correct interpretation.

            Also, your interpretation of Expository Exposer’s post as saying criticizing specific debaters is good because hurt feelings dont matter and the committee is going to do it anyway” is just so wrong I think it’s kind of funny.

            ;tldr you have no idea what you’re talking about and just made yourself look like an idiot.

    • BenjaminKoh

      Tommy is a bad example for the argument of “people hacking for big schools.” With 3 bid rounds and 7 total breaks (that I’m aware of), that’s comparable if not better than the records for the others who got the at-larges. Anecdotally speaking, when I judged Tommy at woodward last year (a tournament which he won), I immediately categorized him as a threat, to which he definitely is, and having such a stellar jump in success attests to deserved improvement. Additionally, while the discussion of equitable access to debate resources is a discussion that should be had, there’s a distinction between discounting success of a “big school” (whatever that means) and giving more leniency to members of “small schools.” You can’t break 7 times by being just a bot, the intuition of strategy, refutation, etc., is a skill built over time, so to say that having a team that can produce a lot of evidence automatically means you’re bad, is unfair.

    • James Callison

      I agree so, so, so much with most of what you say (only the supportive parts). I am completely convinced that the loss of Monica and Ben from this tournament are huge blows. I know both of them very well, and believe me when I say that they deserve this so much. They are perhaps the two most dedicated, caring, and skilled debaters on the circuit. I really do wish I could put the amount of respect I have for them into words. This tournament is not only losing two of the absolute finest debaters, but also two of the most magnificent individuals. They have touched so many people in this community that everyone, regardless of whether these two make it to KY or not, should recognize the impact they have had. My experience, the experience of dozens of others, and the community as a whole would not be even close to the same without them. They truly are what is great about debate. Love ya guys.

  • anon33

    4 out of the 5 debaters are from schools that either have large programs or had an LD qualify to the TOC in the last 6 years. Where are the small programs represented?

  • Anon22

    Yo, yo, yo. Listen up here kids.

    I want to make two HUGE shout outs.

    First to Monica Amestoy who is an exceptional debater and fully deserving of an At-Large! She had 7 grueling bid rounds at some of the biggest tournaments on the circuit. These ain’t no rinky dinky tournaments ladys and gentlemen. Having competed in bid rounds at Valley, Apple Valley, Alta, VBT, CPS, Stanford and Berkeley she was able to seal the deal at only one. Keep in mind that the people that she lost to where finalist at each one of these tournaments. She is a hard working, hella sassy, and all around fantastic debater who should be going to the TOC and I am sad to see her senior year ends this way. Congratulations on being an amazing debater and thanks for being a great friend this year! <3

    Next is to Ben Koh. I want to thank Ben for being the most selfless person on the circuit this year. His timely up keep of the bid list and willingness to help other debaters become the best they can be is something I think we can all take away from debate. I'm sad to see Ben's career end here, and I hope that we can all recognize what an exceptional person Ben is even in the shadow the the big wig Loyola debaters. The bid round that he did pick up this year at St. Marks was one the best rounds I have seen all year and I am glad to have seen Ben debate with such swagger. <3

    Also, congratulations to all the debaters that got the at-larges.

    • sjadler

      Without hating on any specific recipients, can I just say that it’s absurd that a senior with SEVEN bid rounds (also a girl and from a small-school program, if you care about those things) didn’t receive the at-large? Wow.

      Honestly I thought there must have been a typo or something in the above post, because that just doesn’t compute in my head. I hope Monica gets a chance to compete at TOC–it sounds like she was pretty damn close and deserves a shot.

