Public Forum Debate Camps 2017

UTNIF Public Forum workshops are designed for students of all skill levels.  Students will be placed into the appropriate instructional group at the discretion of the Public Forum Curriculum Director.  Students participating at the Novice and Intermediate level will be introduced to the foundations of argument construction, presentation and speaking, tournament preparation, and in round strategy.  Students with greater experience in PF competition and ready to advance to the next level, will finely hone debating skills and work with the unique structure of the PF activity to develop strategic approaches to contest round victory.All students will give many practice speeches, have practice debates, rebuttal re-dos as well as stop/start speeches and debates.

Students attending UTNIF debate camps must be in High School or Middle School.  We do not offer a curriculum serving elementary school students.  In rare circumstances, we have accepted students who will be entering the 7th grade, although this requires permission from the camp director.  Students must be at least 13 years of age to stay as residents in the dorm.  Students entering the 7th grade who are not 13, may be able to attend as commuters, with prior permission from the camp director.

The Curriculum Director for our 2016 Public Forum workshop is Joseph Uhler of Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.  Joseph was the Director of Forensics at Anderson for twelve years before coaching at Westlake.  His students at Anderson reached elimination rounds at TFA State, UIL State, NFL/NSDA Nationals, and the Tournament of Champions.  In 2010, Joseph’s students Haydn Forrest and Shaan Heng-Devan, advanced to the final round of the Tournament of Champions in Extemporaneous Speaking.  In 2011, Joseph’s student, David Engleman, won TFA State in Congressional Debate (House).  In 2015, Joseph’s student, Nikki Dargahi, won TFA State in Original Oratory. Anderson consistently finished in the top five overall sweepstakes at the UT Longhorn Classic, and, finished in the top ten in overall sweepstakes at TFA State five of the past seven years.  In 2015, Joseph’s Public Forum team of Lucy Tiblier and Finley Patterson was invited to the Harvard Round Robin.


2016 Staff

Rhonda Smith

Mrs. Rhonda Smith has coached debate for 17 years. As the director of forensics at Plano West Senior High School, Mrs. Smith has facilitated the success of her students.  The Plano West Speech and Debate team has had 90-100% of its team qualified for state over the past 6 years under Mrs. Smith’s direction. She has additionally coached students invited to the Montgomery Bell Academy Extemporaneous Speaking Round Robin for four of the past 5 years, the Harvard Public Forum Debate Round Robin for two of the past three years, and the Texas Capital City Extemporaneous Speaking Round Robin every year since its inception. For the past two years, Plano West has had Public Forum Debate teams into the late rounds at the NSDA National Tournament (placing 6th in 2015) and has received a School of Outstanding Distinction award.

Hanh Do

Over the past 21 years, Hanh has been a judging coordinator, assistant speech and debate coach, and consultant to countless high school teams and students across the state of Texas. Her students have advanced to outrounds at the TOCs, the TFA State  tournament, and have qualified for NSDA nationals, and UIL State. Last year, the team she consulted earned TOC bids in PF and received an invite to the Stanford, Berkeley, and Kandi King Round Robins.  Additionally, Hanh consults for a team that competes nationally and abroad in the World Schools Debate format. Hanh frequently judges in outrounds at some of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation. Currently, Hanh is working as a debate assistant at The Greenhill School in Addison, Texas.
David Engleman
David is a graduating senior at the University of Texas. He has worked as an instructor at UTNIF in Public Forum Debate in 2015 and in Congressional Debate in 2012. He has also worked as an instructor at the Hendrickson High School Summer Speech and Debate Camp twice (2012 and 2013) in Extemporaneous Speaking, Congressional Debate, and Public Forum Debate. This year he worked as an assistant speech and debate coach with the Westlake High School Speech and Debate Team. As a competitor, David was a TFA State Champion in Congressional Debate (2011) and a UIL 5A State Runner-Up in Persuasive Extemporaneous Speaking. He was a TFA state qualifier in Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking, Public Forum Debate, and Duet Acting. On the national circuit, David and his partner, Daniel Kane, reached the Octafinal Round at the 2011 Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament and David earned 10th place at the 2012 Harvard Speech and Debate Tournament in Congressional Debate. David was a NSDA qualifier in Congressional Debate (Senate) in 2011, qualified for the Debate Tournament of Champions in Congressional Debate twice (in 2011 and 2012), and qualified for the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions twice (in 2011 and 2012). He’s thrilled to return to UTNIF for the third time as an instructor and the sixth time overall!


Andy Stubbs

Andy previously competed in cross-examination debate for four years and advanced to the tenth round at NSDA Nationals twice in addition to receiving a speaker award at  the 2007 tournament. He is currently a debate consultant in the Houston area. The teams that Andy has coached have competed in a wide array of debate formats  including TFA, HUDL, UIL, and TOC tournaments. Last year, the teams he consultedobtained TOC bids in both PF and LD and the PF team was invited to the Stanford, Berkeley, and Kandi King Round Robins.


