Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 7 No. 2, June 2001




Champions of the Northwest

     Despite a surge by the University of Oregon, Whitman forensics pushed ahead to capture the Northwestern Forensics Conference title for the second year in a row. 

     Every single policy debater earned the squad points. Thad and Charles placed second at the last tournament and three other teams, Scott & John, Lauren & Emily M., and Brian S. & Emily C. were in quarterfinals.

    The parliamentary debaters put on an impressive show during the spring semester with four teams in elim rounds


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Scott, Keola, Brian W, Natalie, Geof, Charles, and Brian D line up outside of Bob Withycombe’s home


at WWU and Whitman. Brian D. & Denice and Brant & Todd were in semis in senior division at Whitman.

     Further, the team’s individual events success was the best since the Withycombe years. The squad won 59 I.E. awards. First-year students Chris Gorman, Sam Spiegel and Darrell Miller, and sophomores Denice Kelley and Mario Cava contributed with many awards.  Not to be outdone, Brian Ward, Thad Blank, Scott Daniel and Todd Borden brought home top awards in extemp LD.

     With Whitman’s strong depth, and incoming recruits, the team is well poised to three-peat as champions next season.


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Dani, Samantha, and Sam enjoy time together at the End of the Year Party.


The Team’s End of the Year Party

     Held at former director Bob Withycombe’s house, the team’s end of the year party was a great way to finish off a successful season.  It was also much appreciated because Bob and Nancy very nicely offered the use of their plates and glasses when we forgot to bring them.

     While the team snacked on strawberries, olives, French bread, and other goodies, Jim handed out awards for each team member to recognize their contribution to the team.  Top awards included Brian Ward’s “Whatever,” Gabe’s “See how well you can do if you comb your hair” and Lauren’s “Stairmaster” certificates. The team shared good times and memories of the year.


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Nicholas, Chris, Mario, Keola, Gabe, Denice, Natalie, and Brian D enjoy dinner at NPDA Nats


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Jim is quite happy with the party spread!


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J.P. Lacy relaxes as he finishes four years of outstanding policy debate coaching at Whitman College.



Many recent and current team members are getting hitched! Diana Thomson, former assistant (1997-98), is marrying this June. Assistant Julie Miller ’02 is getting married in June too. Matt Johnson ‘99 just announced his engagement. Ryan Scoville (on the team ’97-’98) just got married. We’re sure there’s more but Jim’s received a whole lot of wedding invitations!


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Lauren and Mario ham it up. These sophomores did very well.



Jim: “The team’s growth is just tremendous. We sent 24 debaters to national tournaments and 22 returned with trophies. We believe this is a national record. I’m proud of this group.”


Staff: Jim Hanson, Director of Forensics, J.P. Lacy, Assistant Policy Coach; Geof Brodak, Assistant Parliamentary and I.E. Coach; Julie Miller, Student Assistant and Intramural Debate Manager; Bob Withycombe, Chair, Rhetoric and Film Studies; and Thomas Cronin, President, Whitman College.


37 Competitors, 2000-2001: Adam Woodard, Aerin Orbits, Andi Lien, Andy Monahan, Brant Olson, Brian Danielson, Brian Simmonds, Brian Ward, Charles Olney, Chris Gorman, Chris McManus, Dani Boucher, Darrell Miller, David Guidry, Denice Kelley, Emily Cordo, Emily Marr, Gabe McGuire, John Poor, Keola Whittaker, Lauren Ritter, Leif Perkins, Mario Cava, Natalie Havlina, Natalie Sofia Mariona, Nathan Roller, Nicholas Thomas, Nicole Reynaud, Sam Spiegel, Samantha Howell, Scott Daniel, Stew Campbell, Thad Blank, Todd Borden, Tony Torres, Valbona Sherifi, Wanjiru Kamau.


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Mario, John, and Denice enjoy the team party.


Senior-staff dinner

     Jim took seniors and staff along with many other team members for the third annual senior-staff dinner.  This year’s dinner was at Jacobi’s.  It was a nice change from last year when we had to fend off the Wa’ High Senior Prom crowd at Paisano’s.

     After dinner, Jim recognized the team’s three graduating seniors—Brian Danielson, Brant Olson and Keola Whittaker.  Jim razzed Brian for his support for the legalization of marijuana; Brant for his involvement in a number of protests; and Keola for his switching from parli to public to policy to NFA-LD debate. Jim then turned his attention to J.P., noting his proclivity for playing computer games and installing and uninstalling Linux. Jim also noted Geof’s “aggressive” style of coaching and then noted the “softer” touch Julie brought to the assistant position. Jim made it clear though that they have contributed much to the team and that we are thankful for all they have done for our squad.



