MDTA - Minnesota Debate Teachers Association


MDTA Jamboree Details - September 24th, 2011

The MDTA is excited to announce the first annual MDTA Jamboree to be held at Chanhassen High School on September 24th, 2011.  The MDTA Jamboree will feature tracks for Novice, JV and Varsity students in Public Forum, Lincoln-Douglas and Policy debate.  The MDTA Jamboree is more than just a tournament, it will be the kickoff event of the 2011 debate season.

In the Novice track, students will have the opportunity to watch a selected varsity round and then work with coaches and judges after the round to answer questions, show common issues and build skills.  Students will have additional time with coaches and between rounds.  Novice students will complete two rounds of debate in PF and LD.  In policy debate, students will participate in at least one full round.  Students not yet ready to complete a full round of debate, will be broken into groups and allowed to work in small group sessions to participate in contention debate.

In the LD and PF JV and Varsity track, students will participate in five rounds of debate over the course of the day with the opportunity to work with judges in interactive sessions to improve and refine skills.  Policy students will have three rounds of debate.

In addition to student tracks, separate tracks will be provided for new coaches workshop and new judges workshops.

All of the details have not yet been finalized and we are looking for both volunteers and ideas to help make this a successful weekend for both new and returning students.  If you have ideas or would like to volunteer please feel free to reach out.


MDTA Announcing Program Grants for 2011-12 Season

The MDTA is excited to announce the return of it's program grants for the 2011-2012 school year.  The MDTA will be offering at least 5 grants with each grant being a minimum of $1000.00.  The final number of grants and total amounts will be determined based upon the total number of applications received.

All Minnesota High Schools are eligible to apply for the grants.  Schools receiving the grants may use the funds to support any costs reasonably associated with the operations of the debate team.  Examples of such costs are: entry fees, supplies, coaching stipends and transportation.  Schools awarded the grants will be expected to participate in at least 5 tournaments during the 2011-12 season, register with the MSHSL and attend a corresponding state tournament/festival.  Exact details of the grant requirements can be found in the attached registration form.

Any school is encouraged to apply for the program grants.  All applications are due by June 1st, 2011.  The MDTA is committed to enhancing and expanding debate throughout the state.  MDTA Members are encouraged to reach out and encourage both new and existing programs in need to apply.

MDTA Grant Application

Eagan Captures Minnesota Public Forum State Tournament

Does plea bargaining undermine the criminal justice system was the topic argued at the first Minnesota Public Forum State Tournament.

Miles Norman and Emily Dallager of Eagan High School defeated Eastview's Allie Johnson & Steven Albers 5-0 to win the public forum tournament.  Norman and Dallager's argument of how plea bargaining does not undermines the United States criminal justice system followed nine rounds of debate over two days.  Eagan's championship will be shared with two other teams that finished in the quarter-final round.  Other quarter-finalists were Eastview and St. Francis.  St. Paul Academy and Summit School finished with both semi-final teams.

Norman and Dallager emerged as champions after two days of debate that included 54 students from 16 schools.

Public Forum State Tournament Registration Information

The PF State Tournament, to be hosted on January 7th and 8th at Blaine High School registration is now open.  We will be doing registration old school.  Your registration should be e-mailed to me (rbrynteson -AT-  Please remember that schools can enter a maximum of three entries.  Schools are required to bring one judge for every two entries.  Registration cost is $20.00 per entry. Checks should be made payable to Blaine Debate.

Registration will close January 4th at 5:00 PM.  Please make every attempt to have your judges at time of registration.  We will compile judge lists and have a strike procedure.  Schools will be allowed to strike one judge from the judge list prior to the start of the tournament.  We will have additional strikes available during elimination rounds.

