Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fast-Talk Debate in an Accelerated World

From the Chronicle of Higher Education

I liked the article, but I really enjoyed Caitlin Bruce's response, and the thought it generated from me was: we need more women coaching debate. I don't think it's coincidental that when I started coaching, the USNA squad went from 90% guys with a woman here and there, to approximately 50% women, within 5 years. (And that's at a school where women make up less than 25% of the student women are actually statistically overrepresented on our team!) The numbers particularly jumped when Favorite Intern/ALW/La Capitaine (ok ok already, it's Kelsey) took a leadership role on the team. Having strong female role models in debate encourages women to stay in the activity because they believe they can be successful.

The other strong feeling I had reading the article, was when she mentioned Scott Deatherage's close relationship with his debaters. I remember feeling so sad for his former debaters when he died, as I did when Ross Smith from Wake died, but maybe terribly, I also felt a little bit of jealousy. My relationship with our coaches was not nearly as close as that, and I think a lot of the things I do with my debaters stems from a desire to maintain close relationships with them after they graduate (and not just in the hopes that they will give the team a bunch of money when they become admirals). The closest thing I felt to that was when Frank Harrison died--there is still a hole in my heart every time our tournament starts up because it just feels SO HARD to run it without him--not because of his help necessarily, but because I knew he was there and he had my back, particularly in those early years when I had no idea what I was doing.

So those are my thoughts...anybody else care to jump in?


  1. You're right about the need for strong female role models to encourage younger women to take on roles in traditionally male-dominated environments. It's something I see not just in debate, but in sports, film, journalism, and many other fields.

    Glad you came across the article! It screens in Georgetown University September 8 and there'll be a panel discussion after featuring Supreme Court advocates. Any plans to catch the film?

  2. I'm planning on going--thinking about trying to get a group together to go.