2022 February/March Rostrum

Page 1


VOLUME 96 ISSUE 3 FEB ./MAR . 2022

up Put Day NSDEters pos 8 e4


ON BALANCE Find the mindset and moderation you need to keep loving speech and debate.

Schedule a break! * Why am I so burned out?

Page 36

om o r b a T rum fo tricks tips





NSDA STORE! www.speechanddebate.org /store

1 inch

1.25 inch


N a iooonnnnnaaa alllll IIIIn Innnss sttt iitittttiiuutu t tu tt ee UUUTTUTTTN a ttttitiio n teee N a a s U N a s u N a t UT National Institut reeen n siccciissccsss iiiininn sis ooorrrre nn F FFFo e nnn s o F s i in Forensic

University of Texas University of University University of Texas Texas

University of Texas University ofInstitute Texas National National Institute National National Institute National Institute National Institute in Forensics in Forensics in inin Forensics in Forensics Forensics We invite you to join us next summer for the 29th

Annual in Forensics. The We invite UT youNational to join usInstitute next summer for the 29th We invite you to join us next summer for the 29th We invite you toyou join us next summer for the 29th We invite to join us next summer for the 29th We inviteUT you to join next of summer for the 29th Annual National Institute in The UTNIF continues to us be theForensics. largest most Annual UT National Institute inone Forensics. The and Annual UTNational National Institute in Forensics. The Annual UT Institute inthe Forensics. The Annual UT National Institute in Forensics. The UTNIF continues to be one of largest and most accomplished summer forensic programs in the UTNIF continues to be one of the largest and most UTNIF continues to be one of the largest and most UTNIF continues toto be one ofof the largest and UTNIF continues be one the largest and most accomplished forensic programs inmost the country. Just summer a forensic few reasons why accomplished summer programs inour thestudents accomplished summer forensic programs in the accomplished summer forensic programs in the accomplished programs in the country. asummer few reasons why ourincomparable students country. Justcoming aJust few reasons whyforensic our students keep back year after year: country. Just a few reasons why our students country. Just a few reasons why our students country. Just a few reasons why our students coming back year after year: incomparable keepkeep coming back superior year after year: incomparable education, resources, unmatched faculty, keep back after year: incomparable keepcoming coming backyear year after year: incomparable keep coming back year after year: incomparable education, superior resources, unmatched faculty, education, superior resources, unmatched faculty, reasonable rates, tremendous alumni, and best of education, resources, faculty, education, superior resources, unmatched reasonable rates,superior tremendous alumni,unmatched and best of education, superior resources, unmatched faculty, reasonable rates, tremendous alumni, and best of all—summer in Austin, Texas, as we (hopefully) reasonable rates, tremendous alumni, and best of of all—summer in Austin, Texas, as we (hopefully) reasonable rates, tremendous alumni, reasonable rates, tremendous alumni, and best all—summer in Austin, Texas, as we (hopefully) all—summer Austin, Texas, as we (hopefully) return to instruction! fullininlive instruction! return to full to live all—summer Austin, Texas, all—summer ininstruction! Austin, Texas, as as we we (hopefully) return fulllive live instruction! return to full return returntotofull fulllive liveinstruction! instruction!

www.utspeech.net www.utspeech.net www.utspeech.net www.utspeech.net www.utspeech.net www.utspeech.net www.utdebatecamp.com www.utdebatecamp.com www.utdebatecamp.com www.utdebatecamp.com www.utdebatecamp.com


Success is a product of excellent and immensely talented students, incredibly hard working coaches, supportive parents and and exceptional amounts of timetalented that include investment in summer opportunities. It is that Success is aaproduct excellent and immensely students, incredibly hard working coaches, supportive Success product of excellent and immensely talented students, incredibly hard working coaches, supportive Success is aisschools, product ofofexcellent and immensely talented students, incredibly hard working coaches, supportive understanding that makes UTNIF one of the largest of comprehensive institutes in the country year after year, and why parents and schools, and exceptional amounts time that include investment in summer opportunities. It isItItthat parents and schools, and exceptional amounts of time that include investment in summer opportunities. that parents and schools, and exceptional amounts of time include investment in summer opportunities. isisthat Success a productsome of excellent and immensely talented students, incredibly working coaches, supportive we haveisassembled the brightest forensic minds in the nation for our program.hard It is also that educational Success isschools, athat product of of excellent and immensely talented students, incredibly hard working coaches, supportive understanding that makes UTNIF one of the largest comprehensive institutes ininin the country year after year, and whywhy understanding makes UTNIF one of the largest comprehensive institutes the country year after year, and understanding that makes UTNIF one of the largest comprehensive institutes in the country year after year, and why parents and and exceptional amounts of time that include investment summer opportunities. It is that philosophy that has enabled alumni of our summer programs to succeed at every level, from high school and well into we have assembled some ofthe brightest forensic minds in the nation for our program. It It isItis also that educational parents and schools, andUTNIF of minds time that include investment inthe summer opportunities. It isand that why we have assembled some ofexceptional brightest forensic in in the nation forfor our program. that educational we have assembled some ofthe the brightest forensic minds the nation our program. isalso also that educational understanding thatcompetition. makes one ofamounts the largest comprehensive institutes in country year after year, collegiate forensic philosophy that has enabled alumni our summer programs to succeed every from school and well into that makes one ofour the largest comprehensive institutes in level, the country year after year, and why philosophy that has enabled alumni ofofof our summer programs toto succeed level, from high school and well into weunderstanding have assembled some ofUTNIF the brightest forensic minds in the nation foratat our program. It ishigh also that educational philosophy that has enabled alumni summer programs succeed atevery every level, from high school and well into collegiate forensic competition. we haveforensic assembled some of the brightest forensic minds in the nation for our program. It is also that educational collegiate competition.

Passion… Elegance… Excellence collegiate forensic competition. Passion… Elegance… Passion… Excellence Passion…Elegance… Elegance…Excellence Excellence

philosophy has enabled alumni of our summer programs to succeed at every level, from high school and well into collegiatethat forensic competition. philosophy that has enabled alumni of our summer programs to succeed at every level, from high school and well into collegiate forensic competition.

Passion… Elegance… Excellence Projected 2022 program dates:

Passion… Elegance… Excellence

2022 program dates: and subject to change. Note: For planning purposes only. AllProjected dates subject to continuing contract agreements

Projected Projected2022 2022program programdates: dates:

Projected 2022 program dates: Summer Survivors Supersession: June 30 contract Note: For CX planning purposes only. All dates subject to 23-July continuing agreements and subject to change. Note: For planning only.June All dates subject to continuing contract agreements and subject to change. CX Skillspurposes first session: 23-July 102022 Projected program dates: Note: For planning purposes only. All dates subject to continuing contract agreementsand andsubject subjecttotochange. change. CX Summer Survivors Supersession: June 23-July 30 CX Skills second session: July 13-July 30 Note: For planning purposes only. All dates subject to continuing contract agreements CX Summer Survivors Supersession: June 23-July 30 CX Skills first June session: June 23-July 10through July 9) Speech Events: 22-July 6 (extension Note: ForCX planning purposes only. All dates subject continuing contract CX Summer Survivors Supersession: June 23-July Skills first session: June 23-July 10to Summer Survivors Supersession: June 23-July 3030 agreements and subject to change. PF first session: June 22-July 6July CX Skills second session: 13-July 30 CX first June LD: JulySkills 17-July 30session: CX Skills second session: July 13-July 30 through July 9) first session: June 23-July 1010 Speech Events: June 22-July 623-July (extension CX Summer Survivors Supersession: 23-July 30 CX Skills second session: July 13-JulyJune CX Novice: June 22-July 622-July Speech Events: June 22-July 6613-July (extension PF first session: June CX Skills second session: July 3030through July 9)

CX Skills first session: June 23-July 10 Speech Events: June 22-July 6 (extension throughJuly July9)9) LD: July 17-July 30 PF first session: Speech Events: June 22-July 6 (extension through CX Skills second session: July 13-July 30 UTNIF CX Novice: June30 22-July 6 LD: July 17-July PF first session: June 22-July PF first session: June 22-July 66 Dept. of Communication StudiesEvents: Phone: Speech June 6 (extension through July 9) CX Novice: June30 22-July 6 LD: July 17-July LD: July 17-July 30 22-July 1 University Station PF first session: June 22-July UTNIF Novice: June 22-July 66 6 Debate - 512-471-1918 Mail Code A1105CXCX Novice: June 22-July

LD: July 17-JulySpeech 30 - 512-471-1957 Austin, Texas 78712-1105 UTNIF 1 University Station CX Novice: June 22-July 6 Phone: Dept. of Communication Studies UTNIF Debate - 512-471-1918 Mail Code A1105 UTNIF 1 University Station Phone: Dept. of Communication Studies Speech - 512-471-1957 Austin, Texas 78712-1105 Phone: Dept. of Communication Studies Debate - 512-471-1918 Mail Code A1105 1 University Station UTNIF 1 University Station Speech 512-471-1957 Austin, Texas 78712-1105 Debate -- 512-471-1918 Mail Code Phone: Dept. of A1105 Communication Studies Debate - 512-471-1918 Mail Code A1105 Speech 512-471-1957 Austin, Texas 78712-1105 1 University Station Speech - 512-471-1957 Dept. of Communication Studies

Austin, Texas 78712-1105 Mail Code A1105 Austin, Texas 78712-1105


Debate - 512-471-1918 Speech - 512-471-1957

Letter from the Publisher

Board of Directors

I heard an analogy awhile back that has stuck with me. Picture your responsibilities and commitments as balls that you’re constantly juggling. There are balls for family, friends, health, and work all the way down to trips to the post office and laundry. Over the last two years, it seems like there are more balls to juggle than ever. And is it just me, or have they gotten heavier? The trick to balance (or, more appropriately, on some days just getting to the end of the day) is knowing which balls are glass and which are rubber. The glass balls will shatter if you drop them. The rubber ones will bounce back up. Maybe there are even a few balls you can pass off to someone else. Understanding what you can temporarily let go of will help you prioritize and keep going when every day feels like a battle. It can be hard to let any ball drop, but when you do, remember that tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start again. In this issue, we explore work-life balance in our activity thanks to the students, coaches, and educators who shared their personal struggles and triumphs. On page 36, we consider ways to combat burnout through practical strategies for teachers and coaches. On page 16, we share a strategy for allocating your time based on the urgency and importance of your to-do list. On page 52, coach Christy White shares how lobbying for a speech and debate class helped her take back control of her schedule and cut down on total work hours. On page 58, we visit Horizon High School and learn how their students have built new dreams despite incredible obstacles. If you’re in a season where you’re struggling to keep it all going, or you’re just flat out tired, know you’re not alone. I hope you find some strategies—or light—in these pages.

ELECTED MEMBERS Pam Cady Wycoff President Minnesota Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr. Vice President California Byron R. Arthur Louisiana David Huston Texas Adam J. Jacobi Wisconsin Jennifer M. Jerome Nebraska Renee C. Motter Colorado James W. Rye III Alabama


APPOINTED MEMBERS J. Scott Wunn Executive Director



401 Railroad Place, West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730 | Phone (920) 748-6206 J. Scott Wunn, Publisher Amy Seidelman, Editor Vicki Joss, Managing Editor Emily Bratton, Graphic Design Assistant

Newsstand Price $9.99 per issue

Anoop Mishra Alabama

Non-Member Subscription Price $34.99 for one year (5 issues)

Holly Williams Arizona

Rostrum provides a forum for the speech and debate community. The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and not necessarily the opinions of the NSDA, its officers, or its members. The National Speech & Debate Association does not guarantee advertised products and services unless sold directly by the NSDA.


Sara Gibson District of Columbia

Member Subscription Price $24.99 for one year (5 issues)

Rostrum (ISSN 1073-5526), Copyright © 2022 by the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA), is published five times per year (Sept., Nov., Feb., Apr., and Aug.) by the NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730. Business and Editorial Offices: NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA, 50265-4730. Accounting and Circulation Offices: NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730. Call (920) 748-6206 to subscribe. Periodicals postage is paid at Des Moines, IA 50318, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Rostrum, c/o NSDA, 401 Railroad Pl., West Des Moines, IA 50265-4730.


Dr. Mike Edmonds Colorado

To learn more about the Board, visit www.speechanddebate.org/ meet-the-team. You may also contact the Board by emailing board@speechanddebate.org.



In consultation with our camp nurse, we have developed robust COVID-19 mitigation policies to make in-person camp safe in 2022.


We will continue to offer a virtual speech & debate camp option at ISD: Online.

JUNE 25 - JULY 8

We are proud to offer robust financial aid to ensure that every student can access the #ISDDifference!

THE ISD DIFFERENCE Individualized Curriculum


A Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Robust Financial Aid Program


JULY 10 - JULY 23

Equal Access to Our Faculty Theme Park Fun Days


In this Issue : VOLUME 96 : ISSUE 3 : FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022



Teaching, Coaching, and Burnout: The Inner Journey with Dave Stuart Jr. and Erik Dominguez

Governance and Leadership 8

From Your Board President


Four Candidates Seek Board Election in 2022

Community 23

Springboard Series: Low-Stakes, High-Impact Scrimmages and Tournaments


Prioritizing Balance in Speech and Debate


Mentoring New Teachers Crucial to Survival of Speech/Debate by Melissa Witt


National Speech and Debate Education Day: Celebrating You this March!


Student Spotlight: Olivia Tsang


Coach Profile: Christy White


District in Detail: California Coast


Team Profile: Horizon High School, Texas


Alumni Angles: Jessica Berenson


Champions Corner: Aaron Chen


USA Debate: Training, Teamwork, and Time Management in World Schools Debate by Cameron Kettles and Miles Wang


Words from the Hall by Aaron Timmons

National Tournament 26

National Tournament Updates


Letter from the Publisher




News + Notes


Membership Minute


Resource Roundup


Middle School Focus


Tabroom.com Tip


Advocacy Letter

by Holly Williams

Cover Art Photography Credit: Pexels – Bora C., Jacqueline Kelly, Any Lane, Lukas, Polina Tankilevitch, Tara Winstead; Unsplash – Erica Steeves

From the Cover

View this issue online! www.speechanddebate.org/rostrum

Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/ speechanddebate Share with us on Instagram @speechanddebate Follow us on Twitter @speechanddebate Follow us on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/nationalspeech-and-debate-association

OUR MISSION Rostrum shares best practices, resources, and opportunities that connect, support, and inspire a diverse community of educators committed to empowering students through speech and debate.



The American Legion’s National Oratorical Contest

LOOKING FOR COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS?  LOOK NO FURTHER. The first place finisher of The American Legion’s National Oratorical Contest is awarded a $25,000 scholarship, second place $22,500, and third place $20,000. As part of the National Speech & Debate Association’s ongoing alliance with The American Legion, those top three finishers may also earn the right to compete in Original Oratory or United States Extemporaneous Speaking at the National Speech & Debate Tournament!

Want to get involved? Follow these simple steps! • Visit www.legion.org/oratorical to learn more. • Click on “State Contests” to contact The American Legion Department Headquarters located in your state to learn when the first contest in your area will be. • Also click on “Assigned Topics” to learn the extemporaneous topic areas. • Prepare your original oration on some aspect of the Constitution with emphasis on the duties and obligations of a citizen to our government.

Patrick Junker of Iowa placed first at the 2019 American Legion National Oratorical Contest

Watch examples of past winning orations online at www.legion.org/oratorical/videos.


Current topics, voting links, and resources available at:

www.speechanddebate.org/topics Member students and one chapter advisor per school are eligible to vote!

2022-2023 Policy Debate Topic Global Geo-Political Crisis: Emerging Technologies — Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its security cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in one or more of the following areas: artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity. Most Bond films open with 007 in the middle of some major crisis with the audience waiting for the opportunity of Q’s new technology to resolve the conflict. However, emerging technology like AI, biotechnology, and cybersecurity can be easily created, intercepted, and used by the “enemy.” Clearly, the U.S. and its allies need to collaborate for the best solution. Possible case affirmatives would be creating a U.S.-NATO emerging technology investment fund; instituting a NATO treaty on autonomous weapons; increasing cooperation in biotechnology (e.g., on vaccine diplomacy, biofuels investment, or agricultural biotech cooperation); establishing a new U.S.-NATO infrastructure for thwarting and responding to cyber threats; banning offensive cyber operations; and forging U.S.-NATO partnerships with private technology companies to bolster the alliance’s leadership in emerging technologies. These emerging technologies are vulnerable to outside threats. The negative will have multiple strategies. These technologies create case-specific disadvantages generating specific links and turns. Theoretical discussions of offensive and defensive cyber weapons, the effectiveness of deterrence, the role of the U.S. as a hegemon, and global politics will be popular. Economic repercussions and interdependence of the global economy will be key. Negatives can argue alternative methods of engagement by using public/private non-military partnerships. Various perspectives on philosophically driven arguments will be intrinsic. The voices of the disenfranchised will be argued. A diverse set of arguments creates a level playing field for all students by debating emerging technologies. This topic affords students from across the nation in rural and urban areas from coast to coast with ample research and provides scaffolded skills’ development. The topic is broad, but the strength in it is the balance of affirmative and negative material. Debaters will gain experience in a well-rounded understanding of how emerging technologies are reshaping society, the advantages and disadvantages of different policy approaches, and how the issues surrounding emerging technologies will shape the global security agenda for decades to come. Students’ knowledge of how crisis and opportunity work, with a collaborative approach to the solution, are essential skills for life.

(Topic synopsis courtesy of the National Federation of State High School Associations)

MARCH 2022

Public Forum Debate Resolved: In the United States, the benefits of increasing organic agriculture outweigh the harms.


Lincoln-Douglas Debate Resolved: In a democracy, a free press ought to prioritize objectivity over advocacy. The NSDA also offers a “Civil Disobedience” resolution that may be used during the first two months of a novice LD season. Coaches are encouraged to check with tournament hosts in their area before exclusively prepping for one topic over another.


Policy Debate Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its protection of water resources in the United States.


Big Questions Debate Resolved: On balance, societies benefit from religious belief and practice.

