Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome Back ISU Debate!


We are excited to start the 2014-2015 academic year today.  Our first debate squad meeting is located in 410 Frazier Hall.  The meeting runs from 3:00-5:00 pm.  Feel free to drop by and find out about the opportunities available on the Idaho State Debate Team.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Paul Montreuil & Scott Odekirk

Rachel Nicholas & Nate Murphy

Megan Demasters & Hannah Dunlop

Sarah Partlow, Danielle Jennings, Skip Flinn, Megan Demasters, Paul Montreuil, Andy Ridgeway, Nate Murphy, Hannah Dunlop, Rachel Nicolas, Desaray (Brown) Odekirk,  Lindsay Vanluvanee, Dan Fayle, Scott Odekirk

Paul Montreuil, Lindsay Vanluvanee, Rachel Nicholas, Hannah Dunlop, Andy Ridgeway

Aaron Dekeyzer

Nichalle (Klosterboer) Dekeyzer


Sheldon Kreger


Skip Flinn & Lindsay Vanluvanee

Megan Demasters & Stefan Menses

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

Danielle Jennings & Paul Montreuil

Hannah Dunlop & Rachel Nicholas

Rachel Nicholas & Nate Murphy
Skip Flinn
Sarah Partlow Lefevre
Nichelle Klosterboer (Dekeyzer) & Aarom Dekeyzer
Scott Odekirk, Desaray Odekirk, & Sarah Partlow Lefevre
Scott Odekirk & Megan Demasters
Sheldon Kreger & Nate Murphy

Monday, May 5, 2014

Debating to Build Mental Strength: Part Three

by Dr. Sarah T. Partlow Lefevre


In part one and part two of this series, I introduced an article written by Paul Hudson called 20 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.  Upon initially reading the article, I noticed that many of the characteristics of mental strength could be developed through the practice of debate.  Debate is an activity that promotes dialectic and argumentative interaction while accepting disagreement.  The structure of debate lends itself to developing mental strength and healthy life perspective.  In part three, I examine Hudsons’s suggestions 11-15 rephrasing them as affirmative practices in the context of competitive debate.  Hudson’s things that mentally strong people don’t do are:
            11. Trying To Please People
12. Blaming Themselves For Things Outside Their Control
13. Being Impatient
14. Being Misunderstood
15. Feeling Like You’re Owed
Because debate is a training ground, I rephrase each as an aspect of debate that can develop mental strength.

                11. Debaters recognize when they’ve done their best regardless of the results.
While the structure of debate asks debaters to please the judge, mentally strong debaters also must do their best and accept that there are some results that rest outside of their control.  Because the judge is a human being and--by nature--imperfect, the very best performance might not yield a victory.  Mentally strong debaters recognize that the decision making process is also about the judge – their thoughts and predispositions, their moods, or even their human foibles.  A mentally strong debater understands that strategy in debate is about more than a virtuoso performance – it is also about adapting to the judge.  Additionally, a strong debater recognizes that doing one’s best doesn’t always mean marking a win on the results sheet.  Even in these cases, a strong debater is proud of doing his or her best. 

                12. Debaters recognize that there are some things they cannot control.
Debate is a game of control.  If debaters can control the variables, they are more likely to win.  However, even in such an intricate and strategic game, there are elements of chance.  Mentally strong debaters know this.  They recognize that they might draw tough opponents, fail to find the best evidence, run out of time in their speeches, make a mistake, or end up disagreeing with a judge.  Debaters learn that this is inevitable in debate and in life.  Debaters learn from experience that their control is not absolute.  This means they must do their best and recognize that some factors are not within the realm of their control.  Letting go of the notion that total control of the situation is possible frees debaters to be their best.  Win or lose, they must learn not to blame themselves and by extension not to blame the judge –a fellow human being.

                13.  Debaters learn that persistence and hard work produce dividends.
Many people who start debating do not ever succeed because they are not persistent.  If individuals begin debate and do not persist, they may not experience the benefits of debate.  Like many things that are worth doing, debate requires hard work over a sustained period of time.  But, the rewards that come from sticking with it go far beyond trophies.  Debaters experience personal growth and transformation.  They develop life skills and analytic skills in a dynamic environment.  Sometimes the process hurts.  Mentally strong debaters learn to embrace the adversity as a method of intellectual and personal growth.  Debaters who stick with it develop amazing analytic skills and begin to win.  But, often winning takes time.

