Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 13, No. 1, December, 2006



Whitman Policy Teams in Pepperdine finals again!

Kind family hosts the team

The team headed into Pepperdine feeling confident off the heels of last year’s finals closeout. We were also preparing for staying in someone's house for the duration of the tournament, rather than in a hotel. We'd been invited (all 20-something of us) to stay with Doug Cotler, a Grammy award winning songwriter in the LA area, and father of Lawrence Grandpre’s roommate. We weren’t sure what to think, as we were all afraid of issues like showers, adequate beds, a long commute, etc. Fortunately, the experience turned out amazingly well. Doug was very welcoming, the bed situation worked out great, the house was really accommodating, and we even managed to work in a team BBQ and pool party.


The Policy team on the way to Pepperdine taking a stop at Multnomah Falls. From the left, Matt, Lawrence, Robby, Eric, Ross, Sam, Dave, Mike (hidden), Jake, Luke, Spencer, Nate, Meghan, Stephen, Lewis, Jim, and Aaron.


The tournament also went very well. 3 teams cleared in Varsity and our JV team cleared to finals to take second place. In senior elimination rounds, Ben Meiches and Mike Meredith lost in the octafinals on a 2-1, and Sam Allen and Eric Chalfant had a breakout tournament, reaching the semifinals. Ross Richendrfer and Matt Schissler also racked up win after win to set up a final with a team from Redlands. Doug joined us for what Jim called “one of the most unusual rounds I have ever seen.” Redlands, dressed in pirate outfits (no kidding), argued that debate was a destructive form of argumentation and that we should reject the way we, Whitman, debated. To reinforce their point, they refused to give rebuttals. So, instead, a discussion ensued with audience members and judges arguing about the value of debate. It is kind of weird to have coaches and team members arguing you should

win before the judges even decide but apparently, we did it well as Ross and Matt won on a 3-0. To celebrate, the whole team went out to an all-night Deli with Doug (who said he loved the round) and had a great time. The team sends a big thank you to Doug and wife Gail (who was at Whitman while we were there).

The team hanging out at the Cotler’s home during the Pepperdine tournament. Eric, Sam, Lewis, Stephen, Nate, and Luke.


Tacoma to Walla Walla in 24 Hours

We left Tacoma at 2:45 and the weather was dreary but we did not think it would be an obstacle to returning to Walla Walla. We were wrong. The drive up Snoqualmie Pass began without incident but shortly after North Bend, slush accumulated on the road. With snow in the median and the ditches, we were stuck in traffic for nearly two hours at Exit 47 where officials were forcing everyone to turn around. We returned to North Bend for gas and sustenance while Jim consulted a map. With an eye of expertise and wisdom, he determined we had three options: wait it out, drive over White Pass, or go through Portland. The pressure from people who had class the next day was great, so we set out to go through White Pass which, from reports, appeared to be clear. Unfortunately, the conditions were abhorrent.

In the darkness of night, Carson Booth, Chris Chamness, and Jeff Wilson prepare chains for the ill fated effort over the pass. Rob Olsen is in the background.

There was more snow, more ice, and less visibility than on Snoqualmie Pass. The road was covered with a layer of black ice. We made it to within about 15 miles of the pass, where conditions became too dangerous to continue. Chris Chamness and Jeff Wilson took control of the chains and managed to put them on without too much trouble.

Meghan Hughes hangs out in the Policy Prep Room

From our stopping point, we called the Chamness household in Portland, to inquire about room and board for the night. They responded warmly, and agreed to house us. But being the good Samaritan that he his, Chris also helped put chains on another car that had stopped, while Junior Jeff Wilson helped with the car behind us. After the charitable team members finished their work, we piled everyone into the vans for the descent.