Whitman’s stunning success at DSR and NPDA

     Whitman’s parliamentary teams did very well at the DSR-TKA national tournament at Colorado College.  Three of the four parliamentary debate teams advanced into elimination rounds. Two took 9th place (Chris Gorman & Mario Cava and Keola Whittaker & Nicholas Thomas) and one took 5th (Brian Danielson & Denice Kelley).  Nicholas also was a finalist in extemporaneous speaking.

     Then, at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s championship tournament, Whitman stunned the nation, advancing all five of its teams to finals rounds.  Chris & Mario lost a close elim round to finish in 65th place.  Brant Olson & Todd Borden and Keola & Nicholas both took 33rd place.  Brian & Denice were 17th; and Natalie Havlina & Gabe McGuire took 3rd place in the nation!  Brian and Nicholas were also the 12th and 10th speaker respectively.


Policy Nationals Run Back-to-Back

     Running concurrently with NPDA Nationals was CEDA’s national tournament at Middle Tennessee State University.  All of our policy teams advanced with the exception of John Poor and Scott Daniel who missed on speaker points!  Brian Ward & David Guidry and Emily Marr & Lauren Ritter took 33rd place.  Brian Simmonds & Emily Cordo took 17th (double-octas) and Thad Blank and Charles Olney finished 5th (quarters) in the nation. The squad won 8th place in the CEDA national rankings for the year and Charles came home as the 18th place speaker.

     The very next weekend, the team went to Baylor University for the National Debate Tournament.  For the second year in a row, we qualified two teams (Blank & Olney and Cordo & Simmonds).  Overall, the squad finished in 12th place overall and 8th in varsity in the NDT rankings. Jim will begin doing the NDT rankings this fall; maybe he will cook up extra points for the team! J


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Geof and JP plot future plans.


Changes for the coming year

     Campus office space is getting tight and the Hunter building is being used to relieve some of the pressure.  The third floor will see changes with the practice-storage room getting a new cabinet, the rhetoric seminar room will now be Bob’s office, and new computers will arrive in the policy and parli-ie prep rooms.

     Jim remains to begin his tenth year as Director. Julie Miller will also return and plans on working more closely with interpretation students in addition to her student assistant and intramural debate management duties.

     Unfortunately, both of the team’s assistant coaches will be leaving.  J.P. Lacy will be taking a coaching position at Wake Forest. Some speculate that he may even finish his masters’ work.  The team is in progress searching for a replacement for “Jeep.” Geof Brodak will be going to CSU Long Beach where he will start work toward a master’s degree.  Keola Whittaker, who just graduated, will take over for Geof. Even with new replacements, both J.P. and Geof will be sorely missed.


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Sandy Stoneman, Geof’s girlfriend, helped out the team with practice and judging at tournaments. Thanks Sandy!

Jim is now an Associate Professor

     Jim finishes his ninth year as director with great news: he was given the title Associate Professor.  Jim received outstanding reviews based on his management of the team, teaching skills, and service to forensics and Whitman.


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Brian D., Charles, and Scott kick back at the party.



Continued Support is greatly appreciated

     The Salzman-Medica Fund has donated another $250,000 to the team’s Salzman-Medica Forensics fund.  This contribution will be used to enhance our assistant coach salaries. Jim noted: “The money generated from this donation will be instrumental in attracting high quality coaches. In addition, it provides a good salary for a young person just beginning their involvement in coaching.”  Thank you so much Megan Salzman Medica and John Medica.

Should we get tough with China: IM Championship

     The recent spy plane incident with China spurred on strong feelings in the intramural debate championships. Students debated whether the United States federal government should adopt a policy of containment toward the People’s Republic of China.

     In the experienced division, Adam Woodard and Stew Campbell fought it out for the championship.  In the end, Adam triumphed in a very close race.  The inexperienced division was also tough.  McLeish Martin triumphed over Emily Young in the final round.  Close behind was Chris McManus who took third place.

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Mario rests on Dani’s side.                            Lauren, Keola, Scott, Emily M., Brian S. smile for the camera.