                14.  Debaters recognize that they are responsible for crafting and refining the messages that they communicate.
Mentally strong debaters understand that they are responsible for what they communicate to the judge.  Debate is a process of persuading the judge as a specific audience in a dialectical environment.  In that sense, the judge has a particular set of life experiences, debate experience, academic knowledge, debate knowledge, and different preferences that may all influence his or her response to the round.  Strong debaters seek to understand the perspectives of the judge rather than to blame the judge for voting against them.  For those who are not mentally strong, every debate victory is about their skill as debaters while every loss is about the stupidity of the judge.  Mentally strong debaters recognize the possibility that they might be wrong in any given debate.  Recognizing their potential weaknesses allows debaters to identify flaws in their communication and to remedy them.  Fundamentally, it is a debater’s responsibility to communicate clearly and persuasively.

                15.  Debaters know they must earn their success.
Mentally strong debaters recognize that debate doesn’t owe them anything but offers many things.  Participation in debate builds research skills, the ability to understand and process complex material, strategic thinking, speaking skills, and many other benefits.  Mentally strong debaters understand that each of these benefits is multiplied through hard work and practice.  Expecting to have success handed to you leads to disappointment in debate and in life.  Often, debaters develop mental strength as they learn to thrive on the challenge and to hone their debate skills.  Accepting that rewards are earned serves debaters well throughout their lives.

I hope you are enjoying the series.  Feel free to comment or make suggestions. Part four is coming soon.   

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday

John and Krista Dewey

Brad Cole

David & Terry Fredrickson

Izak Dunn & Richard Howell

Jessica Yeats & Amanda Melham

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

End of Year Squad Dinner, April 30, 2014


Roger Copenhaver

Krystal Lynes & SamRichardson

Anne Johnson & Zach Sayles

Sam Richardson, Logan, and Robyn Hemmert
Kendra Doty & Sarah Partlow Lefevre


Thanks for a great year!  
See squad award winners here.

Examples of the word cloud recognition for the debaters. 


ISU Squad Award Winners: 2013-2014

Kendra Doty, ISU Debater of the Year.
Matea Ivanovic, ISU Debater of the Year.
Samantha Richardson, ISU Squad Spirit Award.
Roger Copenhaver, ISU Squad Service Award.

Mike Eyre & Sasha Ivanovic, Most Improved Debate Team.



Robyn Hemmert & Anne Johnson, ISU Novice Debate Tea of the Year.

Brock Sondrup & Jakob Meng, ISU Junior Varsity Debate Team of the Year.

Kendra Doty & Matea Ivanovic, ISU Senior Debate Team of the Year.

Congratulations to all our debaters!
See pictures from the dinner here.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Debating to Build Mental Strength: Part Two

by Dr. Sarah T. Partlow Lefevre


In part one of this series, I introduced an article written by Paul Hudson called 20 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.  I applied his first five suggestions to the debate context.  In part two, I examine practices 6-10 that mentally strong people should avoid.  They are: 
6. Letting Others Make Decisions For Them
7. Getting Jealous Over The Successes Of Others
8. Thinking About The High Possibility Of Failure
9. Feeling Sorry For Themselves
10. Focusing On Their Weaknesses (Hudson, 2014)
Again, I apply each suggestion in the context of debate to see how debaters can use the activity to build mental strength and resilience.   Debaters who develop such habits can use them to become more successful throughout their lives.
                6.  Debaters develop decision making abilities.
Debaters learn to consider the advice of others, while relying on their decision making abilities in every debate.  Often, a coach may discuss a strategy with a debater prior to a debate.  However, debaters must develop the ability to implement such strategies in context, to choose between a variety of strategies, and to develop strategies on their own.  As debaters learn to engage in high level strategic thinking, they are more and more able to make the decisions they are called upon to make in the heat of the moment.  Wise debaters listen to their coaches.  But, they also listen to themselves. 
Debaters also learn to research options and investigate possibilities by considering a wide variety of evidence from many sources.  Not only are debaters taught to analyze the quality of the available evidence, they learn to synthesize it into a coherent perspective.  Debaters learn the tools for decision making in a variety of contexts.  They can consistently and fairly engage in cost benefit analysis to weigh competing merits of different approaches.  In the long run, good debaters develop the ability to address a problem by gathering evidence, analyzing it, and deciding for themselves. 

                7. Debaters celebrate others’ successes.
It takes a debater who is truly confident in him or herself to celebrate others’ successes.  Strong debaters should revel in the process of debate and reach out to others –win or lose.  As one who has been around the debate community for many years, I know that team success works in cycles.  But, it is always true that when one team wins accolades and respect, debate as an activity wins.  Mentally strong debaters should remember to be proud of the other members of the debate community and to celebrate their successes.  Trophies are only a small part of the debate experience.  More than any individual win or loss, debate is nothing without individuals contributing to and building the community.  Resilient debaters reach out to others and build bridges without regard to competitive concerns.  Often, debaters develop extensive networks of friends all over the country.  Such deep bonds last well beyond a single tournament, a specific season, or even a debate career.  These bonds last a lifetime.

