Lance Allen


I competed in Parli and IE’s for 4 years at Mckendree and have now coached for 6 years. That means I have a diverse background and have seen a large variety of positions.  As a coach, I have watched rounds at traditional tournaments in parli to LD out rounds at nationals. While I am competent in a K debate, I am most comfortable in the case/DA/CP debates. This means that the K needs to be well explained, whether a critical Neg or Aff. For me, in-round abuse is not necessary on T. All CP types are fine, just beat the procedural. I evaluate procedurals first and then move to rest. I tend to weigh the magnitude and probability first in impact calc. You should feel comfortable running most any position in front of me as long as it is well explained and defended. 


Alex Baldwin


TL;DR-Be nice to your opponents. Have fun and make arguments you like to make. If you have any questions that this did not answer, find me in person or message me on Facebook. Background: I did Parliamentary debate with McKendree for four years. The strategies I used while debating varied. I much preferred case debate, but I also read a variety of different K’s. I have been out of the activity for over a year now, but I still will be able to keep up with a competitive round. I really only judge one parli tournament a year (McKendree’s tournament), so keep that in mind when I judge you. Topicality/Theory: I only went for T or theory a few times during my debate career, but if you feel like you need to read T/theory in a round, do it. When reading you interps/counter interps, I ask that you either read it twice, or read it slowly so I (and your opponents) can actually get it correct to avoid confusion on the flow. These are not my favorite rounds to be a part of, but I believe they are necessary for debate to function. Do not read bad spec arguments in front of me though, please. I am ok with you being conditional, but there is a point where it becomes abusive, in my opinion. Reading a condo K, condo CP, and disad then kicking out of the K and CP is abusive (although, I may have done this once or twice). I don’t enjoy silly theory arguments so please don’t read stuff like “the AFF team must read their plan text in the 30 seconds of the PMC”. Disads: I love disad debates. My ideal debate round is any round with a politics disad and maybe a AFF specific disadvantage. Remember, impact calculus is very important. MO’s (and PMs) should tell me how their impacts interact with their opponent’s impacts and why theirs turn/outweigh the other’s. Impact calculus is where debates are won and it makes judging 100% easier. Kritiks: I read a variety of K’s when I debated, so I am comfortable with them. However, do not assume that I know everything about the K you are reading. Do not just use buzz words. I’m ok with AFF K’s as well. Keep in mind, I have been out of debate for over a year. This means if you read a K, do not automatically assume I know what you are talking about. If I cannot understand what you are talking about, it becomes very hard to vote for you. Speed: I am ok with speed. However, do not sacrifice clarity for speed. If I cannot understand you, I will say “clear.”


Lucas Barker


Background: In high school I participated in Public Forum all four years. In college, from 2010-2014 I debated in both Lincoln-Douglas and Parliamentary debate for McKendree University. Additionally, I intermittingly judge at debate tournaments. Finally, I realize the importance of a judge's paradigm and background information and if this philosophy is not comprehensive enough to answer your question(s) please do not hesitate to ask during breaks and/or before debate rounds. I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions you may have. I want you to be able to maximize your prep time.


  Approach of the critic and to decision-making- My “default setting” for a debate round is a policy making one. I believe the Affirmative should defend a topical plan and that the Negative should defend the status quo or present a competitive counter-policy option. If you believe the round should be “debated” in another way you will have to give me compelling reasons as to why that is the case. I find impacts with large magnitudes compelling, but I am also willing to vote for probability. Either way you should explain to me how your arguments interact with timeframe, probability, and magnitude. I am not particularly fond of “fact debates” since I dealt with more than enough of those in high school. I strongly encourage you to run a plan even when it’s a “fact” resolution.


  Relative importance of presentation/communication skills to the critic in decision-making- I enjoy watching debates that are passionate and include confidence when one is speaking. Ideally, you should not only be winning the round but also appear and sound as if you are winning the round. Don't be hesitant about being creative with your arguments since that will most likely leave more of an impression. Additionally, you do not have to like your opponents in a debate round, but you should at the very least be polite. Bullying and/or being a generally rude will be reflected in your speaker points and may even affect my perception of your arguments. I really enjoy when someone is funny while still being strategic in a debate round, but I do not encourage it if you know that you are not funny.


