The UTNIF Approach
UTNIF Public Forum workshops are designed for students of all skill levels and they will be placed into the appropriate instructional group at the discretion of the curriculum director at the start of the program. Less experienced students will be introduced to the foundations of argument construction, presentation and speaking, tournament preparation, and in round strategy. Students with more experience will finely hone debating skills and work with the unique structure of the PF activity to develop strategic approaches to victory. All students will give many practice speeches, have practice debates, rebuttal re-dos, and do stop/start skills drills. All students will participate in experience-appropriate discussions and background seminars on rotating PF topics. The goal is to train students to seamlessly incorporate sound argument and persuasion skills into competition rounds. Students will learn to how to incorporate evidence into their speeches without becoming dependent upon it. All students will receive a world class experience and education, with the skills, confidence and preparation necessary to succeed in Public Forum debate during the regular season.
Meet Our Staff
Kirsten Nash, Director of UTNIF Public Forum, is the director of forensics at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas, where she has been coaching for 14 years. Under Kirsten’s leadership, the Hendrickson team has won 5 UIL State Championships, had a TFA State Champion Speaker in Policy Debate, and multiple state finalists and NSDA and TOC elimination round participants in PF, CX, Extemp, Congress, Oratory, DI and World School’s Debate. Kirsten's student won the 2019 NSDA National Tournament in International Extemporaneous Speaking. The Hendrickson team was awarded as a NSDA School of Honor in 2016. Kirsten has served as the President of the Texas Forensic Association and is currently the TFA Archivist and on the NSDA Heart of Texas District Committee. This is Kirsten's fourth year at UTNIF.
Ryan Hennessey, Assistant Director of UTNIF Public Forum, is a Double Diamond Coach in the NSDA and currently works as the Curriculum Coach and District Coordinator for Speech/Debate and Journalism for Cy Fair ISD. Prior to this, he was the Director of Speech and Debate at Klein High School for 15 years. Over his years as a head coach, his students have qualified to TFA State, UIL State, the TOC, NIETOC, and NSDA Nationals in a variety events. He has coached several TFA and UIL State Champions. In PF specifically, he has coached students who have reached late out rounds at many national tournaments including Harvard, the TOC, and NSDA Nationals. This is his first year to work at UTNIF PF and he couldn’t be more excited to be working with you all this summer!
Andy Stubbs is the debate coach at St. John's School. He competed in Policy debate and advanced to late elimination rounds at NSDA Nationals twice and received a speaker award in 2007. Andy has coached PF teams into invites to the Stanford, Berkeley, Strake, and Kandi King Round Robins. He also works with the Houston Urban Debate League and the Harris County Department of Education's CASE Debates initiative to bring debate to schools across Harris County. This is Andy's sixth year at UTNIF.
"UTNIF was the first debate camp I went to so I felt intimidated being in a sea of new faces in an activity I was unfamiliar with. By the end of camp, I was good friends with all of the students and lab leaders I met there and I still keep in touch with many of them even three years after the camp. In addition to the friends and connections I made, UTNIF prepared me extremely well for the debate circuit the next year. The camp really felt individualized - I had ample time to work personally with the lab leaders who are some of the best at any camp in the nation. UTNIF helped to lay the foundation for my next three years of debate by teaching me both the fundamentals of how Public Forum works and exposing me to a myriad of different types of arguments."
- Caden Day (UTNIF 2016)
"UTNIF was an incredibly enriching and educational experience. Through amazing teaching, great coaches, and quality material, the camp taught me to hone my skills in debate and accomplish things I thought weren't possible. Most of all, I made lasting friendships and connections with other campers and lab leaders, finding a community and family of people that share my interests. This camp doesn't just foster a great educational experience where you can find your voice, but also creates some of the most memorable moments of your life. At UTNIF, you won't just find an amazing education, but an amazing home as well."
- Aditya Manjul, Seven Lakes High School (UTNIF 2017)
"When attending the PF portion of the UTNIF speech and debate camp, I found that there were advantages unique to the community and staff at the Camp that anyone, truly invested in the event, would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The most notable aspect of the camp being that the staff took an obvious and personal interest in the growth that each camper underwent. Rather than applying a one size fits all policy to each lab, the entirety of the staff worked tirelessly to evaluate each camper on an individual level and apply the necessary drills and tactics in order to help us progress in our respective areas. This growth not only encompassed our skill within debate, but our ability to find confidence in both our arguments and ourselves. Before attending the UTNIF PF camp, I had become too focused and in some regards worried about the minutia of the technical aspect of debate, as well as, my ability to fulfill my role in the activity. However, following my time at UTNIF I noticed that in-round strategy became easier for me to execute allowing the entire narrative of the round to fall into place. My confidence also continued to soar, as I remembered the words and advice of my instructors, allowing me to win rounds and advance in tournaments that I had never envisioned I would be able to before. UTNIF PF is not only a remarkable camp for debate skill development, it is a family as well."
- Victoria Menendez, Saint Mary’s Hall (UTNIF 2018)