Dovell-Gose ends in a tie

     The long history of the Dovell-Gose Oratory Competition never prepared people for this.  The 2001 competition was the first time students were allowed to submit speeches on videotape.  It also was the first time in memory that both the men’s and the women’s division ended in a tie!

     On the women’s side, Emily Cordo, with her speech on post-modern revisions of African feminism, tied for first place with Liz Briggs’ speech on radical democracy promotion.  To round out the division, Nashaunte Pleasant took third place.

     For the men, Nicholas Thomas’ speech on male feminism shared the championship with Keola Whittaker’s oration on why the Dovell-Gose contest should not accept videotaped speeches.  This is the third year in a row that Nicholas has taken first.  Third place went to Thad Blank.


Whitman Hosts the First National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence

     Top teams from around the nation were treated to Whitman hospitality in April at the first ever National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. Teams received invitations to the tournament based on their performance at qualifying tournaments across the nation throughout the year.  Whitman would have qualified three teams: Natalie Havlina & Gabe McGuire, Brant Olson & Todd Borden, and Brian Danielson & Denice Kelley!  Unfortunately, Brian & Denice could not attend because of scheduling conflicts.  Natalie & Gabe did well and Brant & Todd advanced into elimination rounds, taking 5th place. 


Policy teams just can’t seem to stay healthy!

     This spring semester seemed to be a tough one for student health.  On the way to the Cal Swing, Emily Cordo became ill and had to be taken to the hospital. At the University of Utah, Keola had an adverse prescription reaction and had to be taken to the hospital. At the Northwest CEDA Championship tournament, Emily Marr fainted and had to be taken to the hospital. And, at CEDA Nationals, Lauren Ritter slipped on the stairs carrying her debate tubs, spraining her ankle. The tournament agreed to wait 45 minutes for Lauren to return so that she and Emily Marr could debate in the triple-octa-finals round. Jim, who broke his ankle some five years ago, seemed more panicked than Lauren. Everyone’s fine now but Jim and J.P. have seen too many emergency rooms lately!


Rhetoric Department adds Film Studies

     Exciting news as the Rhetoric department added a third full time position. Robert Sickles joins the tradition dating back to the late 1890s when oratory, speaking, and strong communication skills began their important role in the liberal arts education that Whitman offers. Robert will be teaching courses focused on rhetorical aspects of films such as Blade Runner and on film production. Bob, Robert, and Jim hope to add official majors in Rhetoric and in Film Studies soon.

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Nancy Withycombe “crazes” it up at the team party! Thanks for all the help Nancy!


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Geof draws up another brilliant strategy!


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  Natalie and Mario smile      


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Nicholas practices



Withycombe and Walker Fund Contributions

We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors Dec. 1, 2000 through May 10, 2001 include: Jennifer L. Becker and Andy Backlund, Matt Johnson, Kristofer Peterson, Jared Phillips and Loan Lam, Abby St. Lawrence, Bob Withycombe, Kelly Cleman, Susan and Lloyd Danielson, Beverly and Robert Hanson, R. Beveridge and Lysle Wilhelmi, John Miller, and Jason Smith. If we missed you, please tell us because we do appreciate your support!

Send contributions to the Walker Fund or the Withycombe Fund 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.


History Pages ready to go

We encourage you to check out the history pages in late July, 2001 as we expect most of them to be finished by then. Click this history link!


Policy Awards

Brian Simmonds and Brian Ward, 9th, U. So. Cal.

Brian Simmonds and Emily Cordo, Whitman, 5th, NW CEDA Champs, 5th, CEDA Nats, 17th, NDT participant

Brian Ward and David Guidry, WWU 5th, CEDA Nats, 33rd

Charles Olney and Thad Blank, NW Scrimmage 3rd, U. Kentucky, 17th, Lewis and Clark 5th, U. Oregon 1st, U. So. Cal. 9th, Cal Fullerton 5th, Baylor, 5th, Northwestern 9th, Whitman 2nd, NW CEDA Champs 1st, CEDA Nats, 5th, NDT participant

David Guidry and John Poor, Lewis and Clark 1st, Utah, 1st

Emily Cordo and Nicholas Thomas, NW Scrimmage, 4th, Lewis and Clark 3rd, U. Oregon 1st

