Utah's finest intercollegiate debate team. Since 1922.

Weber State Debate


Weber State Debate:  
WSU's Oldest and Most Competitive Team

1889:            Weber Stake Academy, a Church of Latter-day Saints preparatory school, is founded. Weber Stake Academy hosts its first debates.  Resolved: That the educations of the sexes should be equal.  At the time, the State of Utah - through a constitutional provision - established the right to vote for all citizens of the State, nearly five decades before the Federal Government.

1918:             "Weber Academy" becomes Weber Normal College.  It is still an L.D.S. institution, and quickly earns a reputation for excellence in teaching.  This excellence is achieved, in part, by a strong commitment to Debate, Public Speaking, and the Arts. "The first courses in college curriculum were added in 1916 and these quickly became a major focus of the school.  By this period of time, an organization of student body leaders had been effected; the school colors of purple and white established; athletic programs for both men and women initiated; and programs in public speaking, debate and the performing arts strengthened(Official Utah State History, 1996).


1918-22:         Weber Normal College continues to strengthen its commitment to intramural debating:"The school continued to develop and enhance a strong debate and forensics program and a number of student social and honor societies were established as were several traditions associated with the found of the school." (Official Utah State History, 1996)


1922:               Weber Normal College ends high school classes and the student body is now exclusively composed of post-secondary degree seekers. However, Weber College debatesOgden City High School in its first competitive debate meet

1928:               Leland H. Monson is appointed Debate Director.  In his first year as director, Weber College takes first at Phi Rho Pi under Dr. Monson's leadership.

1928-31:        Weber College begins to debate Spokane University (WA.) regularly starting in 1928.  The 1931 debate topic was Resolved: That the nations should adopt a policy of free trade. Eventually renamed Spokane Junior College, the debates attract large audiences and have a unique "no-decision" format.

1929:              Weber College travels to Kern Co. (CA.) to debate Bakersfield City College


1930:              Weber College debate goes on an 11 campus debate tour, with major stops in Missouri, Ohio, and the New England states.   The Villanovian stated: "...Weber College is noted for its debating teams and lost year sent a team to England to debate Oxford and other English universities."  In addition, Weber also debates Boston College and Temple for the first time.

Mr. Syphers would later be appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson to head up the Interstate Commerce Commission. However, he is most famously remembered for being a leader in the fight for the L.D.S. Church to open its doors to African-Americans, an advocacy he adopted ahead of the curve and he argued with a passion:

"In all humility I must say that God has not inspired me to feel good about the Church's practices regarding Negroes.... when my wife and I went to San Francisco Ward's bishop to renew our temple recommends, he told us that anyone who could not accept the Church's stand on Negroes as divine doctrine was not supporting the General Authorities and could not go to the temple. Later, in an interview with the stake president we were told the same thing: if you express doubts about the divinity of this "doctrine" you cannot go to the temple (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Winter 1967. p.6 )."

1930-32:      Weber College debater and iconoclastic scholar, Fawn M. Brodie (McKay), goes on to become the first female professor of history at the U.C.L.A.  Her scholarship includespsychohistoryand she authored the critically acclaimedThomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (1975).

1932:              At the height of the Great Depression, Weber College travels to Parson's College(KS.), now Labette Community College.  The stories of how the Weber College debate team attended meets during this difficult time are amazing: "Perhaps one of the interesting episodes arising out of the lack of funds for came when the Weber College team from Ogden, Utah, scheduled a trip to Southern California on they called "official hitch hiking." The tracking interviewed and for the debate team to travel to its on freight tracks." (Egbert Ray Nichols, 1933).

1933:               L.D.S. Church transfers Weber College to the State of Utah, and "Weber Normal College" becomes Weber College - a state funded two-year junior college.

1933:               Weber College debaters force a rare "tie" against future President Richard Nixon, who was debating quite successfully for Whitter College (CA.).  It was widely reputed, at the time, that the future-president-to-be was very difficult to beat, and the majority of teams who debated him simply lost.

1933-34:         Weber College has an exceptionally competitive year, winning 104 of 154 debates throughout the season and taking 2nd place at Phi Rho Pi nationals. Weber College's Phi Rho Pi Chapter is recognized as the largest in the country with 22 members.  The chapter's student leadership is headed up by Roy Ross (President), Barbara Lindquist (Vice President) and W. Lyman Roberts (Secretary).