  Relative importance of on-case argumentation to the critic in decision-making- I enjoy rounds where the negative has not only provided disads, kritik, and/or a counterplan but also provides specific arguments that engage the Affirmative’s advantages. I think that case arguments are generally light or absent in most debate rounds so when they do occur I tend to enjoy those rounds more. Since I typically gave the MO I enjoy seeing rounds where the MO decides to make bold moves in the block such as willing to go for only arguments on-case (when it is the ideal choice). Finally, I am probably more persuaded by smart defensive arguments than the average judge and that is a result of having Cory Freivogel as a coach. Note: That does not mean I don’t evaluate offensive arguments! 


  Preferences on procedural arguments, counter-plans, and kritiks-


Topicality: I will vote on topicality and if you find yourself facing an un-topical affirmative and you know how to go for topicality then you should. If there isn't in-round abuse and you read topicality out of the LO with no additional arguments I don't know why I should vote for you.

Spec Arguments: I do not like spec arguments since most of the time teams only read them as a time trade-off. An adequate MG's response to spec argument for me is to just say “lol” and move to the next sheet of paper. That being said... if an Affirmative refuses to grant you links to your disadvantage/argument because they are not specifying something you should call them on it and it will be something that I consider when deciding the round.

Counterplans: A counterplan must be competitive and have a net benefit for me to vote for it. But, the Aff must also give me a reason why the CP is not competitive. If there is no net benefit I do not know why I wouldn't just vote for the Aff.

Kritiks: I am fine with Kritiks but I enjoy topic specific K's. You will have to explain the Kritik to me and provide logical reasons such as examples as to why the K matters, how it links to the Aff, and why it outweighs. You should also be able to answer a permutation to your K. If you want to run an untopical Kritcal Aff  I will listen but it may be an uphill battle for you. NOTE: If you are running multiple conditional strategies I have voted on performance contradictions when it comes to a K. Not saying it will happen all the time or most of the time BUT it has happened before. This is your activity so argue the way you want to argue

Conditionality: I am fine with conditionality (I ran conditional arguments regularly.) but I do believe that there is a tradeoff. At a certain point if you are reading an obscene amount of strategies your arguments will not be as well developed and therefore not as persuasive as your opponents. NOTE: I will not say that I will never vote for condo bad but I have yet to vote for condo bad so please keep that in mind when it comes to your strategy.

With all that being said I encourage you to use your strengths when it comes to debate, to partake in this activity in a passionate way, and debate the way you enjoy the most. I will do my best to be as open to your strategy as possible. At the end of the day I hope everyone is having fun! questioregarding it feel free to ask at the tournament.  GOOD LUCK!!! 


Beth Graham


TL;DR- I am comfortable with whatever makes the debaters most comfortable and I value clarity.           

Background- I was on the McKendree Parliamentary debate team for four years. We used a variety of strategies; however, I have always preferred case debate. I have been out of the activity for a few months, but I will be able to keep up with a competitive round. If I have trouble understanding you due to clarity, I will clear you. If you are quiet, I move closer before asking you to speak louder.

Disads/Counter Plans: I really enjoyed disadvantage debates. I appreciate the use of politics combined with an AFF specific disadvantage. When running a counter plan I ask that you read the text of your counter plan twice, slow down, or provide written copies.

Kritiks: During my career I read a variety of K’s and became comfortable with them. However, if you read a K in front of me, do not just read buzz words and assume I know everything about your K. I am okay with AFF K’s as well. I ask that you read your alternative twice, slow down, or provide written copies of the alt.

Theory/Topicality: I have read and gone for Theory or Topicality a few times during my debate career. When reading interps/counter interps, please read it twice or slow down. I understand the need to read theory/t in round; however, I do not appearance silly arguments such as “the AFF team must read their plan text in the 30 seconds of the PMC.” You can be conditional in front of me, but I also believe that there is a point were conditionality can become abusive. You should be wary of reading bad spec arguments in front of me. That said, make sure to answer bad spec arguments. If you feel that you need to read theory or topicality in a round, please do so.

Speaker Points: My speaker points float between 27-30; however, if you say something offensive or make a reprehensible argument, your speaks will reflect that.


Michael Gray


Arkansas State


Debated for A-State from 2007-2011; mostly Parli, but some IPDA and Worlds. Assistant coach for A-State from 2011-2013 and Director of Debate for A-State from 2016-present. 


I'll listen to anything, but I do not evaluate blippy claims that lack warrants or logical impact scenarios. I don't need your opponent to tell me not to evaluate an argument if you didn't make an argument. Debate jargon is useful, but it is not some magic trick that replaces argumentation. Don't try to teleport from links to terminal impacts or just call something “bad” and expect me to fill in the blanks for you. That's called intervention.


