FACULTY & TEACHING FELLOWS
Our goal is to provide debaters with the opportunity to work directly with experienced and successful coaches. We agree that recent high school graduates can provide valuable insights and guidance, but unlike most summer programs (especially in LD), the overall educational experience will be driven by older staff members with a proven track-record in coaching and teaching.
When choosing a summer debate & speech program, more important than anything else... Know which staff members are going to be primarily responsible for your camp experience. At most camps, they call them "Lab Leaders." Most camps will not tell most students who their lab leaders will be. At best, they might say they will try really hard not to place you with two first-year-outs. It's more likely you'll get one first-year and one second/third year.
Every student who attends our flagship session will work directly with proven and experienced coaches.
Recent graduates might provide a great experience. And maybe they won't. Successful debaters aren't guaranteed to be successful coaches and teachers.
Our Teaching Fellows are recent graduates who will serve in roles similar to a teaching assistant in college. If you are a recent graduate and are interested in applying to be a Teaching Fellow at one of the most prestigious secondary schools in the country, please email the camp director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of our faculty are currently confirmed for our 2-week flagship session, July 13-24.
Do not place trust in a brand. Choose the camp that guarantees you'll work with trained, experienced and proven coaches.
A Ridiculously Successful & Proven Senior Faculty
No other camp offers the opportunity to work with coaches who can rightfully claim:
- TWO NDCA Championships (LD & Policy)
- TWO debaters to make TEAM USA for 2 years
- FIVE NSDA (NFL) National Championships (LD & IEs)
- SIX-STRAIGHT MSPDP League Tournament Championships (MSPDP)
- SEVEN TOC Championships (LD & Policy)
- EIGHT Novice Nationals Championships (LD & Policy)
- EIGHTEEN NSDA (NFL) Stage Award Appearances (LD & IEs)
- Over FIFTY TOC Qualifers (LD & Policy)
- Copeland Award Winners (Top College Policy Team)
- Greenhill, Blake, Valley & Caucus Closeouts (LD)
- Greenhill & Voices Round Robin Closeouts (LD)
- Lexington, College Prep & St. Mark’s Closeouts (LD)
- Back-to-Back Minnesota State Champions (LD)
- Back-to-Back Meadows Champions (LD)
- Back-to-Back Glenbrooks Closeouts (LD)
- Back-to-Back-to-Back TOC Champions (Policy)
Mike Bietz, Founder & Director
Mike Bietz has been the head debate coach at Harvard-Westlake since 2007. Previous to coaching at HW, he was the founder & Head Lincoln-Douglas debate coach at Edina High School (1999-2005) in Minnesota. While in college he was also an assistant debate coach at The Blake School and Hopkins High School. He also spent a year as the head policy debate coach at Apple Valley HS in MN.
During his time at Edina and HW, his teams have been successful to an unprecedented degree. Mr. Bietz also has the distinction of being the only Lincoln-Douglas coach in history to have students win both the Tournament of Champions and NFL Nationals in the same season. He is one of only 3 coaches to ever coach two NFL National Champions and one of only 2 to do it at two different schools. In addition, he has coached 2 NFL Semifinalists, 2 TOC Semifinalists and 2 NDCA Semifinalists.
Beyond success at post-season National Championships, his debaters have closed-out (taking both first and second place) or won most major national invitationals including: The Greenhill Fall Classic (close-out and win), The Greenhill Round Robin (close-out), The Voices Round Robin (close-out), The Glenbrooks (close-out twice), The Mid-America Cup (3 wins, a close-out), The Holiday Classic at the Blake School (2 wins, 2 close-outs) and The Silver & Black Invitational at Alta HS. He has also coached finalists in the MBA Round Robin, The New York Invitational at Bronx Science, and twice at Harvard University.
While coaching in Minnesota, he coached back-to-back State Championships in Lincoln-Douglas, 2 finalists, a semifinalists and a policy State Championship.
Aside from coaching success, Mr. Bietz is a trusted and longtime leader in the community. He has been a director of a summer debate institute at UCLA for 12 years. During this time over 5000 students have attended the institute. 10 NFL National Champions and 10 TOC Champions are alums of this program. He is a former President of the National Debate Coaches Association, a long-time member of the Tournament of Champions Advisory Committee, a winner of the Blake School Tournament Coach of the Year, The Bronx HS of Science Coaching Award and the Minnesota State High School League Debate Coach of the Year.
Greg Achten, Curriculum Director
Greg Achten is a Co-Director of Debate at The Harker School. His students have won numerous tournaments in Lincoln-Douglas debate including the California Invitational at U.C. Berkeley and the National Debate Coaches Association National Championship. He has also had students receive top 5 speaker awards in both LD and policy at multiple national level tournaments.
