Reflections on 2012-13: Positive Experiences

There’s a lot of drama and conflict brewing elsewhere on this site, but it might be worth tabling some of that to discuss positive experiences that people have had this season. In the midst of fights, the debate community can seem like a pretty polarizing, hostile place, but there also all sorts of statuses from graduating seniors testifying about how helpful debate was, or how great a time they have had.

So, what have you most enjoyed about debate this season? What memories will you look back on fondly in a few years? What trends make you excited to stay involved in the community?

Please keep posts positive; there are other on-going threads where concerns can be addressed, but this should be removed from those conversations.

– Steven Adler

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  • My favorite moment of this season was getting the chance to debate at Colleyville and getting to the bid round. Though this might not seem like much of an achievement in the eyes of many, I come from a really small debate program in which it is extremely difficult to travel to circuit tournaments. Though I have gone to a few this year, I would like to point out that the chances of me going to Colleyville specifically were not high because of my parents’ financial situation at the time. However, because TDC(Texas Debate Collective) assisted me by waiving judging/entry fees(which my parents usually have to pay for out of their own pocket), I was able to go.

    I am truly thankful for the opportunity they have given me, but I know that I am not the only one. There are other financially disadvantaged debaters in Texas, and TDC is trying to reach out to them by providing scholarships to the TDC camp as well as waiving expensive tournament fees. I think there was a post on NSD earlier by Tom Enven about what TDC is, but if anyone doesn’t know exactly what the organization is about and wants to make a difference in the community, I recommend visiting the site and making a donation.

  • No, he did not go to a single tournament until the TOC.

  • Anondebater2142

    Holla at the Scoggin, Zimmerman, Cameron NSD Lab- Strugz 4 lyfe got 9 bids, qualled three debaters, and 2 ascended strugdom by clearing at TOC

  • MizzBeel

    If I may make a quick humble suggestion to all of you wonderful, soon to be FYO kids here… (it’s been a pleasure meeting/judging all of you this year, by the way! :D)

    So many of you posted about how much fun you had helping teammates, or watching younger debaters succeed. If you’d like to keep that warm-fuzzy feeling going, and also really meaningfully contribute to debate, please consider judging in the JV/Novice division at a few tournaments next year. You RFDs, advice, support, and ballot critique may mean the difference between a kid staying in this activity… or leaving to join Model UN.

    In the past few years I’ve judged the JVLD Div at practically every Northeast tournament. I’ve seen the up and coming circuit kids, and the kids from really backwards small schools with no coaches, no backfiles, no support. To the former group, a little bit of praise from a “varsity” judge serves as external validation. But to the latter bunch of kids, ten minutes of discussion and advice can make a HUGE difference in how welcome they feel debating against “big schools.” Your RFD might include explanations of LD mechanics, help with logic and refutation, research advice, or even cite sharing. (I will admit that, much to the chagrin of some kids on my team, I have sometimes even opened my expando and handed over extra copies of our research cites to young men and women without coaches…)

    We all like to talk about helping “small programs” and “rural programs” and “coach-less programs” and “lone-wolves.” But let’s no forget, everyone starts off as a bumbling novice, and it’s often your first or second year that shapes your future in this activity. Kids who don’t have a good coach at least deserve compassionate and high quality judging. Judging isn’t just about being “tab” and “making the right decision,” (whatever that means) — it’s about being an educator and a coach. Your RFD as a JV judge won’t ever “send a message to the community” — but it’ll allow you to speak personally to a frightened little kid and say, “You’re doing a great job with the cases you’ve got! But let me tell you about a few new things you can try that may help…” Sustainable programs begin with happy, motivated, optimistic novices. Happy, motivated, optimistic novices need supportive JV circuits. JV circuits are only as good as the judging that volunteers for them.

    So please, please, please: consider being there for the kids who need it most. I know it’s not glamorous. I know you have friends in the VLD division, and they’re more fun to hang out with than explaining weighing to a 14 year old. But think back to your own novice years — think about how good you would you have felt if you could have gone back to your team and said, “OMG someone who cleared at the TOC just gave me the most amazing advice!” or “a varsity judge just said I have talent!” Now think about how much more those comments might mean to someone just beginning their debate career, who might not even have a team. You’ve got a chance to actually increase education and fairness in the debate world. Please take it!