                8. Debaters accept guaranteed failure.
Because debate tournaments involve a series of debates and, therefore, a series of wins and losses, even tournament champions rarely emerge undefeated.  In debate, losing is inevitable.  All debaters lose debates.  Losses can help debaters to refine strategy and improve their arguments.  A loss can identify weaknesses in an argument that need to be addressed.  Losses can inspire debaters to do more research, practice more, or to try harder in the next debate.  Ultimately, losing in debate teaches mentally strong debaters that loss is a part of life.  Using the experience of failure to refine one’s approach and to try again another day marks debaters’ progress.  Resilient debaters learn how to take failure in stride while still progressing in life and in debate.  In this way, failure in debate leads to success in life as individuals learn to accept the inevitability of defeat and to respond constructively.

               9. Debaters do not pity themselves.  Instead, they make themselves better.
After accepting that loss is inevitable, debaters are free to use losing as an exercise in self-improvement. Mentally strong debaters learn from their losses rather than engaging in self-pity.  Debaters should embrace the experience of debate and dialogue while seeking to improve their skills.  Enjoying the process ensures an attitude that allows for personal growth and development.

10. Debaters capitalize on their strengths.
To succeed, debaters must recognize and use their strengths as speakers, strategists, or researchers.  Tough debaters recognize that nurturing strength will make them stronger and more successful.  Most debaters also work on improving in weak areas.  But, the ability to identify areas of excellence and refine them is what makes a great debater. 

Part three can be found here.  I hope you are enjoying the series so far.  Comments and suggestions are welcome. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Debating to Build Mental Strength: Part One

by Dr. Sarah T. Partlow Lefevre 

This morning I read an Elite Daily article by Paul Hudson called 20 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.  The first five mental habits to avoid include:
1. Dwelling On The Past
2. Remaining In Their Comfort Zone
3. Not Listening To The Opinions Of Others
4. Avoiding Change
5. Keeping A Closed Mind (Hudson, 2014)
While most of these suggestions are good advice, they resonate in the context of debate.  Debate as an activity trains people to be mentally strong.  Based on Hudson’s suggestions, I propose a list of practices in debate that make individuals mentally strong.  Debaters who adopt these approaches will succeed in debate and will develop habits that promote success in other areas of their lives.

1. Debaters look to the future.
Debaters develop the ability to move on after experiencing loss.  Half of all teams loose in every debate.  Mentally strong debaters learn to set their losses aside and focus on preparing for the next debate.  They transition quickly from debate to debate and learn to compartmentalize their experiences in a productive way.  Dwelling on past losses is a recipe for failure in debate.  Winning debaters learn to live in the moment and learn from their experiences without dwelling on setbacks.

2. Debaters regularly overcome fear and step outside of their comfort zones.
By nature, debate takes individuals out their comfort zones because speaking in front of others is scary.  In fact, it is the “No. 1 fear reported by people in the U.S.” (WebMD).  Fear is a natural human response to speaking in public.  Most public speakers experience some level of fear or anxiety.  Debaters experience this too.  Debaters often leave their comfort zones and gain strength in the process.  Ultimately, doing something that you fear is an incredibly empowering experience.  After debaters know they can debate, they also know they can start a business, apply for graduate school, give a speech at a wedding, go to law school, get a Ph.D. or a Master’s degree, and do many other challenging things.  Debaters learn to overcome fear while gaining confidence and to seek difficult experiences that reap splendid rewards. 

3. Debaters listen to and learn from everyone they can.
First, successful debaters engage opponents.  Some debaters are so prepared that they fail to listen to their opponents’ arguments.  Without listening, debaters cannot possibly hope to understand and adequately respond to the claims advanced in the debate.  Successful debaters do not underestimate their opponents or assume that they understand their arguments in advance.  Rather, successful debaters develop the habit of listening to their opponents and responding to the strongest possible incarnation of their arguments.  Listening to the opposition and understanding other perspectives is a key component of building mental strength in debate.

Second, debaters often have the opportunity to interact with the other coaches, the judges, and the other teams.  Debaters should take these opportunities to learn everything they can from others in the debate community.  Such knowledge ranges from how to better answer an argument to where to access particular academic research to how to improve their persuasive skills.  Win or lose, debaters who listen become better because they are open to others’ ideas and approaches to the world. 

             4.  Debaters embrace change on many levels. 
Debaters face a torrent of change. Topics, argumentative norms, styles of delivery, persuasive tactics, opponents, judges, locations, and many more things constantly change in debate.  The ability to accept, adapt to, and learn from these changes makes debaters flexible, adaptable individuals who will become strong team players in any environment.  The ability to embrace and quickly adapt to change gives debaters a competitive advantage as others strive to catch up.  