Speaker Points: These exist to reward good speakers. What is a good speaker? For me, a good speaker has little to do with who won the round. Speed doesn't make you good. Knowing lots of stuff doesn't make you good. Winning an argument doesn't make you good. It's that other thing that makes you a good speaker. Do that.


Case: The Aff has the burden of proof & the burden of rejoinder. It is your job to fairly limit the round and present a clear case that upholds the resolution. If you can convince me otherwise, do it.


I'll gladly vote on an aff K if it makes sense and wins. But listen... it’s better when your opponent can engage. So, make your aff K clear and accessible. Save the ninja stuff for neg.


T: I love a well-run topicality argument. Or 2. Or 3. I’m completely okay with collapsing to T. I actually think teams should do it more often. It’s a lost art.


Spec/Vagueness: Yes.


K: Yes. Avoid any blatant mis-readings and misapplications (please listen to this... please). You will have a difficult time winning my ballot if you're (intentionally or not) misrepresenting the nature of another person's rhetoric or using well-established theory in a way that it was not intended. Lucky for you, there’s plenty of theory out there that can be applied in a variety of ways.


DA/CP/Condi: structure, structure, structure.

My default stance is that all Neg arguments are conditional. If, however, the debate turns to theory, Aff can win condi-bad. I'll listen. I need clear articulation of theory arguments, not just blippy responses that require me to intervene to fill in the blanks.


Speed and Speed K: I prefer upbeat debate and a good pace. If you've clocked yourself (accurately), I am totally comfortable with a clear rate of speech around 275-325wmp. Some of you can go faster that that; some of you think you can go faster than that. 325wpm is probably actually much faster than you think it is. I’ve rarely seen a need for anyone to argue that fast. In all honesty, parli is at its best when highly-trained, charismatic debaters engage in argumentation at about 200-250wpm. Anything faster and you're probably repeating yourself, skipping syllables, and missing good arguments for the sake saying more words. That said, if you’re one of those super-clear talkers (you know who you are), I might be willing to tolerate your top speed for part of the debate.


And that’s the thing for me. Be CLEAR. If your speed compromises your clarity, you’re doing it wrong.


If I or your opponent calls clear and you do not respond appropriately, it will influence your speaker points. You may well win the round, but you will have done so unethically and I cannot award high speaks to unethical debaters who intentionally ignore a legit request like "clear." I will vote on a speed K... IF it links. I will not vote on "they talk fast and it's not fair." If you can’t engage the 1ac, you’ve got all that time to shell out a good K. There’s usually two of you. Shouldn’t be a problem.


Rebuttals: By the time we get to the rebuttals, I've heard enough line-by-line. I'd appreciate a bit more here, but if your rebuttal sounds exactly like your previous speech (pay attention, Neg), I'm already bored. Come on, this is your chance to really secure those speaker points. Show me that you can tend to the line-by-line and cover the flow and still give me a clear summarization of advocacy and impact analysis at the bottom. 


Time, Timers, & Beeps: Thanks and stuff off time – quickly. I prefer you time one another. If you are unable, I'll start my timer when you start debating. When my timer beeps, you get maybe 10 words before I stop flowing. Look... just time your arguments. It's not difficult to just be done talking 1 second before the timer goes... it's impressive and judges notice it. Be impressive.


At the end of the day, debate is an educational game. Education does not have to be at odds with gameplay. It's both, so do both. Make it interesting and competitive and you'll receive what you earn.


Stephen Hagan


I competed in Parli so many years ago that it is pretty much irrelevant experience. More recently as the IE coach at McKendree I have watched, judged, and assisted with debate since 2012. While I am not a traditional lay judge, you should side closer to lay than experienced with me.

Politics- I love a politics debate

K- I am down with good Ks. Explain it well, don’t assume I know about whatever philosopher you are talking about, but I love K debate- Neg or Aff

T- I think I’ve voted on T once in about 20 rounds of LD/Parli judged. It takes a lot to get me to vote on T. I won’t say I will never vote on it.

CP- I am fine with all types of CPs.

Procedurals: I would not recommend running non-topicality theory arguments in front of me. I don’t follow them well and it is probably not going to win you a vote.

Speed: I have gotten better and better with speed, I can handle a moderate amount. If I put my pen down and stop flowing you are going too fast. Don’t sacrifice understandable for speed.

Impact Calc: I give a lot of weight to probability. Then Magnitude, then time frame.