We’re committed to topic writing and decision making through an equity lens, using the Topic Rubric Questions on the next page. 6



Topic Rubric Questions Topic Rubric Questions

InThe order to conducts do our best to provide and students withevaluation these skills, essential is to CONDUCT NSDA an intentional ongoing of one the topics westep encourage students to In order to do ourAND bestONGOING to provideEVALUATION students withOFthese skills, one step is students to CONDUCT AN INTENTIONAL THE TOPICS weessential are encouraging to explore. We use andAND offerONGOING to others the following set of questions to are evaluate topics.students to AN INTENTIONAL EVALUATION OF THE TOPICS we encouraging explore. As such, we offer the following set of questions to evaluate each topic. explore. As such, we offer the following set of questions to evaluate each topic.

1. Language 1. Language Does the wording of the topic

2. Advocacy 2. Advocacy Does the topic enable students

3. Awareness 3. Awareness Analyzing the topic from the

Does the wording of thevalue topic discriminate or unequally discriminate or unequally others? Is the topic clear, asvalue well as others? Is the topic clear, as free of any cultural idioms thatwell mayas free of any cultural idioms that may disadvantage some participants? disadvantage some participants?

the theorize topic enable students toDoes actively and address to actively ethical, social,theorize political,and andaddress ethical, social, political, and economic barriers that perpetuate economic by barriers that perpetuate inequalities advocating for inequalities by advocating for changes to policies and practices? changes to policies and practices?

Analyzing the topicdiverse from the perspective of many student perspective of many diverse groups, does researching and student groups, does researching theorizing about this topic and promote theorizingofabout thisexperiences topic promote awareness specific awareness of specificand/or experiences related to oppression larger related issues? to oppression and/or larger systemic systemic issues?

4. Openness 4. Openness Does the topic promote research

5. Literature Base 5. Literature Base In order to be competitive, does the

6. Accessibility 6. Accessibility In order to attract and sustain

Does the topic promote research and theorizing that challenges and theorizing that think challenges students to critically about students to critically think about their world and consider different their world and experiences? consider different perspectives perspectives and experiences?

In order to be competitive, does the topic compel students to research topic compel studentsthat to research and present arguments would and present arguments that would stigmatize, discriminate against, or stigmatize, discriminate against, or exclude a traditionally marginalized exclude a traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised community? and disenfranchised community?

In order to attract andtopic sustain participation, does the participation, does theof topic facilitate an exploration ideas facilitate an exploration of ideas related to established intellectual, related established intellectual, social, or to cultural interests? social, or cultural interests? Considering the present moment, Considering moment, will theorizing the andpresent researching will theorizing and researching the topic encourage supportive the topic encourage supportive social, emotional, and intellectual social, emotional, and interactions amongst theintellectual intended interactions amongst the intended participants? participants?

Furthermore, when creating an array of topics, you will also want to consider whether a significant portion of Furthermore, when creating an array of topics, youare willmeant also want consider whether a significant portion your topics reflect these questions. These questions to betoconsidered in addition to the above six. of your topics reflect these questions. These questions are meant to be considered in addition to the above six.

7. Intentional Inclusion 8. Justice 8.topic Justice 7. Intentional Inclusion The Intentional Inclusion – The topic provides opportunities to

9. Power 9. Power The topic promotes a deeper

Intentional Inclusion – The topic compels students to explore ethical, compels students to explore social, political, and economic ethical, social, and economic issues in political, a way that features the issues in a way that features experiences and perspectives the perspectives ofexperiences traditionallyand marginalized and of traditionally marginalized disenfranchised communities. and disenfranchised communities.

The topic promotes a deeper understanding of power imbalances. understanding of power imbalances.

The topic opportunities explore howprovides we should define and to explore how we should define and live out social justice. live out social justice.

Please share your feedback on the rubric!

National Speech & Debate Association: Topic Rubric Questions • updated April 16, 2021 National Speech & Debate Association: Topic Rubric Questions • updated April 16, 2021

shorturl.at/fDT79 2 ROSTRUM | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022




From Your Board President


egendary distance runner Joan Benoit Samuelson made history when she became the first Women’s Olympic Marathon Champion in the 1984 Olympics. Now in her 60s, she continues to run and teaches “The Runner’s Mindset” so that others can reap the benefits of running. Joan grew up at a time when athletic opportunities were very limited for women until Title IX passed in 1972. Since that time, she has often asked herself, “If Title IX hadn’t passed, what would I be doing?” Although I never entertained being a marathon runner, some would say that 43 years in this activity could be viewed as a “career marathon.” So, at a time in our lives when teaching and coaching have become incredibly challenging, I want to offer some insights into a “Speech and Debate Coach’s Mindset” that may help you to go the distance. Although I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, my passion for speech and debate coaching was and continues to be the most rewarding part of my career. Over the years, I’ve thought about why this was the case. First is what I term the “lure of longevity.” For the

greater part of my career as a classroom teacher, my Language Arts and Speech Communication classes were generally a trimester in length. All my coaching took place after school. My frustration as a teacher was that just as a student learned to become relatively comfortable with public speaking, the course was over, and I may never have them in class again. Coaching gave me the latitude to achieve more progress with students. On the speech and debate team, if I was lucky, I could have up to four years to develop skills. That made the potential for student growth and skill refinement substantially greater, and I loved working toward and seeing real progress over the long term. I also fell in love with the “experiential learning” that comes from coaching and competition. In most schools, activities that happen after school are considered “extra-curricular activities.” However, our administrators called them “co-curricular activities.” This is because just as a field trip could uniquely enhance a student’s learning, speech and debate, athletics, and the arts could significantly enhance the intellectual, emotional, and social

growth of a student. These educational opportunities should never be considered “extras” that are unnecessary, or an option to “cut.” Instead, they are essential. Without a doubt, speech and debate tournaments provided continual opportunities to rethink and rewrite arguments, test new scripts, and refine delivery techniques. Just as science labs would test a hypothesis, tournaments became a lab for testing and refining students’ skills. Consistently witnessing this type of growth was unlike anything I’ve witnessed in the traditional classroom. Third, the opportunities to teach life lessons, build life skills, and form lasting relationships with students and fellow coaches made my journey particularly rewarding. Yes, extending my day for practices, attending tournaments, and coordinating the logistical challenges of a program were and will always be taxing. However, being a coach made me a better teacher. It challenged me professionally to develop my skills and learn alongside my students. And, the opportunity to help students build confidence, learn to win and lose with grace, cope with failure,

and strive for success was personally rewarding. Speech and debate is a transformative activity for our students, but it also transformed me as an educator. Finally, on a personal level, the relationships forged with fellow coaches are among my most rewarding friendships. Not only do we share so much time together, but we also understand what we do and why we do it. Coaching students through the roller coaster of competition creates memories and relationships that last long after the tournaments are over. So, during these trying times as an educator and coach, when you are running your personal career marathon, ask the question, “Where would your students be without speech and debate and YOU in their life?” Never doubt that you are changing lives for the better—theirs, and I believe, yours. So, in honor of the marathon, “On your mark, get set, keep going!” To be continued...

Pam Cady Wycoff NSDA Board President

If you would like to connect with Pam, please email pam.wycoff@speechanddebate.org. 8




FOUR CANDIDATES SEEK BOARD ELECTION IN 2022 This April, the National Speech & Debate Association will once again hold its biennial election, which will choose four directors to serve on the national Board of Directors. The four elected directors will each serve a four-year term.

Voting via electronic balloting will be made available to all member schools April 4, 2022. Voting concludes April 22, 2022. Each school shall vote for up to four candidates. All active school chapters will count as one vote. The votes will be officially audited, and the four individuals receiving the most votes will be announced by May 2, 2022. They will earn seats on the Board from August 1, 2022, to July 31, 2026. For an explanation of Board roles and responsibilities, please visit www.speechanddebate.org/ nsda-board-best-practices. The following columns are unedited and provided exactly as submitted by each candidate. The names appear in an order drawn by lot.



2022 Board Election

Renee Motter

Adam Jacobi

Air Academy High School Colorado

Wisconsin High School Forensic Association Wisconsin

Now, more than ever, I believe YOU matter; what YOU do matters; YOUR voice matters; the voices of your STUDENTS matter. Our world is changing. New words like global pandemic, virtual tournaments, and online instruction have become part of life. In the wake of so many wrongs, the beginnings of new attitudes and activism are bringing changes so desperately needed. Amid all of this, what we do STILL matters because this activity teaches us all to channel our voices to make a difference in our world, and our world needs those voices. I am so proud to be part of a community that works tirelessly to preserve, protect, and propel voices to the next level, even in these unprecedented times. I’m so honored to do my part to support and amplify our community’s diverse voices. During my term on the board, I’ve continued to work on curriculum and presentations for students and coaches as co-chair of the NSDA teacher/coach standards committee. Additionally, I’ve sat on the PF committee and the judge committee, as well as serving on board sub-committees as co-chair of the Rules Revision and Evaluation and as a member of Internal Affairs. I’m proud that in my years on the board, we brainstormed, questioned, and debated what is best for the activity, its students and coaches. We’ve begun revising rules to allow for voices that are more inclusive of all populations as well as opening publication standards to ensure inclusion of diverse voices. During the pandemic, I’m proud that our board worked to give staff the resources and support to first establish the precedence for online tournaments and then to host the largest online tournament in the nation. While we have done a lot in my four years on the board, there is more to do, more that I’d like to be a part of, more that needs to change so the voices of our community are better cultivated and amplified. As a coach, I see you; I am you. I’ve seen (and done) what you have done for your students these last years, the lengths to which you’ve gone to keep them engaged and give them a voice because you know our world needs their voices. Because I believe I can do more as a board member to help amplify the voices of our students and coaches, I ask for your vote in this election.



I respectfully ask for your support of my reelection to the NSDA Board. Starting as an urban public middle school participant in 1989 and through my 25-year career as a speech and debate educator, this activity inspires me through how it builds confidence and capacity for success. I have coached the spectrum of speech and debate events; age levels, from middle through university; and schools, both urban and rural, public and private, and in the U.S. and internationally. As a coach, my priority is to understand the needs of Generation Z students, and challenges they face in our current society. The last few years have been incredibly challenging. Even before the pandemic, we speech and debate educators discussed how we felt isolated, where colleague teachers and administrators in our schools never quite understood what we do. Yet, over the past two years we connected with each other, we supported our activity with new technology, and we inspired our students to find different approaches to performing virtually. As we look ahead, we must focus on rebuilding momentum, recruitment, and capacity for in-person contests, while determining what ongoing role virtual contests play in fostering access. During my first term on the Board, the most profound experience I had was learning from Glenn Singleton’s Courageous Conversations: Beyond Diversity workshop, where various stakeholders engaged in discussions of how to make speech and debate a place where more students – and the adults who support them – could feel they belong. I carry this lens to my analysis of every decision we approach. As a white male, I understand how important it is to seek perspectives of those whose lived experiences differ from mine. As a queer-identifying person, I understand speech and debate has been a haven for LGBTQ+ people to communicate authentically. Supporting this safe space saves lives. My advocacy on the Board has focused on consistency and transparency, including a more deliberative rules change process; stronger positioning of speech and debate’s benefits with external audiences; and decisions rooted in pedagogical objectives underlying our events, and increased middle school outreach. I believe the following priorities are critical for NSDA: (1) centering equity, justice, accessibility, and belonging; (2) fostering a community of integrity and respect; (3) ensuring transparency in decision-making; (4) bringing access to more programs and geographic areas; (5) promoting mental health and wellness; and (6) advocating research-based pedagogical benefits. Learn more: www.adamjacobi.com.

2022 Board Election

David Huston

Byron Arthur

Colleyville Heritage High School Texas

The Delores Taylor Arthur School for Young Men Louisiana

It has been my pleasure to serve as a member of the Board of Directors for the past twelve years. We have accomplished a great deal in that time. It has been almost a decade since we changed the name of the organization to more accurately reflect what we do. The Board has given the organization more direction with our strategic plan. In the middle of a pandemic, we have remained financially solvent and changed speech and debate through NSDA Campus. The NSDA led in a time of crisis. It has been an honor to be a part of all of those decisions. We still have a great deal to accomplish. One of my goals when I first joined the board was to implement a full training program for our speech and debate judges. We had begun the process when the pandemic hit and those discussions were put on hold. It will be my goal in the next term to continue to support that initiative. We need a trained judge pool of individuals who not only understand and evaluate our events according to rules and standards, but also recognize their own biases, and overcome them as they adjudicate. Such training doesn’t limit our judge pool. Training will allow us to expand our potential judge pool and give persons the confidence they need to make decisions. Our students deserve no less. We need to continue to encourage student voices. Today’s students are challenged in so many ways. Critics are attacking curriculum that teaches critical thinking through discussion and debate of controversial issues. We need strong voices to drown out those who are shouting things that are the antithesis of what we are trying to teach. We need to be willing to not only confront, but engage such voices with not only adult voices, but those of our students. Our students can be our strongest advocates. I am in awe of the capacity for our students to engage at a level that some adults cannot comprehend. All those persons need do is to come to our classrooms and competitions to truly see and understand the capacity for change that our young people have. I hope to encourage that in the next four years. Please allow me continue to be your advocate. I promise to work as hard in the next four years as I have in the previous twelve. I would truly appreciate your support.

It has been an honor to serve this community as a member of the National Speech and Debate Association Board of Directors. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with a group of intelligent and passionate individuals to chart a course for the organization that will hopefully serve our members well. During these past three and a half years, our nation has dealt with the challenges of racial unrest, a deterioration of civic discourse and joined the world in grappling with the sudden and horrific impacts of a global pandemic. At a time when so many were struggling it was important that our activity stand tall for our students and coaches. Our Board worked with the Executive Director to offer solutions and a path forward. I was humbled to be part of the robust discussion that led to us offering the very first virtual national tournament. I am proud of our work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. Yes, there is more that must and will be done but as an organization we have measured ourselves against the best practices of other outstanding non-profits and laid out a challenging agenda for the future. I have probably spent more time highlighting the “we” instead of the “me” because I think that our collective success is more powerful than any single thing that I have done. I thank President Pam Wycoff for initially allowing me to chair the Development Committee (now External Affairs) and support Nicole Wanzer-Serrano in her work to inspire individuals and organizations throughout the nation to financially support our mission. Since 2020, I have served as chair of the Internal Affairs Committee supporting Laura Stein in her efforts to maintain the viability of our organization. During this pandemic, when so many organizations struggled and others failed, the National Speech and Debate Association remains a financially strong organization and is here to support the innovation necessary to serve our members. It was also my pleasure to work with Adam Jacobi and former Board member Pam McComas to revise the Constitution and By-laws to guarantee that they continue to be relevant and compliant legal documents. I believe in this activity and what it means to the students and coaches around the world who devote themselves to its practice. I am humbled to offer my service to all of you once again.





ANDREA AMBAM Raymore-Peculiar High School, MO - Class of 2015 2014 Original Oratory national champion and 2015 Original Oratory finalist



NEWS + NOTES Access the Archives: Webinar Recordings Resource Package subscribers can watch dozens of webinars on Interpretation, Public Address, Debate, and Team Management. The recently refreshed archive has tips and trainings for students and coaches alike. Get started at www.speechanddebate.org/webinar-recordings.

Read Recent Board Minutes The minutes from the Board of Directors’ January Board meeting and November and January Rules meetings are available online at www.speechanddebate.org/minutes-archive.

Expand Your Skill Base

Celebrate Black History Month and Women’s History Month

NSDA Learn offers free, on-demand courses to help you confidently take on new events and manage a sustainable and welcoming team. Do you have certification requirements? The vast majority of coaches report that the documentation they receive from NSDA Learn courses meets their needs. New and popular courses include:

We invite you to commemorate Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March in your school or virtual classroom with our literature collections and special poster series featuring speech and debate coaches and alumni. Refer to the opposite page for one of the many posters available online! Learn more at www.speechanddebate.org/equity.

NEW Building Supportive Cultures to Prevent Bullying and Harassment Intro to Coaching: Dramatic and Humorous Interp Performance Breakdown: Crafting a Duo Interp

Nominate Coaches, Students, and Administrators for NSDA Awards Submit nominations for each of our district to national awards! Each district winner is entered into the running for the national-level award when reported by your district chair.

Engaging and Mentoring Students with Disabilities

Explore these and other courses online by visiting www.speechanddebate.org/learn.

Pitch Membership to Students Last fall, we surveyed students to learn about their member experience and how to better meet their needs. The benefits students value most are: • Ability to list membership, accolades, or rankings on resume/college applications • Ability to compete at districts and Nationals • Recognition (certificates, seals) • Earning points • Monthly tools like topic analyses, Congress dockets, Extemp questions, etc. Access a flyer to help pitch membership to students at www.speechanddebate.org/coach-membership.

• • • • •

District High School Coach of the Year Award District New Coach of the Year Award District Assistant Coach of the Year Award District High School Administrator of the Year Award District Student of the Year Award

Links to these nomination forms can be found online at www.speechanddebate.org/district-nationals-leadership. District chairs, be sure to report your winners by April 16, 2022, for national award consideration using this form: www.speechanddebate.org/district-awards-reporting-form. Nominations are also open for the following middle school national awards! • Middle School Coach of the Year Award • Middle School Administrator of the Year Award

Visit www.speechanddebate.org/coach-recognition and www.speechanddebate.org/school-recognition for details.

Questions? We’re here to help! Email info@speechanddebate.org or call (920) 748-6206. ROSTRUM | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022


My voice matters, and every story deserves to be told... I am forever grateful for this program, and I will always credit it for the woman I'm becoming.” LOGAN GREEN 2021 Original Spoken Word Poetry Champion CLAIM YOUR

Your students have already experienced firsthand the power of speech and debate. Help them stay connected (or reconnect!) with other speech and debate alumni by claiming their alumni membership.


FOR ALUMNI Attend Webinars

Share Your Experience

Volunteer Opportunities

Leverage your speech and debate experience to demonstrate you possess the most in demand skills. Stay tuned for details and dates on webinars like using speech and debate skills to land your dream job, leveraging speech and debate experience in graduate school applications, and exclusive speaker series.

You know how important speech and debate was to your journey—you lived it. Share your story and inspire others to start their journey. Your words help support the vision to provide speech and debate in every school.

Share your expertise with current speech and debate students. Your engagement will change lives.

Learn More

Follow Us on LinkedIn for Updates!



Stop Talking. Start Speaking.

1 & 2 Week Sessions - July 5 - 19 Back in Person in 2022! A Different Kind of Camp

Sessions and Pricing

At Southwest Speech and Debate, we believe that community is the thing that makes this activity better. We believe that Speech and Debate can be a home for everybody, and enable people to raise their voice, and speak their truth. We pride ourselves in providing a low-cost, high-quality camp experience.