    All my best to you, FYOs. Thanks for listening, congrats on your brilliant careers, and good luck in college!

  • Part of the reason it’s so sad for me that my debate career has ended, is because of all of the amazing experiences I’ve had so far in the activity, and because of all of the amazing people I’ve met. This past year has been particularly memorable.

    The first thing that stands out in my mind is my entire NSD experience. From rooming with Julie (remember Arjun’s styrofoam noodle cup thing we used to heat up chinese food in our microwave?), to participating in the fun awkwardness that was the cuddle puddle, to bonding with the entire Kristof/Liu lab (you guys are all great), and to meeting tons of new people that would go on to become some of my closest friends as the year went on – it’s something that I’ll never forget.

    Another experience that particularly stands out in my mind was right after I qualed at lex – finally qualing was a huge personal achievement for me. But what really made it special was the outpouring of congratulations from all of my friends in the community who all seemed genuinely thrilled for me, some of whom seemed just as excited as I was (if not more so). To me, this illustrates one of the best aspects of the debate community – it’s a community where people don’t only value and get excited about personal accomplishment, but also the accomplishments of others. Throughout the ups and downs of my career, my friends in the community have been incredibly supportive, and that has meant more to me than I could ever possibly express.

    There are tons of other amazing experiences I’ve had so far in debate, but it’d be impossible for me to go through all of them, so here’s a few others from the year that stand out: Becoming good friends with a ton of the Scarsdale team, hanging out with Lucy and Shmikler at Blake, the Lex RR dinner, bonding with Jess and Leah (Love you guys! <3) at Beltway and playing games with everyone in Jess's basement, hanging out with Michael/Millman/Grant in the city, watching Argo in a hotel room with everyone at the Penn RR, swimming in the pool with Jess/Daisy/Jim at TOC – I could go on, but this post is pretty lengthy already so I won't. The point is, it's experiences like these that really make debate so memorable, and I still hope to stay involved as much as possible.

  • I loved finally getting to meet most of the TET at Harvard after hearing about them for a whole summer! Y’all are all super sweet boys!

  • I will remember Carlton Bone’s remarkable comeback performance 4ever. He didn’t debate all year, was down 2 the first day, won 4 bubble rounds, and cleared without debating the runoff. Now that’s paper. I will also remember Daniel Selman because I coached him to, and he did well/is pretty tight. Also congrats to the finalist and winner, Richard and Rebecca, for their immense success at the Tournament of Champs.

    • Rebar Niemi


  • Driving 15 hours straight from Idaho to CPS for my second and last bid tournament ever with literally no prep and going 4-2 with Bob. Great way to end my short lived circuit career.

  • Confessions:
    1. I upvote all of my own posts on this site.
    2. On the NSD app for lab placement, I misrepresented my records for the previous year and said I went 4-2 in order to get into a higher lab (on accident).
    3. I’m in love with Megan Nubel.
    4. I downvoted everybody’s post on this thread except my own so that it makes me look cooler.

    • Although i could write about a shit ton of thank you’s and nostalgic appreciations, i’m gonna stick to brennan-related confessions:

      Brennan and I have the best hugs. Many onlookers were graced by the most spectacular of my run-jump-hugs at Berkeley. This hug gave him the unique power to bid. Shout out to Shannon for helping me getting over my nerves and talking to brennan at the CPS hotel lobby!

      • Brennan Sterling Caruthers

        Hey Suhleem <3 <3 <3 <3

  • Guest

    shoutouts to lexington DA (dan alessandro) and the instigator, joseph millman, for this massive campaign to downvote every post

    • Guest

      edit: Lexington AQ (Ayman Quadir)

    • Guest

      Edit: Lexington AQ (Ayman Quadir)

  • Saziq Hiddiqi’s midnight shenanigans in our hotel room at VBT

  • When I got the at large I immediately ran outside and bought lemonade from some girls on the street corner near my house. I remember driving by them on my way home thinking “ok, if I get it I’m getting some lemonade.”