The descent was the most dangerous and exhilarating drive this year. Jim drove one van while Jeff, Montana mountain driver, drove the other. We crept down the pass which has very small railings and a cliff like drop off one side. At one point, the van captained by Jeff had to stop completely. While waiting, Jeff and Rob both looked out the window and noticed the van was slowly sliding

into the ditch. Jeff promptly corrected the slippage. At another point, the van tried to slide off the side but Jeff’s driving again prevented the van from coming to harm. Finally, we made it off the pass and drove back into Tacoma some 12 hours after we had left there and, finally, at 3:00 a.m., we drove into the Chamness’s Portland driveway. When we arrived, hugs and warm words awaited us from both Bob and Sandy Chamness who woke to greet us. We slept soundly that night. In the morning, we left Portland and arrived in Walla Walla at 2:45pm, 24 hours after we had left.


Mike and Andrew in the snow




Jim Hanson        



Aaron Hardy


Rob Olsen           


Stephen Reed   


Andrew Lum


Staff: Jim Hanson, Director of Forensics, Aaron Hardy, Policy Coach; Rob Olsen, Parliamentary and I.E. Coach; Thad Blank, Assistant Policy Coach; Anjali Vats, Policy Debate Helper; Eric Suni, Policy and Parli Debate Helper; Andrew Lum, Student Assistant and Intramural Debate Manager; Steve Reed, Dramatic Interpretation Student Assistant; Robby White, Assistant Student Helper; Bob Withycombe, Professor, Rhetoric and Film Studies; Tim Kaufman-Osborn, Dean of Faculty, Chuck Cleveland, Dean of Students; and George Bridges, President, Whitman College.



Jim and The Staff

Jim Hanson is in his 15th year of coaching and heads up a great group of coaches. Aaron Hardy returns as the Policy Coach. Aaron likes to get angry when he loses playing poker and he has an unimaginable ability to remain lucid despite a lack of sleep. Rob Olsen moves from student status to Parliamentary-Individual Events Coach. Rob also works at the Marcus Whitman Inn and is known for his environmentalism. Andrew Lum is in his final year as Jim’s assistant. Andrew loves working at the high school tournament and is a great help to Jim. Stephen Reed is also in his final year as interpretation assistant. Stephen has also done virtually every kind of debate and individual event on the team. Thad Blank, Anjali Vats, and Eric Suni are helping with coaching. Robby White is also helping as Jim’s assistant.


The Fall of Luke

Luke Sanford, a kindly sophomore policy debater, with a penchant for dangerous activities like climbing, white-water kayaking, and Ultimate Frisbee met a terrible fate. It was an ordinary day for Luke, except as he was walking by Hunter, he spied Aaron, Meghan, and Jake having a meeting. Luke, being the extrovert that he is, wanted to say hello. But instead of just entering the building and saying hello, or even just tapping the window, Luke decided it would be best to climb onto the window sill of Hunter 205 and wave. The climb up passed without any trouble, but getting down proved to be a bit more challenging.

Luke jumped backwards off of the window sill only to land on the pizza box he had left on the ground, fell into the bushes, and then tripped over a curb, and landed his hip on hard pavement. Luke stood up from his stumble and hobbled to the New Welty Center (Health Center) where he was informed he needed to go to the hospital. According to Luke "The nurse told me I had to go to the hospital. I told her 'no, I have to go cut cards'." After bickering for a while and dealing with increasing pain, Luke finally agreed to go to the hospital. The hospital was kind enough to take X-Rays and inform Luke that he had broken his pelvis.

Luke remained in the hospital for 3 days and the team visited him as we left for Wake Forest. For the next 4 to 5 months, Luke will be in a wheelchair and a walker, but this hasn’t dampened his spirits. All of the girls from the scramble he led before school started are sympathetic. And Luke’s fighting spirit remains intact. He challenges team members to games of Frisbee golf, and then claims he can out throw them while in a wheel chair.


Luke munching food next to his wheelchair at the team’s holiday party


Campers lose to staff

This year at WNDI marked the second anniversary of the Whitman National Debate Institute Staff vs. Campers Ultimate Frisbee competition. Campers outnumbered the staff by at least 2-to-1. However, the staff would not be deterred. Luke Sanford led the battle, back when his pelvis was whole. Ross Richendrfer noted this: “As we left the field, bruised and battered bodies were strewn everywhere and the sound of labbies crying was deafening. The tears and carnage were to be expected, however, in the face of a team stocked with the physicality of Andrew Stokes, the grace of Mike Meredith, the fashion of Jake Ginsbach, the field vision of Sam Allen, the mind games of Rob Olsen, the wingspan advantage of Ross Richendrfer and, well, Luke Sanford, 7 staff members ‘pwn’d’ 40 high school students.”