Tournament Schedule

- Round 1 (4:00 PM)
- Round 2 (5:00 PM)
- Round 3 (6:30 PM)
- Round 4 (8:00 PM)

- Round 5 (9:00 AM)
- Round 6 (10:30 AM)
- Announcement of Quarterfinalists - 11:30 AM
- Quarterfinals (12:00 PM)
- Semifinals (1:30 PM)
- Finals (3:00 PM)
- Awards (4:00 PM)

NOTE: If we have more than 40 entries we will go to an Octo-Final round.  We would leave the awards schedule at the same time and have final occur after awards.  I will post on Wednesday morning the number of entries.


Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks -DJ-



MDTA Minnesota Public Forum State Festival – January 7th and 8th, 2011

The MDTA is excited to announce the Minnesota Public Forum State Festival to be hosted at Blaine High School on January 7th and 8th, 2011 (Friday and Saturday).  The tournament will be debated on the January NFL Topic – to be announced on December 1st, 2010.  Schools can enter up to three teams.  Schools are required to bring one judge for every two-entries to the tournament.  The tournament will feature six (6) preliminary rounds of debate breaking to at least Quarter-Finals (depending on entry numbers – may break to Octo-Finals).

Exact schedule, strike procedure and other details will be announced soon.  Registration will open in December for the tournament.  If you have any questions please contact DJ Brynteson, MDTA President-Elect for more information.

2010 MDTA JV/Novice State Tournament Registration Now Open!!!

Registration is now open for the MDTA JV/Novice State Tournament.  The tournament will be hosted at Eagan High School on December 3rd and 4th, 2010.  Full registration information can be found on the tournament registration site.

Students will be debating a wide range of topics in three different debate events.  In Policy debate, students will be debating if the the United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey.  In Public-Forum debate students will debate if cyberbullying should be a criminal offense.  And in Lincoln-Douglas debate students will debate if drug abuse should be handled as a matter of public health of criminal justice.

Questions about the tournament logistics should be directed to Chris McDonald.  Questions about rules, procedures and eligibility can be found here.

MDTA Cup Results

MDTA is pleased to announce the winners of the first MDTA Cups.  The awards themselves are being engraved and we will get them to the winners as soon as possible.

Policy Debate

Miranda Ehrlich and Meghna Sohoni of Wayzata

The school award for policy debate goes to Wayzata High School

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

Robyn Sellman of Coon Rapids

The school award for Lincoln-Douglas debate goes to Coon Rapids High School

Public Forum Debate

Rachel Markon and Iaan Reynolds of Eagan

The school award for public forum debate goes to Eastview High School

Classic Debate

Eric Baudry and Greta Stacy of Mounds Park Academy

The school award for classic debate goes to Eastview High School

Overall School Champion

The overall MDTA Cup is awarded to Eagan High School. 

MDTA JV/Novice State Tournament Registration Open

Registration is now open for the MDTA JV/Novice State Tournament.  The tournament will be hosted at Eagan High School on December 4th and 5th, 2009.  Full registration information can be found on the tournament registration site.

Students will be debating a wide range of topics in three different debate events.  In policy debate, students will be debating  if the United States federal government should substantially increase social services for persons living in poverty in the United States.  In public-forum debate students will debate if merit pay based on student achievement should be a significant component of K-12 teacher compensation in United States public schools.  And in lincoln-douglas debate students will debate if public health concerns justify compulsory immunization.

Questions about the tournament should be directed to Chris McDonald.  Questions about rules, procedures and eligibility can be found here.

Announcing the MDTA Cup

The MDTA is excited to announce a new set of season long awards for the 2009-2010 debate season.  There will be five MDTA Cup award presentations -  the top overall school, top classic, top LD, top Policy and  top Public-Forum school.  In addition, there will be four additional individual awards for the top LD Debater, and top Classic, Policy and Public-Forum teams at the end of the season.  Any in-state tournament that does not conflict with NFL, Section or State Tournaments held from the first week of October up to the State Tournament will be included in the point process.

The MDTA executive board along with the help of Ryan Ricard (point consultant/super spreadsheet designer) have put together the following MDTA Cup Point System.  (The points system need one final verification based on last years results but will be verified before the first tournament and any updates will be posted here.)