John Poor and Mario Cava, U. So. Cal, 3rd, Cal Fullerton, 3rd

John Poor and Samantha Howell, U. Oregon, 5th

Keola Whittaker and Scott Daniel, U. Oregon 5th

Lauren Ritter and Emily Marr, U. Oregon, 3rd, U. So. Cal., 1st, Cal Fullerton, 1st, Utah, 1st, Whitman, 5th, CEDA Nats, 33rd

Scott Daniel and John Poor, WWU, 5th, Whitman, 5th

Parli Awards

Brant Olson and Todd Borden, Lewis and Clark 9th; U. Oregon, 9th, Utah, 9th, Whitman, 3rd, Hatfields, 5th, NPDA Nats, 33rd, NPTE 5th

Chris Gorman and Bona Sherifi, Lewis and Clark 9th

Chris Gorman and Mario Cava, Utah, 2nd, Whitman, 9th, DSR Nats, 9th, NPDA Nats, 65th

Denice Kelley and Brian Danielson, Lewis and Clark 9th, WWU, 3rd, Whitman, 3rd, NPDA Nats, 17th

Gabe McGuire and Natalie Havlina, Lewis and Clark 5th; U. Oregon, 9th, NPDA Nats, 3rd, NPTE Participant

Keola Whittaker and Nicholas Thomas, WWU, 5th, Whitman, 9th, DSR Nats, 9th, NPDA Nats, 33rd

Sam Spiegel and Darrell Miller, WWU 3rd, Pi Kapp Nats, Superior Rating

Samantha Howell and Dani Boucher, Pi Kapp Nats, Good Rating

IM Championship

Experienced: First, Adam Woodard; Second, Stew Campbell

Inexperienced: First, McLeish Martin; Second, Emily Young; Third, Chris McManus

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It was great to see alums Sean Harris and Abby St. Lawrence shown with Keola Whittaker who returned to Whitman’s campus during commencement.


Individual Events Awards

Brian Danielson Junior Impromptu: Finalist, Lewis and Clark; Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark; Senior Extemp, Semi-finalist, Utah; Senior Impromptu, Finalist

Brian Ward Jr. Extemp LD, First

Charles Olney Novice Impromptu: 3rd, Lewis and Clark

Chris Gorman Junior Prose: 3rd, Lewis and Clark, 3rd; U. Oregon, 2nd WWU; Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark, 3rd, WWU; Senior Impromptu, Finalist

Darrell Miller Junior ADS: 3rd, Lewis and Clark, 1st, U. Oregon, Finalist, WWU, 2nd, Whitman; Senior ADS, Good, Pi Kapp Nats

David Guidry Novice Impromptu: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Denice Kelley Junior Extemp: 1st, Lewis and Clark, Finalist, U. Oregon; Junior Impromptu: 1st, University of Oregon; Senior Impromptu: 3rd, Utah; Finalist, WWU, 1st, Whitman

Gabe McGuire Junior Impromptu: Finalist, U. Oregon; Jr. Extemp: 2nd, WWU; Jr. Inform: 3rd, WWU

Keola Whittaker Junior Impromptu: 3rd, WWU, 3rd, Whitman; Jr. POI, Finalist

Mario Cava Senior ADS, 2nd, WWU; 2nd, Dean McSloy; 3rd, Whitman; Junior Extemp: Finalist, WWU

Mario Cava and Denice Kelley Open Duo: 1st, U. Oregon, 3rd, WWU, Finalist, Whitman

Natalie Havlina Junior Poetry, 2nd, WWU, 3rd, Whitman

Nicholas Thomas Junior Impromptu: 2nd, U. Oregon; Senior Extemp, Finalist, DSR Nats

Nicole Reynaud Junior POI, Finalist, Lewis and Clark; Junior Poetry: 2nd, Whitman

Sam Spiegel Junior ADS, 2nd, U. Oregon, 3rd, WWU, Finalist, Whitman; Senior ADS, Superior, Pi Kapp Nats

Samantha Howell Novice Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark, Finalist WWU

Scott Daniel Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark; Junior Extemp-LD: 3rd, Whitman

Stewart Campbell Novice Extemp: 2nd, Lewis and Clark

Thad Blank Senior Extemp-LD, 1st, Whitman

Todd Borden Senior Impromptu, Semifinalist, Utah; Senior Extemp-LD, 1st, Whitman; Senior NFA LD, 2nd, Whitman; Junior Impromptu, 1st, WWU

Tony Torres Junior Extemp: Finalist, Lewis and Clark

Wanjiru Kamau Junior Poetry: 3rd, Lewis and Clark