Policy Debate: Full Session (July 5-19) Lincoln-Douglas: Full Session (July 5-19) Public Forum: Full Session (July 5-19) Choose a Week 1 and a Week 2 Session (July 5-19) Platform Speaking (OO/Info): Week 1 Session (July 5-12) Congressional Debate: Week 1 Session (July 5-12) Interp Events: Week 2 Session (July 12-19) Extemp Speaking: Week 2 Session (July 12-19)

Come join us, and find out how you can stop talking, and start speaking!

*Prices listed are for campers who choose to stay in the dorms.

Learn More at swsdi.org

Presented in collaboration with:

$1345 $1345 $1345 $1345 $980 $980 $980 $980



Balance your time more efficiently using these tried-and-true tips!





Not Important


ur lives and our workplaces are thrumming with urgency. We pride ourselves on being busy. We thank each other for our quick responses. We constantly are reacting instead of acting. In fact, it’s even worse than it seems—our own brains are working against us. We’re wired to want to tackle the small tasks right away. An achievement, no matter how small, gives us that little dose of dopamine, which makes us feel accomplished, which makes us seek out the same feeling with another quick task, which...you get the picture. By the end of the day, we’ve certainly been busy, but have made little to no progress toward our larger goals. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive.


Not Urgent



Important + Urgent • Crises • Deadline-driven work Tournament registration due today



Not Important + Urgent • Interruptions or busy work • Some emails, calls, and meetings Collect signups for next tournament

The Time Management Matrix (shown above) suggests dividing work into quadrants. This strategy, created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and popularized by Stephen Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, will help you determine where you should be spending your


Important + Not Urgent • Building relationships • Planning or attaining long-term goals Professional development courses



Not Important + Not Urgent • Time wasting • Some emails, calls, and meetings Social media scrolling

time in order to reach your goals. This system may be particularly helpful if you struggle with prioritizing your to-do lists, getting to your big projects, saying no, or remembering how you spent your time at the end of the day. The matrix is divided into four quadrants

based on importance and urgency. Your goal is to spend as much time as possible working efficiently in Quadrant 2. Emergencies and external pressure make time in Quadrant 1 inevitable. The real danger is in treating things that are not urgent and important as if they are because they are easy

This system may be particularly helpful if you struggle with prioritizing your to-do lists, getting to your big projects, saying no, or remembering how you spent your time at the end of the day.”

or right in front of us (like the email inbox). Quadrant 2 generally involves deep, focused work that needs to be scheduled. It doesn’t give us that instant dopamine rush but is the key to crafting and executing our strategies. And the more time you’re able to spend on planning, the less time you’ll find yourself overwhelmed and spinning out in Quadrant 1. Schedule it on the calendar and stick to the commitment. The challenge of Quadrant 3 is that many coaches are flying solo and don’t have assistants to whom they can delegate. You can consider if there’s anything your students could take off your plate in exchange for service points, but your real tool here is automation.

Utilize auto pointing for your points entry. Switch to Tabroom.com’s Competitor Signup feature to streamline how students request to attend tournaments and how you communicate with their adults. Set up templates for your frequent emails. Try out Zapier to zap info from one place to another. Create streamlined systems for your busy work and, with repetition, you’ll get back to what matters most quicker. Drop what you can from Quadrant 4. Or, if you can’t drop it immediately, make a plan for when you can. As mentioned earlier in this issue (page 2), there are glass balls and rubber ones. You may need to let some of the rubber balls go. As a coach, there is likely some work in

Quadrant 4 that you can’t eliminate because it is important or urgent to others. That’s frustratingly out of your control. But, you can control two things. First, you can control what you say yes to. If it doesn’t help you meet your goals and you are able to say no, do it. This applies to building your team’s schedule, too. In a career centered around supporting the personal growth of others, it is tempting to offer more and more opportunities. Your power over your schedule is one of the most critical tools you can wield to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. Set your boundaries—and stick to them! Second, you can control your own distractions. There is

a time to turn off your brain for a few minutes to scroll social media or read an article for a break. However, in mixing work and relaxation at the same time by looking at your phone in front of the computer, you’re really achieving neither. It’s the difference between a mindless escape and a true refresh. If you’re taking a break, fully commit and step away. Otherwise, get back on track. Step back from the inundation of requests and to-dos and begin each day knowing what work is most important and committing to prioritizing it through scheduled focus time. Meet you in Quadrant 2!

Annie Reisener serves as Membership Manager at the NSDA.






LESSON 6: WRITING AN INTRODUCTION TOPIC: How to Write an Introductory Paragraph

Essential Question + Objectives By the end of this lesson, students will be able to organize and write the foundational aspects of an introduction: attention getting device (AGD), supporting points, and thesis.

1. What’s the purpose of an introduction?

2. What are the

components of an introduction?

3. What makes a good thesis?


Access to Google Slides – tinyurl.com/497wbhe6 (trigger warning: child abuse)

Access to computer and projector

Thesis Statement Handout (included)

Highlighters and/or pencils

Topic Brainstorm (from Lesson 3)

Thesis Statement Rough Draft assignment

Research Graphic Organizer (from Lesson 5)

Access to Google docs or paper

Access to Google Classroom and computers


(only if students have access to Google Docs)

Insight: As students research, they will be excited to begin writing their speech. You will want to ensure that students know how to begin their speeches (with an appropriate Introduction) since the rest of the speech’s integrity relies on this foundation. Once students have a solid opening, they will find that writing the rest of the speech is much easier, as the main points/claims create the “hooks” for each of their body paragraphs.

www.speechanddebate.org/start-here 18


NATIONAL SPEECH & DEBATE ASSOCIATION • www.speechanddebate.org • LESSON 6: Writing an Introduction | 47


Save time in class or at practice with our grab-and-go lessons to introduce young students to Informative Speaking and Original Oratory. Guide them through understanding the rules, choosing a topic, writing their speech, and creating visual aids—and assess their knowledge along the way.





LESSON 6: WritiNg aN iNtrOductiON



LESSON 6: WritiNg aN iNtrOductiON 3. Topic Brainstorm and Rough Draft Thesis Statement

ONE-DAY LESSON 5-10 minutes


Have students get out their Topic Brainstorm (from Lesson 3).

Have students review the ideas they put under their top two choices for a topic (the bottom of the Topic Brainstorm), and choose the three they believe are the most important things for their audience to know about their topic.

1. Two Truths and a Lie: very short version •

Tell two facts about yourself that are true, and one that is a lie. To help students get it right, the lie should include a name other than your own, like Lila once held a baby panda.

Once students have chosen the top three ideas they want to cover in their speech, give them the Rough Draft Thesis Statement assignment (included) either through Google Classroom or on paper.

Have the class raise their hands for which item they believe to be the lie: Choice 1 (the first thing you said), Choice 2 (the second thing you said), or Choice 3 (the third thing you said).

Have students complete their Rough Draft Thesis Statement and turn it in for a grade. Review and have ready to hand back by lesson.

Ask students how they knew that the lie was the name you gave.

Exit Ticket – Once students have completed the Rough Draft of their Thesis Statement, they should check over their research in the Research Graphic Organizer (from Lesson 5). Have students fill in the Point/Claim It Supports box (the bottom box) in class or as homework, deciding which of the Points/Claims from their Thesis Statement their research supports, and adding that Point/Claim into that box. If the research doesn’t support one of their Points/ Claims, they will want to either reconsider their Points/Claims or delete that research. Some students will be close to completing their research at this point. However, some may find, as they write or as they review their Graphic Organizer, that they need more evidence. They should be encouraged to do more research in order to thoroughly cover the points they want to make in their speeches. This can be done either as homework or in class, depending on whether your students have computers at home.

2. Remind students that they might not have known that the name was a lie if you had never introduced yourself (including any sort of written name in the room). 3. Tell students that introductions help us begin a relationship with a person - and with a topic 30-40 minutes


5 minutes


1. Explain to students that when they give a speech, the audience should be drawn in and know what the speech is generally about. They also should know the purpose of the speech: to inform or to persuade. The introductory paragraph of the speech allows the speaker to do all these things for the audience. 2. Use the Introductory Paragraph slideshow to give direct instruction to students. Speaker notes elaborate on what is on the screen. •

For slides 13-16, show the video example of the Thesis Statement so students can practice picking it out first by ear, then in print. You may decide to choose different videos to reflect the needs of your class

Use the Thesis Statement Handout (included) with slides 12-16.

Use slide 12 to work as a large group, identifying the topic and the three main points given in the statement.

Use slides 13-15 to work in small groups, and report back to the large group. Either have each group work on one Thesis Statement apiece, or work on each statement one at a time in small groups.



For each of the Thes

is Statement exam ples below, highlight or circle the topic and then underline , the Points or Claim s given by the spea ker.

SLID E 12:

Use slide 16 to have students work alone to answer the questions on the screen, and then report to their small groups.

So let’s look at the

eternal, cultural attra

as a mark of individual

NATIONAL SPEECH & DEBATE ASSOCIATION • www.speechanddebate.org • LESSON 6: Writing an Introduction | 48

Statement. You important abou draft of your Thesis you believe are most to create a rough to do and which things two topics. Use this worksheet ONE topic you want had for your top d have decided which the topic ideas you now that you shoul Brainstorm to review Topic your to topic. Go back



So today, let’s get

choice. (2 pts.)

ng at their lure as

a group ritual,

a better understan

ding of the developm ent of our fashion footprint. To do this, implications, and innov we’ll ations.

SLID E 15: So, to confront the


for tattoos by looki

Aviation: how thing s fly. Today, let’s first explore the history of aviation; next, we’ll behind it; before finall learn about the phys y, understanding the ics duality of aviation and its ability to conn ect people. SLID E 14:

examine evolution,

TS: 10

Write your final topic


NATIONAL SPEECH & DEBATE ASSOCIATION SLID E 13:• www.speechanddebate.org • LESSON 6: Writing an Introduction | 49

T NT ASSIGNMEN THESIS STATEME top two topics ROUGH DRAFT h research on your have done enoug t that

This Public Address collection features 13 lessons spanning the course of four or more weeks of instruction. Download the full series now and stay tuned for our Middle School Public Forum edition, coming soon!

ction people have

ity, and as a rite of

believe to the three things you Brainstorm, choose bottom of your Topic your three Main/Key you created at the topic. These will be Now, from the list ld know about your shou too much of nce away audie give you don’t rtant things your general enough that be the most impo mber to make these don’t need complete them below. Reme out if needed). You Points or Claims. List s Statement Hand Thesi the in ples back at the exam your speech (look pts.) as bullet points. (3 sentences – list them

strategies that will

social epidemic, we

will first, identify the source of our write r’s block; next, we’ll see how us to develop victim hood mentalities; before, finally, learn help us write the endin ing some g we all need.

our refusal to write

our stories forces

SLID E 16: So, let’s look at first, and finally, restore

how we feel abou

our neighborhood.

t hate, second, how

we respond to it,

NATIO NAL SPEEC H & DEBATE ASSO CIATI ON • www. speec handd ebate

then examine the




s or Claim three Main/Key Point your topic and your nce that contains ). her: create a sente ARATIVE SENTENCE Now, put it all toget that this is ONE DECL Statement (remember s Thesi draft is your rough

s. This

(5 pts.)


ebate .org






Share this guide with your students!

by Elena Cecil

What Is Prose? Prose is a form of writing that focuses on the written or spoken language in an environment that more closely resembles the natural flow of speech and storytelling. Often using a stream of consciousness (the thoughts and feelings running through the narrator’s head) to tell a story, Prose is told the way one would tell a story in an everyday conversation. In competition, Prose involves the telling of a story from a single source through performance with the use of a manuscript.

More Insights Prose is often categorized as the “other Interp,” so to understand it, consider what it’s not. Prose is writing that is not poetry or stage direction. It is generally written in complete grammatical sentences and is a narrative sharing of events with both highs and lows that you might find in everyday tellings of life. As a starting place, think of Prose as novels, like Percy Jackson or The Babysitters Club. Prose requires a natural ability to hold a conversation and manipulate your emotions and voice to create necessary inflections and tones while performing. This event is likely for you if you enjoy: • The use of the black book in poetry but want to tell a story instead of using thematic poetry. • The long-standing human tradition of storytelling but want to use more conversational skills than are typically utilized in Humorous Interp or Storytelling. • The narration skills typically used in Dramatic Interp but don’t want to be locked into dramatic themes.



Guidance for Choosing a Piece Your purpose is to share someone’s story, and the best way to do that is to find a story to which you relate. Books are a great place to start. Plays and dramas are not allowed in this event. Instead, try memoirs, short stories, or books written in first person (where the narrator uses I/we to tell the story). Read as much as possible from different perspectives! This is your chance to share your voice through a story you feel speaks to your experiences. As you read through material, ask yourself if this piece of work is meaningful to you. If the answer is no, then you should keep searching until you find something to which you relate on a personal level. The best pieces come to life when the performer and author can bring the story to life through performance. Find material that has an overarching story arc that can be separated from the rest of the work and can tell a full story in a matter of seven minutes (middle school) or five minutes (high school). It’s important to read the work in its entirety—this will ensure you tell a complete story and represent the author’s intent. If you’re not sure where to start, consider themes. If you know you’re connected to certain themes or characteristics, let that guide your search. Talk to your



Falling Action

Rising Action


Exposition BEGINNING



coach or a librarian—or go online and search for material that incorporates what interests you. When you think you’ve found something, consider what story you could tell from the whole source. If you’re working with a full book, there may be a variety of perspectives or a plethora of action from which to choose. Take the style of the book into consideration. If a book is told from multiple perspectives, do you want to focus on just one or multiple? The plot style is also very important. If the book has parallel plots (several story arcs all happening simultaneously that typically converge at the climax), you may not be able to tell the entire story because you need both plots and don’t have enough time. Or, you may tell a shorter version of the story and utilize the parallel plots to express the themes you’re trying to convey. Use a story arc (perhaps more than one!) to develop the plot of your piece. As you read, fill in important parts of the story. What makes the plot progress? For instance, if you were cutting a piece from the book To Kill A Mockingbird, you may include “Atticus is appointed to represent Tom Robinson” as one of your plot points. Continue to use plot points to build the arc of a story you feel compelled to tell. From here, move on to the rest of the cutting process. Elena Cecil serves as an intern at the NSDA.

This abridged guide is adapted from our Prose Starter Kit. Find the full breakdown online!


Instructors can find lesson plans for introducing theme, story arcs, and the cutting process to students in our Start Here: Teaching Middle School Interp collection.

www.speechanddebate.org/start-here ROSTRUM | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022




FORUM by Kevon Haughton

support.tabroom.com The new Tabroom.com Forum is an interactive experience that allows speech and debate coaches, judges, and students to exchange ideas and questions with NSDA staff and trained Tabroom.com super users from varied speech and debate communities. The Forum is a medium by which people can support each other, share best practices, and maximize the usage of Tabroom.com’s software. Urgent questions should still be directed to help@tabroom.com. Forum users can browse and share contributions to different categories of topics, including New Feature Alerts, Tournament General Management, and Roster Management. There are even specific categories for questions about tabbing Speech, Debate, and Congress!

To join the discussion, visit support.tabroom.com and select “Login” to log in with your Tabroom.com credentials. Create a new topic by selecting the “New Topic” button in the upper right corner, then assign your topic to an existing category. Browse existing posts, like “Best Practices for Emailing Through Tabroom,” “How to Use the New Accommodation Notes Feature,” “Dos and Don’ts with the Poke Feature,” and “How to Tell If My Students Have Linked Accounts.” We look forward to using the Tabroom.com Forum to increase discussion, support collaboration, and increase engagement within our speech and debate communities!

Kevon Haughton serves as Tournament Services Coordinator at the NSDA.

To learn more about Tabroom.com features and support, visit http://docs.tabroom.com. 22



Low-Stakes, High-Impact Scrimmages and Tournaments by Kellie Etzel


hanks to the generosity of The Julia Burke Foundation, the NSDA launched the Springboard Series in 2020. Springboard is a series of virtual afterschool speech and debate scrimmages with two weekend tournaments. The scrimmages and tournaments are organized and managed by the NSDA using Tabroom.com. The best part? They’re completely free! Students don’t have to be NSDA members in order to participate in the scrimmages, either. They can compete in their favorite speech and debate events from the comfort of their own homes or with their teammates at school! Through the Springboard Series, the NSDA aimed to fill a void

created by the pandemic to provide experienced and novice students alike with free virtual access to speech and debate. Springboard provides high school and middle school students with an avenue to critically think through problems, collaborate on creative solutions, and communicate effectively against injustices. Not only have Springboard scrimmages occurred Tuesday and Thursday evenings four times a month, but the NSDA also hosted a weekend capstone tournament in early December. Another weekend tournament is planned for May 5-7. That upcoming tournament is very special—students will have the opportunity to qualify for the National Tournament!

So far, 2,065 students from 28 states and international locations have had a chance to gain new speech and debate skills, participate in new events, and receive valuable feedback from a new set of judges. A total of 466 students from 73 schools and 221 judges gave up their Saturday on December 4 to compete in a mix of live and asynchronous speech and debate events. Congressional Debate, Big Questions, Humorous Interpretation, Policy Debate, and Duo Interpretation were represented among the events. About 150 of the top-placing students earned medals for their performance. In addition to providing students with free practice opportunities,

the Springboard Series is a wonderful way for coaches, advisors, administrators, and supporters to build and foster a healthy speech and debate team. Springboard offers a low-stakes, highimpact way for coaches to recruit, train, and expose new students and judges to competitions. In fact, some coaches have started to use the Springboard Series in unique and creative ways. Coach David Yastremski from New Jersey found a great use for Springboard scrimmages—tryouts for his school’s speech and debate team. For years, David’s team held traditional tryouts for available spots. With Springboard, he was able to eliminate traditional inperson tryouts, determine which students were really interested in participating in speech and debate,



Testimonials and help his students develop a competitionready performance—all while giving his students a chance to compete in more than one form of speech and debate. For David’s team, Springboard created a structure where students had options to show their commitment to the team. Attending after-school Springboard scrimmages became a social, unifying experience, and mentoring relationships naturally formed between new and returning team members. The Springboard Series offers students essential feedback and ranks from judges across the country and is an excellent way to build skills and confidence with zero entry fees. Coach Mark Stowitts from California sees Springboard as a rare opportunity for his students. “Why would they give up their evenings to compete on a school night?” he asked. He ultimately concluded that

Springboard gives students the opportunity to receive more detailed, constructive feedback from a variety of judges than they might normally get during a full, in-person tournament. Imaginative coaches like these have found inventive uses for the Springboard Series. Here are a few more ideas: • Avoid judge burnout through exposure to talented performers from across the country (and around the world!). • Utilize Springboard for judge development: an introduction to judging for new judges or new events. • Garner fresh administrative and parental support for speech and debate teams with free competitions. • Let students try out a new speech and debate event in a lower pressure situation. • Offer the Springboard opportunity in lieu of a practice, giving students an opportunity to get feedback from other sources.