  •    Individual Points
    • 1 Point for Competing at Tournament
    • 1 Point for finishing 1 through 8th place, or qualifying to elim rounds, whichever includes more students
    • 1 Point for placing first at a tournament without elims
    • 1 Point for each elimination round won
    • Max of 5 points per tournament
    • Must participate in four in-state tournaments to qualify for award
    • 1 Point for qualifying to state tournament
    • MSHSL State Tournament or MSHSL State Festival results do not count towards awards
  • Team Points
    • Top 2 students at tournament in each type of debate count towards team points
    • Points each week count towards year-end results
    • All points for both individual and team are for the varsity division
    • A school that wins the overall award cannot win any of the remaining team awards
  • Tie Breakers
    • Total Points
    • Number of in-state tournaments
    • In case of 2-way tie / head-to-head results

The MDTA is excited to offer some great traveling trophies for the team awards along with individual awards for the top student/teams.  Results will be posted each week to the MDTA web site so individuals, teams and schools can see exactly where they are in the season-long Chase for the MDTA Cup.

Ryan will be posting an update to his blog that outlines several scoring scenarios and we will cross post to his blog for that information.

President's Message - Fall 2009

Several months into the new administration, it seems like it should be time for a new president’s message. 
I want to thank Chris McDonald for his great work as my predecessor in this position. I took the reins of a strong organization thanks in large part to Chris. We should all be grateful for his service in this position, as well as his other leadership roles in the forensics community. Similarly, I thank the Executive Board and all of the members of the MDTA for creating such a strong foundation.  
While we should all be proud of Minnesota debate, MDTA nevertheless faces significant challenges in maintaining and expanding debate opportunities for students. Our overriding mission should be achieving growth in the activity. This will be difficult, especially considering the realities of our current economy. However, we have some important assets to bring to bear on the problem. 
I want to reemphasize one opportunity that has not yet been sufficiently publicized. Joe and Lynn Schmitt have given much to the Minnesota debate community over the years, but they are now offering an unprecedented financial contribution, which was announced at the last general membership meeting. They have offered to match contributions to the MDTA of up to $25,000 per year for three years, for a total of $75,000. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for this generous offer. Our task, now, is to find the other donors to get this effort rolling.  Chris McDonald will be coordinating our efforts to solicit matching funds.  Anyone interested in contributing or helping in the effort should contact Chris or me.  We would obviously welcome donations as well as commitments of time. 
This and other outreach efforts will be a critical part of the agenda for our next general membership meeting, which will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, at Midland Hills Country Club.  (I make no comment on the rumors that I have chosen this location to ensure that I can play a round of golf that morning and still make it to the meeting...).  I look forward to seeing all of you at that time, if not before. In the interim, I hope you enjoy the small remnant of your summer, and here’s to a successful 2009-2010 season. 
Cort Sylvester

President's Message

Dear MDTA Members,

    It is hard to believe but my two years as President of the MDTA has come to a close. The past two years have been an exciting time for debate in Minnesota with many changes in our community some good and some well not so good. Over the past couple of few years we have seen the strong resurgence of urban debate in Minnesota with programs in both the Minneapolis and the St. Paul school districts successfully competing in debate competition. The Minnesota Urban Debate League continues to work hard to open up opportunities for debaters going to school in our urban areas. Policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas debate, Public Forum debate and Classic debate all continue to help contribute to our mission of teaching high school students to think critically. Unfortunately, when we look at debate opportunities holistically we see a continuation of the trend towards fewer opportunities not more. The mission of the MDTA is to promote and grow debate opportunities in the state of Minnesota. Over the past two years we have worked hard to put the MDTA in a position that will allow it to fulfill this mission. It is our belief that organizationally and financially we are now in a position to begin to put to work our collective energy and enthusiasm for debate competition and increase the number of schools who value debate as a part of their overall curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.