Candi and Meghan at the WNDI


46 Competitors, Fall 2006: Albert Lee, Andrew Kelly, Andrew Lum, Andrew Stokes, Amy Soderquist, Anne Hickman, Ben Meiches, Brie Coyle, Carl Edwards, Carson Booth, Chris Chamness, Chris Fryefield, Dave Mathews, Eric Chalfant, Gareth Olds, Hugo Vargas, Jake Ginsbach, James Hovard, Jeff Wilson, Lawrence Grandpre, Lewis Silver, Luke Sanford, Manny Mora, Matt Schissler, Meghan Hughes, Mike Meredith, Ross Richendrfer, Sam Allen, Spencer Janyk, Stephen Reed with Robby White and Nathan Cohn (competing for WWCC) plus Brian Ableson, Russell Caditz-Peck, Nadim Damluji, Nathan Driscoll, Sarah Golden, Alexander Higgiins, David Kosmos, Galen Phillips, Anthony Woods, Brian Zumeta.




Lawrence and Matt                    




Nate and Lewis                                   







Albert and Amy               


Manny and Chris





Bob Withycombe     


Luke before his fall









Team Pictures



Jake Ginsbach    


Meghan Hughes



Sam Allen              








The Holiday Party

Once again, Jim out did himself at the holiday party by enslaving team members to cook and clean for him. At the end of each semester, team members have four hours of team service. The lucky ones complete it during the course of the semester, but there are stragglers. Those few brave team members are enticed to help Jim with the party in order to complete their hours. This year Jim convinced 5 team members to set up and clean up for the party. Junior Jeff Wilson helped for three hours by grilling steaks and asparagus (in the freezing cold outside), and made mashed potatoes and a delicious salad. Jeff was assisted by Nate Cohn, Chris Fryefield, Ross Richendrfer, and Stephen Reed.

The party was a blast yet again, with guacamole putting everyone in the party mood. The team devoured Jeff’s delicious food plus Jim’s ravioli, turkey, and desserts. Stockings were then given to each team member. Jim was quite pleased at what he got at the Dollar Store. After the Stockings and some socializing, the gift exchange began. As usual, there were good and bad gifts. Fortunately, most of the team received decent gifts like a jewelry box, 24 cans of Mountain Dew, and chocolates. But there has to be a gift considered the worst. This year, the contest for worst gift came down to five people. Senior Chris Chamness with a box of things Luke Sanford found in the policy prep room; Eric Chalfant with a 49 cent bag of candy Peach Rings; first year Robby White with a tabloid, a grocery store crossword book, and a romance novel; Sophomore Sam Allen with a toilet seat (seriously); and Luke Sanford with a Nalgene filled with toothpaste, a toothbrush, a book, and deodorant. Chris Chamness and his box of crap won the worst gift of the year award, and Jim gave him a small piece of luggage as the worst gift consolation prize.



After a rough tournament at Lewis & Clark College, the parliamentary team rebounded two weeks later at the UPS tournament. Five teams went, four teams in open and one in novice. Three teams broke into outrounds. The novice team of first-years Amy Soderquist and Manny Mora went 5-1 and made it to semi-finals. Amy received the honor of the third place novice speaker award. In open division, the team of senior Carl Edwards and sophomore Brie Coyle advanced with a 5-1 record, while senior Chris Chamness and sophomore Jeff Wilson came back from 1-2 to break with a record of 4-2 to advance. Both teams made it to quarterfinals before dropping to two of the top teams in the country. The UPS tournament was a big turn around for the Parliamentary team. And it signals good things to come in the next semester.



Whitman National Debate Institute


WNDI 2006 Camp Picture

Our Camp drew rave reviews again. The camp was held July 23 through August 10, 2006 and featured participants from states all across the U.S.