Springboard offers a low-stakes, highimpact way for coaches to recruit, train, and expose new students and judges to competitions. Here’s what participating coaches are saying! “These tournaments have provided a safe and accessible avenue for our students—particularly our novices—to try speech and debate. Thank you to The Julia Burke Foundation for your continued support of our activity!” — David Yastremski (New Jersey) “I am from a very small, rural school, and my kids are into every other activity they can possibly be in. By offering the Springboard scrimmage, my team was able to compete on Tuesdays and Thursdays without having to interfere with their other activities.” — Pamela Evitts (Missouri) “We greatly appreciate the opportunity to make this tournament available to our students in India, where we are starting new programs and introducing U.S.-format speech and debate competitions to eager students. Participating in practice rounds helped build confidence in our first-time debaters in a supportive, educational environment.” — Rajiv Kacholia (India) “Our budget is tight, and being as isolated as we are here in the islands, my students are much better able to practice and compete than we

To learn more about the Springboard Series, visit www.speechanddebate.org/springboard-series.

would be without the Springboard Series. It is a great service provided to students who, especially in our pandemic world, need as much support as we can manage.” — Bill Teter (Hawaii)

Kellie Etzel serves as Online Speech and Debate Coordinator at the NSDA.



See the schedule and learn more:

The Springboard Series for speech and debate is back! Thanks to the generosity of The Julia Burke Foundation, the NSDA has expanded the free online opportunities available via the Springboard Series for the 2021-2022 school year.

speech and debate events Both speech and debate events will be offered for current high school and middle school students.

after-school scrimmages Several free online after-school scrimmages offered in February and March. Scrimmages are a mix of live and asynchronous events.

qualify to nationals A free tournament open to any high school that attended their district tournament will be held May 5-7. Top-placing students will qualify to Nationals!

LEARN MORE!  www.speechanddebate.org/springboard-series



will again be piloted as supplemental events at the high school 2022 National Tournament and as main events at the 2022 Middle School National Tournament.

Our annual high school National Tournament will be held June 12-17, 2022, in Louisville, Kentucky. Registration for the National Tournament opens March 15—as does the housing portal for reserving hotel rooms. Read on for new details about qualification and events as well as plans for the middle school tournament. Details are tentative and subject to change. More information, including COVID-19 protocols, will be available soon on our website: www.speechanddebate.org/nationals.

Supplemental Qualifiers Continue The 2021 policy that each school can enter up to two non-qualifying students who competed at the district tournament into supplemental events at the National Tournament will continue in 2022. Additionally, the supplemental events Pro Con Challenge, Original Spoken Word Poetry, Storytelling, and Expository will be offered as fully online, asynchronous opportunities. The supplemental events Prose, Poetry, Impromptu, Extemporaneous Commentary, and Extemporaneous Debate will be offered in-person for any non-qualifier or qualifier who pre-registers and travels to the 2022 National Tournament site.

Students who don’t qualify through their districts still have a chance to attend Nationals! We will hold a free, last-chance qualifier online May 5-7, 2022. Top-placing entries in each main event will qualify to compete in that event at the 2022 National Tournament. There are no entry fees to attend. Participating schools must have attended their district tournament to be permitted to enter students in the last-chance qualifier. Participating students must be districtseligible and must not have qualified in any event at their district tournament. Learn more and register at www.speechanddebate.org/nsdaqualifier.

Pilot Events Continue

Original Spoken Word Poetry, presented by The Delores Taylor Arthur School for Young Men, and the Pro Con Challenge




Graphic credit: vecteezy.com

Last-Chance Qualifier in May

Online Middle School National Tournament The 2022 Middle School National Speech & Debate Tournament will be held online June 7-9, 2022, using NSDA Campus. Live debate, live speech, and asynchronous speech events will be offered. Elimination rounds will be held in live events, and the best of the best will be named middle school national champions! Registration opens March 15 at msnats.tabroom.com.

A new online platform from the NSDA

NEW IN 2021-2022

NSDA Campus is an online platform offering team practice space and tournament hosting space at a low cost. Host tournaments using either Tabroom.com or SpeechWire OUR PRIORITIES:

• Participant security • Low-cost option • Simple, integrated user experience

Campus with Observers Purchase Campus with Observers rooms for divisions where you wish to permit coaches to observe rounds. Coaches may designate observers on their school tournament dashboard on a per-entry basis. Those observers can then enter rooms from the tournament dashboard. •

Due to technical limits on the number of participants in NSDA Campus rooms, Campus with Observers is limited to two observers per entry in Debate events or one observer per entry in IE/Speech events. Campus with Observers cannot work with Congress.

An event or division using Campus with Observers must do so for the entire tournament—e.g., it cannot be used for elimination rounds only, etc. Campus with Observers rooms are $12 per room per day.

To date, NSDA Campus has provided more than 100,000 rooms!



THANK YOU . . . for unlocking SUPER POWERS in students!



Speech and debate is a platform, a microphone to the world, and it guides you when you’re ready to use it. Go out and use it for good.”

Participating in speech and debate was so much more than just finding my voice. It was finding myself and the person I want to be.”

Help more students unleash their potential by making your tax deductible gift online!


I decided to include the NSDA in my estate plans because speech and debate is an activity that teaches everything from argumentation and speaking skills to humility and gracefully losing. This activity made me a different and better person, and I want to make sure that students well into the future are afforded the opportunities I was.” Aarzu Maknojia N S DA AL U M

The National Speech & Debate Association is grateful to acknowledge the following 1925 Society members for pledging a generous planned gift contribution. Byron Arthur

Lanny and B. J. Naegelin

Phyllis Flory Barton

Albert Odom, Jr.

Jane Boyd

J. W. Patterson

James Copeland

Capt. Joseph L. and Jan Pizzo

Don and Ann Crabtree

Dr. Polly and Bruce Reikowski

Rob Dekoven

Donus and Lovila Roberts

Dr. Mike Edmonds

James W. Rye III

A. C. Eley

Steve and Anna Schappaugh

Vickie and Joe Fellers

David Seikel

Bill and Charlotte Hicks

Michael Shapiro

David and Judy Huston

Sandra Silvers

Jennifer Jerome

Richard Sodikow

Harold Keller

William Woods Tate, Jr.

Kandi King

Scott and Chan Waldrop

Cherian and Betsy Koshy

Nicole and Darrel Wanzer-Serrano

Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr.

Cheryl Watkins

Aarzu Maknojia

J. Scott and Megan Wunn

Pam and Ray McComas

Joe and Pam Wycoff

H. B. Mitchell

David and Tatiana Yastremski


1925 SOC I ET Y Leaving your legacy with the NSDA can be done in three easy steps: 1. Add a simple paragraph to your will stating the NSDA as a beneficiary. You can revise your gift at any time.

2. Notify Nicole Wanzer-Serrano that the NSDA has been added to your will. nicole@speechanddebate.org

3. Celebrate knowing that you will impact future generations by joining The 1925 Society!

Contact Nicole for more information: nicole@speechanddebate.org




In preparing for this issue’s theme, we deemed Nicole’s NDCA Coaches Focus article, first published in the January 2012 edition of Rostrum, timely and relevant despite ten years having passed. We invited her to update her original feature with fresh perspective.


anuary is the month when many set a new year’s resolution or intention. A quick Google search returns multiple articles that say somewhere around a third of folks won’t keep their resolution through the end of January, and the large majority won’t reach their ultimate goal. Like for so many in an ever busy world, the problem for speech and debate coaches is that

no matter what the resolution is, it requires finding more time in an already over-packed schedule. When speech and debate coaches are not teaching or working on their classes, they are traveling to tournaments or watching practice speeches over Zoom. In order to get all of those students to a tournament, coaches take their nights and weekends “off” to run a car wash or make



travel arrangements, often spending hours looking for the best possible deal to save the students and the school the most amount of money. Whether taking an exotic trip across the country or making a fourhour drive to the other side of the state, the speech or debate coach is in charge of the health and wellbeing of every student. By the end of a weekend, your typical coach will have fed several students, dealt with the random illness of at least one child (using that ever useful first aid kit of Advil, Pepto Bismol, cough drops, and Band-Aids), resolved the inevitable mix-up at the hotel, talked down at least one parent, and coached and judged every student. During their “down time,” coaches will also research the topic, prepare lesson plans for the upcoming week, and

grade the homework that they promised their classes on that Monday. Online tournaments are no different. Juggling home responsibilities and the care of young people during a pandemic have made any semblance of balance in a given weekend nearly impossible.

Burnout is at an alltime high in education. In our own activity, modern speech and debate can prevent a coach from finding balance. The answer is not another new year’s resolution to wake up extra early at a debate tournament to work out (thereby sleeping only four hours instead of five) or packing food (that you inevitably give to the students). The answer is not just self-care or meditation. The answer cannot just be to wait until after the pandemic and hope that in-person competition creates

balance for us. The answer is changing our structures of modern speech and debate. We need to make big and small moves to prioritize balance and healthiness if we wish to retain coaches and students.

Prioritizing balance in speech and debate means focusing on the educational experience and deemphasizing winning. As a debate coach, I thought I did just this because I wasn’t one of the mean coaches who wouldn’t let teams who lost eat dinner that night. The truth is, deemphasizing winning means creating tournament structures that don’t all focus on crowning the one true champion. Multiple-day tournaments that happen nearly every weekend may not focus on education—they may privilege specialization

that is antithetical to the concept of balance. Our students are not professional athletes; we are not only speech and debate educators. We have families, friends, and other demands on our time. Time off to do homework, prepare lessons, cook dinner, or engage in non-speech and debate social events is not being “unproductive,” but rather finding balance to recharge. The amount of time we spend during tournaments ensuring that the very best decision is made, because our students deserve that, needs to be balanced with finding the time to end our tournaments at an hour that allows everyone to sleep, because our students deserve that, too. YOU deserve sleep, too. If the only way to ensure that adults and students receive eight hours of sleep is to cut coaching time and omit an elimination round, that is not a poorly run tournament—that is a well-thought out tournament that is focusing on personal wellness. Long tournaments and travel needn’t be a necessary evil of the wonderful good that is speech and debate. Many

of our students have seen the country (or at least the airports and Courtyard Marriotts of the country) and have friends from across the country. All of these experiences are an unquantifiable benefit of speech and debate. We also need to give ourselves time to renew our roots at home and our enthusiasm for speech and debate. Much like the college student who schedules an all-nighter to finish a paper, scheduling more than three weekends a month for intensive speech and debate competition may lead to burn out.

As speech and debate professionals, we can all theoretically agree to give ourselves one to two weekends off a month—but in practice, we fail. We have a oneday tournament that we figure is no big deal. Our friend will have a tournament we want to support. A hard-working student will beg for more chances to compete. Sometimes, we have to say no—for their sake and for ours. Speech and debate teacher turnover is a significant reason why speech and debate programs cease to exist. Your burnout doesn’t just

put your health at risk; it puts your program’s health at risk for future generations at your school. When I originally wrote this piece, I was inspired by a series of conversations with coaches who shared their guilt over missing speech and debate tournaments due to family obligations or personal commitments. I saw in them the same thing that drove me out of coaching. I couldn’t figure out how to balance being a strong speech and debate coach and also someday have children or succeed in non-debate parts of my profession. I felt like I either had to be fully committed to being a speech and debate coach or change professions. So, I left coaching. As I told my friends then, I say to you now—it is not only okay to say no to a tournament because of a friend’s wedding or a sick cousin, but it is also okay to say no to scheduling a tournament because you need time off. We need to support each other as colleagues and as friends to find this balance. We need to create a culture where students and adults are entitled to time away from speech and debate to see their family, to do their

schoolwork, or to rewatch Encanto yet again. Prioritizing balance and healthiness is not about being selfish. It is about using our position as role models to dozens if not hundreds of students every year to teach them balance in their lives. The more we expect unrealistic feats of ourselves, the more it is expected of our students. My current job is to convince others that speech and debate unlocks superpowers in students. The statistical evidence and the stories are powerful proof that speech and debate can change the trajectory for students, but my powers of persuasion come from my own experience with speech and debate. For me, this activity provided me with the skills, the motivation, and the support system to reach various goals.

Believing in the power of speech and debate is what makes me say it has to change—if not for ourselves, for our students. Nicole Wanzer-Serrano serves as Director of Development, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the NSDA.

We need to support each other as colleagues and as friends to find this balance.” ROSTRUM | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022



MENTORING NEW TEACHERS CRUCIAL TO SURVIVAL OF SPEECH/DEBATE “Rethinking relationships with fellow coaches provides opportunities to build support and strengthen our competitive circuits by working together.”

by Melissa Witt


ince the COVID-19 pandemic hit, teacher retention numbers have been alarming. AP News reporter Jocelyn Gecker wrote on September 22, 2021, that in addition to a nationwide decline in education professionals, “[t]he stress of teaching in the COVID-19 era has triggered a spike in retirements and resignations.” Fewer new teachers are coming in the door, and more teachers are going out of it. Educators in general need more support, and mentoring new teachers is crucial to the survival of speech and debate. Such teachers and coaches often find themselves the sole representative of the teaching field on campus—and, in some cases, in the entire school district.



MindTools.com defines mentoring as “a relationship between two people with the goal of professional and personal development.” The focus in education is usually on the importance of relationships with students. The quotation “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care,” or some version of it, can be found in educational training materials, classrooms, and teachers’ private journals everywhere. The role of collegial relationships in competitive speech and debate is often lost to the competitive nature of the work. Colleagues may be seen as “the competition,” which has a very enemy-like connotation. Rethinking relationships with fellow coaches provides

opportunities to build support and strengthen our competitive circuits by working together. Mentoring helps lengthen the careers of all involved—new teachers with positive mentor relationships tend to stick around longer. They don’t feel like they are all alone fighting the challenges of an educator. They have someone to help guide them, give them tools— such as curriculum guides, coaching tips, fundraising ideas, etc. Mentors also benefit from the relationship— mentees have just completed their teacher training and are updated on the latest educational models, theories, and technologies. Spending time with someone less weathered from the fight can refresh one’s vision as an educator.

Another aspect of the MindTools definition is that it includes personal in addition to professional development. It’s one thing to share teaching tools; it’s a deeper level of investment to help someone grow as an individual in the profession. Sharing how you handle defeat, how you approach discipline on your team, how you institute ethical expectations with your students—these are harder conversations, but worth the time. If a struggling new teacher doesn’t have help, that individual might not see the best options. And if that individual doesn’t and another teacher and coach is lost, that’s a team without a coach, kids who cannot compete, opportunities lost. Positive mentoring can make all the difference.

The Dos of Mentoring

The Don’ts of Mentoring

Make the offer. Let your principal know you

Don’t wait for them to ask. We’ve all

are willing to student-teach new educators (especially speech and debate teachers). Let your organization know you are willing to mentor new coaches. Let a new speech and debate teacher in your community know you are there to help.

been there—in the middle of the first years of teaching, drowning in paperwork and teen angst, trying to look like we know what we are doing— and we don’t ask for help. And they won’t necessarily ask for help when they need it.

Take the time to meet with them in person. Sending lesson plans and important

Don’t try to control their decisions. This

dates/reminders via email is great, but take them to coffee, too. Let them see that you are sincere in your desire to help them and get to know them.

Help them develop a professional identity. They might have more in common socially with their students’ generation and need help creating their professional persona or creating an appropriate distance between themselves and their students. Help them with the transition to becoming a responsible adult.

is their time to learn and grow. Allow them to make decisions for themselves, even if it’s not the decision you would make. Let them try things out on their own and be supportive in their successes and failures. Simply let them know you are in their corner and want them to succeed.

Don’t take credit for their success or failure. Let them own their successes and failures. Your role is to assist and support, but they have to do the work. Just as you will not get the trophies when they win, you cannot shoulder the blame if they fail.

Make introductions. Introduce new coaches

Don’t overwhelm them. Just as in the

to other coaches and make them feel a welcomed part of the community.

classroom, you cannot teach everything on day one. Help them determine what they want to prioritize, and start with what they need to be successful there. Maybe it’s limiting events offered, or setting up a viable tournament schedule for their first year.

Model best practices. Be someone they can look up to—when your team is winning and when they are losing, when personality conflicts arise in the tab room, when judges do questionable things. When any of the myriad challenges happen, be someone they can look to for guidance.

Model gratitude. When that mentee teaches you how to use Flipgrid, say, “Thank you.” When another coach helps you navigate Tabroom.com, say, “Thank you.” Model gratitude in this community of volunteer leaders. The people working tab rooms every weekend, judging rounds, and leading sessions at conferences— they are all volunteering. They aren’t getting paid to serve in these leadership roles. Say, “thank you” a lot. And model that gratitude by being gracious. Don’t assume the worst of your leadership; volunteer where you can, and support those doing the work.

In this challenging profession, sharing your wisdom, knowledge, and experience with new teachers will provide benefits for everyone involved, especially the students. Help young coaches continue the work of helping kids find their voice.

This article by Melissa Witt is reprinted with permission of the National Federation of State High School Associations from the January 2022 issue of High School Today, a publication of the NFHS that is distributed monthly to all high schools. Learn more at www.NFHS.org.



“We produce more than 30,000 awards annually— more than 3,000 for the National Tournament alone. Imagine what we can do for your school or tournament!” — Chad Wagner, NSDA Trophy Shop Manager


TROPHY SHOP Order tournament trophies, school awards, plaques, medals, and more from the National Speech & Debate Association’s Trophy Shop!

We have thousands to choose from, or you can create customized awards for your event! As a member, you have access to wholesale prices and early invoicing. Learn more at www.speechanddebate.org/trophyshop

2021 National Debate Champions P I K A P PA D E LTA T E A M P O I N T S

To learn more about speech and debate at Simpson College, and earn some of your own hardware, email spencer.waugh@simpson.edu.