    When Shayne cleared at Cal and was all stoked and I jokingly said “whatever you’re gonna hit Sam in triples anyways.” And then she hit Sam in triples. Lolololol.

  • I have so many great memories from this year and all because of new and old friends I have been lucky enough to have this year, too many to list them all but here are the highlights.

    1. So many late nights with the TET talking about absolutely nothing appropriate and getting really good music from Eli

    2. Lone Wolfing it at the Berkeley tournament and essentially getting adopted by Sam and Julie (the slutty brownies and the crepes were truthfully the best part)

    3. Going to WDM Valley prom with Ticha!

    4. Amazing dinners with amazing people at the Lex, Cal and Bronx Round Robins.

    5. Working with my novices and watching them turn into a veritable powerhouse

    6. Seeing my teammate Julian get his first bid at Valley

    7. In-N-Out burger at Greenhill and Berkeley

    • Whoever’s downvoting these is such a troll. I respect that.

    • <3!!!! Slutty brownies…they're sinfully delicious 😉

    • Those music nights were excellent. For those reading, the artist was Jarle Bernhoft. Worth checking him out. Seriously.

      • I thank you for introducing me to him at camp

  • Debate is more than an activity– it is a community and the people in it can be amazing. From all the memories of the year these will always stand out: Debate Girls 2014 and all the wonderful strangers who became the most supportive community I could have asked for, Nathaniel’s never ending stream of hilarious stories to diffuse stressful moments, Coach Chy’s motivational speeches, Jim going swimming post TOC in a pair of Daisy’s shorts, Elana’s #OWPs, Leah being a nomadic hippie with me post Hockaday, actually just everything about the Hockaday RR, NSD–the cuddle puddle, blasting Disney songs with Shruti and Emily, Beltway and bonding with all the girls who stayed with me, and yes I could go on, and on, and on. Love you all! (including everyone who I didn’t get to mention but contributed to making this year a fun one!)

  • BenjaminKoh

    The Joseph Millman

  • The massive lab group hug at VBI after our evening seminar.

    Pub Quiz.

    Ninja capture the flag.

    NSD cuddle puddles.

    Singing payphone.

    Hanging out at tournaments.

    Making fun of Chris for his Minnesotan accent (he bayged me to stop teasing him).

    Making fun of Allie for being a Canadian spy.

    Making fun of Henry because he’s Rice Theis and has awesome vocal steroids.

    Watching Arjun and Akhil work incredibly hard and being so proud of their success.

  • I had so many awesome memories from last year (like watching my dad birdman Scoggin during a round at Berkeley, using the three hour break to go to Mass at Berkeley or the FSHA/Loyola debate capture the flag game)

    This year it would be:

    1. The Hockaday RR: I had so much fun making and strengthening awesome friendships. Love you girls <3

    2. The Berkeley Tournament: nuff said

    3. The Lexington RR: Everyone was really fun to hang out with and dinner was awesome!

    4. IDE: Punishment wheel and Sleepovers

    5. VBI and NSD: Even though I went to 7 weeks of camp, I felt like each week I learned so much from everyone around me. I made some of my best friends at these camps and really appreciate all the awesome people who teach there!

  • My favorite debate moment is when Chris Theis and I bonded at the Bronx Round Robin over our shared zodiac sign/our future love lives as described by our horoscope. I doubt he remembers this, and even if he does he will think this is creepy. This moment was made possible by the brilliant horoscope writers of Cosmo magazine.

    Also shout out to the Debate Girls of 2013 because we are hot and that makes every experience better.

  • This year was definitely an unforgettable one. A few great moments that I can remember are:

    1) Getting the text message that Brennan Caruthers had broken the La Costa/Round Rock/Encinitas/Independent BC bid curse and got the first bid in our school’s history at Berkeley. I became so close to that guy throughout the year and I am so proud of him for being so successful!

    2) Debategirls2014 <3 Y'all are absolutely fantastic. I love how close we all are and how safe of an environment that group we've been able to create.

