A message from Brendon Bankey, UT Director of Debate and Survivors lead instructor:

The Six-week Summer Survivor’s is the UTNIF’s flagship program and is now older in age than new enrollees. It attracts the best and the brightest students, especially those seeking to develop their skillsets deploying both critical and traditional strategies. Many alumni of the program have gone on to attend the University of Texas at Austin. They cite their participation in the rigorous, engaging Survivor’s curriculum as foundational to their decision to become a Longhorn. Last year’s survivors have accepted offers from institutions that include UT, Harvard, UPenn, and Wake Forest.

The UTNIF Online’s Survivor’s curriculum will allow students to immerse themselves into the feeling of being a part of Texas Debate. It will feature appearances from several active coaches and competitors who will each impart their specific strengths. We will prepare students by breaking down the core issues within the criminal justice reform resolution to develop strategies durable enough to last the entire season. We will also use prepare students to independently research so that when they leave the program they can update, innovate, and create new strategies. Additionally, the length of the program will allow our staff to do targeted skills practice and improve students speaking and in-round decision-making.

This summer, I will lead the program. It will be the first opportunity in the UTNIF’s 25+ year history for high school students to spend six weeks working primarily with UT’s Director of Debate. I began directing Texas Debate in Fall 2018. Months prior, I served as a graduate assistant at the University of Kansas and co-coached the #1 ranked team and national champions. Coincidentally, one of the two debaters, Quaram Robinson, attending the UTNIF and was a fellow Round Rock ISD alum. Recently, she was named the National Debate Tournament’s Debater of the Decade.

I am excited to teach Survivor’s this summer because I want to guide students approach to next year’s resolution and offer the experience of being at debate camp. Debate camp was a formative experience in my life. Long before I was a faculty member at the University of Texas, I was just a kid from Round Rock High School. My experience is proof that if you give hardworking, driven debaters the opportunity to succeed there is no telling what they can achieve. I want to use this summer to make sure that students get their shot at the recognition they deserve.

Brendon Bankey, Director of Debate and Survivors Lead Instructor

Brendon is the Director of Debate and co-Director of the UTNIF. He currently teaches Argumentation & Advocacy at the University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor of Instruction in Communication Studies. Brendon is excited to bring his experience to his second summer at the UTNIF. He co-coached the #1 ranked team in the nation and champions of the 2018 National Debate Tournament as a graduate assistant debate coach at the University of Kansas. Brendon received his Master’s Degree and served as a graduate assistant debate coach at Wake Forest University. Throughout his career, Brendon has been actively involved in high school debate. He was an assistant coach at Pace Academy for five years. Some of Pace’s accomplishments during that span include winning the 2015 National Debate Coaches Association Tournament; winning the Glenbrooks, Michigan, and MBA; and receiving the top speaker award at St. Marks. Prior to working for Pace, Brendon spent four seasons working with Whitney Young, which culminated in an elimination debate appearance at the Tournament of Champions. Several of Brendon’s former summer debate workshops have gone on to debate in college at competitive programs throughout the United States. These students have attended schools such as the University of Kansas, Baylor University, Indiana University, Liberty University, and the University of Southern California.

Het Desai, Junior Faculty, Survivors

Het Desai is a recent graduate from Coppell High School and will be attending the University of Texas at Austin this fall. From being ranked 2nd on the Coach’s Poll with 12 career bids, crowned the winner of the Glenbrooks and the California Round Robin, competing in late out round of national tournaments such as Emory and Cal, and earning speaker awards that range from 3rd at the Greenhill tournament to 2nd at the California Round Robin, he has just finished a successful high school career with victories and accomplishments across the nation. Het is excited to work at the UTNIF this summer and start debating for UT this fall! This will be Het’s first time working at the UTNIF.

Eric Lanning, Program Coordinator

Eric Lanning is currently the Program Coordinator for the University of Texas National Institute in Forensics, where he also helps to coach the speech and debate teams. Prior to joining the University of Texas, Eric lived and worked in China for 3 years as the Academic Director of speech and debate for the National Speech and Debate Association of China. Before moving to China, Eric spent 15+ years at the top levels of competitive policy debate. As a competitor in college, Eric’s accomplishments include winning the National Debate Tournament (2010), winning the Kentucky Tournament (2010) and the prestigious Kentucky Round Robin (2011) as well as being the Top Speaker at both. In 3 appearances at the NDT, 2 of them as a First Round at Large Bid (Top 16) Eric advanced to the elimination rounds as the 2nd seed twice (2010, 2015), advancing to the Octofinals (2009) and Quarterfinals (2015) as well as being the 2nd ranked speaker (2010). In addition to his own competitive success, Eric has worked with some of the most successful high school debaters and programs of the last decade as a coach. These accolades include winning the prestigious Baker Award for season long excellence, Back to Back National Championships at the Tournament of Champions, as well as the Winner and Top Speaker at nearly every major National Tournament, including Greenhill, St. Marks, the Glenbrooks, the Barkley Forum, the Montgomery Bell Academy, and Harvard. Eric is originally from Houston, Texas and attended both Michigan State University and the University of Houston, where he graduated with a degree in political science.

David Kilpatrick, UT assistant debate coach

David Kilpatrick recently gradated from University of Texas after debating for 5 years and has been actively involved with debate for over a decade. He currently coaches at Westwood High School and UT. During the 2018-19 season he’s coached teams to qualifications to the Tournament of Champions and the National Debate Tournament, including the Championship of the Longhorn Classic. This is his 7th UTNIF and he’s thrilled to be leading survivors this year. He absolutely loves debate and hopes to help students meet and exceed their goals for the next season.

Nico Juarez, UT assistant debate coach

Nico Juarez has been involved in debate for 8 years now. Seeing teaching and learning as a site for liberation and enlightenment, Nico combines his experience doing competitive debate, his role as an active scholar in the humanities, and pedagogies of care to support students in achieving their personal and educational goals. Nico was a two-time first-round debater at the University of Oklahoma and succeeded in reaching elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament multiple times. As a coach, Nico has experience working with a variety of traditional policy debate and critical debate students from both small and large schools. Outside of debate and academia, Nico enjoys visiting museums and wandering through book stories with coffee in hand. If asked about psychoanalysis, he tends to talk a lot.

Zachary Watts, UT debater

Zachary Watts is a rising third-year debater for the University of Texas at Austin. Currently, he debates as a 2N/1A, but also has previous experience in the 2A/1N position. This will be his second year working with the UTNIF. He looks forward to both deepening his knowledge and literature base for anti-blackness studies and providing assistance for the high school debaters attending the camp. Outside of debate, Zachary is a rising third-year chemical engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Will Coltzer, UT debater

William Coltzer is a rising third year at the Unuversity of Texas at Austin. Will studies government and has competed for UT the past two years. As a college debater, he has qualified to the National Debate Tournament (NDT) twice and was invited to the Pitt Round Robin. In highshool, he competed for Winston Churchill (Tx) in both LD and Policy. His senior year he was in the quarters of Greenhill, Emory, Grapevine, and the TFA state tournament. He attended the UTNIF as a high schooler and worked the camp last year as an RA/lab assistant.