5.  Debaters keep open minds.
In debate, students are usually asked to represent multiple approaches to the same or similar topics.  Asking students to represent multiple sides of an issue is often referred to as switch side debate.  As students switch sides, they develop intricate understandings of many perspectives.  While debaters may maintain the courage of their convictions, openness to understanding and engaging a variety of arguments builds mental strength and the capacity to build higher quality, more nuanced arguments.  
This is part one of a four part series.  In the next three installments, I will address the remaining components of Hudson’s list.  Please comment and let me know what you liked or didn’t like about this post. See part two here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dr. Partlow Lefevre Wins the 2014 Keele Award for Service to the Debate Community

Professor Sarah T. Partlow Lefevre, Director of the James M. & Sharon E. Rupp Debate Society at Idaho State University, has been named the recipient of the 2014 Lucy Keele Award for Service to the debate community.  Dr. Partlow Lefevre holds the unique distinction of being the only woman to receive both the Keele Award and the George Ziegelmueller Award which she received in 2008.

Dr. Partlow Lefevre, 2014 Keele Award Winner

According to William Southworth, longtime Director of Forensics at Redlands College, the Keele Award is designed to demonstrate the debate community’s  “respect, and appreciation for those individuals who have devoted so much time and effort into making the forensic community a more enjoyable and productive experience for so many students.”  The Keele Award is winner is chosen by the National Debate Tournament (NDT) Board of Trustees.  The award recognizes an NDT debate coach who has provided outstanding service to the debate community.

“I was very surprised and pleased to be this year’s recipient,” said Dr. Partlow Lefevre, “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized alongside such accomplished coaches like George Ziegelmueller, Donn W. Parson, and Al Louden --all legendary in debate.”

Dr. Partlow Lefevre has been a part of the NDT community for twenty three years.  She began her association with the NDT debate community as an undergraduate debating at the University of Utah from 1991-1995.  She then served as an Assistant Coach and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Kansas from 1995-2001 where she worked with Dr. Robert Rowland, Dr. Scott Harris and Dr. Donn W. Parson.  Since 2001, Dr. Partlow Lefevre has been the Director of the Rupp Debate Society at Idaho State. 

Idaho State Debate team member, Robyn Hemmert noted, “I think the coaches are amazing. They have shown passion and knowledge and love of debate that is contagious. I will forever be grateful to Sarah for giving me the opportunity to be an ISU debater.”

Professor Partlow Lefevre has been actively serving the debate and forensics community for many years.  Highlights include her service as President of the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) in the 2012-2013 academic year, hosting the CEDA National Championship in 2009 and 2013, more than ten years of service on the NDT committee, service on multiple NDT sub committees including as District Bid Allocation Chair for eight years, and her recent appointment as Co-Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Argumentation and Debate, a peer reviewed journal sponsored by the Cross Examination Debate Association.  Dr. Partlow Lefevre has also spent several years on the CEDA Executive Committee where she served on the awards committee, the nominating committee, the topic committee, and other sub committees.  Finally, she serves on the finance committee for the American Forensics Association (AFA).

Past Keele Award winners include coaches from the University of Kansas. Liberty, Emory, Wayne State University, University of North Carolina, Baylor, Cypress College, Trinity, New York University, Wake Forest, Northwestern University, Lakeland Schools, University of Redlands, California State Fullerton, Whitman, Harvard, Wheaton College, and Mary Washington University.  A full list of winners can be found here.  Dr. Partlow Lefevre holds the distinction of being the only woman to receive both the Lucy Keele Award and the George Ziegelmueller Award (2008) for excellence as a forensic educator. Only five other people have won both including George Ziegelmueller, Wayne State University; Allan Louden, Wake Forest University; Donn W. Parson, the University of Kansas; Bill Southworth, Redlands; and Tim O’Donnell, University of Mary Washington.

The George Ziegelmueller Award is named for Dr. George Ziegelmueller who was the Director of Debate at Wayne State University in Detroit for 30 plus years.  According to Southworth, the Ziegelmueller award honors “a faculty member who has distinguished himself or herself in the communication profession while coaching teams to competitive success at the NDT.”  To win both awards demonstrates lasting commitment to intercollegiate debate as an activity and consistent competitive success.  According to tabroom.com in 2013-2014 there were 1,361 active judges in the NDT/CEDA debate circuit and 159 participating institutions.  Dr. Partlow also won the Galentine Coaching Award in 2010 and the Val A. Browning Coach of the Year Award in 2008.

Matea Ivanovic, Roger Copenhaver, Sarah Partlow Lefevre, Lindsay Vanluvanee, Kendra Doty