Whitman Forensics Newsletter

Vol. 9, No. 2, June, 2003



Charles wins Top Speaker at the NDT

Charles and Thad end year ranked number one!

              Tripping over himself and his teammates to reach the podium, Charles Olney’s elated surprise at being named Top Speaker at the National Debate Tournament was unmistakable. “All the old clichés were totally true.  I was literally speechless, my hands were shaking from the excitement, and I couldn't stop smiling,” Charles recalled.  “Of course, I promptly cut myself on the Top Speaker trophy and started bleeding, proving that debate skills do not necessarily translate into common sense.”

              Just two weeks earlier, Thad Blank and Charles had made it to the finals of CEDA Nationals.  After winning five elimination debates on 3-0 decisions against Michigan State (twice), CSU-Long Beach, Fort Hays State, and Dartmouth, they lost to New York U. on a 5-4 decision.  Thad’s parents, Tad and Kathy came along to cheer on the team.  “It was really fun,” Thad said.

Thad takes a call from another admirer.

              Senior Dave Guidry qualified for the elimination rounds for the third year in a row with his partner sophomore Beth Schueler, but had the unfortunate luck of losing to a top Michigan State team in the triple octafinals.  Whitman’s bright future was confirmed by the strong performance of first-years Nav Rehki and Eric Suni, who lost a close break round and finished 4-4.

Text Box:  
Charles in his familiar spot in the Policy Prep Room.
              At the NDT, Thad and Charles were the second seed for the elimination debates, as their 7-1 prelim record earned them a bye into the octafinals.  The next day, Charles and Thad won their first two elimination debates in 3-2 decisions including avenging their CEDA finals loss to NYU.  They went on to defeat Emory in the quarterfinals, despite Emory arguing a new affirmative case.  Charles and Thad’s run came to an end when they lost to Northwestern, the Copeland Award winners and eventual tournament champions.  Prior to that meeting, each side had won four debates in their head-to-head match-ups this year.  By that point, Whitman had become a “crowd favorite” and their loss was widely lamented.

              “It was a tremendously satisfying way to finish up my debate career,” Charles said. “Thad and I debated something like 400 rounds together but I think the last 4 or 5 were among the very best we ever had.” Throughout the tournament, Whitman was cheered on by many former Whitman debaters including: Rowland Hobbs, Charlotte Smith-McCluskey, Mike Sullivan, Jared Phillip, and national circuit assistant coach Jessica Clarke.  With two strong national performances, Charles and Thad were ranked NUMBER ONE by the Bruschke system, a widely used debate results page.  Beth and Dave also qualified for and competed at the tournament, the eleventh team Whitman has qualified in six years.


NPDA AND NPTE: Riding the Beast

              While other students are traveling to Mexico for Spring Break, the Whitman Parli squad is busy gearing up for the two biggest tournaments of the year, the NPTE (National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence) and the NPDA National Championship Tournament.  This year, Chris Gorman and Bridget Kustin qualified to attend the NPTE hosted at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.  Only the top 36 teams in the nation were invited to attend this prestigious and unique tournament.  Chris and Bridget qualified as the 24th seed with a season long preliminary round record of 35 wins, 7 losses.  For those of you who aren’t as gifted in math as the computer sitting in front of me, that tabulates out to an 83.3% winning percentage.  The team was treated to a homemade dinner by former student assistant Abby St. Lawrence.  Trust me, the cornbread was to die for.  The tournament ran smoothly under the leadership of NPTE President Jim Hanson who made sure there were plenty of protein heavy products to fuel some heavy duty debating.   Bridget Kustin states, “It was a real privilege to debate at the NPTE but the true highlight, (like all tournaments run by Jim Hanson) was the food.”   The team also got to see former Whitties Isaac Kamola, David Kearney, Keola Whittaker, and Peter Stiffler who were on hand to judge some outstanding debates.  Chris and Bridget battled through the tournament picking up 8 preliminary round ballots and an elimination debate and earned the right to say that they were 11th in the nation at the NPTE.  Bridget also received a 10th place speaker award for her efforts during the tournament.