    3) All of the friendships I've made and that have grown throughout the year have made me feel so loved in the debate community. From singing duets with Shmikler before our round 1 at VBT to debating Gingold like a trillion times in bubble rounds, I've made some of the best friends of my life. I can't thank the community enough for that :]

  • I’ve loved laughing constantly because of the abundance of funny people in debate. You guys make every tournament wonderful. The Facebook group Debate Girls 2013 is awesome because of how supporting and encouraging everyone is 🙂 Megan Nubel is the greatest cheerleader of all time. I enjoyed driving to get froyo at the Greenhill RR and blasting “Payphone” in the car (no shame) with a bunch of other debaters. Camp was incredible, with capture the flag ninja battles, singing, and pub quiz scheming. It’s also nice to hear everyone else posting their positive experiences from this year. We all have different friend groups and memories, but everyone seems to have a place in debate and that’s really cool. I hope debate continues to foster the lifelong friendships and unforgettable adventures I’ve already been lucky enough to experience.

  • Carlton broke at TOC after not debating since the previous year’s TOC, and will do it again next year.

  • The tone was set for my season when at the HenHud invitational, David Joannides and I were chatting quietly and Matt Agar-Johnson ran past us with an armful of expandos and shouted “IS THIS THE RIGHT BUILDING?!”. Hahaha matt.

    Also, massive shoutout to Shai Szulanski. I’m pretty sure I spelled your last name wrong, but regardless, Shai is one of the NICEST people on the debate circuit. Over the last four years I have had the pleasure of having been alternately cheered up by, intimidated by, made to love, and straight up impressed by Shai’s intellect, integrity, and personality. Getting to spend more time with him this year, whether it was through judging at Woodward, or competing at tournaments, was certainly a highlight of my year.

    • Griffin Miller

      <3 SHAI

  • Not sure if this is for people who went to TOC’s, or students, or people who are graduating or whatever but the dinner Prego Swag Sauce -Mathew Pregasen- and I had with everyone at the Lexington round robin was one of the most hilarious and enjoyable dinners I’ve been too in addition to the tournament itself.

    • YES! that was my favorite moment of the season. of any season actually. you are the best story teller ever.

      • and meeting random citizens and petitioning them to donate

        • That old guy better have donated after that impressive sell you put on OR ELSE O_O

      • haha idk I feel like you guys might have had me beat with the stories you told even my non-debate friends find them hilarious

    • That dinner was Amazing. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time

      • Hahaha YES especially when Prego laughed so hard that he spelled water everywhere

        • Wooops that should be spilled water everywhere though him spelling seems way funnier

        • Mathew Pregasen

          Good thing we already got our food before that happened. They were not so pleased lol.

    • Daniel Selman

      Fred you definitely made my season in doubles of emory when we played “Don’t you forget about me” while waiting for the RFD after i realized that it might have been my last round ever.

      • Alberto Tohme

        We didn’t quite get that jumping high-five down.

    • I cried that night. Fred makes everything better!

    • Mathew Pregasen

      That pasta actually did have some amazing Prego sauce on it.

  • Three great moments that immediately come to mind:

    1. At camp this summer, a group of us went into one of the lab rooms at night and turned the room into a fort. It was actually a super legit fort. And then lab leaders came in and we thought we would get in trouble but they just came in our fort, ate our food, played bananagrams with us, and watched part of a movie.

    2. At TOC, Annie and I were sharing a room at Motel 6. And she apparently has never stayed in a motel before. And it was pretty fun watching her struggle over the broken sink and the other motel-ish things about it.

    3. The DebateGirls2014 facebook group. I’ve bonded with so many girls that I hadn’t met before this year, had so many skype dates that were hilarious and unforgettable, and have felt so much more connected to the girls in my grade.

    • #rawtalentlab <3

    • Her least favorite memory is being top seed at the TOC. That must have been a bummer. 😀

      Congrats on the great year Leah. I’m excited to see you kick ass next year

  • Erik Baker

    Manny Dallas’ incredibly clutch performance to win the NSD basketball tournament after I went down with an injury.

    • Okay, we all know it was Christian Tarsney pulling all the weight on that team.