EXPLORE: Simpson.edu/SpeechAndDebate


TEACHING, COACHING, AND BURNOUT: THE INNER JOURNEY with Dave Stuart Jr. and Erik Dominguez, compiled by Amy Seidelman

An Introduction to the Inner Journey



This article contains mention of suicidal ideation.



eacher burnout is a widely covered topic, especially during the pandemic. This article intends to share some useful frameworks for thinking about burnout and why it exists, as well as to provide a speech and debate specific example that illustrates how an unhealthy approach to coaching and view of success exacerbates the already difficult situation many teachers face. We know each teacher and coach we support faces a vastly different situation and context through which you experience overwhelm and may feel pushed to the limit. We offer these viewpoints with the hope that there is value in hearing how others view the teacher/coach experience and as a starting point for ideas to create more balance, with resources to explore further at the end. We welcome suggestions from our coach members regarding how the National Speech & Debate Association can play a role in supporting a healthy, sustainable approach to the activity for our members.


Adapted with permission from “A Deeper, Better Way of Thinking (and Doing Something) About Burnout and Demoralization” by Dave Stuart Jr. This year has been hard. It’s gone worse than we expected. The needs are greater than we thought. The professional literature is a cold and barren thing compared to the raw humanity we experience each day in our classrooms. So, what are we to do? Zoom out. You and I are on a journey this year. It began when we made a decision: I’m going to be a teacher. I could do all kinds of other things, but no—I’m going to do this.

Eventually, stuff got hard. Maybe on the first day of class. Maybe only yesterday. But something confronted us that we weren’t able to handle. A student with needs we didn’t know how to meet. A colleague whose difficulty was unexpected. A parent we couldn’t please. A boss out of touch with reality. Some of us worked through it. We put our heads down and practiced. We sought wise counsel. We did the research. We experimented. And we found new methods or capacities that we hadn’t had before. We arrived at competence. Others of us weren’t so fortunate. We did all the things you’re supposed to do, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, we became burned out or demoralized.

figure 1

Decision I’m going to be an educator.

On the other side of the Journey is the newfound energy that comes from deepening and widening as a human being... And often, it leads us to decide, once again, to be an educator.”

Meanwhile, our more fortunate colleagues, glowing with newfound competence, took on more challenges. They reached further in their classroom or outside of it. Aaaaaand they eventually ended up here, too. Here’s the gist: one way or another, if you stay engaged as a teacher—all-in on getting better, on advancing long-term flourishing outcomes for young people— eventually you end up at the Walls (figure 1). Weirdly enough, that’s super good news. Remaining engaged as a teacher has a builtin forcing function for growing into a deeper, maturer human being. That forcing function is the pair

— Dave Stuart Jr.

of Walls—burnout and demoralization. To get through these without disengaging your heart and mind from teaching, you’re forced to take on an Inner Journey. The Inner Journey tends to include one or more of the following areas of inner work:

Challenge This is hard.

the TEACHER’S JOURNEY the Walls exhausted, depleted, done)

Demoralization (newfound

depressurizing the self, making work behave, and/or wrestling with fundamental questions. On the other side of the Journey is the newfound energy that comes from deepening and widening as a human being. This energy aids us in our

I’m getting the hang of this.


Burnout (drained,

awareness of limitations of self or system—“I’m not doing work I believe in”)


I can do more! Pick me!


work and in our lives (figure 2). And often, it leads us to decide, once again, to be an educator. Our work isn’t just something we do; it does something to us. This is a hard truth— but it can also be such a good one.

figure 2

Newfound Energy – vision – purpose – clarity – meaning

The Inner Journey • Depressurize the self. • Make work behave.

Decision I’m going to be an educator.


Challenge This is hard.

Competence I’m getting the hang of this.

• Wrestle with big questions: – What’s school for? – What’s my role? – What do I control?

the Walls Burnout (drained,

exhausted, depleted, done)

Demoralization (newfound

Responsibility I can do more! Pick me!

awareness of limitations of self or system—“I’m not doing work I believe in”)

DaveStuartJr.com ROSTRUM | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022


The Inner Journey: A Speech and Debate Example Shared by Erik Dominguez, former teacher and speech and debate coach The Arizona National Qualifying Tournament of 2011 was like every other qualifying tournament held all across the country. Back then, I was coaching what had become a perennially successful program. We had some outstanding performers whose regular-season results led us to believe that we would have a very successful National Tournament should they qualify. Naturally, the competition was fierce. This weekend was an emotional roller coaster filled with stress and joy like all qualifying tournaments. The weight of the competition and the long season had taken their toll on me. On that particular Saturday, I felt fatigued like I never had before, making it unlike any qualifying tournament I had ever experienced. Despite my constant caffeine intake that day, I could barely keep my eyes open, even while standing. I knew something was off, but I



dismissed it and justified it in my head. This is all good, I thought. You have emptied the tank and given your team your all. I am probably fighting something off. Top performers work at top paces, and that’s what you are doing. You are tired because you are fulfilled. This was one of the many lies I told myself throughout my coaching career to keep up with the excellence that we had built. I consistently martyred my personal, mental, physical, financial, and emotional health at the expense of speech status under the guise of service. Unfortunately, many of us in the speech and debate world believe this lie, and it is a lie that kills. If we take the proper steps to care for ourselves, it is a lie that anyone can recover from.

I was a man who took good care of himself on first impressions. I generally ate healthily, trained for and participated in half marathons, and was highly involved in my church community. But, behind the curtain, I was in a constant state of frantic energy and fear. I did whatever I could, including abusing alcohol, to numb my pain and quiet my mind. The sluggishness was not just an inconvenience to my goals; it threatened my image as a hardworking coach. The backward thinking kept me stuck: I was trying to solve the issue, not for my health but my image. Weeks after that particular tournament, I was running on a treadmill, working to break through this tiredness, when my eyes closed for what was only a few seconds. My brain

‘You are tired because you are fulfilled.’ This was one of the many lies I told myself... Many of us in the speech and debate world believe this lie, and it is a lie that kills. If we take the proper steps to care for ourselves, it is a lie that anyone can recover from.” — Erik Dominguez

nearly slipped into sleep in those few seconds while I was running. I jolted my eyes open, left the gym, and realized that it was time to take serious action. The months that followed were chaotically confusing. Instead of attending practices, I attended doctor’s appointments. Each appointment opened up the door to another dead end; no one could figure out what had happened to me. There were tests, non-stop blood work, and a few scans where I had to chug something with multiple radioactive symbols. Finally, through the support of a friend, I was able to find a doctor who correctly diagnosed me. I remember his words like they were yesterday: “Well,” he said confidently, but with a look of shock on his face, “I would usually tell clients of this nature that they are experiencing adrenal fatigue. However, what you are experiencing can only be classified as adrenal failure. I have never seen levels this low in anyone.” Many scholarly articles and informed physicians can explain it much better than I can,

but I will give you the explanation that stuck with me. Our adrenal glands are there to protect us from danger. If a tiger suddenly appears in our living room, we get instant energy from our adrenals to fuel our fight or flight response. I was living a life of constant fight or flight response, overworking my adrenals to the point where they decided to take an immediate vacation with no returning date. Here is the worst part of the story: I took pride in this fact. I was always taught that to win you outwork your competition. So, my body rejecting my work ethic was just evidence that I was running faster than anyone else. And, my results proved that. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confidence is rooted in a self-assured value of what we do. Confident coaches know the impact they are creating in their students and in the world around them and don’t need validation for their work. Arrogance is rooted in fear. It initially smells of confidence, but on closer inspection, you see a deep fear of “being found out.” That’s how I lived my life. If we didn’t get a

finalist in every event, if we didn’t win the tournament, if we didn’t qualify the maximum number of students to the national tournament, then my reputation and, as a result, my value as a coach would diminish. So, I did whatever it took to ensure we didn’t lose. I bulldozed over anyone I could, including my students, my coaches, family, and worst of all, myself. I wish I could say that I improved after my diagnosis. However, the subsequent years only got worse for me. Filled with supplements and hormones, my explosive emotions, alcoholic tendencies, and arrogance only continued to build. I added a misdiagnosis of general anxiety disorder with a medication that was incredibly dangerous to my mental and physical health. Add to that non-stop sleepless nights and stressors as a new parent. Remember this lie we buy into—the lie that we as educators must martyr ourselves for the sake of our profession... this lie kills. While I have been adequately accused of being hyperbolic from time to time, for me—this lie did kill.

Let me be clear: there are no shortcuts to a healthy, joyful life—only starting points. Here are the starting points I want to share with you to ensure that you are getting the best out of life and that you are working at your optimum level as an educator and coach. Be Responsible. I have had countless mental and physical health conversations with other coaches over the years. Unfortunately, the focus of these discussions always goes to “them,” whoever “they” are. It can be your students, the school district, your state governing body, and...yes, the “big bad” National Speech & Debate Association. Discussions on how institutions can make changes to promote better physical and mental health in our activity are certainly supportive. But being a victim to someone else’s actions or inactions means you are being irresponsible. You are in control of your health, no one else. Be Powerful. I used to think my power was what I did as a coach. I truly believe that my power comes from what I don’t do. Be powerful enough to say no. Don’t hold that extra practice. Don’t go to that extra tournament. Don’t stay that extra hour. Create powerful and firm boundaries with your schedule. Here’s a reality: saying no now will impact your students. Naturally, your teams will not be as successful as you invest less time into them. And, your teams will have greater longevity as a result. You will build more powerfully over the years as you say no to say yes to yourself.

Be Committed. Be as committed (if not WAY more!) to yourself as you are to your students. Take a close look at your diet. Those empty lunchtime carbs are slowing you down. Those nightly empty carbs you consume also slowing you down and disrupting your sleep. Get consistent, non-negotiable sleep. Be serious about your exercise routine and find something fun. None of these changes will impact you today, or tomorrow, next week, or next month. All the commitments I chose to keep for my health took months, even years, to pay off. And boy, did they pay off! Be Valued. This last one is the most important. I spent most of my coaching career looking for my value. I sought affirmations from my students, my coaching staff, my trophy case, the NSDA rankings, our state championships, our national qualifiers—and all of them were temporary and empty. I broke my mind and my body because there was one person who truly didn’t value me: me.



(near right) This is a picture of me in December of 2015. You can see the redness and swelling in my face from alcohol abuse and lack of self-care. While this version of me is smiling, it is a forced smile filled with fear.

(far right) This is a picture of me in 2021, literally and authentically jumping for joy to the healthy life I have built.

It killed my team. The stressful emotions became too much for my coaching staff to handle, and I started seeing them jump ship as fast as possible. The stress of (perceiving to) shoulder this all on my own was too much. There was constant conflict in my team, my coaching staff, and the school system. I finally had enough and left the school and team that I thought I would be with forever in the spring of 2014. It killed my marriage. I brought home every ounce of stress and anger that built up throughout the day and dumped it on my then-wife. Even after changing schools and reducing my coaching responsibilities, I found new and more destructive ways to create chaos and anger



in my home. By 2015, my wife left me and moved back to her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, with our two children. It killed me. . . almost. By the end of 2015, I thrice had checked myself into a hospital with suicidal thoughts. It wasn’t enough that my body was dying; my mind was also. I once heard it best said this way: “Despair was no longer a moment; it was a way of life.” We have all seen many Dramatic Interp performances where a part of a character must somehow die for them to overcome and thrive. While my story certainly has the ominous tone of a dark DI, it has the optimistic ending of an inspiring Prose. Since 2015, I took all the energy I used to pour into coaching and poured it directly

into myself. I invested in therapy, coaching programs, emotional intelligence training, and I advocated for myself in doctor’s offices for years before getting the proper treatments and diagnosis. The journey has been anything but quick-fix, inexpensive, or smooth... and has been completely worth it. I am no longer in the field of education by choice; I recognized that the profession held too many pitfalls for me to slip back into old habits and old ways of being. And, I know that educators and coaches do not need to endure the tumultuous journey that I did to prioritize themselves and their health for the longevity of their careers. If you take anything away from this article, or remember anything from my story and

advice, let it be this: You matter. You matter enough to say no even to the things you are great at and praised for to take care of yourself. You matter enough to say no to the things that are slowly taking away from your health and joy. You matter enough to say yes to you, in whatever way that looks. We teach students all over the country to use their voice to change the world. At the core of that lesson, each student is worthy to be heard and powerful enough to share their minds and hearts. Do not exclude yourself from that lesson. Instead, step into the worthiness you teach your students, own the power you evoke in others, and take unapologetic and radical care of yourself.

Examining Burnout Editor’s note: Erik’s story isn’t shared to assert how much better life can be after teaching. It is shared to ensure that the longevity of your team and your own wellbeing as a coach and teacher are preserved simultaneously. For a broader understanding of teacher burnout, we return to Dave Stuart Jr., adapted from “The Mechanics of Teacher Burnout.” Burnout... I hate writing about it because it’s all the rage right now. I dislike the edu-fad hamster wheel. But it’s just true that: • I teach from who I am. And when I’m burned out, that means I’m a worse teacher. • I live from who I am. And when I’m burned out, that means I live worse.

job, or feelings of negativism (sic) or cynicism related to one’s job; and • reduced professional efficacy (“No matter what I do, it won’t help this student/ class/lesson/ situation”). In Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s bestselling book for women, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, they describe burnout as: • emotional exhaustion – the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long; • depersonalization – the depletion of empathy, caring, and compassion; and • decreased sense of accomplishment – an unconquerable sense of futility, feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.

According to the World Health Organization, which in 2019 classified occupational burnout for the first time, burnout is when you have:

In Chase Mielke’s The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again, he basically describes burnout as a sustained desire to quit teaching. And here are some words I’ll add from my experience. I’m burned out when I. . .

• feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; • increased mental distance from your

• feel stretched thin over an extended time; • feel like I’m in a pressure-cooker,

whether at home or at work; • feel like I don’t have any time to just sit for a minute. Let’s look under the hood of burnout and see where it comes from. A ton of us end up burned out because we’re locked in a Workload-Pressure Cycle. It works like this:

• First, there’s tons to do as an educator. Then, there’s all the pressure—explicit and implicit, conscious and unconscious (figure 3). • And THEN there’s the realities of the workload of contemporary life. The world ain’t getting simpler, is it? Add to that all the pressure of modern life (figure 4).

figure 3



• • • • • • • • • • • • •

• Lives are in the balance • School-to-prison pipeline • Students’ preparation is highly varied • Social-emotional needs are intense • Edu-gurus telling us to do more stuff • Policymakers adding complexity to rhetoric to our backs • Central admin can be out of touch with classroom realities • Parents with sky-high expectations • Over-achieving colleagues • Super cynical colleagues

More emails More students More digital content creation More digital content curation More assignments to grade More feedback to give More documenting More organizing More tech troubleshooting More questions to answer More variables to lesson plan for More student learning needs More student social-emotional needs

figure 4

21st Century Life’s Workload • • • • • • •

Kids Home Finances Exercise Shopping Taxes SHOWS TO WATCH

21st Century Life’s Pressures • • • • • • •

Gotta be exceptional! Gotta be beautiful! Gotta be an influencer! Gotta be an informed citizen! Gotta be an activist! Gotta work on myself! Gotta stay up on the kids’ schooling! • Gotta keep the kids in elite sports and clubs starting at age 3!



figure 5

The Workload-Pressure Cycle! 21st Century Life’s Workload

21st Century Life’s Pressure


How is this a cycle? The Yerkes-Dodson Law holds that the relationship between pressure (or stress) and performance is shaped like a bell curve. Place no pressure on a person at all, and their performance will likely be negligible; place the entire universe on their shoulders, and their performance will be similarly bad. And the gist is straightforward: when you and I are overpressured, we do worse work. Which means our workloads get WORSE. Which adds to our pressure (figure 5). This is what’s happening, in my experience, when I’m getting burned out. This is what’s leading to that stretched-too-thin sense, deep in my gut that “No matter what I do, it won’t help the way I’m feeling.”




We can do two things to disrupt the cycle:

Depressurizing the Self

• We can depressurize ourselves—our bodies, minds, emotions, and relationships—so that we approach work with a clearer mind and are in the proper “sweet spot” as it relates to pressure. • We can make our workloads behave— going big on the few things that matter most, satisficing or skipping the stuff that’s extraneous.

Editor’s note: There are several aspects to depressuring the self. The physical self is one that Erik prioritized, and one that Dave Stuart Jr. also encourages in this excerpt from “ ‘All or Nothing’ Exercise Exhausts the Soul.”

The first priority, in my view, is depressurizing the self. This one’s the most within my control and is the easiest to modify, and it enables me to do the harder work of workload simplification.

Stuff that I think is important to think about exercise: • The body, like the mind, atrophies through disuse. • Atrophy feels bad. But we can’t escape it. Our bodies are like the battery packs of our souls. Exercise (for me) is NOT about achieving some kind of arbitrary body type or look. Whenever I exercise to achieve a

certain look, I end up quitting. This is because I get so close to being a mirror image of Chris Hemsworth, but I never quite get there. But seriously: if your goal is disrupting the Workload-Pressure Cycle, I gotta ask you— how is adding pressure to your exercise goals working out in terms of depressurizing your soul? Instead of arbitrarybody-type-attainment, exercise = using the body. • Standing instead of sitting. • Walking or cycling instead of driving. • Doing seated exercises while listening to an audiobook, podcast, other other activity that doesn’t require use of your hands. • Taking a walk or roll instead of watching a 15-minute YouTube video about what the next Spider-Man movie is going to be like. (I never do that last thing, obviously. I just try to use diverse examples so as to engage diverse readers.) In short, we’re talking about exercise as a path to depressurization—not a path to achievement. It’s a counter-cultural idea, so it needs to be said.