Prior to joining Harker, Greg was the Director of Debate at U.C. Berkeley where he coached a Copeland Award winning team as well as a National Championship team. Before Berkeley, Greg was the Director of Debate at Pepperdine University.
Greg has over 25 years of summer debate institute experience including as founding director of the Cal National Debate Institute, director of the Georgetown Debate Seminar, director of the Arizona Debate Institute and has taught at many other summer workshops.
Jenny Alme, Policy Debate Director
Jenny Alme is a Co-Director of Debate The Harker School in San Jose. She has coached multiple national debate champions, including a National Debate Coaches Association Champion and 5 Tournament of Champions winners. She is a member of the Tournament of Champions Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Georgia Debate Coaches Hall of Fame after several years as the head coach at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta.
Previously, Jenny has coached at Pace Academy, Emory University and Arizona State University. Jenny has taught the top seniors lab at Georgetown University, Michigan State and the University of Michigan camps for the last several years. Previously, she worked at a number of other debate institutes, including the Arizona Debate Institute for college students.
Manoj Choudhary, Director of MSPDP
Manoj Choudhary is the Director of Middle School Debate at Brentwood School in Los Angeles. He has been involved in speech and debate since 1993. Manoj participated in both the National Parliamentary Debate Association and the American Parliamentary Debate Association while in college and graduate school.
Manoj started coaching middle school debate at Chandler School in Pasadena. While at coach at Chandler school in Pasadena, he qualified teams in his first year of coaching in the MSPDP program. Manoj has qualified teams to nationals each year he has coached and ten teams in the last four years to the MSPDP national tournament. In his two years at Brentwood School, Manoj’s teams have earned 1st place team at every-single-league tournament.
Drew Hammond, IE & Public Speaking Director
Drew Hammond is the Interp coach at Eagan High School in Minnesota. He has coached 11 finalists at the National Tournament in Duo, DI, HI, OO; multiple champions at the IETOC; as well as 14 state champions across multiple categories.
Drew has a masters degree in Education, is a published playwright, and a former stand-up comedian.
When not teaching or performing, he works to support artists with mental illness, and enjoys woodworking, writing, and sleep. (And tiramisu).
Bill Neesen, Senior Faculty
Bill Neesen is the Director of Debate at California State University at Long Beach and Irvine Valley College. competed for Millard South High School in Omaha, NE and in college for CSU Fullerton. He competed in debate during his years of competition, earning a degree of Special Distinction from the National Forensics League. He went on to compete in college in individual events, policy debate and CEDA debate, winning many awards over his three years of competition. As a coach, he began at Irvine Valley College, where they had a sixth-place team at the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (the top showing by a community college). During his two years at IVC, the squad was the top community college in the nation for parliamentary debate. In his 10 years since becoming Director of Debate at CSULB, his teams have consistently placed in the top 16 at top national tournaments.
Kat van Elswyk, MSPDP Faculty
Kat van Elswyk is the Director of Debate at The Wilberforce School in Princeton, NJ. After starting a middle school debate team in the Middle School Public Debate Program two years ago, her team has quickly become the most successful in the Garden State Debate League. At nearly every tournament, each of her teams place in the top 10 and her squad maintains the highest percentage of overall wins in the league. This year she oversaw the founding of the Upper School's debate team.
Outside of debate, she teaches logic and literature and enjoys spending time on her yoga mat.
Peter van Elswyk, Philosophy Curriculum Director
Peter van Elswyk is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Rutgers University, a philosophy department widely considered to be one of the best in the world. When it comes to LD, he has nearly 10 years of experience teaching and designing curriculum for summer debate institutes. Half of those competing in octofinals at the 2014 TOC worked closely with him over a summer.
As a coach, Peter assisted Mike Bietz in restarting the debate program at Harvard-Westlake. During that time, he & Mr. Bietz coached the winner of NFL Nationals and a TOC semifinalist. Their students also made late elimination rounds at every major tournament they attended including Greenhill, Glenbrooks, The New York Invitational at Bronx Science, Berkeley, and others. Before that, he coached at Bellevue High School where his students reached deep elimination rounds at tournaments like Harvard, Stanford, Blake, and NFL Nationals.
His interest in philosophy and debate have always been mutually supporting. It was LD that introduced him to philosophy and he has written in Teaching Philosophy on the value of teaching philosophy through LD.
Adam Torson, Co-Curriculum Director
Adam is the director of debate at Marlborough School, a highly-renowned independent school girls in Los Angeles. He has been the director since 2012.