Beth is about to put the “erase” on a contemplative Bridget.

              Following a 10 day break, the team was back in Oregon at Portland State University for the NPDA National Championship tournament.  Whitman had 4 teams that attended the tournament to, as Assistant Parliamentary Debate Coach Brian Danielson would say, “ride the beast.”  With a field of over 260 parliamentary teams, over 200 judges, only 10 judge strikes, and no mutual preference judging, coming out of the 8 preliminary rounds with a winning record was almost as tough as riding a bull for 8 seconds.  The team did exceptionally well with Whitman GK and Whitman PS accumulating a record of 5-3 and making it to out rounds.  The teams of Brian Ward and Scott Thompson along with the first year team of Rob Olsen and Lydia Eberly broke even at 4-4, narrowly missing out rounds. The tournament ended with final rankings of 33rd for the team of Gorman and Kustin and 65th for the team of Pearson and Spiegel.    At the NPDA tournament, former team members David Kearney and Todd Borden as well as coaches: Brent Northrup from Carroll College, Derrick Buescher from the University of Puget Sound, and Keola Whittaker from Reed College.  



Jim returns next year. Sheesh. Isn’t this guy ever going to quit?


Brian Simmonds is moving on to Georgetown Law School. What have they got that we don’t?


Brian Danielson smiles even though he agreed to return to coach for another year!


Jim: “This has been a great group to work with.”


Staff: Jim Hanson, Director of Forensics, Brian Simmonds, Assistant Policy Coach; Brian Danielson, Assistant Parliamentary and I.E. Coach; Samantha Howell, Student Assistant and Intramural Debate Manager; Jessica Clarke, National Circuit Assistant Policy Coach;  Katie Imbeau, Dramatic Interpretation Student Assistant; Julie Caton, Helper in Interpretation; Bob Withycombe, Chair, Rhetoric and Film Studies; and Thomas Cronin, President, Whitman College.

31 Competitors, 2002-2003: Alex Bollinger, Beth Pearson, Beth Schueler, Bridget Kustin, Brian Ward, Cathryn Posey, Chandra Carlisle, Charles Olney, Chris Gorman, Corrine Gibbon, David Guidry, Emily Marr, Eric Suni, Gareth Campbell, Harmony Paulson, Jackie Jenkins, Jeff Buntin, Josh Wnuk, Kathryn Bergh, Kyle Krohn, Lydia Eberly, Martin Ishikawa, Matt Jumago, Michael Winnike, Nav Rekhi, Patrick Carter, Rob Olsen, Sam Spiegel, Scott Daniel, Scott Thompson, Thad Blank.



What they say as they graduate!

              There are two things that never change on the Whitman Forensics team.  First, the fact that every year we have to say goodbye to some really outstanding people when graduation rolls around.  And secondly, every year we have another group of eager recruits to fill the ranks.  This graduation we are losing 5 team members to the “real world” or at least something closely resembling the “real world.” As tradition dictates, each was asked a few questions about their experiences with the debate team.  Their answers are as follows.

Thad Blank: What is your favorite memory with the debate team? Once, when I was trying to get out of the van by climbing over the seats, David Guidry and Brian Ward pushed me head down into the corner behind the driver’s seat.  It left no lasting physical marks but the memories will always remain.

What was your best debate victory? Beating the Fort (Fort Hayes) in octos of CEDA Nats our sophomore year.  It was a really satisfying instance of where preparation allowed us to crush one of our arch-nemesis’ on their pet argument.

What are your plans for next year? I plan on volunteering and backpacking in Asia.

Charles Olney: What is your favorite memory with the debate team? It’s hard to narrow down to just one.  There are a couple: Debating with Jessica, in particular her last debate at the NDT that year.  Winning the top speaker award at the NDT.  Playing Cards, Diplomacy, Mafia, Frisbee, etc. with the team.  Really the thing I will remember more than anything else thinking back to my time at Whitman will be sitting in the prep room, working, hanging out, listening to music – the whole atmosphere, the sense of continuity and friendship.