    • akdio

      Although you have a brilliant comment, Flintridge MA did not lose all bid rounds to finalists. (Apple Valley she lost to Michael Harris, who ocated) (Alta she lost to Julie Engels who semed) (VBT she debated Michael Harris who semed) (Cal she lost to Kinkland JL who quartered) But nonetheless, this is a great achievement! [wow i cant believe I took the time to actually freaking look through all the JOT pages -_-] #nolife

      • BenjaminKoh

        Monica deserves to compete at the TOC. Not only is she incredibly kind, but just objectively, quarters of an octas bid tournament and breaking at tournaments 9 times is not a feat that’s common, let alone the fact that at least 6 of those were bid rounds (what I counted was 6, not that 6 or 7 is that big of a difference regardless).

        I think the point “anon22” was making was that at some point in the season, all the people she lost to in bid rounds were at least in finals of a TOC bid tournament (Julie at GD, Michael winning Cal amongst others, John at Memorial).

    • James Callison

      I agree so, so, so much with most of what you say (only the supportive parts). I am completely convinced that the loss of Monica and Ben from this tournament are huge blows. I know both of them very well, and believe me when I say that they deserve this so much. They are perhaps the two most dedicated, caring, and skilled debaters on the circuit. I really do wish I could put the amount of respect I have for them into words. This tournament is not only losing two of the absolute finest debaters, but also two of the most magnificent individuals. They have touched so many people in this community that everyone, regardless of whether these two make it to KY or not, should recognize the impact they have had. My experience, the experience of dozens of others, and the community as a whole would not be even close to the same without them. They truly are what is great about debate. Love ya guys.

      • BenjaminKoh

        James won a quarters bid tournament. He’s pretty good at debate. He deserves to compete.

    • Speakin’ da truth

      yo, yo, yo, listen up here kids

      word on the street is that the toc committee thought monica amestoy cheated her way to her only bid by not declaring a MASSIVE conflict with two judges on her doubles panel at VBT (who coincidentally were on top of a 2-1)

      • I think that is extremely unfair to Monica. The judges that could be conflicts could potentially judge her in a harsh manner (many people who I am friends with and who judge me are extremely critical). I think it is presumptuous to say she ‘cheated’. She earned her bid and she deserves to be at TOC.

        • anon94

          should we eliminate conflicts then?

          • Of course, but it doesn’t mean she cheated.

      • Guest

        yo yo yo. word on the street is you’re a MATH HUTT.

        also monica won that round.

        • Speakin’ da truth

          Y’all misunderstand- i’m not saying she DID cheat or that she DIDN”T win the round- just that not declaring a well known conflict created the NOTION of impropriety that doomed her chances at an at large

      • BenjaminKoh

        can we establish why this was a conflict first?

        • Thelonelywolf

          Isn’t it true that she went to prom with both of the judges that voted for her?

        • Speakin’ da truth

          lol ben you should know

  • sjadler

    To all the students who received at-larges, congratulations! To all those who didn’t, don’t lose hope yet.

    The waitlist gets run through very quickly in the last few days because people didn’t put the logistics in place to be able to attend. Most hotel rooms are cancelable up until a day or so before the reservation, and you can find refundable flights online for a small premium. If you’re serious about making it happen for you, make sure that you’re able to attend if you get the call.

    Special congratulations to Adam Roke from my NSD lab on an impressive Berkeley bid (as well as some pretty cool zombie games that he designs–what a Renaissance man) and my student Djorn Patel on an all-around great season with another one still on the horizon. This decision doesn’t reflect the strength of either of your careers, and there are lots of good things ahead for you guys.

  • Courtney Nunley

    Northland Christian School is incredibly happy to announce that Morgan Lawson received an at-large!

  • anon94

    In Lincoln Douglas:

    Collegiate School- Andrew O’Donohue

    Harvard-Westlake- Tommy Choi

    La Costa Canyon- Brennan Caruthers

    Northland Christian- Morgan Lawson

    Walt Whitman- Daisy Massey

  • Guest

    Congrats to Collegiate AO –Andrew O’Donohue for his bid at large!!! After 7 bid rounds, I know it’s a relief.

  • MizzBeel

    I am tremendously happy to announce that Andrew O’Donohue (Collegiate AO) has received an at-large bid to the TOC.