Adam is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has a J.D. from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. From 2004-2009 he was the director of debate at Hopkins High School (MN), and from 2009-2012 he was an assistant coach at Harvard-Westlake (CA).
Prior to joining debateLA, Adam was a curriculum director at the Victory Briefs Institute and Editor of our VB topic analysis books and debate textbooks.
Scott Wheeler, Senior Faculty
Scott Wheeler is head coach of LD and policy debate at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. He's a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Communication and a master's candidate at the School of Communication at Seaver College at Pepperdine University.
Wheeler's LD students have won the Greenhill round robin, Emory, Loyola (twice), the Damus Invitational (twice), the Battle for Los Angeles, and St. Marks, and have reached finals in USC, Stanford, CPS, and semis at the NDCA, the Glenbrooks, and Greenhill (twice). Wheeler's policy students have won the St. Marks Sophomore Hoe Down and reached semis at CSU-Long Beach and La Costa Canyon. His students have won LD top speaker awards at Loyola, Damus (twice), CPS, Emory, and St. Marks, and a policy top speaker award at the Hoe-Down and at Damus. Prior to Peninsula, he coached Kudos, an after school program in the San Gabriel Valley, to championships in policy debate and public forum debate at the NSDA middle school national tournament and to multiple school of excellence awards.
Sara Evall, Harvard-Westlake '15
2-Time member of Team USA; Sara has been competing in debate since the fifth grade and has debated internationally since her freshman year. Over the past three years, she competed at tournaments in Turkey, the Czech Republic, Dallas, Kansas City, and Slovenia. She has been a finalist and won multiple tournaments and numerous speaking awards. Sara also coaches middle school debate for Harvard-Westlake and worked at Claremont McKenna College’s Middle School Debate Camp. When not participating in debate activities, Sara is active in Model United Nations, serves as one of four senior leaders of her school’s Student Ambassadors program, is a leader in her school’s “Peer Support” program, and the teen buddy for Operation Mend. The charity provides reconstructive surgery to members of the armed services wounded in combat or training.
Ryan Fink, The Meadows School '11; UNLV '15
Ryan Fink is an assistant coach at The Harker School in San Jose. As a student, Ryan qualified to the TOC 3-times. During his senior he cleared top seed at St. Mark's and Apple Valley. Since graduating he has been an integral part of the coaching staff at Harker where his students won numerous awards including the 2014 NDCA Championship and the 2014 Glenbrooks.
Shania Hunt, Northland Christian School '14 Shania Hunt recently graduated from Northland Christian School in Houston, TX and plans to major in Geological Engineering at UCLA beginning in the fall.
With an emphasis on Lincoln-Douglas and Worlds Schools format in high school, Shania qualified for the National Speech and Debate Association’s national tournament, Texas Forensic Leagues state tournament, the Tournament of Champions, and was chosen to compete on behalf of the US at the World School’s Debate World Championships. She won the Greenhill Classic, was co-Champion at the Cal Berkeley Round Robin, received 2nd place at the Cal Berkeley Invitational, 2nd at the NSDA Nationals in Extemp, and was a quarterfinalist at the TOC. She also won a number of speaker awards including the TFA state tournament.
Ayush Midha, The Harker School '15; Harvard '19
Ayush Midha is currently of the top policy debaters in the country, He is a 2-time qualifier to the Tournament of Champions. So far during his senior year he has been awarded the 2nd Place Speaker at the Heart of Texas at St. Mark's, The Senior Speaker Award at St. Mark's, and The O'Neill Award at The Glenbrooks. He and his partner reached Semifinals of both St. Mark's and Greenhill.
Amelia Miller, Harvard-Westlake '15; Yale '19
2-Time member of Team USA; Amelia has been active in debate since middle school, competing in the Parliamentary, Lincoln-Douglas, and World Schools formats. Her personal accomplishments include the National Middle School Debate Championships where Miller’s team won the tournament and she was awarded the gavel for first place speaker. Amelia has also won the USC Junior Varsity Lincoln-Douglas Debate tournament, and reached the finals in the Pan American World Schools Debate Championships in Chile and the Heart of Europe Championships in the Czech Republic. In this past year, Amelia's team won a national World Schools tournament in Slovenia and reached the finals of the National Speech & Debate Association’s National World Schools division. When she’s not competing, Amelia coaches the middle school debate team, and is active in her school's technology council. She also participates on the Youth Leadership Team for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Pranav Reddy, The Harker School '15
2014 NDCA Champion, 2014 Glenbrooks Champion