May 27, 2022 – As NAUDL closes out a spring that included the virtual Urban Debate National Championship (UDNC) and our Annual Dinner fundraiser, I am still over-the-moon to once again be able to host these signature events. It’s these occasions that have a palpable sense of camaraderie — and that bring our mission to life. For sure, it is seeing this impact that makes the considerable time and effort that go into planning them all worth it.
Along with our typical veteran pairs, the virtual setting for this year’s UDNC allowed us to include JV division for the first time. Over four days in April, everyone leaned into the experience with enthusiasm and more than 100 students and coaches gathered online to represent their respective leagues. Alumni Ambassadors, all-star judges, volunteers, and league staff also joined us, stepping up to help us deliver a high-quality event. We were all pleased to honor debaters and coaches for some fairly impressive milestones and are already planning for next year’s (hopefully) in-person tournament.
The 2022 UDNC Champions were Andrew Subingsubing and Jokim Bryant, representing Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Debate League (LAMDL). This was especially thrilling as it is LAMDL’s first UDNC title. (Andrew and Jokim are also the most recent recipients of the Leonard A. Gail Award, winning the 2021 NAUDL Debate Expo Round Robin Tournament last fall.) Winners of the UDNC JV Division were Zack Kirkwood and Nina Warrow of Berkley High School and the Detroit Urban Debate League. We congratulate these individuals, and all of the tournament qualifiers, for their efforts and commitment throughout the season.
Andrew Subingsubing was again recognized at the May 5 NAUDL Annual Dinner in Chicago* as the 2022 Debater of the Year in our annual awards presentation. We were also pleased to recognize our seven Debater of the Year Finalists and the 2022 Coach of the Year, Rachel Bruce, from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College and the Denver Urban Debate League. You can learn more about all of this year’s award winners on our website.
In addition to sharing the accomplishments of these honorees, a highlight of the Annual Dinner was a special Alumni Address from Chicago Debates alum, and the 2016 Debater of the Year, Maria Sanchez. Maria impressed and inspired as she shared the power of debate in her life:
“Debate opened my eyes to a world of opportunity that I didn’t even know existed. Debate allowed me to find my voice. It taught me to persevere – to keep fighting for my goals even when the odds were very much stacked against me. The friends and the mentors that I made as a result of my involvement in debate have inspired me to continue to reach for the stars. The benefits of debate continue even after a tournament ends. That’s the magic of debate.”
After putting a wrap on both these events, I was so touched to receive a note from Michael Cirelli, the Executive Director of LAMDL, saying, “[we] are grateful for the care, professionalism and grace that you hold this movement up with.” That spirit of partnership, and mutual support, has carried us a very long way during the last two debate seasons. It’s been wonderful to again share these experiences and we are truly grateful for this community we call the Urban Debate Network.
*A tremendous thanks to the supporters of the 2022 Annual Dinner for making this special evening possible, especially our Presenting Sponsors The Asia Group Foundation, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, and Jennifer Wade.