    I turn over the helm of the MDTA to one of our communities most outstanding and enthusiastic supporters of debate activities, Mr. Cort Sylvester. I am confident that Cort will provide the needed leadership and guidance that our community needs to make good on our mission of increasing debate opportunities across the entire state of Minnesota.

    I want to thank everyone for their support and patience as we work to make the MDTA a fully functioning advocate for debate activities across the state of Minnesota. Below you will find a recap of our activities over the past two years.

Thank You,

Minnesota Debate Teachers Association
2009 President’s Report

The following is a recap of activities and accomplishments made by the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association during the past two years. Without the support and the efforts of many different individuals these accomplishments would not have been possible.

1.    Together with the Minnesota State High School League the MDTA realigned the sections reducing them from 6 to 4 competitive sections that have a healthier number of participating schools.
2.    After a year of hard work the MDTA has managed to attain 501c3 non-profit status and is working on expanding our foundation assets so that we can maximize our outreach efforts to grow debate in Minnesota
3.    Joe and Lynn Schmitt have offered to donate up to $25,000 per year, for 3 years, as a challenge matching grant to the MDTA in an effort to increase our foundation assets. The MDTA is working on this in cooperation with the St. Paul Foundation.
4.    The MDTA has paid out and fulfilled our 2003 pledge of scholarship grant money to support the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth at Macalester College in St. Paul. In 2003 the MDTA pledged $10,500 and this summer we paid out $4100 in scholarship grants to help students attend the summer MITY program in introductory debate. This completes our pledge to the MITY program.
5.    The MDTA continues to work with the Minnesota Urban Debate League to meet our pledged obligation to support their efforts to grow debate in the inner city. Currently we have a plan in place to disperse funds in the amount of $3700 per year until our $15,000.00 pledge is fulfilled. In 2008 we sent a check to the UDL for $3700 in partial fulfillment of our obligation.
6.    Currently the MDTA has funds in the amount of $2000 in our checking account and we have approximately $190,000 in our St. Paul Foundation account after receiving a 2008 dispersal of $9600 in February. We are anticipating dispersal during the month of February 2009. Please keep in mind that our foundation account is experiencing some rough times in the market like everyone else so our dispersal amounts will be effected for the next few years until the market rebounds and we start to grow the foundation account again.
7.    The MDTA has successfully changed over our checking account to a non-profit organization checking account from the current personal checking account held by our Treasurer Gail Sarff. The MDTA thanks Gail Sarff for her dedication and service as our treasurer.
8.    Richard Brynteson has taken over as MDTA Treasurer and Gail Sarff has taken over as the organizations secretary.
9.    Richard Brynteson was elected to the position of President-Elect of the MDTA and will follow Cort Sylvester who takes over as President of MDTA effective February 1, 2009.
10.    The MDTA has awarded its 2008 Coach of the Year to Mr. Pete Nikolai of St. Paul Central High School.
11.    The MDTA has awarded the 2008 James Graupner Distinguished Service Award to Mr. Cort Sylvester of Rosemount High School.
12.    The MDTA continues to work with the MSHSL in an effort to expand debate opportunities throughout the state of Minnesota by promoting Public Forum Debate to state tournament status or at least to state festival status with the hope of elevating the event to full state tournament status as soon as possible.
13.    Finally, the MDTA has started to reach out to alumni of Minnesota debate programs in an effort to not only reconnect with those individuals who have benefited from debate participation in high school but we hope they may also become a resource to help the MDTA in its mission to grow debate. The first step in this process was the creation of a Facebook Group which is fast approaching 200 members and through the power of word of mouth should hopefully allow us to reestablish a connection with many more of our graduates.

Respectfully Submitted,

Christopher L. McDonald
MDTA President



MSHSL State Tournament Information

The MSHSL State Tournament will be held on January 23rd and 24th on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  The following information is a gathering of information about the state tournament and it's qualifies.  More information as it becomes available.