How to do it at school All right—thanks to our newly established low bar for exercise (using the body), it’s not too hard to do this at school. • Set up a standing desk for your computer, if standing is an option for you. I had a sensitive lower back for years. Standing up more seems to have really helped that. Unfortunately, my standing desk has cost my district an exorbitant amount of money to purchase. I mean, for real! Copy paper and textbooks are expensive. Standing desks aren’t cheap. But these are the luxuries required for physical depressurization. • Take a five-out, five-in stroll or roll during your prep time or after school. I set a timer

for half of the time I want to spend—if I want a 10-minute walk, then I set it for five minutes—and I grab my keycard and my coat. I leave my classroom, leave my school, and walk to the nearest patch of woods. As I’m going, I either A) think on my present problem, or B) try to think on nothing at all. When my timer goes off, I turn around and walk back to my building and my classroom. I find that a 20-minute walk is more than twice as restorative as a 10-minute one, but a 10-minute walk is virtually always more productive than none at all. • Walk or travel the hallways during your prep. This also gives you a

chance to get some random moments of connection with folks you might not normally see— another depressurizer. • If you can’t exercise in a more traditional way, consider a 10-minute meditation, which offers some of the same benefits of relaxation, breath control, and getting in tune with your mind and body. You can find some online at www.weareteachers. com/teacher-guidedmeditations.

How to do it at home Good news: all the above strategies work at home. And exercise doing something you like. Me? I actually do like running when it’s nice out. When it’s negative 100 degrees and gray for half the year (I live in Michigan), then I don’t like it as much. So, me and exercising don’t

see each other as much in the winter. At this stage of my life, I want exercise to just be something I do to rehearse the idea that I’m a soul, which means I’m partially a body. If I don’t use my body, I atrophy— and this feels like aches and pains, pressure and stress. I’m trying not to care about how fast I run or how far I walk; instead, I just want to exercise in simple, sustainable ways, and find joy and release in the act itself. And as I’m doing it, I smile at the fact that this is an age-old method for depressurizing the soul via the body. This is my rebellion against the Workload-Pressure Cycle in my life. I do this on behalf of my family, my students, and myself. To read about other aspects of depressurizing, visit https://davestuartjr. com/a-strategicsmart-approach-todepressurizing-theteacher-soul/.



Making Our Workloads Behave Editor’s note: Like depressurizing, there are many methods and tips for managing workload. Here is one Dave Stuart Jr. encourages called satisficing, adapted from “How to Get Better at Satisficing as an Educator.” Satisficing isn’t my word. It’s Nobel winner Herbert Simon’s. It means, “Doing something at the goodenough level, not the optimal level.” Few skills are as critical to the welllived teacher’s life. Here’s why. On paper, teaching is an impossible job. So is administration. Doing education by the book in the 21st century is hopelessly Byzantine. It’s like memorizing the fine



print on your teaching contract or your renter’s agreement or your car insurance. Sure, you can do that—but it’ll take lots of time that could’ve been invested elsewhere. I’m thankful for the folks who do make it their job to get down into the nitty gritty. But for the classroom practitioner, that level of nitty gritty can be entirely overwhelming. So, here are a couple strategies for satisficing ASAP.

Method 1: Use a stopwatch For any task that you need to do but you know doesn’t need to be done optimally, get out your stopwatch app.

For tasks that require lots of repetition—e.g., responding to email, giving feedback on student work—click the “lap” button on your stopwatch app each time you complete a single iteration. So, if you’re doing email, every time you respond to an email, click lap. This’ll let you see how long it takes you on average to read and respond to an email, and most apps will highlight your quickest and slowest laps, too—a nice little visual cue to keep you sharp. If you’re doing feedback or grading, do the same thing. But Dave, shouldn’t feedback on student work always be optimized? Why are you satisficing that? Great question—after all, feedback is among the greatest levers for helping students toward mastery. But for feedback to be its most effective, it also needs to be quick—like, I get the best results with student feedback when there’s a one-day turnaround on it. But in order to do it that quickly, it means I need to satisfice on quality—so, I use a stopwatch. (For more on speedy feedback, check

out my blog entry, “Fast Feedback is Effective Feedback: Here’s How to Do Better.”)

Method 2: “What if I had to get this thing done in an hour?” What about big tasks that I want to get better at doing quickly— things like planning a unit or reading a book or writing a weekly newsletter to student families? For these, you set a timer—say, for an hour. You’re basically asking yourself, “If I had to get this thing done in an hour, what would that look like?” So, let’s say you’ve got a faculty book study you’re involved in, and the book is supposed to be finished in three days, and you’ve not even started yet, and you don’t have six hours between now and then to sit down and read the thing. This is a perfect scenario for satisficing. You’re going to: • Accept the fact that you won’t arrive having perfectly read every word of the book (if such a thing as perfectly reading a

book even exists). • Accept the fact that the book was designed by an intelligent author, and as such at least some of its core ideas ought to be available to a person willing to give it an earnest hour of inspectional reading. Find an hour—maybe with a foldable camp chair out in a patch of woods—and set a

timer for one hour and seek to get as much as you can from the book in that hour. This’ll naturally lead to you: • reading the introduction and conclusion chapters in full, and letting that guide you to specific chapters of interest to you; • getting a gist of each chapter; • annotating and marking the pages of a few excerpts

that provoked your thinking. After the hour, you’ll have “read” the book inspectionally— very similar to what one might get out of listening to an audiobook while doing something with their hands. That’s the idea—time to practice. Want to see my psychic abilities? Here goes: you’ve got more

on your to-do list this week than can possibly be done. How did I do? Probably pretty good. I might as well have predicted that you’re breathing right now. So, this week: practice satisficing. And have fun! Because managing our time stewarding our lives as educators and people can be fun, even though it’s hard. It’s all in how we approach it.

About the Authors Dave Stuart Jr. teaches high school in Cedar Springs, Michigan, and writes for educators at his blog, DaveStuartJr.com. For additional thoughts on depressurizing the self, managing workload, and more on that site, visit https://davestuartjr.com/ a-strategic-smart-approach-to-depressurizing-the-teacher-soul/. Erik Dominguez is now a professional speaker and trainer and the founder of Speak Up Stories. He continues to share the message that everyone has a unique story and the power to share it. He is a member of the National Speaker’s Association and travels the country supporting those who seek to communicate confidently and joyfully. He is also required by code to inform you that he has been a Crossfitter since late 2015.

Mentioned or Suggested Resources • https://www.freewheelchairmission.org/blog-post/wheelchair-exercises/ • https://www.weareteachers.com/teacher-guided-meditations/

check it out !

• https://davestuartjr.com/heres-the-thing-we-could-do-something-else/ • https://davestuartjr.com/a-strategic-smart-approach-to-depressurizing-the-teacher-soul/ • https://davestuartjr.com/fast-feedback-effective-feedback-how-to-do-better/ • Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski • The Burnout Cure: Learning to Love Teaching Again by Chase Mielke

Amy Seidelman serves as Assistant Executive Director at the NSDA.




California National Debate Institute 5-Week Policy Program June 19 - July 23, 2022

3-Week Policy Program June 19 - July 9, 2022

Ideal Location

Great Faculty

Proven Success

Enjoy one of the top universities in the country in beautiful Berkeley, CA

Get personalized attention from top-tier diverse staff with a very low student-staff ratio

Join CNDI alumni at the highest levels of high school debate and beyond

What Students Say “An excellent balance between in-depth, nuanced research and rening skills.” “A healthy mixture of ‘policy’ and ‘critical’ education. I became a substantially more versatile debater.” “CNDI was easily one of the best experiences of my life.” “I had the opportunity to meet some of the greatest people, all while living on one of the most fun campuses in the country.” “We got to work with some of the most brilliant, dynamic minds in debate.”

Get info and apply @ berkeleydebate.com Early Bird discount until March 1st, 2022



NATIONAL SPEECH AND DEBATE EDUCATION DAY recognizes all of the people who make this activity possible—students, coaches, educators, parents,

MARCH 4, 2022




and every supporter! Join us in honoring this activity


and the countless students and supporters who participate by celebrating on MARCH 4!

Each year, the United States Senate passes a resolution in honor of National Speech and Debate Education Day.


TWITTER @speechanddebate LINKEDIN @speechanddebate


pring semester is in

It’s a day to show

full swing, and you

everyone how speech

know what that means—

and debate is truly a

it’s time to celebrate


National Speech and


We’re kicking off 2022

Debate Education Day on

with a revamped toolkit,

March 4, 2022!

including new resources,

NSDE Day is our chance

a new planning timeline,

to celebrate speech

and even more ideas on

and debate with people

how to celebrate. Visit

outside of our community.


It’s a day dedicated to

to sign up for your toolkit

celebrating educators,

and some other free

inspiring students, and

swag to help your team

transforming tomorrow.


Grace Rogers recently served as Marketing Communications Specialist at the NSDA.



Speech and debate changes lives! From building confidence and improving c making lifelong friends, everyone has a great story of how speech and debat National Speech and Debate Education Day is to share that story!

IT’S EASY! Need help planning a

bulletin board, or in your

celebration at the last


minute? Consider one

Take a moment to

of these ideas!

celebrate during your

Hang posters and flyers around your school. You can download posters at


Here’s what you can do on National Speech and De

for US a guide on setting up AND DEBATE WhateverSTORY! you do to YOUR SPEECH 1 TELL


However speechaccount and debate celebrate has benefited we a social media NSDE you, Day, take want to hear it. Visit www.SpeechAndDebateDay. for your team, free a moment to recognize org to submit your story, and we may use it to help graphics to share, and superpowers your promote speech and debate the nationwide! more. Post about why

school day. Ask if NSDE Day can be included in the morning announcements

speech and debate is important to you using


or during your class!

and stay tuned to

and show your spirit

Celebrate the day on

our pages for videos,

by displaying them in

social media. Visit

testimonials, and other

your classroom, on your


fun content to share!


students have gained through this activity and the mentors who have helped along the way.

SPEECH A CHANGE the local health guidelines of your team, school, ACTUALL and area. We are thrilled YOUNGE to have a day dedicatedTERRIFIE to celebrating you, yourJOIN SPE Make sure you’re following


team, and all you put into

M ARCH 4, 2022

can’t wait to celebrate

speech and debate. We



together on March 4!

2 0 2 2 T E A M TO O L K IT ing and

be successful in celebrat Everything you need to n Day 2022. ch and Debate Educatio promoting National Spee ay.org “I love speech and debate www.SpeechAndDebateD

“I love speech and debate

“I lo

because it gives me a place

because it taught me to


where I have a family. It

speak up about what


gives me opportunities that

matters, while retaining that


I wouldn’t have had without

eloquence and confidence


the way the program has

even when there isn’t the


shaped me.”

heat of competition.”

– Emily Dennery

– Caitlin Marsch

– Ju

Additional free resources, including posters, fundraising tips, templates, and ate #WeA reS pe ech An dD eb








Amplus Academy - Las Vegas, Nevada Learn more about this year’s National Speech and Debate Education Day poster contest design winner!

How did you get involved in speech and debate? I started when I began sixth grade, when our school first introduced the program. I wasn’t involved in any clubs at the time, and our school introduced a middle school and high school speech and debate program. When I first joined, I fell in love with it.

What speech and debate events do you do? I typically compete in Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas, Humorous Interpretation, and Program Oral Interpretation. My favorites have to be POI and LD. I always thought I would be involved in just debate events, but once I entered Humorous, I opened up to trying more speech events.

What do you like best about this activity? I love getting to see both sides of arguments and debates—how there isn’t just one universal correct solution. I also love getting to meet different people. I’ve made so many friends in speech and debate throughout the years.

Tell us about what inspired each of your poster designs—first in 2020 and now in 2022. In 2020, I wanted a poster that represented what it takes to participate in speech and debate and how there are so many different mental aspects that go into debate. It is so much more than just being able to argue or speak well. This year’s poster was heavily inspired by the online aspect of speech and debate that became more prominent this year and last year. With the global

pandemic, the activity has looked very different. Although we couldn’t participate in many in-person tournaments, we still got to have a partial speech and debate experience online.

Do you have any interests/hobbies outside of speech and debate? I am on the varsity basketball team, I work as a graphic design intern, and I am also on student council. I currently serve as the Class of ’24 Sophomore Vice President. Outside of school activities, I love listening to music—specifically Taylor Swift, Conan Gray, Olivia Rodrigo, and Harry Styles—but am always open to listening to new artists and different genres. I also love to read. The book I am currently reading is They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I am also interested in anything Marvel related and am really into watching a variety of different movies and TV shows in my leisure.

What advice would you give other students who are feeling burned out in the activity? What keeps you going? Take a break! I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like I couldn’t write a case or felt burned out to the point where I felt like giving up entirely on the activity. It sounds cliché, but it really helps if you take some time away from working on your cases. Ultimately, what keeps me going are my teammates and the fact that I wouldn’t have met my best friends and some of the most important people in my life if it hadn’t been for middle school me wanting to join speech and debate.

compiled by Vicki Joss, Publications Manager at the NSDA




CHRISTY WHITE: ‘The win is in the work’ — Class Act: Establishing a Speech and Debate Class at Canadian High School in Texas —

Becoming a Coach I was a paralegal in Amarillo and needed to move home to the ranch. Suddenly, the idea of teaching appealed to me. I took an alternative path to certification and landed a speech teacher position in my hometown. I taught from 2003 to 2008, then taught at another district in a different area. In 2020, I accepted the position to teach speech at Canadian High School. I learned I would also be teaching debate and assisting with theater. I took the first year to get settled, but was ready to jump feet first into coaching and building a speech program the next year.

First Experiences in Speech and Debate My first experience with competitive speech was high school. Speaking came naturally for me. My basketball coach always said I needed to learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time, but the English teachers loved me. It wasn’t until some of my friends bombed at speech tryouts that I realized speech wasn’t for everyone.

About Canadian Canadian High School is pretty well known in this region, and they have enjoyed many successes. “Commitment to excellence” is not just the motto, it’s

compiled by Amy Seidelman, Assistant Executive Director at the NSDA 52


the expectation. Even if they don’t “win” at the competition, if the student and the coach have done their best, they’ve done enough. This district knows the win is in the work. Sometimes giving our best is not the best we have ever given, but it is what we have. My father died rather unexpectedly when school began this year. I gave my best at the time, and I felt the support of the district, my co-workers, administrators, and the students. We are all familiar with districts where certain programs and students seem to be valued over others regardless of successes. This district supports its students, staff, and faculty

along with their respective programs. A cookie cutter program curriculum or one that supports one activity over another renders so many students uninvolved, and you’re left with a hallway of bored, misplaced, or discouraged teenagers.

Pursuing a Speech Class Last year, I coached debate and assisted with One Act Play practices some evenings and on Sunday afternoons and commuted an hour and a half for six days a week in the dark. I knew in 2021-2022 the entire speech program would be mine, and I wanted as many students as possible to be involved. It was springtime for tournaments, workshops,

and competitions. The kids had little left to give—we were all running on fumes. I also realized I was going to have eighth graders coming up, freshmen moving into varsity slots—and a few juniors and seniors who are potentially state-worthy. It is especially true of smaller districts, if not most, that there is always that handful of kids who do it all. Most of my speech and debate students are in other extra-curricular events, and many of these kids work 30 hours a week! Offering dedicated classes to competitive events is a great solution. I talked to Mr. Bryant, our principal, and expressed my experiences, hopes for the following year, and concerns. I asked what he thought about furthering the speech program by providing competitive speech classes. I told him I would be able to handle having students in different events in the same class and shared my vision of what it would look like. He agreed we should try it. We would make it available on the next year’s schedule and see how many signed up in May. We ended up with TWO competitive speech classes. Administrators come by occasionally and watch practice and performance in class and give their feedback to the kids. It’s relaxed, inclusive, and fun. It’s also work—work done in an

About Christy

efficient manner. What a relief!

What high school did you attend? Shamrock High School in Texas.

About the Class I coach Extemp, Informative and Persuasive, Policy Debate, LD Debate, Congressional Debate, Prose, Poetry, Original Oratory, and Comedic Duo. The competitive speech classes have students who want to compete in speech and debate. We begin by learning about the events, dabbling in them, and then they make decisions. Students in the same events group up and work together. They are graded on participation, critiquing, editing, performing, memorization, and preparation—which includes knowing the rules and ins and outs of their event(s). I downloaded the debate handbook from the NSDA, and we access NSDA resources such as lesson plans and activity ideas. My mentors have shared ideas and resource sites with me as well. These dedicated classes and this program have piqued interest in our program, and our numbers are climbing. Canadian has never competed at State or Nationals before through the NSDA, but this year we hope to do just that. Providing dedicated classes has allowed students to

participate and not have to choose between this program and another. It’s also allowed me to really enjoy the program and spend time with each student. It’s important in speech and debate to know the student and their style, their passions, and their personalities. It lets me dedicate the necessary time to the students. I could still use more time, of course, but the difference in my energy level is huge. My FitBit says my sleep pattern is better, too. My family loves that I am home before dark, and I no longer sleep with my laptop!

Advice for New Coaches This group of people you are among is amazing. Everyone at the NSDA and the UIL are dedicated, supportive people. Fully join the NSDA and any state/local group you can for resources. Go to workshops, conferences, Zoom meetings, practice tournaments, and find your people, your mentors—then ask questions and always have something with which to record or at least a pen to write. I’d tell them what my mentors tell me: Relax. We are all in this together.

Working with your school to establish a class? Find resources and supporting documentation online at www.speechanddebate.org/ administrators and www.speechanddebate.org/advocacy.

Do you have any favorite hobbies when you’re not coaching speech/ debate? I love chilling by a lake and a campfire in the summer with friends—fishing, hiking, riding horses. Indoors I bake, decorate cakes and cookies, read, and crochet. What is your favorite word? “Manganese” for the way it sounds. “Epizeuxis” is my favorite word to teach. Who is your favorite author? Debbie Macomber. She offers an escape. Her books end the way you want them to. What is your biggest pet peeve? Injustice. Hatefulness is a close second—including anything hateful or ugly toward any living thing. If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be? Jesus. More recently, Coretta Scott King. What is the highlight of your coaching career thus far? There have been several that immediately stand out; but last year, when Jana Riggins of UIL announced Logan Gatlin had won the state championship in 3A. Wow. That was a moment. We weren’t in person because of COVID-19, but screams went up and there was electricity in the air. Tears were shed. Who are your speech and debate mentors? Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, whose leadership nurtured my love for speech and it turned into a passion. Coaches Nathaniel Council, Mellessa Denny, Ryan Lovell, and Steve Watson. Student Logan Gatlin, who taught me that debate is a presentation of contrasting ideas, and that debaters support one another just like coaches do. When you think about the future of speech and debate as an activity, what excites you? Speech and debate is now more open to real-life issues, things that were taboo before. . . Things don’t go away just because we don’t talk about them. You shove enough things under the bed, and the bed’s going to give. Speech and debate is an outlet for the students, the audience, and for the coaches, too. It’s life at its best and at its worst. We can celebrate each other’s cultures and empathize with each others’ struggles while respecting our differing values, opinions, and ideas.




