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The Union Newspaper Dec. 26, 2013

Teddy & Chris

Left to right, sophomore Teddy Hill-Weld, coach Stephen Goldberg, and senior Kris Colen.

Nevada Union’s policy debate team earned a bid to compete in the prestigious national Tournament of Champions by making it to the finals round at the La Costa Canyon Winter Classic.

Nevada Union’s last TOC bid occurred nine years ago; only 314 TOC bids will be awarded this season.

Few rural public high schools compete in policy debate on the national level.

Senior Kris Colen and sophomore Teddy Hill-Weld debated six times in preliminary rounds, earning a 4-2 record and progressing to eliminations.

They won three eliminations, earning a position in the final round where they lost to Polytechnic on a 2-1 decision.

“Kris Colen is an incredible debater who is willing to push me as hard as necessary but also be supportive enough so we can work well together as a team,” Hill-Weld said.

Colen also won first place as top speaker at the tournament, his second top speaker award this season. Colen and Hill-Weld need one more bid to qualify for the TOC, which they will attempt next at Gonzaga University’s tournament in early January.

Although a TOC bid may be a rarity for NU in the past decade, the 2013-14 debate team carries on their historically strong performance with other impressive successes.

Colen won top speaker in the varsity division at Long Beach’s Jack Howe Memorial in September, while freshman Leo Zlimen won the same award in the novice division. A few weeks ago at the Santa Clara University Dempsey-Cronin Memorial, the freshmen team of Stephanie Ulatowski and MacKenzie Nelson won the novice division, including a perfect 6-0 record in preliminary rounds.

Nelson claims an unorthodox strategy contributed to their success.

“We just said the phrase ‘Hakuna Matata’ before every debate, and we always got the win,” Nelson said.

Seniors Colen and Connor Hayes advanced to finals in the varsity division at Santa Clara, after being seeded second. Connor Hayes concluded the weekend by bringing home the trophy for top speaker.

One of the team’s long-term volunteer coaches, attorney Stephen E. Goldberg, says of the La Costa results, “This success is a tribute to the great work done by the team with very limited resources. With this to build on, NU debate has a very bright future.”

The Nevada Union Debate Team has earned many first place trophies and top tournament speaker awards over the years, but this year’s team is not only one of the largest in NU history, it is also off to one of the best starts of any NU Debate Team on record!

The team launched the tournament season at Yuba City High School on Sept 22, with a 4-0 win/loss record for senior Kris Colen and sophomore Teddy Hill-Weld, and a 3-1 record for sophomores Joe Fenner and Randy Svoboda. NU’s freshman debaters also did extremely well at their first tournament, competing in an open bracket that included both varsity and novice teams. In one of the day’s highlights, two of our freshman debaters, Lucy Meckler and Walker Subbotin, ended the tournament with a 2-2 record, beating a well-known varsity team as novices in their first league debate!

With just a week to rest, 18 NU debaters then headed down to Long Beach for the Jack Howe Memorial Tournament held at California State University. The Long Beach Invitational offers a very competitive policy debate tournament, attracting many nationally ranked teams. For the first time in Nevada Union history, an NU student won the Top Speaker Award at the tournament! Competing against 150 top national debaters, senior Kris Colen brought home the hardware with a first place trophy! “I couldn’t have done this without my debate partner Teddy,” Colen said. “It was an amazing experience, receiving the award was unreal. The first thought that went through my mind was that the 2nd speaker is arguably the best debater in the state and one of the best debaters in the nation, and it is humbling to think that I out-spoke him.”

To add to the riches, incoming freshman Leo Zlimen won the Top Speaker Award in the Novice Division! Nathan Potter and Colby Scanlon also ranked 3rd and 5th speakers respectively in the Novice Division. From a team perspective, freshmen Daniel Sonnenberg and Nathan Potter advanced to novice elimination rounds, making it to the quarterfinal round. In all, the NU Debate Team won 11 varsity rounds, and an additional 14 novice matches. “This is a very exciting way to start the year, and we are looking forward to continuing our great momentum into the rest of the season,” stated Gabe Olson, one of the Nevada Union debate coaches who graduated from NU in 2007. “It is great that we are able to engage students from a rural public high school in such a meaningful activity, and the fact that we are able to be highly competitive in the process is just an added plus. The debaters have prepared all summer for this tournament, and it is fantastic to see all of that hard work pay off.”

The team continues their season this month during invitational tournaments at Cal State Fullerton and the University of Pacific. Long Beach 2013

WE HAVE A CLASS! There will be a Debate class at NU for the 2013 – 2014 school year.  The class will be overseen again by teacher Jeff Dellis (thank you Jeff) and will be taught by seasoned Varsity debaters, a model that has gotten NU Debate through many seasons.

COACHING:  We have 3 Coaches for next year!  Stephen Goldberg, Gabe Olson, and Josh Smith. We are so lucky to have these incredible coaches dedicating themselves to our debaters.

TEAM MEETINGS:  Debate team meetings will be held during the school year on Wednesday nights again, with some additional Monday Meetings to provide flexibility for people unable to attend Wednesdays.  Time to be determined.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Please click on the 2013 -2014 Schedule link above to see the list of potential tournaments for the year.

BLACK WEEKEND:  August 23rd – 25th.

NU Debate Boosters Meeting:  Tuesday, August 20th, 7:00 pm at Janice’s house.  Email Janice for directions (

Our fundraising needs this year will be reduced from last year as we do not need to raise a salary, but we still have the responsibility of raising money to insure all of our debaters can get to their tournaments and that miscellaneous costs of the team are covered. (still a significant amount)  We are hoping that folks making donations on an automatic payment schedule will consider continuing this as it has been tremendously successful at assuring us a monthly revenue stream to cover expenses—and we still have just a wee bit more to raise to pay our lender the full $25K that was borrowed by the boosters for this past year.

YARD SALE:  The Yard Sale is happening on either September 7 or September 21.  Judith Hill-Weld is organizing this and will send out information.