Judges Strike Sheets: Lincoln-Douglas DebatePolicy Debate

Tournament Info: Rules | Schedule 

Qualifiers - Lincoln-Douglas

Section 3 - @ Man West High School (Jan 16/17)

  1. Michelle Koehane (Apple Valley)
  2. Chris Thies (Apple Valley)
  3. Patrick Moran(Eastview)
  4. Will Cox (Eagan)
  5. Namita Desai (Eagan)
  6. Vincent C (Eastview)


Section 4 - @ BSM HS (Jan 12/13)

  1. David Allender (STA)
  2. Mary Claire Flanagan (Visitation)
  3. Chyenne Thibodo (Robbinsdale Cooper)
  4. Brian Plunkett (STA)
  5. Amith Ravindar (Robbinsdale Cooper)
  6. Andrew Magne (SPA)


Section 5 - @ Coon Rapids HS (Jan 9/10)

  1. Erik Legried (Blake School)
  2. Phelan O'Neill (Blake School)
  3. Robyn Sellman (Coon Rapids)
  4. Chelsea Brown (Coon Rapids)
  5. Kathryn Haglin (Forest Lake)
  6. Jordan Crist (St. Francis)

Section 6 - @ BSM HS (Jan 12/13)

  1. Catherine Tarsney (SLP)
  2. David McNeil (Edina)
  3. Tom Caruso (Lakeville North)
  4. Christian Kiel (Lakeville South)
  5. Francesca Parente (Wayzata)
  6. Michael Prideaux (SLP)


 Qualifiers - Policy Debate

Section 3 - @ Man West High School (Jan 16/17)

  1. Martin/Stephenson (Eagan)
  2. Bleth/Nixon (Rosemount)
  3. Chesley/Hatleli (Man West)
  4. Neitge/Goettl (Man West)
  5. Campion/Wallace (Eagan)


Section 4 - @ BSM HS (Jan 12/13)

  1. Johnson/Quam (SPC)
  2. Jordan/Kaplan (HP)
  3. Bernick/Ciborowski (Sibley)
  4. Mandt/Walker (Sibley)
  5. Johnson/Nesser (SPC)


Section 5 - @ Coon Rapids HS (Jan 9/10)

  1. Olmsted-Rumsey/Vangen-Adams (Minneapolis South)
  2. Kang/Madsen (Blake School)
  3. Indarte/Landskroener (Minneapolis South)
  4. McGrath/Zosel (Blake School)
  5. Williams/Caballero-Saucedo  (Minneapolis North)

Section 6 - @ BSM HS (Jan 12/13)

  1. Rosenthal/Ramanujan (Wayzata)
  2. Beard/Zugic (Wayzata)
  3. Beutell/Sharron (EP)
  4. Hoffman/Mehta (EP)
  5. Khatri/Nelson (Edina)


 If you have name or place corrections please feel free to reply and let us know.

MDTA General Membership Meeting


The Fall 2008 Minnesota Debate Teachers Association General Membership Meeting will be held on Saturday September 6th at Eagan High School from 12:00 - 2:00 PM in Lecture Room A. Below is the agenda for the meeting.

General Membership Meeting Agenda

Saturday September 6, 2008
Eagan High School
1.       Membership
a.       Review and update our membership database
b.      Discuss outreach efforts to increase our membership
2.       MSHSL Sections and State
a.       Review and Discuss section realignment
b.      Review,  Discuss and Vote on MSHSL Rule Changes proposed by the MDTA Rules Committee
c.       Review and Discuss plans to hold the MSHSL State Debate Tournament at the University of Minnesota
d.      Establish section dates and host locations for the 4 sections
3.       Financial
a.       Review and Discuss the current status of our organizations funds both in the St. Paul Foundation as well as in the MDTA Checking Account
b.      Review and Discuss our organizations past grant activity including the MITY at Macalester College and the UDL here in Minnesota
c.       Discuss plans for future fundraising efforts
4.       Outreach Efforts
a.       Discuss the current state of debate participation in Minnesota
b.      Identify and Discuss future outreach efforts to increase participation in debate across the state of Minnesota
5.       Public Forum Debate
a.       Discuss the current state of Public Forum Debate in Minnesota
b.      Explore the prospect of moving the MSHSL to adopt Public Forum Debate as a state tournament event either at the festival or the state tournament levels
6.       Other MDTA Business
a.       Seek candidates for the next election for President-Elect of the MDTA
b.      MDTA Ballots – Discuss whether or not we should continue to have printed and sell official MDTA Ballots for use at local tournaments
c.       Other Business as deemed important by the members present