Members of the Archbishop Mitty speech and debate squad, part of the NSDA California Coast District

CALIFORNIA COAST: Working Toward Wellness Members of the California Coast District Committee, based in San Jose, shared some of their insights on how to create and maintain a healthy speech and debate team. At both the district and the school level, the committee is working to meet the needs of their students in ways that seek to prioritize wellness alongside competitive success.

What does it mean to have a healthy speech and debate team?

Scott Odekirk: To

Karen Cruz: A healthy

pathways to success in

team measures their success not only by the tangible awards but also the intangible—life lessons, relationships, and memories that shine brighter and last longer.

me, a healthy speech and debate team is one where students have


to be defined positively as a growth opportunity. A healthy team must also enhance a student’s academic success rather than trading off with it. Probably most importantly, it needs to be an emotionally safe space where people can explore ideas freely, express themselves openly, have lots of fun, and respect each other’s differences.

a team entertain many

What do you do as a district to encourage healthy speech and debate teams?

different notions of what

Mariel Cruz (chair):

success means. A win is

When the committee puts together the

the events that are most suited to them, but this also requires that

defined differently for

compiled by Lauren McCool, Manager of District and Tournament Services 54

every student. Failure has

schedule for the district tournament, we try to make it manageable for all attending teams. We’re aware of how tournaments can feel long and draining, so we try our best to create a schedule that we know could be done efficiently but still have time in between rounds to allow everyone to have a break from screen time. Creating a schedule with separate patterns for speech and a separate pattern for debate is one way we can ensure participants get some downtime in between event rounds. Although deadlines for the district tournament are a bit more rigid, I try

to keep deadlines more flexible for other league tournaments as well as any invitationals that I organize. I know that coaches have a lot going on, and I want to make sure that getting students to tournaments isn’t more stressful than it needs to be. If a team or school is having a hard time getting students or judges signed up by the deadlines, the league officers and I try to accommodate those schools as much as possible because we want to make sure that every school gets opportunities to participate and learn. In my experience, I’ve learned that running tournaments is about striking a balance between rules and deadlines that keep the tournament running smoothly while maintaining enough flexibility to accommodate teams as needed.

What are some ways you help create a healthy and safe environment for your teams? Xavier Liu: I usually use the first five minutes of practice to check in with students and ask how they are doing. This not only allows me to know them better, but also gives them the opportunity to vent if they have something they need to get off their chest or if they want to talk to me about something bothering them. I serve as an active listener for them and offer support, tips, and resources for them should they need it. Further, I reach out to students who I think are struggling. I either email them or Slack message them to ask if they need any extra assistance with their speeches or someone to talk to. This is

especially the case after a tournament where someone has worked super hard over the year but didn’t end up breaking or qualifying to Nationals or the State Championship Tournament.

Mariel Cruz: Although I have some pretty ambitious students, I don’t encourage them to compete at every tournament. If a student needs to take time away from speech and debate to focus on school, health, or anything else they need, I don’t question it. Although it can be difficult dealing with last minute tournament changes, I try to be flexible and patient with the students, because I want them to know that they can take a break and step away if needed.

Meet the Committee






Notre Dame High School

Archbishop Mitty High School

Bellarmine College Prep

Bellarmine College Prep

The Harker School

Aaron Langerman: In order to create a healthy and safe environment for my team, I try to stress to my students that speech and debate is not about external awards and achievements but about growing as an individual. The hardest part of this growth is making oneself emotionally vulnerable. To become a great communicator, speakers need to be able to express emotions, tell stories, and relate to others—and those skills emerge from having life experiences and engaging in deep reflection about one’s own life. So my advice to students is often to try to seize on those meaningful life experiences that are not a part of speech and debate: community service, immersion trips, visiting new places, and engaging with new cultures. I find as students have these meaningful experiences, they become more open to discussing their own life and emotions candidly—and that type of team culture inevitably avoids many of the results-oriented toxic attitudes that easily pervade an activity as competitive as speech and debate.



A healthy team needs to be an emotionally safe space where people can explore ideas freely, express themselves openly, have lots of fun, and respect each other’s differences.” — Scott Odekirk

What are you doing to “strike a balance” between your work and personal life? Aaron Langerman: Within my own life, I try to be a role model for my students in terms of striking a balance between my work life and personal life by making it clear that I have interests and hobbies outside of speech and debate. I love discussing and debating music, films, and TV shows with my students, as well as talking about the outdoor activities I am passionate about, such as cycling, running, hiking, and skating. Through these discussions, I hope that students understand that while speech and debate is an incredible activity, it is not the sole determiner of one’s value and that students should pursue other hobbies as well.

Xavier Liu: I am reprogramming myself to not feel like I have to respond to a student’s request via Slack or email unless it is an emergency or urgent situation that demands my attention. These past few years, I have definitely been the person who feels like I have to respond to every



email, inquiry, or request immediately after I receive it in my inbox. I’ve learned to really prioritize messages that may be important and work on managing my own time before responding to a plethora of messages from students. Scheduling Slack messages to send in the morning is also a great thing to do. If I have any tournament or team announcements, I can draft them at night and then send them in the morning so that students aren’t inundated with information at night when they should be focused on completing their homework.

Karen Cruz: I’m really honest with myself about when I don’t have the bandwidth for something, and I’m not afraid to say, “sorry, I can’t do this right now, but happy to put it on my to-do list.” I used to lose more sleep because I always wanted to complete my speech and debate to-do list by the end of the night, but when I realized how much losing sleep negatively affected me the next day, I started to prioritize closing my laptop and eyelids instead. I also try to find a balance by bringing my two worlds together whenever possible. That may be inviting my husband and

daughter to play outside during a practice break or creating a fun art project out of packing team goodie bags before a tournament.

Celebrate your students! What are they doing that helps them maintain a school/life balance? What healthy habits have they developed? Xavier Liu: I think one thing my students are getting better at doing is learning how to say no. Many of them, especially the seniors, are beginning to burn out from online speech and debate. While it is team policy for every single person to attend every league tournament in the season, students may also try out for our travel team, a prestigious smaller group who may attend out-of-state tournaments and invitationals. However, competing at invitationals is an option, not a requirement. Recently, many seniors have asked that they not be entered or be dropped from invitationals they wish not to attend. As a coach, while I may feel disappointed about them choosing to not attend an invitational, for many of them, the

costs of performing and debating online (Zoom fatigue, staring at a screen for multiple hours, only being able to compete at home) far outweigh the benefits. These students are prioritizing their mental and physical health and their happiness over some plastic trophy or award. And I consider that a win in my book.

Scott Odekirk: My students who have achieved the best balance have learned to prioritize their mental and physical health and have greatly emphasized sleep, exercise, healthy eating, and mindfulness. Most ambitious students who learn balance usually learn it the hard way. They try to be everything to everyone. They take all the hard classes, they are officers for all the activities, and they hold themselves to impossible standards. They look around after a while and the things that they once loved seem miserable. At that point, they have to make decisions about what to prioritize and set limits. They practice taking healing breaks, and hopefully, they develop systems for working smarter rather than harder.

Arguably the Best. #1 #5







The Bright Spot by Annie Reisener

The Horizon speech and debate team at an early speech contest in 2021.

Horizon High School sits just outside El Paso, roughly 12 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Their speech and debate team is newer, founded in 2017, and they’re just scratching the surface of what they can accomplish.

NEW HORIZON Irene Gardea found herself in speech and debate by mistake. As a high school student, she was enrolled in the class due to an error with her schedule. She likes to say she didn’t choose speech and debate; it chose her. She began her career 13 years ago at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. She built a respected team with a reputation for competitive success and leadership. She coached



students who won national awards for performance and character. In 2020, Irene was named the National High School Coach of the Year. In 2021, Irene picked a new path—one that took her just 10 miles away, but to a vastly different environment. Through casual conversations with administrators at Horizon High School, Irene knew there was an opportunity to have a greater impact. Horizon had few successful academic organizations,

and even fewer that encouraged college readiness. Having grown up south of the valley in El Paso herself in a low income area, Irene fell in love with a vision of helping students strive for more. “I didn’t feel I needed to come save them or anything like that, but I felt like maybe I could make a difference. I wanted to be there. I was the first in my family to go to college. You see a lot of that here. I connected with the stories these students have.” So Irene made the leap, joining Christina Luna in supporting the team at Horizon. As a

school counselor and former competitor, Christina had mentored the school’s first coach and filled the position after they left until Irene came on board. The team had eight students with experience, and Irene took on three debate classes. Initially, students in the classes had little idea what debate was and were placed in it to fill a gap. They set out to build a program that students could be proud of, which would naturally drive recruitment. Part of this strategy involved new traditions. To get the faculty involved, each student

Horizon High School coaches Irene Gardea and Christina Luna.

chooses a staff member to give a printed tie sticker to wear on the Friday of the tournament. It’s a way to show appreciation, reminds them the team is representing the campus, and builds goodwill. After every tournament, the team tracks their data and growth on a star chart (below). The chart includes every student’s name and they earn stars based on their performances. Irene brought this tradition over from her last team, but says it’s even more powerful here. “On this campus especially where these kids had a team that wasn’t successful

in the past, charting their progress is motivational. Students see recognition and trophies and they want to try it.” Because of the team’s reputation, more students intentionally sought out the class or joined the team, which has now doubled in size.

SUPPORT AND GROWTH Roughly 95% of the students in debate class are living at the poverty line. Many of its students stay in the U.S. with family while their parents live in Mexico. The last two

years have been especially hard, as an estimated 40% of the student body lost one or more parents to COVID-19. Speech and debate has become an important outlet for students navigating trauma and turmoil. “I have coached many students who’ve been through difficult times, but these students have lost both parents and are getting good grades. They are working so hard and deserve to be seen,” Irene says. The team is driven by a desire to support each other and show what they can do. “I like that this team continually surpasses expectations others set for us,” says senior Daniela Muñoz. “I am extremely proud of how much we have grown in such a short time. The success and support I received from this team has allowed me to dream bigger.” The team has given many students a place to belong. “We’ve

become a team of friends working together and helping each other,” says sophomore Mia McSwain. Senior Katherine Jane Ryan, who joined the team to meet an elective requirement, now feels the team is a second family.

FINDING CONFIDENCE From her experience coaching the team, Christina believes each member had the potential to be successful but only needed to overcome one barrier: confidence. “Finding my voice and who I was meant to be came from joining debate,” reflects senior Aaron Marquez. “Coming from low-income, being heard isn’t common with my peers. Debate allows me to flourish and make sure my voice is never silenced again.” The students’ hard work is evident; they have consistently placed at the

After every tournament, the team tracks their data and growth on a star chart.

Finding my voice and who I was meant to be came from joining debate.” — Aaron Marquez (’22) ROSTRUM | FEBRUARY/MARCH 2022


(clockwise from top) Coach Irene Gardea (left) with Horizon High School students. • Students choose their ‘good luck charms’ and present them with a tie sticker. • Two speech team members celebrate Horizon’s first-ever Top 3 Sweepstakes Award in school history.

last several tournaments, where they regularly compete against teams four times their size. Sweepstakes are the most prized awards of all, because the team believes it’s not about individual success. Their mission is to be the pride of Horizon.

ON PURPOSE The speech and debate team provides Horizon students with a new



opportunity to work hard and be recognized. Many of them now dream bigger because of it. Daniela is considering new colleges. Mia plans to become a game designer. Their motivation is what drives Irene. “Speech and debate helped me find my purpose,” Irene says. “It’s my duty and obligation to do the same for these kids who desperately need to hear they have value. Our job is to light the way for these kids

who may not understand what their purpose is. We show them the direction and we teach them skills they’ll use the rest of their lives.” She concludes, “The last three years have been the worst time for teachers—there’s no steady foundation to stand on. I was transitioning to a new school, but even if you’re a veteran, it’s new for all of us. Coming from a larger campus, the burnout was real. At

a smaller campus, I’ve learned the struggle is still real. Teaching is hard regardless of where I’d work right now. What ultimately gets me out of that funk is the kids who inspire me to be better. I truly believe that when a student knows that you believe in them, that’s when they’ll bend over backward to go above and beyond to help themselves.” Annie Reisener serves as Membership Manager at the NSDA.



Congratulations NSDA USX top two finalists


on closing out the Great Communicator Debate Series National Finals!




Online & In-Person options to qualify to the National Finals from April 2022 through June 2022

Fully paid 3-day trip to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California July 21-24, 2022 for all National Finalists

Focusing on communication, evidence, & storytelling for a real-world audience

For competition resources and to register your team, visit us at www.ReaganFoundation.org/GCDS


What was your experience in the activity like? I was a Policy debater for Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C. I debated for four years in high school. Policy Debate defined my high school experience in many ways. At that time, there was no local debate in D.C., so if you wanted to do Policy, it was on the national circuit. As a result, I met other kids from around the country, sleeping in basements from Illinois to upstate New York to Texas. It was an amazing opportunity. I made many great friends, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun.

Were there elements of the activity you identified as a competitor that you wished would adapt/progress? Jessica with her dog, Finn.

JESSICA BERENSON: After Debate, Advocate as told to Elgin Woody IV



Tournament after tournament, I would see women and minorities get eliminated in early elim rounds, and by the final rounds, I’d be looking at a field of white men. The debate community was just starting to be selfcritical of itself, and there was still a general tolerance of sexism and racism. It pained me to be a part of a community I loved, but one that tolerated values I abhorred. My senior year of high school, I decided to

take a stand to help in a small way. With the backing of my coach and my school, I organized a Women in Debate Conference/Tournament at Georgetown Day School. The idea was for women to experience what it was like to be in a round with all women competitors and a woman judge instead of a round where they were the only women. We sent out an invitation and, as a whole, the responses were supportive, but we got some mean ones, too. The tournament went off without a hitch and many people told me it was a high point of their career. It was for me, as well. It’s been more than 20 years since that day, and I’ve often wondered what it would be like to do something like that again. I would ask, are things better when it comes to racism, sexism, and gender identity in speech and debate today? What work do we have still to do in the speech and debate community? I wonder, who are the individuals who feel like they are alone in the room today? How can our community better support them and make speech and debate a safer, more inclusive activity for everyone? I think these are crucial questions that everyone involved in debate should be asking.

I never forget the suffering that brought me to my current job. The need for help is so great. ” — Jessica Berenson Have you “come back” to the activity at all since graduating as a high school senior? Coming back to the activity in an official capacity has changed my life. As a freshman debater, there were five seniors on the team, and I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. They were smart, compassionate, great debaters, and perhaps most importantly, hilarious. Two of them—Alex Berger and Matthew Ornstein— were uniquely gifted. After high school we lost touch. Years later, I learned from a mutual acquaintance that Matthew was ill. A few years after that, in 2015, I learned Matthew had died from an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness after suffering for a decade. On June 29, 2019, I received an email from Matthew’s father, Norm, inviting me to judge at

the Matthew Harris Ornstein Summer Debate Institute tournament. In 2015, soon after his death, Matthew’s family had started The Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation. Their goal was, as President Biden once said, “to turn grief into purpose.” One project of the Foundation was to create a Summer Debate Institute with the then fledgling, and now flourishing, Washington Urban Debate League. I’d been invited as one of Matthew’s friends to come judge. Sitting there in round one—realizing that flowing is sort of like riding a bicycle—I realized how much I’d missed debate. And before I’d left the tournament that day, I’d asked David Trigaux, Program Director of the Washington Urban Debate League, about a volunteer coaching

Matthew Ornstein (shown far right) with his senior class of debaters and the Harvard Tournament trophy in 1998. (Printed with permission from Georgetown Day School)

position. I’ve been a volunteer coach ever since.

I’d like to pivot a little to your professional career now. Could you tell me about what you do for work? I’m the Executive Director of The Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation. As Executive Director, I’m in charge of helping execute the main programmatic components of the Foundation alongside Matthew’s family. The Foundation has two main functions: it sponsors a debate institute for the Washington Urban Debate League, and it works in the field of serious mental illness. A major project of the Foundation was making the movie Definition of Insanity (www.doifilm.com) with Found Object Film’s Gabriel London (a high school friend of Matthew’s) and Charlie Sadoff. The film is about the decriminalization of mental illness in Miami-Dade County, Florida. We have held screenings followed by panel discussions for a variety of stakeholders in serious mental illness. These events have been ways to bring the conversation about serious mental illness throughout the country

from New York to Texas, Illinois to Louisiana. The foundation also works with an organization called the Henry Amador Center on Anosognosia, which provides training for families and others who interact with individuals who suffer from anosognosia (a lack of awareness about their mental illness).

What did you study in college to prepare you for that position? I am the quintessential example of why it is important to study what you care about, not what you think will get you the right job. I was an English major and studied modern American poetry.

What are some common misconceptions about the work that you do? I think there are a lot of misconceptions about mental health and mental illness and what those terms mean. Additionally, many people think of mental illness as only depression or anxiety and forget about serious mental illness, such as bipolar and schizophrenia. Many people are unaware of anosognosia and think that people who suffer from lack of awareness



about their illness are being lazy or even stupid.

What attracted you to doing this kind of work? I see my work as a dual purpose—celebrating who Matthew was in happier times and helping others so hopefully they won’t have to suffer the way Matthew did. I’m honored to remember Matthew in these two manners. Every summer, we have 200 kids, grades 6-12 from D.C. public and charter schools, attend a free three-week summer debate camp. We have top national talent instructors and great speakers. Our students finish camp ready for the season and have great success going forward. I think of Matthew when I hear their laughter or see their success tournament after tournament in the great work the Washington Urban Debate League does all year. But I never forget the suffering that brought me to my current job. The need for help is so great. I take seriously the privilege of bringing the message of the Foundation around the country in the hope that fewer people will suffer the way that Matthew and his family did.

To you, why is mental health often overlooked or even laughed at as an element of a person’s health? I think historically there has been a divide between physical and mental health,



and that may be partially due to the fact that the science regarding mental health has taken longer than other areas of medical science to develop. But we are continually developing science relating to mental health and the brain, and it will be increasingly harder for that dichotomy to hold up. The Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation (www.bbrfoundation. org) is doing great work promoting this research.