What was your best debate victory? Beating Iowa PR with Jessica in the doubles at Northwestern. Beating Emory LP in the quarters at the NDT because it’s the last debate we won.  Beating NYU GG in the octos at the NDT, partly because I just loved debating those guys and partly because it was revenge for the finals of CEDA Nats.

Who taught you the most about debate? Jessica Clarke.  Hands down.  She’s probably the smartest person I’ve ever met.  JP also taught me a huge amount, and working with Simmonds and Thad was always good.

What are your plans for next year? Coaching at MSU.

Brian Simmonds: What is your favorite memory with the debate team? Long, late-night arguments over debate, politics, and most importantly time in the squad room, hotel rooms, living rooms, airplanes, and vans.

What are your plans for next year? I’m going to law school at Georgetown in Washington, DC.

Brian Ward: What is your favorite memory with the debate team? Taping up tubs at 4 am at the Pasco Airport in the midst of bitter, snapping debaters.  What can I say, I’m a masochist.  I also have my favorite non-memories, or things I’m glad I wasn’t conscious for (but there is photographic evidence of).

What was your best debate victory? Beating Kentucky at Wake Forest my junior year; my only victory against a first round team (except for all those times I walloped Jessica and Charles in practice rounds).  It was a victory that had nothing to do with talent on our part, just pointing out the baffling mistakes of others. (One of my best qualities.)

Who taught you the most about debate? Aaron Burr.  (I would have said JP Lacy, but he taught me the most about Diablo, and I can’t use him twice, now can I?)

What are your plans for the next year? Taking a break from the warm womb of academia for a year to live in Eugene and find some way to be useless for awhile.


The 2003 Team

Front row: Lydia, Rob, Chris, Beth P, Beth S; Second row: Kyle, Bridget, Jackie, Brian S, Scott, Charles, Thad, Kathryn, Nav, Sam, Jim; Third row: Martin, Eric, Brian D, Gareth, Matt, Jeff, Emily.







Kathryn enjoys hanging out in the team’s prep rooms.


Scott, Rob, Beth P, and Cathryn “pay homage” to one of the trophies the team won at the Western tournament.


Emily and Alex smile for the camera.


Nav gets her cap ready for the cold weather in February.



Preparing Speeches for next year--Already!

              We all know that the real key to success isn’t the work that happens right before a tournament, (although it doesn’t hurt) but rather the work that goes on long before the season even begins.  Whether that means creating order out of the chaos of debate backfiles or creating new IE pieces, the Whitman forensics team is already getting ready for another outstanding year.  Throughout the spring, students have been working hard on becoming better speakers by doing research on topics as diverse as solar wind towers, the dangers of the everyday keyboard, botanical vaccines, cardboard homes for use in refugee camps, SARS, the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, the dangers of vitamins, non-lethal military weapons, and the rebuilding of Iraq.  Jackie Jenkins led a workshop for informative and persuasive speeches.  We have some spectacular interps in the works too.  We are always looking for new ideas and pieces for IE’s.  So if you’ve seen any cutting edge plays or read something that you think would make a great Prose or Poetry piece let us know, we’d be glad to hear about it.  If the ideas that are in the works now are any indication of next year’s success, then it promises to be another great year for the Whitman team. 


Kyle, Emily, Matt, Gareth, Kathyn, Cathryn, Patrick, Abby, and Lydia pack up for the trip home after a very successful Western Washington tournament where we had teams in the finals of both senior parliamentary and senior policy debate.


Intramural Drama and Debates 2003

We all know that debate can be a valuable life skill, but how do we let others know about it?  Well at Whitman College our award winning Intramural Drama and Debate program helps to introduce individuals to the benefits of forensics.  For example, last years winner of the inexperienced division, Martin Ishikawa, joined the team this year and won two tournaments with his partner Jackie Jenkins in the Novice division.  This year the team hosted 3 IM tournaments, one qualifying tournament each in the fall and the spring, culminating in a “tournament of champions.”  This years topic for the “Champ” debate tournament was, “This House believes that the Higher Education Act of 1998 has done more harm than good.”  A great time was had by all involved.