Performance: Not a lot of experience with it, I LOVE it theoretically, but I am not sure how to evaluate it. Tell me.

Final note: Debates a game. You can run some wild stuff. The game to me though has norms and I won’t abide racist/sexist/abelist arguments, debate should be a space for everyone. I will do my best not to intervene. But if you are arguing Malthus or some racist clap…


Robert Kearney

Notre Dame

Organization: Please provide a roadmap prior to speaking; just makes it simpler. Similarly, please sign-post each subcategory of an argument. For instance, for a disad, address each point: “on the link […], now onto the internal link” etc. It makes it easier for everyone to track the debate and helps ensure that the correct team wins.

Theory: For K’s, give me reasons to vote for either side based on theory or framework, otherwise the debate is just two ships passing in the night. Similarly, for T’s, I want a solid theory analysis if I’m going to vote on it.

Speed/enunciation: speak as fast as you like, but you’ll probably be docked points for speaking faster than you can enunciate. Just be clear enough that I can understand you.


Rodney McBride


I debated for McKendree from 2013-2016, qualifying for NPTE in my last two years of competition.

If I have to, I will roll my eyes, sigh, shrug, and vote for your critical Aff, but please dont lie to me about it. Make coherent arguments. Dont make me make arguments for you, I make weird arguments. I dont care about the inherency of the transparency of your jargony bargaining. Say smart things, not purposefully confusing things. I am not bothered by your speed, but be polite. Win your argument.


Brent Nicholson



This philosophy should give you a look into the way I think, but I believe that it will be totally sufficient given my outlook on debate. In the past, I’ve tried to be comprehensive, but I think that that lead to folks misinterpreting my thoughts on debate. Do not take my brevity to mean that I don’t have thoughts about debate, but rather that I think my own opinions ought not matter to you as a debater – this is, after all, your activity.

My goal as a judge is to adapt to the round that the debaters have. This may seem to be empty to y’all, and that’s fine, but my goal as a coach and judge is to facilitate debate rounds that debaters want to have. I feel capable of judging any debate and would encourage you to do you when I am your judge.

With that said, you’ll probably want a few things that I start off with to keep in mind.

- I assume all negative advocacies are conditional unless stated otherwise.

- I think timeframe and probability are more important than magnitude, but no one ever does the work, so I end up voting for extinction impacts.

- Give your opponents’ arguments the benefit of the doubt. They’re probably better than you give them credit for and underestimating them will hurt your own chances of winning.

- Role of the ballot arguments do not make sense to me: if you have to win that the aff/neg does something good to meet the role of the ballot, it seems like you’ve already won the regular-old impact debate. Keep trying! But be aware that I was probably already voting for you if you won an impact.


Ben Sessoms


Appalachian State




I debated three years in NPDA. This is my first year judging. I can handle speed as long as I can understand your pronunciation. I’m very familiar with critiques and procedurals or any other argument you want to run. As long as the argument is well articulated and has offense, I will factor it into my decision.




Short version: I am a flow judge. I take a detached role in the round and let the debaters do the arguing. In an ideal round, there will be fully fleshed out impacts with a strong framework that I can weigh the impacts through. It is vital that you have impacts or impact turns I can vote on. I will always vote on the strongest offense in the round through the lens of the framework. If you make it explicit which impacts matter, and you have a strong framework that tells me why these impacts matter, then you will easily win my ballot.


Long version: Framework is very important to me. I want my job as a judge to be as easy as possible. By the end of the round, I want it to be obvious who won the round. It makes judging easier if I have a framework that tells me which impacts I should vote on, especially in a round where both teams have multiple avenues for offense. In the absence of a framework, it is up to me to decide which impacts matter. In this case, I will defer to systemic impacts over high-magnitude, low probability impacts as systemic impacts are more tangible from my perspective. For example, I will vote on solvency of racism to any degree over stopping an unlikely nuclear war. If you have a strong framework that says otherwise, I will vote on impacts that you tell me to vote on.


Impacts are important as well. They are the only thing I will vote on. Even if an argument is well-articulated and clever, I will not vote on it unless you tell me why it matters. I need explicit impacts that your case explicitly solves. In other words, tell me why what you’re arguing matters and how your advocacy fixes it. I need offense to vote on, and solvency of impacts is most likely your best avenue to offense.


For a few other notes, I will always protect from new arguments in the rebuttals but feel free to call a point of order to make sure. When presenting a procedural, make sure you have strong voters. As mentioned above, I need offense to vote on.