  • My favorite memory from this year was right after the TOC At Large List was posted and I didn’t make it. This seems strange, but the support from the community was overwhelming and I felt loved. I can’t remember another time where people who were almost strangers came out and told me how much they supported me. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

  • I had some great times with the northeast crew this year, whether it be getting shake shack at our local NCFL qualifier (lol) or just sitting around at tournaments. I am especially going to miss northeast graduating seniors Sam Hom and Patty-Jane Geller who are always super fun to hang out with and debate won’t be the same without them. I also am really appreciative of the national circuit friends I made this year. Before I went to NSD this past summer I had primarily debated in the northeast, so I was thrilled and appreciative when I was welcomed wholeheartedly by so many talented debaters from across the nation. Not many people from New York can say they have close friends in Iowa, Texas, and California. The Scarsdale team has also been fun this year and I’m happy I had the opportunity to teach our novices. The circuit should start preparing now for the havoc the dale frosh will cause in a few years. Finally, I think the thing that I will most look back on from this year in debate is the formation of “Debate Girls 2014.” You guys represent what is so good about this activity with your constant support, advice, and laughter. Let’s kill it next season!

  • Hockaday RR 2012 and 2013

  • This was the best.

  • the time when Tartakovsky and I beatdown Henry Zhang and Jeff Liu in a pickup basketball game at CPS

  • I think what has impressed me the most this year was the ability for most people to step back from it all and just be friends with each other. Even if it was just stuff like getting lunch with other people who you may have just debated, most people had a really good attitude about their competition. Friday night of the toc I just played basketball outside my hotel with Strake Jesuit (we played some much younger kids staying at the hotel for unrelated things). Im pretty sure we lost – sorry jeremy. But I think i’ll remember that better than I do any round I debated there.

  • We had some youngsters achieve a lot this year. This just shows that the debate community has an incredibly bright future ahead in the next couple years.

    Jake Steirn qualified to the TOC as a freshman with bids from Crestian and Sunvite, but also made the bid rounds at Lex and Bronx. Reppin’ the TET!

    Adam Tomasi broke at the TOC as a sophomore and got to quarters dropping on a 2-1 to D-Tart! He got 5 bids I believe and this kid is going places! Easily the hardest worker I know! Reppin’ the TET once again!

    Arjun Tambe going 4-3 at the TOC dropping in the bubble round. With coaching like Chris Theis, he is for sure going to wreck havoc next year with Akhil and the PVP crew

    There are definitely more than where that came from. Please add more!

  • At the Bronx Round Robin I remember reading out loud from a magazine and pronouncing lingerie “linger-ee.” That probably wasn’t one of my smarter moments. The VBI tob lab included me in their group. Jess and Elana ordered pizza with me at MBA when they only left out salsa and chips for dinner. I also finally learned what #OWPs meant. Reading any of Martin Sigalow’s online ballots was pretty funny. I had some fun messing with people using Nikhil’s timeout prep time system at Penn. Most importantly, I made a ton of friends, regardless of what camps they went to, how many times they beat me, and what arguments they ran. I can’t wait for another great year!

    • Pizza is always a good idea. #OWPs were hilarious. And, I was definitely one of those people you messed with at Penn. Basically, this year was fabulous and I’m so pumped for next year!

    • I’m pretty sure that the only reason anyone reads online ballots is to see Sigalow push the lower limit of what counts as art. I usually just scroll through until I see the poorly drawn pictures.

      • Poorly drawn? Sir, you have no taste. All my drawings are immaculate.

    • There was this one time in between rounds at the Whitman tournament when Danny and I were sitting alone at a table in the nearly deserted cafeteria. Both of our heads were down on the table because we were both exhausted. We talked about everything and anything. It was such a great bonding moment.

  • sjadler

    I suppose I’ll start. I wasn’t at too many tournaments this year, but one thing I’ve really come to appreciate is the community of really intelligent, cool people you meet, and how that’s always kind of with you. I actually ran into one of my debate friends at Disney World, and it was just very cool knowing that these connections with people will stay with me, even if I’m not attending competitions. And then, when I did end up going to Harvard, I saw all sorts of friends I hadn’t seen in at least a year, and it was really great being around so many of those people again.

    That’s what’s really stuck with me from this year, much more so than the topics or specific rounds, and it’s what I hope will keep me somewhat involved.