Minnesota Novice Case Limits for Alternative Energy Topic

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase alternative energy incentives in the United States through one or more of the following:

1. Renewable Portfolio Standards: Require a Renewable Portfolio Standard of at least 20% by the year 2020.

2. Nuclear Power: Increase incentives for Integral Fast Reactors.

3. Cap and Trade: Establish an upstream auctioned system of tradable carbon permits.

4. Biofuels: Increase incentives for domestic biofuels.

Novices can first run counterplans and kritiks starting at the Wildcat Invitationals on October 31st and November 1st

MSHSL Section Results

Congratulations to the 2008 MSHSL Tournament Participants.


Section 2
1st Place -
Brian Ashburn (Brainerd)
2nd Place -
Jenna Riley (Brainerd)
3rd Place - Kristen Dorumsgaard (St. Francis)
4th Place -
Tiffany Rootes (St. Francis)

Section 3
1st Place - Courtney Erickson (Lakeville North)
2nd Place - Tyler Traub (Lakeville North)
3rd Place - Christain Keil (Lakeville South)
4th Place - Tim Jennings (Lakeville South)

Section 4
1st Place - Hannah Johnson (St. Paul Central)
2nd Place - Soren Duggan (Forest Lake)
3rd Place - Kathryn Haglin (Forest Lake)
4th Place - Jonathan Wald (St. Paul Academy)

Section 5
1st Place - Francesca Parente (Wayzata)
2nd Place - John Scoggin (Blake)
3rd Place - Zac Field (Coon Rapids)
4th Place - Dru Svoboda (Wayzata)

Section 6
1st Place - Dan Willey (Cooper)
2nd Place - David McNeil (Edina)
3rd Place - Erik Legried (Cooper)
4th Place - Conor Doherty (Hopkins)


Section 2
1st Place -
Joe Skaggs Jr and Michelle Stanley (Moorhead)
2nd Place -
Ashley mcVay and Seiko Shastri (Moorhead)
3rd Place - Tom Freeman and Luke Gruenhagen (Brainerd)

Section 3
1st Place - Danny Bernick and Bobby Ciborowski (Henry Sibley)
2nd Place - Josh Bernick and David Wolkowicz (Henry Sibley)
3rd Place - Maddie Gardner and Gongzi (Eagan)


Section 4
1st Place - Juan Garcia and Nat Olson (Highland Park)
2nd Place - Jillian Jordan and Michael Lando (Highland Park)
3rd Place - Ilias Karim and Ben Quam (St. Paul Central)

Section 5
1st Place - Chrissy Boyd and Megan Swenson (Wayzata)
2nd Place - Hannah Furfaro and Joe Lance (Wayzata)
3rd Place - Lucia Litman and Andrew McCarty (Blake)

Section 6
1st Place - Justin Moor/Rohan Sadagopal (Edina)
2nd Place - Laura Hoffman / Kelly Sharron (Eden Prairie)
3rd Place - Brett Beutell / Tanay Mehta (Eden Prairie)

Complete results will be posted as results become available.  If you have additional results or full names for any competitors please feel free to post them as a comment below.

First weekend in the books

The first weekend of the competitive debate season is in the books and it was a great turn out at tournaments at Jefferson High School and Mankato West High Schools.

Remember that packets will be available online by clicking the results tab.  If you are you a tournament manager and want your packets to be available online make sure to send them to the MDTA.

MDTA Meeting Recap

The MDTA just held its fall membership meeting.  Did you miss the meeting or are just curious what took place.  Take a look at the meeting minutes for a complete run down of events.

