Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 10, No. 3, December, 2003


Jim Coach of the Year

After a long exhausting day of debate at the Wake Forest policy tournament this fall, the Whitman policy squad walked into the banquet hall for dinner, awards, and tournament announcements.  The team was approached by a group of excited former members and friends of the team. Charles Olney, Whitman College Class of ’03, and current assistant coach of policy debate at Michigan State University explained what the excitement was all about, “You might want to get Jim on the phone, he is winning the coach of the year award tonight!” Jessica Clarke and Beth Schueler immediately began running from table to table asking if anyone had a cell phone to loan. Finally, they found one, forgetting the fact that Beth’s debate partner Eric Suni had a cell phone, and made a frantic phone call to Jim’s office but unfortunately, for once, Jim was not in his office. After a long list of tournament related announcements Charles was called up to the podium. Charles gave an eloquent yet light-hearted speech, giving well deserved credit to Jim’s ability to manage an extremely successful policy, parliamentary, and individual events program while at the same time grilling him over his tyrannical control over the van ride music selection. Here is a highlighted copy of Charles speech.  “When I found out Jim was going to receive this award, I was extremely happy. He is extremely deserving of it, and I’m glad that he is starting to get some of the recognition that he well-deserves. His record as a coach speaks


Jim, sans the beard, is humbled by his recent award.

for itself: When Jim took over the job at Whitman in the early 90s, the team was solid.  However, Jim made a very deliberate

Text Box:  
Kim, incoming NFL national champion, prepares with Jessica for a parli debate.
commitment to turning Whitman into a nationally competitive policy debate program.  While a number of programs around the country, and in the Northwest in particular, are having their budgets cut, their travel schedules reduced, or their programs disappearing entirely, Whitman has grown stronger every year, often far exceeding expectations.

            The defining characteristic, I think, of the Whitman team during Jim’s tenure has been the almost overwhelmingly positive atmosphere.  Debating for Jim was just plain fun.  Sure, he’s a little goofy at times, sometimes a little hard to deal with, and not quite a card-cutting machine.  Nobody’s perfect, but Jim is an amazing coach, and a great friend.  I think the best compliment I can give is that I would choose to debate at Whitman again in an instant.  There’s no team in the world that I would rather have been on, and there’s no coach I would rather have had.” Charles also pointed out Jim’s computer related innovations which have sparked positive change throughout the college and high-school debate circuits, “Will Repko said this in regards to the technology: “Whitman College -- I think -- has really pushed forward the online component of debate. Their electronic resources are impressive, and they are selfless with them. Jim is definitely central to this component of their squad.” I would very strongly concur.  While it terrified me to give up the scissors and tape when I started debating at Whitman, I can’t even imagine having to go back to those Dark Ages now.  I really believe that before

too long, everything in debate will be on computers, and a lot of the credit for initiating that revolution belongs to Jim for cajoling, encouraging, and ultimately demanding that Whitman toss the scissors into the garbage.

            Jim had this to say about receiving this award, “I am honestly humbled and even kind of embarrassed by receiving this award. I think I've done some good stuff but wow, this was a real surprise. I have to thank all of the people who have made up what this represents to me: a dedicated and very hard working group of coaches and assistants who have made our program successful. If you’ve coached, been a team helper, you are this award.”

            Beth Schuler had this to say about Charles speech, “Above all, the speech highlighted Jim’s supportive attitude. For Jim, winning debates truly is the byproduct of a healthy happy team. Congratulations Jim!”  I think that is a sentiment that we can all echo; “Congratulations Jim!”

Beth and Eric gear up for the Gonzaga tournament where they advanced to semis!

Chris and Bridget Win Three Times in a Row!