Joshua Yang

Joshua is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering. He debated for four years at William P. Clements High School and competed in Public Forum Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. As a competitor in Public Forum, Joshua advanced to Round 8 at the NSDA National Tournament and also won the TFA State Tournament his senior year (2015). He was invited twice to the Bellaire Round Robin, finishing in first place his senior year (2014). Other notable accomplishments include reaching Semifinals of TFA State in Foreign Extemp (2015) and making it to Octofinals of TFA State in Public Forum in 2013 and 2014. While Joshua no longer competes in speech and debate, his high school experiences of competing alongside his three best friends (and partners) are still among his most cherished memories.

 Rohan Trivedi
Rohan Trivedi debated for four years at Plano Senior High School in Plano, Texas, serving as the Team and Public Forum Debate Captain his senior and junior year. In Public Forum, Rohan was twice a top-three finisher at the TFA State Tournament (2015, 2016), taking third place his junior year, and finishing as the runner up his senior year. Rohan was champion of the University of Texas Longhorn Classic (2015), and a seven-time champion and thirteen-time finalist at local TFA Tournaments (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016). On the National Circuit, he earned top speaker at the NSDA National Tournament (2014), reached double-octos (2015) and octos (2016) at the Harvard Invitational Tournament, amassed 5 bids to the TOC throughout his debate career, and was a two-time qualifier for the Tournament of Champions. Outside of Public Forum, Rohan and his teammates placed in the top 32 in the world at Bickel & Brewer International Public Policy Forum (2014), and the team is currently debating in the top 8 in the world at the 2016 Bickel & Brewer International Public Policy Forum. Rohan will be a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin, where he plans to study Finance at the McCombs School of Business.


Aabid Shivji

Aabid Shivji is a rising junior at Southern Methodist University. He has worked as an assistant coach for Colleyville Heritage High School since graduating from the school in 2014, coaching PF, as well as LD debate. This year, his debaters earned three collective bids to the Tournament of Champions, as well as three state qualifications and two double-octafinalist finishes at the TFA State tournament. His debaters have also cleared at prestigious tournaments such as The Glenbrooks, Emory, Cal Berkeley, UT Longhorn Classic, Grapevine, St. Marks, and TFA State. His teams have finished 3rd at Cal Berkeley (2016), Quarterfinalists at TFA State (2015), as well as 3rd at the UT Longhorn Classic (2015), among multiple NSDA national tournament qualifications. As a competitor, Aabid finished in the Top 32 in LD at TFA State his senior year, and also finished as the 3rd speaker at that tournament the same year. He was a two-time qualifier to TFA State. He’s extremely excited to come down to Austin for the first time as an instructor!

For those desiring additional information about the PF Curriculum:

All students will participate in experience appropriate discussions and background seminars on rotating PF topics. Students will engage in skills development through practice debates, re-do speeches, and stop/start instruction. The goal is to train students to seamlessly incorporate sound argument and persuasion skills into contest round performance. Students will learn to how to incorporate evidence into their speeches without becoming dependent upon it.  All students will receive the individualized criticism, encouragement and instruction they need to come away from the workshop much improved. Participants in UTNIF PF will have the chance to be heard and critiqued by judges and coaches from within the PF field as well as across the forensics spectrum. Students looking for a more challenging experience are welcome to attend both sessions of instruction.

The UTNIF PF faculty and staff are dedicated to making you a better debater. We offer a rigorous and engaging curriculum designed to build and enhance your debating skills. The Public Forum curriculum will focus on five key areas:


1 – Core Expertise: Research, Flowing, and Speaking


Stylistic approaches and judge preferences vary by area. However, having superior evidence, addressing important arguments made by your opponents and your partner, and speaking better than your opponents are universal skills. Improving your skill set in these areas will immediately make you a more successful debater. Each day debaters will participate in a series of drills designed to hone, improve, and advance their core debate skills. Students will also be provided with drill session handouts and notes for practice during the season and to share with teammates.


2 – Argument Development: Elements to Advanced Techniques


Debaters will learn and practic a variety of argument strategies. These approaches include components of an argument, analyzing and developing link chains, offensive vs. defensive arguments, logical fallacies, and weighing arguments.


3 – Case Construction: A Thematic Approach


Winning debaters begin with winning cases. Debaters will be exposed to and encouraged to try several different casing strategies. These strategies include using definitions and resolutional concepts to craft logically consistent cases.


4 – Speech-Specific Best Practices: A Formula for Success


Debaters should have specific goals for every speech in a Public Forum round. These goals include identifying and refuting your opponent’s key arguments as well as understanding and executing your team’s strategy. Debaters will participate in several practice rounds and drill sessions focused on maximizing the effectiveness of every rebuttal, summary, and final focus.


5 –Argument Integration: Using and Refuting Policy and Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Public Forum


Many times debaters cross-over from Policy or LD into Public Forum. This creates challenges for conventional Public Forum teams, especially if they are not exposed to or trained in dealing with the more technical aspects of their debating counter-parts. Also, we believe arguments are arguments despite what we call them. In addition to learning how to refute these positions, debaters will also learn how to package and present these same strategies in a manner appropriate for their area. Arguments discussed will include framework, plans and counter-plans, kritiks, theory, and disadvantages.