Or head on over to the documents page and download the minutes along with other important supporting documents from the fall meeting including:

  • Overview of new outreach efforts
  • 2007-08 Section Realignment
  • 2008-09 Section Realignment
  • and much more...


MDTA Now Accepting Award Nominees

Dear MDTA Members:


On behalf of the MDTA Committee, I am requesting nominations for this year's "Coach of the Year" and "Distinguished Service" awards.


Please send any nominations to me by response to this e-mail address no later than Friday, August 24th, 2007.  I will thereafter submit the "Coach of the Year" nomination list to the general membership for a vote.  The "Distinguished Service" nomination list will be considered by the MDTA Committee.




Sheila Peterson


Director of Debate at Highland Park Senior High, MN


Section 4 Representative

MDTA Constitutional Amendment

During our September meeting we will be discussing a change to the current MDTA Constitution in regards to our organization that relate to the MDTA application for tax-exempt status.

Per our current bylaws it is necessary to publish this information two-weeks prior to any meeting.

The proposed Constitutional changes can be downloaded here.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Chris McDonald or Cort Sylvester and we look forward to seeing everyone in September.

MDTA Novice Case Limits Announced

Here are the 2007-08 MDTA Novice Case Limits

1. Eliminate one or more of the following funding restrictions in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS (PEPFAR):
- Abstinence promotion
- Needle exchange
- Sex workers (loyalty oath)
- Treatment vs. prevention requirement

2. Increase funding  for the training and retention of public health workers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Increase assistance for clean water and water sanitation programs

4.Increase assistance for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)

Novice Case Limits Meeting

The annual novice case limits meeting is once again going to be at Gail Sarff's house on August 14th and 5:00 P.M.

Her address is 2605 Cherrywood Road, Hopkins, MN 55305. Her Cell Phone Number is 612-916-9101.

Anybody that is interested in giving their input or wants to listen to the discussions can come.

MDTA General Membership Meeting - September 8th

Attention Members of the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association
Please mark your calendars for our fall membership meeting on Saturday September 8th at Eagan High School from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. If you cannot make it to this meeting there will be a second meeting the following Saturday September 15th at the CTAM Convention in Rochester, Minnesota. We are holding two fall meetings in order to optimize our membership participation on several key issues which we feel are very important and of interest to all members of the MDTA.
Preliminary Meeting Agenda
  1. Presentation of our outreach efforts to increase membership and participation in high school debate activities.
  2. Discussion of our foundation funds and the actions that the executive committee are taking to protect and grow our funds so that they can be used to promote and grow debate in Minnesota.
  3. Discussion of all MSHSL rules for running the state debate tournament (any changes we wish to make must be presented on September 17th to the league when the Debate Advisory Group meets with league officials).
  4. Re-Sectioning for Policy and LD debate.
  5. Public Forum: Where is the event at and where do we go from here? A discussion about making Public Forum a State Festival.
  6. Awards: Presentation of the Coach of Year and the James Graupner Outstanding Service Award.
  7. Other issues including membership, the MDTA website, judges for state, other items for the good of the organization.
If you have additional items you would like added to the agenda please e-mail me at

Gail Sarff - MSHSL Hall of Fame Member 2007

Gail Sarff’s career began as a high school head speech and debate coach after graduation from the University of Iowa in 1970. Her teams there succeeded well, taking state championships and earning trips to national competitions in debate and dramatic interpretation.

Iowa’s loss became Minnesota’s gain, when, in 1979, Sarff started the awards-winning Wayzata debate program that became the largest in the state. Her debaters earned national distinctions throughout the years, such as bids to the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky and the National Forensic League nationals in Texas.

With the debate program flourishing, Sarff urged Wayzata to start a speech team. Under Sarff’s coaching, that beginning endeavor produced a star student who attended NFL nationals three times, leading the way to Wayzata’s subsequent success in speech competitions.