Following a great season last year, Senior Chris Gorman and Junior Bridget Kustin, got off to an amazing start this season racking up 3 consecutive tournament wins at Reed College, Lewis and Clark College, and Pacific University.  Unfortunately that marks the end of a great partnership between Bridget and Chris, with Bridget traveling abroad to India during the spring semester and Chris graduating this May.  Bridget is looking forward to her time in India where she will be studying Hindi, and learning about the arts, politics, culture and history of India from local professors and artisans, in both urban and rural environments. Bridget and Chris have been debating together for the past year and a half and

over that time have developed into one of the strongest teams in the nation.  Last year they finished 11th in the nation at the NPTE.  This year they have faced stiff competition in the Northwest defeating some of the top teams in the nation on their way to victory in each of the tournaments.   At the Reed College tournament, Bridget and Chris faced off against the University of Oregon team of Craven and Stone who are currently ranked as the 13th team in the nation.  Following their victory at Reed, the team traveled to the Lewis and Clark tournament which found Whitman GK winning against Lewis and Clark BW (Bingham and West) who are currently ranked as the number one team in the nation--we dispute that ranking! J And at Pacific, this duo knocked off Oregon again for a third straight victory!




Brian Danielson returns as the master of parliamentary ceremonies!


Joe Carver, the team’s new policy assistant


Katie Imbeau, back for another year of outstanding interp coaching!


Samantha Howell continues her dedicated support for the team as our team assistant!


Staff: Jim Hanson, Director of Forensics, Joe Carver, Assistant Policy Coach; Brian Danielson, Assistant Parliamentary and I.E. Coach; Samantha Howell, Student Assistant and Intramural Debate Manager; Katie Imbeau, Dramatic Interpretation Student Assistant; Bob Withycombe, Chair, Rhetoric and Film Studies; and Thomas Cronin, President, Whitman College.

33 Competitors, Fall 2003: Alex Bollinger, Ben Meiches, Beth Schueler, Bridget Kustin, Chandra Carlisle, Chris Chamness, Chris Gorman, Christine Cleland, Danielle Williamson, Dawn Holmes, Emily Marr, Eric Suni, Holly Black, Hugo Vargas, James Hovard, Jeff Buntin, Jessica Serisky, Kathryn Bergh, Kimberly Schlesinger, Kyle Gotchy, Laura Hanson, Lydia Eberly, Matt Schissler, Meghan Hughes, Nav Rekhi, Patrick Carter, Rob Olsen, Ross Richendrfer, Sam Spiegel, Sarah Zangrillo, Stephen Reed, Teri Swartz, Tyler Kent


The 2003-2004 Staff

Joining Jim this year are three returners and a newbie. The newbie is Joe Carver who takes over for Brian Simmonds as our assistant policy debate coach. Joe joins us after successful stints at Pace University and College of Eastern Utah. He has a great sense of humor, a good work ethic, and has even said good things about some of Jim’s music (mainly when he is trying to avoid being fired). Brian Danielson returns after a successful season last year for a sixth year involved with the team. We’re lucky for that even if we do have to listen to his tirades against the “state.” Katie Imbeau also returns producing some amazing interpretation performances with team members. Samantha Howell also has come back as team assistant, gleaming over the “You suck and that’s sad” sign that sits above her desk.


Team attends Reed Tournament run by Alumni!

This year the Whitman Parliamentary debate team had the pleasure of attending a brand new tournament September 27th through the 28th hosted by Reed College in Portland, Oregon.  This was a special tournament for the team because the tournament was administered by one of our very own, Keola Whittaker, Class of 2001, and former Assistant Parliamentary Debate and Individual Events coach.  Keola is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Liberal Arts at Reed and serving as their Director of Forensics.  During the tournament, the team was also able to catch up with David Kearney, former coach and class of 1999.  Beyond seeing old team friends, the Reed tournament served the Whitman Speech and Debate teams by prpviding a great start up the mountain with Chris and Bridget winning the tournament (see story on page 1).  Junior Chandra Carlisle and Sophomore Kathryn Bergh ended up taking 3rd place.  The Senior duo of Emily Marr and Sam Spiegel along with Sophomores Rob Olsen and Lydia Eberly both came away with 9th place finishes.  Way to go!