If you could change one thing about the mental health care industry, what would it be? There needs to be more of it and in more places throughout the country. The stories of individuals having to wait long periods of time while in a mental health crisis are heartbreaking, but common. This is especially true in rural areas and for children.

Have any of the skills you crafted/honed in speech and debate been helpful to you in your professional career now? I feel like I’m constantly giving rebuttal speeches. The skill of saying your point succinctly and convincingly is incredibly important in adult life. And, often, you can’t think too much about it—you just need to make your point. Additionally, the critical reading of evidence is so

important. This is true in terms of understanding literature on the job, but also and perhaps even more so just being a grown-up reading the newspaper and trying to understand the world on a day-to-day basis.

Do you wish you had done anything differently in your time in speech and debate, now doing what you do professionally? I wish I had debated in college or at least considered it. In retrospect, I was worried about balancing the time requirements, but I could have made it work. Now I have friends who were college debaters and, listening to them talk, it might have been a great experience. I wouldn’t close any doors. You can always try out college debate, and if you don’t like it, stop.

From a mental health perspective, what suggestions might you have for students and coaches in the activity? As a coach, I have a rule for all my students—debate should be fun. If debate is not fun, then I’m doing something wrong, and I ask them to tell me about it. High school can be a stressful time, and debate shouldn’t pile on to that stress. I generally coach my students after school, and I never know what has happened before

they walk in the door, but I can guess it hasn’t been easy. So, I work a lot on limiting pressure in practices. If someone doesn’t want to go to a tournament, that is fine— and if someone is having a bad day and can’t do practice, that is fine, too.

From an alumni perspective, what would you like to say to students in the activity now? Twenty years from now, you are not going to remember the fact that you didn’t break at a particular tournament, or that a decision was unfair in a given round. You are going to remember the friends you made and the people who mentored you.

What about coaches? Give your students the benefit of the doubt. If your students seem distracted one day, or make a mistake or don’t want to focus in practice, consider just going with it.

Or administrators? Take a risk on debate. If you aren’t in practice and learning about debate, it may seem foreign—but ask a few students to tell you what they are debating about, and you may be impressed.

Elgin Woody IV serves as Membership and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator at the NSDA.


‘It’s the best of both worlds!’ EMBRACING THE NUANCES OF THE



aking on a new event can be a challenge for any competitor, but what about an event that’s never been done before? Aaron Chen, currently a junior at Grand Rapids City High School in Michigan, was the first ever high school champion of the Pro Con Challenge, a new supplemental event for high school students at the 2021 National Tournament. The Pro Con Challenge asks students to select the National Tournament topic for CX, LD, or PF or a piece of legislation in the Congressional Debate docket and write a threeto five-minute affirmative speech and a three- to five-minute negative speech on that topic. This

event allows students to explore debate topics in a new and exciting way while showing off their writing, research, and delivery skills. “I really like the Pro Con Challenge because you can’t exactly characterize it as a speech event or a debate event—it’s a mix of both,”

Aaron said. “It’s the best of both worlds! So instead of having to be very focused on the nitty gritty and the intricacies of one topic, you can be more laid back.” Instead of fearing the challenges of a brand new event, Aaron embraced the differences offered by the Pro Con Challenge. “Because Pro Con Challenge is such a new event, there aren’t a lot of set norms, so judges expect a varied experience,” he said. “Some of them thought about the event as if it was a speech in a debate round, but then some people look at it like it’s strictly an individual event. I think what is important for any competitor is to blend the two styles as much as you can, so judges can expect something from both. Creating that variety is great because delivering it strictly as a debate constructive feels very formal, but a speech perspective feels too informal.” One of the unique things about the Pro Con Challenge is the

opportunity for students to choose from a selection of different debate topics. That choice was pretty familiar for Aaron, who typically competes in Extemp, but he used his experience to narrow in on a topic he was passionate about. He selected the Public Forum topic, Resolved: In the United States, social media is beneficial for democratic values. “To be a good competitor, you have to be at least a little bit personally invested in the topic you’re talking about,” he said. “If you’re not, it won’t work for you. I chose the Public Forum topic because in Extemp specifically, I am very interested in the communication of politics. There is always at least one big topic each year about how social media impacts people or how radicalization happens online, so that’s why I chose the Public Forum topic.” Aaron has a tip for students who are considering entering in Pro Con Challenge this year.

“Treat the Pro Con Challenge speeches as an academic essay that you want a good grade on,” he said. “That helped me set the tone. And then you also want to cite sources like it’s an essay. The Pro Con Challenge is all about backing up your claims on both sides of the topic.” At the end of the day, Aaron recommends that students embrace supplemental events for the different opportunities they offer. “I think there’s just less pressure overall,” he said. “It’s less stressful than main speech or debate. It allows you to flesh out some of the things you might have missed in a more stressful environment or demanding setting. True to the name, supplemental events really supplement some things that the main events might miss.”

Grace Rogers recently served as Marketing Communications Specialist at the NSDA.






by Cameron Kettles and Miles Wang

After ensuring that every member was immersed in the basics of World Schools Debate during the Greenhill Fall Classic, training has focused on elevating basic skills to their full potential. USA Debate members have found the following training opportunities helpful, which other teams can utilize to their advantage.

Drill impromptu motion areas on which the team feels “weak.” Throughout practice and competition rounds, the team noticed that there were some areas in which they consistently had less knowledge and found it hard to generate in-depth arguments with examples and analysis. This is likely to happen with any debater or team—some motions will be their strong suits while others will cause them to blank during impromptu prep. Pinpointing those subjects (for USA Debate, these included religion, specialized economics, and pop culture motions), teams should drill example motions in those topic areas until they feel they could sufficiently debate them. Being well-informed about the world and reading the news daily also always helps.

Continue debating in British Parliamentary style during practice rounds. For those who need a refresher, a British Parliamentary round consists of four teams of two debaters each, with two



on the government side and two on the opposition side. Although the government teams argue in favor of the motion, they are still ranked separately and want to show why they are individually the best in the debate—the same goes for the opposition. Each speech is seven minutes long, and there is 15 minutes of prep. This style is helpful for developing unique and clear round strategy in a smaller amount of preparation time.

While USA Debate has not met in person since spring of 2020, the team has found ways to maintain a healthy team environment virtually. Even though it’s not the same as being able to see each other in person, many of the best things about being on a team are still possible.

Hang out with your teammates virtually outside practice. “Make sure to find people within the activity that can be a support system. The friendships I have formed through the activity have made debating even more enjoyable.” — Kate Drum

pause and celebrate what you’ve accomplished, even if it feels more detached than normal.

Ask coaches and teammates for help when you need it. One of the biggest ways to avoid burnout is spreading out work between team members. “Especially with my school team, we’ve found ways to distribute work in a way that plays to each of our team member’s strengths.” — Vinayak Menon “Our coaches are so supportive at tournaments and practices. My teammates are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met and push me to be my best. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of them!” — Jane Grey Battle

Manage your time for tournament prep. “I really try to just find one to two hours (maybe more depending on the topic) every day leading up to a tournament to do prep. This helps because it’s less concentrated and I don’t have to pull all-nighters. Other than that, it’s just making sure to communicate with teachers ahead of tournaments to keep work from piling up.” — Vinayak Menon

Celebrate! It’s easy to just

Take breaks. “Leave a weekend

close your laptop at the end of a tournament and move on to the next one. Remember to

every now and then to regroup rather than attending tournaments without any breaks.” — Kate Drum

Jennifer Lin

Hannah Heeger

Kate Drum

Vinayak Menon USA Red championed the 2021 Winter Holidays Open in December.


n early October, the USA Debate team hosted and competed in a weekend debate scramble against teams from Canada, Zimbabwe, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Singapore. The team had a very enjoyable experience against different debating styles and learned quite a lot from the event. This helped them prepare for two more international tournaments in November and December: the EurOpen Online Tournament and the Winter Holidays Open, respectively. At the EurOpen, USA Red, consisting of Miles

USA DEBATE TEAM UPDATES Wang (’22), Vinayak Menon (’23), Victor Tong (’22), and Jane Grey Battle (’22), achieved second place after a close loss to Team Singapore in finals. USA Blue, with Cameron Kettles (’22), Diego Castillo (’22), and Jennifer Lin (’22), ended its run in the quarterfinal round, while USA Gold, with Ashley Shan (’22), Hannah Heeger (’22), Kate Drum (’22), and Ebenezer Appiah (’23), advanced to double octafinals. In speaker awards, Cameron Kettles placed third, Diego Castillo sixth, and Jennifer Lin tenth. One month later, USA Red, composed of Hannah Heeger, Jennifer Lin, Kate

Drum, and Vinayak Menon, championed the Winter Holidays Open after a close final round against Team Singapore. USA Blue, with Cameron Kettles, Victor Tong, Abbey Xu, and Jane Grey Battle, ended its run in the quarterfinal round. In addition to the team awards, Cameron Kettles was recognized as the top speaker. Kate Drum was second speaker, and Vinayak Menon was eighth speaker. Before each tournament, USA alum Aditya Dhar (‘17), Head Coach and Team Manager Cindi Timmons,

and Head Coach Aaron Timmons prepared the team by conducting practice rounds and giving in-depth feedback on the prepared motions and doing impromptu drills. In late January, the team competes in the International Debate Weekend jointly hosted by Team Singapore and the Anglo-Chinese Junior College. The International Debate Weekend is an opportunity to participate in friendly debates with Singaporean and top international teams.

Cameron Kettles is a senior from Greenhill School in Texas. Miles Wang is a senior from A. W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Florida.




Words from the Hall

‘STARING IN MY REAR VIEW’ by Aaron Timmons

I, too, am [Speech and Debate]. I am the darker brother. [At times I have felt they wanted to] send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. . . I, too, am [Speech and Debate].


f you are familiar with the powerful poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, you may be wondering why a portion of that poem was chosen and adapted as a part of this message. Even now, after coaching this


too often “excellence”

everything was the same,

is equated with

sans my race.

“whiteness.” For most of us, the

To be clear, there is not a desire to be a different

implicit bias, racism,

race. It is my belief that

micro (and macro)

actions in the professional

aggressions have an

realm by others are

impact on our lived

viewed and thus land in

experience that makes

a unique way for those

continuing in the activity

of us with discernibly

difficult. I have lived what

racialized bodies.

always been welcomed to

Toni Morrison stated:

the table. I know I am not

“Race magnifies the

the trope of me being

alone in this experience.

matter that matters.”

“mad” or “angry” as

I would imagine fellow

As I “stare in my rear

Some will embrace

they read these words.

Hall of Fame coaches like

view” (reflecting on the

I prefer honest, and

Dr. Tommy Lindsey, Jr.,

title of a Tupac song)

transparent, as more

Byron Arthur, and Robert

of my coaching career,

accurate descriptions

Shepard feel similarly given

it’s been a good run.

of my reflection—but

their tenure in the activity.

There have been a lot of

if the label IS correct,

student successes and

then reading this and reflecting from my

In hearing of my

activity for more than

successes, some have told

professional accolades.

four decades, I question

me they found it hard to

That said, it is hard

whether some feel I truly

believe that I am a Black

not to wonder how the

understanding the state

belong in the activity.

man. BIPOC coaches are

broader community

of mind of many like

I know that I have not

in an activity where all

might perceive me if



perspective might help in

As I share a few thoughts, my target audience is twofold:


Individuals who are BIPOC coaches.

The goal is to let you know that you are NOT alone in the activity and a support network exists for you. The African American/ Black Coaches’ Caucus is one of several sponsored by the NSDA that provides built-in support from myriad coaches of varying experience levels, ages, and degrees of professional expertise who look like you. It is NOT a salve for all of the slings and arrows you might experience, but it is one avenue for support. The recently developed mentor/ mentee program for Black coaches is an important resource as well.


Those who are NOT coaches of color.

You should read, try to gain perspective, and embrace self-reflection to be better in your responses toward BIPOC coaches and students of color. Seek opportunities to grow and understand issues of race/racism and how they manifest themselves in the world of speech and debate, using that knowledge to make students and coaches of color feel truly welcomed in forensics.

To that end, I am honored to share a few “Words from the Hall.” These are a few things I wish I had been told when I began coaching. First – You cannot be all things to all people (or students). Forensics has the ability to consume as much of you as you are willing to allow it to. A healthy lifestyle and balanced life outside of forensics is important to maintain. Nothing is more important than your health and family. There are times we need to know what our limit is and just say no when your heart, mind, and body tells you it is time to stop. Perhaps attending fewer tournaments for

that semester/year is an option for your squad. Coaching fewer events might allow you to maintain some balance between your personal and professional life. Realize that for all we gain out of forensics, your well-being must be prioritized. Be willing to seek help and utilize it where you can find it in building and maintaining your team.

students. Diversifying your skill set keeps forensics fresh. If your students want to try a different event, be supportive of that choice with the understanding that doing so might mean cutting back on another event to allow time for you to not drown and become overwhelmed. This applies to those new to the game as well as veterans.

Second – “It ain’t just about you, boo.” Be the kind of coach your students need you to be.

Third – Haters gonna hate!

It is my opinion that professional growth never stops. This may mean learning an event you are not comfortable with initially in order to teach/coach your

Never be satisfied with mediocrity. While some have careers where mediocrity appears acceptable, instead you should strive to grow, learn, and excel. There are those who would argue that I have a “Mamba Mentality”



(left) Fellow Hall of Fame members (clockwise from top left) Byron Arthur, Dr. Mike Edmonds, Robert Shepard, Aaron Timons, Jacci Langston, and Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr. • (right) Aaron with son Joshua and wife Cindi.

as I approach forensics. I cannot, to quote a friend, go with “no link” to that claim. With success, a little (or a lot) of hate may come to those who do not like you, your students, your desire to pursue a different circuit or track for your team, or your program. Part of growing as a coach is understanding that the time commitment to coach all events is overwhelming, if not impossible. It is also hard to be an expert in all areas. I am of the opinion that choice is key. Bottom line—work hard, learn the game, but know that occasionally,

#HatersGonnaHate. Use that to motivate as opposed to consuming you.

Finally – Time flies (or “Picture Me Rollin’”) I have coached for more than 40 years. I still feel I have quite a bit to offer the community/ my students as I still have some “left in the basement” (to include the perfunctory Rocky Balboa reference). Enjoy all that speech and debate has to offer because, before you know it, the newbie coach will be a wily veteran. My

professional success has been beyond my wildest dreams given my humble beginning as a competitor and young coach. On a personal note, I met my wife in forensics, while my son competed at the highest level, telling some amazing stories that changed lives along the way. My life would be vastly different without this activity. I have traveled the country, and the world, because of speech and debate. Embrace all it has to offer because, while imperfect, it is THE place where we can tell stories, make arguments, and

give students skills that improve our world.

I am the darker brother. I am truly staring in the rear view of my coaching career. My hope is that in 20 years, as I look in the rear view, I will see an activity more inclusive, equitable, and mentally healthy for the next generation of coaches overall, but also those darker brothers, sisters, and other siblings who make up our activity. Aaron Timmons is a fivediamond coach and member of the NSDA Hall of Fame.

My life would be vastly different without this activity. Embrace all it has to offer because, while imperfect, it is THE place where we can tell stories, make arguments, and give students skills that improve our world. ” — Aaron Timmons 70


NFHS OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR AWARD Congratulations to this year's Outstanding Speech, Debate, and Theatre section winners! Every year the NFHS recognizes one educator (per state) that goes above and beyond with their exemplary contribution to speech and debate at the high school level. The NFHS encourages you to reach out to your state association with potential Outstanding Educator Award nominees for the 2022-2023 school year.







Daviess County High School, Owensboro, KY

Oak Groove High School, Hattiesburg,, MS

Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, IN







Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, Kansas City, KS SECTION 5



Albuquerque Academy Albuquerque, NM

Salem Hills High Schools, Salem, UT

Marshfield High School., Coos Bay, OR





COMMUNITY Dear Colleagues, As educators, we spend time discussing what we want for our students when they graduate from our schools. We want leaders, thinkers, creators, and problem solvers. We want students to be resilient, inclusive, ethical, and hard working. The skills that NSDA student competitors gain from being a part of speech and debate are exactly what graduates should have as they enter our communities ready for college and the workforce. Speech and debate provides the perfect forum for students to flex their strengths and to show what they know as opposed to demonstrating comprehension on a standardized test. Educators talk about reforming education and getting away from standardized testing. Speech and debate provides this path. Students research topics of interest, prepare informed talking points, and speak clearly and precisely about what they know. We see students learning the value of research and using factual sources and information. The critical reading and thinking that is required to prepare a high quality speech is a workplace skill that every employer is looking for in employees. Debaters learn to prepare well-balanced arguments and to listen to their competition to strengthen the points they want to make. Using factual information to create a well-articulated argument is a talent that will ensure success in any field of employment. Most importantly, the students learn the value of working on a team. They see the impact of their individual contributions on the success of their team. Speech and debate truly prepares students for life after high school graduation. I’m convinced our world would be a better place if every student learned these skills and had to demonstrate them as a requirement for graduation. The talents demonstrated by our competitors are worth more than anything that can be measured on a standardized test. Coaches bring out the best in their students. The countless hours after school and on weekends that coaches dedicate to their students is changing the lives of these young people. Speech and debate is about developing relationships, whether among students or coaches and students. The relational competencies gained through speech and debate will make students successful wherever they go. Speech and debate crosses all content areas and prepares students for all aspects of school and work. Students graduate with the skills to be successful at anything they choose. This is the power of speech and debate.

Holly Williams Holly Williams Associate Superintendent, Mesa Public Schools, Arizona National Speech & Debate Assocation Board Member

Does your school administrator champion speech and debate? Let us know at info@speechanddebate.org. FOR MORE RESOURCES, VISIT US ONLINE 72




National Speech & Debate Association







Big Questions provides a format for students to gain debate experience while raising funds for the team. Big Questions is designed to advance a student’s knowledge, comfort, and interest in learning more about the intersections of science and philosophy. Earn up to $2,500 for YOUR team.



speechanddebate.org/ big-questions

• Minimum 10 Students, 3 Rounds • Big Questions Format Manual

www.speechanddebate.org Newsstand Price: $9.99 per issue Member Subscription: $24.99 for 5 issues Non-Member Subscription: $34.99 for 5 issues


BRANDY HARRIS Hillcrest High School, MO – Class of 2004 CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield in Springfield, MO