Sarff serves in leadership positions in her professional organizations and is a highly sought after conference presenter and summer workshop instructor. She’s a triple diamond National Forensic League coach, and has received innumerable coaching awards, including Debate Coach of the Year, an honor that comes from votes of fellow debate coaches. She’s also the recipient of the James Graupner Distinguished Service Award, the 2006 Outstanding Individual in Communication and Theater Award, and the National Forensic League’s National Award of Excellence in Speech. Most recently, the National Federation of State High School Associations awarded Sarff the Section 5 Outstanding Speech-Theater-Debate Educator Award.

In addition to coaching speech and debate, Sarff has been a judge at League-sponsored debate and speech tournaments since 1979.

Gail Sarff is a graduate of George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She earned her BA in Speech at the University of Iowa, and her MA in Education at the University of Minnesota

Del Holz - MSHSL Hall of Fame

Del Holz joined the staff at Bloomington Jefferson High as speech coach in 1970 when the school opened. He wrote, developed, and taught courses for Jefferson’s Speech & Debate classes from 1970 to 1999.

Numbers of Holz’s students competed in the National Forensic League competitions, eight times advancing to semifinals, three times to finals. They earned dozens of state medals and claimed Minnesota state championships 13 times.

His students also participated in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy speech competitions, producing eight state finalists, four state champions, and one second place at national.

For over 20 years Holz hosted an invitational speech tournament at Jefferson on the first Saturday in February. He served as chair of Section 6AA speech from 1975-1999; as Minnesota State High School League Speech Representative for 24 years; and as a member of the League’s Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Lincoln Douglas Rules and Procedures Committee. He’s been a member of the Minnesota Debate Teachers Association Ethics Committee and the Speech Association of Minnesota Board of Governors.

Holz has several “firsts” to his credit, starting with the use of computer programs. He guided the development of “Soft Speech” by John Morton, a former extemp speaking student of his. He became the first director to do “site scheduling” for speech tournaments and to use a spreadsheet to tabulate error-free results. He also implemented a policy assuring mixed gender panels of judges at Region 6AA Subsection and Section Speech competitions.

Among honors Holz has received are the Ralph J. Streeter Outstanding Speech Coach Award, 1993; Minnesota Speech Coaches Association‘s Coach of the Year, 1998; Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota’s Outstanding Individual in Communication and Theater; and VFW Outstanding Service Award, 1999.

Holz is a graduate of Spring Lake Park High School. He earned his BS and MA degrees at the University of Minnesota.

Balloting for 2008 MSHSL State Tournament Details

Balloting for the 2008 MSHSL State Tournament is now underway.  Ballots must be recieved by April 16th.  Instructions and ballot are available below.

1. Each debate program that actively participates in either Policy or LD debate is allowed 1 vote for state debate judges in the activities that they actively compete in at section tournaments. That means that if you do Policy only then you only cast votes for Policy judges and if you do LD only you only cast votes for LD judges. If your school does both formats of debate then you can vote for both sets of judges.

2. Your votes are a little different this year than in past years. We will be using an A, B, C system of ranking judges, with A being your most preferred judges, B being your next level of preferred judges and C being your least preferred judges. You can mark up to 15 judges as A's, 10 judges as B's and the rest C's.

3. Please send you completed ballots to Bob Ihrig at Mankato West High School no later than Monday April 16th. Bob's e-mail address is: and his fax number at Mankato West High School is 507-345-8312.


- Ballot in Microsoft Excel Format (updated 4/4/2007)
- Ballot in Adobe Reader Format
(updated 4/4/2007)

Welcome to the new MDTA Web Site

Welcome to the new MDTA web site.  We are excited to get a new and modern system to better support our members of the MDTA.  The new site has many new features along with some old ones.

On the right side you will find updated membership tools including an online membership directory with complete information for all MDTA members.  In addition, you now have the power to keep your information up to date on the web site by clicking on the My Information link to the right after you have logged in.

If you have a suggestion of something you would like to see on our site, feel free to contact either DJ or Andy.

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