Prep Session – Base Camp for Climbing the Mountain

Policy, Parli, and Individual Events competitors rev’d up the mountain at this year’s Prep Session.

            The policy work during the prep session was productive and fun. This year’s policy topic is very broad and wordy; 160 plus words describing a series of propositions toward Europe. Throughout the week we were joined by esteemed Whitman grads like Thad Blank and David Guidry who judged practice rounds and helped shape our negative strategies for the first tournament. Eric Suni produced a 650 page file on the Turkey- Greece topic area (including 5 pages on Greece!) and it became an immensely valuable tool on the Negative for us.

            Individual Events got off to a good start this year at the prep session. Junior Bridget Kustin let us in on a few secrets about the soybean industry with her informative speech. Sophomore Rob Olsen’s POI roped together the mythology of the American Cowboy and the American President.  First year Stephen Reed delved into the love between a father and son as explained in Dennis Leary’s book No Cure for Cancer and forced us to ponder the question whether we would all be vegetarians if cows ruled the world in a hilarious POI.  Kim Schlesinger, another incoming first year student, put together a great ADS on disaster preparedness.  First year Hugo Vargas’ speech focused on oral versus written Nazi propaganda. Senior Patrick Carter focused on the tools used by Christian Radio to communicate its message.  Not to be outdone, first year Chris Chamness’ satirical ADS on the future of civil liberties struck a little bit of fear and a whole lot of laughter into people’s funny bones.  In addition, everyone helped to fill the extemp tubs with literally thousands of pages of research. 

            Working on parliamentary debate, the team covered the basics of parliamentary debate to the incoming students and then had an example debate to get them into the swing of things.  The team then set to work researching and preparing positions for potential resolutions.  Each incoming student was paired with a senior debater for his or her first practice debate.  The action was fast and furious as everyone engaged in intellectual battle.  After watching the first round of debates, Brian Danielson was heard to say: “The incoming class of students is great and so large!”

            The prep session wasn’t all work and no play.  As always there was a team barbeque with burgers and brauts for the meat eaters on the team and boca burgers for the herbivores.  Incoming policy coach Joe Carver was brave enough to let the team invade his home by hosting the BBQ.  Later that night, Brian made good on his summer of smack talking about his bowling skills by rolling a 179, soundly defeating everyone else.  And throughout the prep session, impromptu Frisbee games and hacky sack circles broke out when staring at a computer screen became too much to handle.


The Brits debate the Whits!

The team was honored to host two of Britain’s finest for a debate about the way the United States is approaching the war on terrorism. Over 100 people attended the debate between British award winners Tom and Tom against the Washington University champions Chris and Chandra. The debate involved heated as well as humorous arguments about George Bush, Tony Blair, Iraq and Afghanistan. Audience members participated too, making arguments and asking questions during several portions of the debate. In the end, there was no victor but people had an enjoyable and thought provoking evening.





One of two NFL National champions joining this year, Ben Meiches from Minnesota demonstrates that the team has become a national attraction with students from all over the country contacting Jim.



Chris and Bridget knock off one of the top teams!

While coaches Jim Hanson and Brian Danielson paced the halls, Chris and Bridget were confidently taking care of business, handing the team of Bingham and West the second place trophy and taking top honors for themselves. Chris and Bridget have been good friends in their partnership. Chris said: “I think the fact that we're great friends is what made the whole experience really cool.”  When Bridget was asked what her favorite round for the year was she replied, “My favorite round this year was the final round of Lewis and Clark: the whole room was on our side, I got to speak French in the round, the policy kids were laughing every time we said "link turn" or something like that and going crazy with the knocking on the desk.  Or it could be the time we almost lost a round because the judge thought that I was rude. I feel that I can speak for both Chris and myself when I say that's one of our proudest moments because the 'Chris means loud, Bridget means nice' image was gone forever!”  Good Cop or Bad Cop, this duo has been an outstanding team!


Emily, Joe, and Beth smile for the camera. You look mahvelous!