Brie and Gareth


Spencer Janyk


Dave Mathews         


   Stephen Reed



Jeff Wilson                  



Ross and Robby    



Matt, Spencer, and Sam



Chandra helped out the team at UPS.



Eric helped out the team at UPS.


The team preparing at the UPS tournament.



Contributions to the Team

We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors May 15, 2006 through December 10, 2006 include: James L. Abbott, Rose Kuriappan Alappat, Helen Barron-Liebel, Theodore B. Blank V, Robert C. Brinton, Patrick J. Carter, James R. Chubb, Emily R. Cordo, Rebekah A. Foster, Donna Gerstenberger, Adele Goss, Lanora and David J. Hackett, James B. Hanson, Beverly J. and Robert J. Hanson, Daphne Teals and Drummond Kahn, Kathryn and Steven J. Kidder, Nicole A. and Matthew P. Levin, Diana and Vladimir M. Liska, C. Lawrence and Priscilla Lutcher, Charlotte K. and David A. McClusky, Sarah and Jim D. Michelson, Microsoft Corporation, John R. Miller, Brant D. Olson, Kristofer N. Peterson, Jason P. Smith, Ellen Y. and Erland A. Suni, Sylvia Symonds and Adam C. Symonds, Gail Tastula, Corinne Telford, The Boeing Company, Scott G. Thompson, Keola R. Whittaker, Robert M. Withycombe, Courtney Whitmore Wyckoff. If we missed you, please tell us because we do appreciate your support!

Andrew Kelly

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 one of the Debate Team Funds (Salzman-Medica, Withycombe, Walker, or just say “for debate”).



Amy, Brie, and Mike                                     Lawrence           


The House of Chamness

With a tight budget and big numbers, the team is in constant need of homes to stay in at tournaments. One house that has always opened its doors to us in Portland is the House of Chamness. It is the house of Parli debater Chris Chamness. Chris’s Parents, Bob and Sandy, his sister, Katie, and his dog, Dax, let the team stay at their home for the last three years. Each and every time, they cook the team breakfast and dinner, they provide juice and water, and they take everyone in as family with welcoming hugs. The Chamnesses care for all of the team like their own children. Without their dedication to the parli team, we would have to cut travel to two tournaments. From all of the team, we would like to thank Bob, Sandy, Katie, and Dax for their support and friendship.



Amy                                              Robby                                              Matt



Andrew, Rob, Anjali                     Stephen and Chandra


The team eating at Olive Garden








Policy Awards



ERIC CHALFANT AND SAM ALLEN: Pepperdine, SEMIS (closeout); Wake, 5-3.





Parli and IE Awards







ANDREW KELLY, Lewis and Clark, Jr Extemp, SIXTH.

CARSON BOOTH, Lewis and Clark, Jr Extemp, FIFTH.


Policy Tournaments

The policy team got off to a great start in the first semester. We're as large as we've ever been, with 8 teams traveling to Gonzaga. The year started off with Ross and Matt reaching the finals (losing on a 2-1 to a very good team from Berkeley who they beat in the prelims), and Ben and Mike reaching the quarterfinals. Four teams traveled to Kentucky. Ross and Matt had a few unexpected bumps in prelims, but recovered to go 6-2 and break. Ben and Mike went 5-3 and also broke. Unfortunately, both teams got a difficult draw in the doubles. Ben and Mike lost to the team with the top speaker and Ross and Matt lost to the team that ultimately won the tournament. At Wake, the whole team performed even better. Ben and Mike rolled off several excellent wins to end up 6-2, and Sam and Eric fought to 5-3, including beating a first round from

Harvard, but narrowly missed on points. Meghan and Jake also had a great tournament, finishing 4-4 and beating a first-round team from Fullerton. Ross and Matt won six straight prelim debates, including wins over three top 20 teams. Ben and Mike unfortunately lost in the doubles to another first round team from Harvard, but Ross and Matt won a close debate against Georgia State, before losing to Berkeley's top team in the Octas.



Dave and Lewis



The Policy Squad, Fall 2006     


The Parli Squad 2006