What really happens during parli prep? Paint it Orange!

It is Semi-finals and Whitman is on the government (affirmative side) vs. PLU at the Western Washington University tournament.  A low grumble rose from the mass of debaters, as they heard the announcement of the resolution.  “This House would paint the town orange.”  The “terror alert index” had just been raised to orange the previous day. With just 15 minutes to prepare, we settled into a smallish, but relatively quiet room.  Wanting to avoid giving PLU a stock homeland security case, we started thinking: “Paint the town orange?  What does orange stand for?”  A light bulb went off….construction.  I took another look at the judging panel, two were from the Seattle area. I smiled.  The timer showed that we had 10 minutes left to make this happen. Chandra began writing up the case while Scooter, the rest of the team, and I thought about answers to opposing arguments.  “How much time is left?” Chandra asked.  “Six and a half,” came the reply.  It was time to start spicing things up a little.  “Four minutes left folks. Let’s wrap things up.”  Chandra and Scooter had everything almost ready.  “Don’t forget to point out that the PLU boys will be able to get to Seattle easier to party; everyone on the circuit knows that they need to do more of that.”  Scooter and Chandra got their final items together with two minutes left and proceeded to dominate the round with their plan to build a high speed light rail system extending south from Seattle to Tacoma and east from Seattle to the Redmond area funded by a gas tax.  Their victory over PLU in the semi finals round primed them to win the tournament.  Chandra and Scooter, cheers to you..


Scott, Sam, Beth P, and Chandra prepare before octas at the WWU tournament.








Withycombe and Walker Fund Contributions

We are grateful for your contributions to the forensic team! Generous donors December 10, 2002 through May 10, 2003 include: AT&T Foundation, Jennifer L. Becker and Andy Backlund, Janice Sandra Berman, Lloyd T. Danielson, Susan R. Danielson, James B. Hanson, Sean R. Harris, Loan Lam, Charlotte K. McClusky, John R. Miller, Jared Phillips and Loan Lam, Abigail Joy St. Lawrence, Keola R. Whittaker, Robert M. Withycombe and Fred Blanchett. 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.


Members of the team circa 1940.

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


Whitman BO leaves a legacy

              Whitman BO was a team first liked by their opponents, then respected, and ultimately feared.  Thad Blank and Charles Olney’s three-year debating partnership re-wrote the Whitman debate record books: Two top-five first round bids to the National Debate Tournament. Three Northwest CEDA Championships (with no losses). Champions of the Fullerton Invitational and the Dartmouth Round Robin.  CEDA National Finalists.  Quarterfinalists or better at five national championships. They won their last 46 debates in the Northwest.
              “I would most like to say thank you to all the people on the team, the coaching staff, the alumni and the administration who have helped me, provided the resources and encouragement that made all of this possible, and, most importantly, been the best friends I

Kathryn, Eric, Kyle, Emily, Gareth, Nav, and Alex enjoy a meal at the WWU tournament.

have ever had,” Charles said. “Debating at Whitman has been one of the best experiences of my life and in large part that's because the people on the team have made it so great.”


Policy Awards

“Top 7 in the NDT and CEDA Rankings as a squad. A great year .”

Beth Schueler and David Guidry: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 3rd; University of Puget Sound, 5th; University of Oregon, 3rd; Wake Forest, 5-3, missing on points; Fullerton, 17th; Northwestern, 5-3, missing on points; NW CEDA Champs, 1st (tie); CEDA Nationals, 33rd.

Emily Marr and Michael Winnike: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 4-2, not breaking.

Eric Suni and Nav Rekhi: Jr., Western Scrimmage, 1st; Sr., University of Puget Sound, 5th; University of Oregon, 3rd; Western Washington, 2nd.

Gareth Campbell and Jeff Buntin: Jr., Western Scrimmage, 1st; Utah, 1st.