Intramural Tournament

Whitman College has a long tradition of fierce competition for the coveted Intramural T-Shirts.  Debaters argued over the topic “Resolved: I support X as the Democratic Presidential Candidate for 2004” while the Dramatic Interpretation section of the tournament featured smoking hot performances by Andrew Lum, Laura Nelson, Tyler Kent, Eli Block, Jackie Baxter, and Veronica Willeto.  Patrick Carter had this to say, “I was really impressed with the quality in the Whitman community.”  Top honors were taken by Andrew Lum, Laura Nelson and Tyler Kent in the Dramatic Interpretation events. The top 3 debaters in the inexperienced division were Aaron Mandel taking first place, Sam Morris-Rosenfeld taking second, and McLean Eames, third.  The experienced division was hotly contested with a two-way tie for first place occurring between Mike Winnike and Matt Jumago.  Taking third place was freshman Andrew Deming.


Dawn and Kathryn prepare for a parliamentary debate.


Holiday Party

Besides the stress of finals, the ever-present fog, and the outbreak of the flu, December brings with it some holiday cheer for the Whitman Speech and Debate team with the annual holiday party.  This year the occasion fell on the date of December 9th and was hosted by the always jolly (except in the mornings) Jim Hanson.  The holiday party serves as a way for the team to gather together in friendship as they plot to steal away the best gifts in the white elephant gift exchange.  The competition over the gifts is always fierce and this year was no exception.  Top gifts included a CD/radio alarm clock, a miniature zen garden, hemp t-shirts and Washington lotto scratch tickets, fresh baked corn bread, and a Mr. Potatohead.  Jim was the initial recipient of the Mr. Potatohead and you could tell by the look in his eyes that there was some serious rage at the carbohydrates that Mr. Potatohead symbolized.  Fortunately, Mike Winnike stole the Mr. Potatohead from Jim during the gift exchange and ensured his safety throughout the night.  While the carbohydrates could be saved the same cannot be said about protein.  Jim broiled up some succulent steaks and amazed many with his tasty Thai seafood tom ka soup.  Don’t worry though, Jim made sure that there was some delicious four-cheese ravioli for the vegetarians on the team.  With special guest appearances by Bob Withycombe, and recent graduate Charles Olney, the night was a smashing success.  Mr. Potatohead had this to say, “I was a little scared at first, but once they took me away from that scary Atkins diet fanatic I had a great time.”

NPDA Rankings—Whitman is looking very good

As the rankings stand, Whitman’s parli squad is currently ranked 2nd in the NPDA Season Sweepstakes race, just a few points behind Lewis and Clark College in NPDA points—with only three of the four tournaments the team has attended recorded.  The NPDA Season Sweepstakes award is one of the most important measures of a program’s success.  “I think that Whitman is poised to be at the top of the season sweepstakes for a long time to come because of the strength of our younger teams,” says Assistant Coach Brian Danielson.  The Lewis and Clark tournament was one of the best tournaments that the Parli team has ever had with first place finishes in Open by Chris Gorman and Bridget Kustin, and in Junior by Rob Olsen and Kim Schlesinger, and second in Novice by Laura Hanson and James Hovard.  At the Pacific University tournament, the first year team of Chris Chamness and Stephen Reed had an outstanding second place finish in the Junior division.  And lets not forget about the duo of Chandra Carlisle and Kathryn Bergh.  They had an outstanding finish at the Reed tournament taking 3rd in Open division.  Whitman is looking to solidify its position as the top team in the nation over the upcoming semester and at the NPDA tournament, which begins April 6.




Whitman’s debate camp grew even more this summer attracting 70 plus participants from all over the nation. Evals were very good and Jim hopes to see the camp grow even more for 2004!


Stephen’s work on his interps has paid off very well with multiple awards!

Rob shows the audience how to emphasize a point as Holly looks on.





Dana (back), Patrick, Lydia, and Emily (behind Lydia) listen to a debate.


Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 10, No. 1, December, 2003


Withycombe and Walker Fund Contributions

We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors May 1, 2003 through December 12, 2003 include: Nancy and Robert M. Withycombe, R. Paul Beveridge and Lysle Wilhelmi, Jennifer Becker & Andrew Backlund, Patricia and Charles P. Nelson, Drummond and Daphne Teals Kahn, Susan R. and Lloyd T. Danielson, Stephen C. Rowe, James B. Hanson, Kristofer N. Peterson, Erik Highberg, Jessica A. Clarke, John R. Miller, and the Microsoft Corporation. If we missed you, please tell us because we do appreciate your support!


Nav, Jeff, Ben, and Eric get ready to load up the van at Gonzaga.

SEND CONTRIBUTIONS to: Annual Fund Office; Whitman College; Walla Walla WA 99362

Checks should be made out to Whitman College with a note that says to place the contribution into the Walker or Withycombe Fund.





Ross reflects; Jim and Samantha reorganize files; Sam, Bridget, Chris listen to a speech; Bob kicks back; and Matt and Meghan prep for their round.


The Team’s History Page: www.whitman.edu/rhetoric/history/


Where we’re going

The climb up the mountain isn’t over yet, and that means that you still have an opportunity to cheer the team on to further victories as we head into the second half of the season.  We will be attending tournaments across the nation and if you are nearby we’d love to have you drop in and watch a round or two.  Our tentative schedule is posted at our team web page. If you have any questions about how to meet up with us, feel free to email Jim Hanson at hansonjb@whitman.edu.  See you on the circuit.


Policy Awards

ALEX BOLLINGER AND DANIELLE WILLIAMSON: Lewis and Clark, Junior FIRST; Alex 1st speaker; Danielle 2nd speaker.

BETH SCHUELER AND ERIC SUNI: Gonzaga, SEMIS, Beth 7th speaker; Kentucky, 5-3, missed on points; Lewis and Clark, SECOND, Beth 2nd speaker; Eric 1st speaker: Wake Forest, 5-3, missed on points

JEFF BUNTIN AND ROSS RICHENDRFER: Gonzaga, QUARTERS; Lewis and Clark, FIFTH; Jeff 8th speaker.

Parli Awards


CHANDRA CARLISLE AND KATHRYN BERGH: Reed, SEMIS, Chandra, 8th speaker; Lewis and Clark, OCTAS.

CHRIS CHAMNESS AND STEPHEN REED: Lewis and Clark, SEMIS; Pacific, SECOND, Stephen 7th speaker (Junior)

CHRIS GORMAN AND CHANDRA CARLISLE: Washington U., FIRST, Chris, 9th speaker.


JAMES HOVARD AND LAURA HANSON: Lewis and Clark, SECOND, Laura 4th speaker (Novice).



PATRICK CARTER AND HUGO VARGAS: Reed, Patrick 7th speaker (Novice); Lewis and Clark, OCTAS, Patrick 5th speaker (Junior); Pacific, OCTAS.

Individual Events Awards

BRIDGET KUSTIN: Informative, FINALIST, Lewis and Clark

CHANDRA CARLISLE: Impromptu, SECOND, Washington U.


CHRIS GORMAN: Impromptu, THIRD, Lewis and Clark

HOLLY BLACK Dramatic, FINALIST, Pacific (Novice)

KATHRYN BERGH: Impromptu, FINALIST, Pacific (Novice)

Extemp, FINALIST, Lewis and Clark (Novice)

KIM SCHLESINGER: Extemp, SECOND, Lewis and Clark (Junior)

KYLE GOTCHY: Dramatic, THIRD, Lewis and Clark

LAURA HANSON: Extemp, FIRST, Lewis and Clark


Impromptu, FINALIST, Lewis and Clark (Junior)

ROSS RICHENDRFER: Impromptu, FIRST, Lewis and Clark (Novice)

STEPHEN REED: Dramatic, FINALIST, Lewis and Clark; FIRST, Pacific







Danielle and Alex prep; Jeff and Dave wonder why they are being photographed; Ben, Ross, Meghan, Nav, and Danielle review choices at the Outback.


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