In conclusion, I will vote on offense that is weighed in your favor through the framework.


Gage Simmons


I competed for 4 years in parli debate for McKendree and am now in my second year judging. I am receptive to pretty much any style of argument but I don’t love non topical K affs. That doesn’t mean you cant read them but I have a higher threshold to vote for them and think framework can be compelling against them.

Case debate is my favorite style but I am familiar with a decent  amount of Kritiks and still enjoy that type of debate. If you choose to read those type of arguments make sure to actually explain them and not just use buzzwords .

Despite not reading much theory in my career I do like theory as long as it is well done.  I am not a fan of bogus arguments you read just to waste time.


Bobby Swetz




About Me: My name is Bobby Swetz. I debated policy at Homewood Flossmoor High School, and at KCKCC and SIU in college. I have debated a number of forms of debate, but CEDA/NDT Policy and NPDA-Style Parliamentary are my areas of specialty. In 2017, I made the decision to cease debating and have served as a judge and coach for both policy and parli since.


My Judging Style: As a debater, I had a reputation of only arguing for kritiks/critiques, both on the affirmative and the negative. However, as a judge, I love to hear a wide variety of arguments. Any argument, whether it be Global Warming Impact Turns, to Topicality, to non-traditional affirmatives, are more than fair game. You will do a better job of arguing what you know best versus attempting to please me by arguing for what you think I want to hear.


Afterword: If you have any specific questions about argumentation, you are more than free to ask me before a debate. My job is both as a judicator and as an educator and I will attempt to do both to the best of my ability. 


Caleb Vines




Experience: I competed in NPDA and LD debate between 2012 and 2015 and coached novice/junior NPDA between 2015 and 2017. I have been away from the activity in the last year-and-a-half or so.


Positions: I was primarily a case/theory debater, so I am most comfortable in DA/counterplan debates, procedural debates, and net benefits frameworks. 


I understand the composition of a K and am willing to evaluate it, but have very limited background in K and philosophy lit. I want to hear the positions you're most comfortable with and that think you can win with, but I need more hand-holding in critical debate (especially if nobody was reading it five years ago). 


I understand most theoretical and procedural positions and don't require demonstrated in-round abuse on T. RVI is not an independent voting issue.


Other stuff: If you don't tell me how to evaluate the round, I will default to net benefits. I do not have a default "magnitude > probability > timeframe" or whatever to default to--if you don't tell me how to weigh the impacts I'll go to the flow and make my best guess on your weighing mechanism prioritization (but don't make me do this). 


I am loath to vote against an argument because I don't agree with the content. I read spark, prepped teams on Malthus, etc in my career. I will hear you out unless the circumstances are extreme.


Don't lie on the flow. I won't vote you down for it (I consider it the other team's job to identify and call out falsehoods), but if I know you're being deceptive I will dock speaker points.


If you try to lose the other team with a less-used voter system like stock issues, value/fact rounds, etc you run the risk of losing me too. 


I am out of practice--I am probably not as quick on the flow as I used to be, but I will let you know if I'm getting lost in the speech. Just keep an eye on me.


Amanda Walker


General I debated in Parli and LD for 2.5 years at McKendree. I graduated in 2014 and have been judging since then. Debate is a competitive academic activity, and you should pursue strategies that you feel are best for you. However, your strategy should reasonably relate to the topic. I’m not a fan of strategies that rely heavily on surprise or are overly gamey (not that I won’t vote for them, but your speaker points will suffer.) In general, if you are going to read a critical or performative strategy in front of me, you should be sure to slow down a bit and explain it thoroughly-basically ELI5. Performative advocacies are not something that I have a lot of experience with and I have not been super comfortable evaluating the few I have watched. Not to say that you shouldn’t read them in front of me, but you should be prepared to thoroughly explain how I should evaluate them. I believe the affirmative team should defend a topical plan text/advocacy. I believe this strategy is often best for education and access to the round. Critical affirmatives are fine, as long as they relate to the topic. I really like topic specific disads and counterplans. If you read a K, it should have specific links. While I view debate as a competition, that doesn’t mean you should be overly aggressive, confrontational, or just plain mean to each other. I enjoy a good joke and some sass, but there is definitely a line. Specific Positions I like a good topicality debate. I don’t need in-round abuse to vote for T. I generally think condo is good and PIC’s are bad, but I’m not opposed to a theory debate. If you can convince me otherwise and there is a decent substantive debate about it, that’s great. Unless the other team is clearly abusive, I think spec arguments, in general, are not very compelling.