Kathryn Bergh and Kyle Krohn: Jr., Western Scrimmage, 1st; University of Oregon, 3rd; Utah, 3rd.

Thad Blank and Charles Olney: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 1st; Kentucky RR, 6th in a 6 way tie for 1st; Kentucky Regular, 3rd; Harvard, 3rd; Wake Forest, 9th; USC, 5th; Fullerton, 1st; West Georgia, 5th; Dartmouth RR, 1st; Northwestern, 9th; NW CEDA Champs, 1st(tie), CEDA Nationals, 2nd; NDT, 3rd.

Parli Awards

“This has been a very good year for parliamentary debate.”

Chris Gorman and Bridget Kustin: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 2nd; PLU, 9th; University of Oregon, 5th; Lewis Clark State, 3rd; Fullerton, 5th, Utah, 5th; Point Loma, 17th; Hatfields, 17th; NPTE, 11th; NPDA Nats, 33rd.

Jackie Jenkins and Martin Ishikawa: PLU, 1st; Oregon, 3rd.WWU, 9th.

Lydia Eberly and Rob Olsen: Jr., University of Oregon, 5th; Lewis Clark State, 2nd

Matt Jumago and Rob Olsen: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 4-2, not breaking; Jr., PLU, 4-2, not breaking.

Sam Spiegel and Beth Pearson: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 5th ; University of Oregon, 9th; Utah, 17th; WWU, 9th; Hatfields, 17th; NPDA Nats, 65th.

Scott Thompson and Brian Ward: Sr., Western Scrimmage, 4-2, missed on points; University of Oregon, 5th; Hatfields, 4-2 missing on points.

Scott Thompson and Chandra Carlisle: Sr., WWU, 1st.

Scott Thompson and Lydia Eberly: Sr., Fullerton, 1st.


Individual Events Awards

“We didn’t have the best schedule for IE’s due to conflicts with NW tournaments but we still did well.”

Beth Pearson: Jr. Extemp, 4th, Oregon; 5th, WWU.

Beth Pearson: Sr. Extemp, 6th, Utah; Semis, Pt. Loma.

Beth Pearson: Jr. Persuasion, 1st, Oregon

Beth Pearson: Sr. Persuasion, 1st, PLU.

Bridget Kustin and Sam Spiegel: Open Duo, Finalist, PLU; 1st, Oregon; 2nd, Utah.

Bridget Kustin: Sr. Informative, 1st, PLU; Finalist, Lewis Clark State; 2nd, Utah.

Chandra Carlisle: Jr. Extemp, 4th, WWU.

Chris Gorman: Sr. CA, 1st, Lewis Clark State; 6th, Utah.

Chris Gorman: Sr. Impromptu, 4th, Oregon; 2nd, Utah.

Chris Gorman: Sr. NFA-LD, 2nd, Point Loma.

Corrine Gibbon: Jr. Drama, 4th, Oregon.

Emily Marr: Jr. Impromptu, 2nd, Oregon.

Harmony Paulsen: Jr. Drama, 3rd, Oregon.

Jacki Jenkins: Jr. Persuasion, 6th, Oregon.

Jacki Jenkins: Jr. Informative, 4th, Oregon;

Jacki Jenkins: Sr. Informative, 1st, PLU; 1st, Utah; 5th, WWU.

Jeff Buntin: Jr. Extemp, 5th  Oregon.

Lydia Eberly: Jr. Impromptu, 3rd , PLU; Finalist, Lewis Clark State.

Martin Ishikawa: Jr. Programmed, 4th, Oregon.

Matt Jumago: Jr. Extemp, 3rd, WWU

Mike Winnike: Jr. Impromptu, 1st, Oregon.

Rob Olsen: Jr. Impromptu, 1st, PLU; Finalist, Lewis Clark State.

Sam Spiegel: Sr. Programmed, 1st, Oregon; 2nd, Utah.

Scott Thompson: Sr. CA, 3rd, PLU.



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