1934:            Weber College debate coach and future Dean of the Social Sciences College at Weber State, John Q. Blaylock, becomes principal of Weber High School. Blaylock, along with high school English teacher, Sidney Leavitt Wyatt, reformulate the curriculum, adding debate classes and scholastic debate activities at Weber High School.  Weber College hosts its 1st Annual High School tournament.  Weber High School is in attendance.  

1934-35:          Debaters, Spencer Jackson Klomp and Kathleen Foulger, meet at Weber College and become debate partners. They were the only co-ed partnership on the team and place 2nd at the Pacific Coast Tournament.  They later marry, and raise five children.  Mr. Klomp became the president of Western Petroleum.  He served on the Ogden School Board for 12 years, including serving as its president.  In 2002, he was awarded the Lewis Shurtliff Award  by Weber State University for his contributions in the field of education.  In 2008 and 2009, they pass on in Ogden as beloved community members.

1935:              Weber College wins the Utah-Idaho Championship

1937-49:        Weber College competes at the Linfield College Invitational (OR.).  In the Women's Division of the 1938 tournament, Weber captures 2nd place.  In 1948, Weber College places 3rd. In, 1949, with 148 teams in attendance, the Weber College places 1st (Kayne Kilburn & Dick Nilsson). Professor Monson describes the Linfield College tournament as "perhaps the hardest tournament in the Pacific coast area." 

1940:             Weber College hosts the Phi Rho Pi national tournament.

1941-1945:   Weber College debate travel is suspended, as it is as virtually every other American university during the war effort.  Many Weber College debaters and students served in this historic conflict, and many did not come home to Ogden.  Professor Monson, aware of this painful fact, arranges a memorial vigil to honor the fallen in 1943.  Also, Professor Monson focuses on intramural and community based service to keep the team's organization from decaying during this period of sacrifice and concern for the greater good. 

1943:           Leland Monson helps organize a World War II memorial ceremony at Weber College. Ten alumni are honored as fallen soldiers and another four as missing in action. 

1947:            Dr. E. Carl Green, Associate Professor of English, becomes the assistant debate coach under Dr. Monson.

1947:             Weber College places at every tournament they attend, including a final round appearance at the Western States Phi Kappa Delta tournament.  The annual high school tournament grows to 500 competitors.

1948:              Weber College Hosts Phi Rho Pi nationals and wins sweepstakes.  Team member,Laurence J. Burton, would go to become first a professor of political science at Weber State and then an assistant to Utah Congressman Aldous Dixon and later Governor George D. Clyde.  It is in this capacity at the governor's office in 1961 that Burton is credited with assisting in the legislative battle to make Weber College a four year institution.

1948:              Weber College travels to an important tournament at Pueblo Junior College (CO.)


1948-49:         Leland Monson serves as President of Phi Rho Pi

1949:               Weber College hosts more than 800 high school students at the largest debate and speech tournament in the nation.  President Dixon makes an appearance to greet the wave of competitors.  In attendance, is the future first female governor of Utah, Governor Olene Smith Walker,  competing on behalf of Weber High School. She is recruited to Weber College that year on a debate scholarship.

1950:              Weber College attends the Western Speech Association debate tournament in California 

1952:              Future Director of Forensics, Robert Mukai of Ogden, is the undefeated top seed at 1952 the National Debate Tournament for the University of Utah.  Upon graduation, he is awarded the designation of outstanding senior and is admitted into the Owl and Key national honorary society.

1953:           Weber College travels 2 teams 4000 miles to the University of Virginia to debate the likes of Dartmouth, Princeton and MIT.  58 schools attend the national level tournament.  Tom Burton, son of Weber College debater Lawrence Burton, is named "best debater" of the tournament.

1954:              Weber College debates - and beats - the "Best of Utah" at Utah State


1956:              The annual high school tournament is now attracting 1200 competitors.

1956-58:         Leland Monson serves as President of Phi Rho Pi

1959-60:         Weber College travels to Washington and begins a friendly rivalry with both  Gonzaga and Whitman College.  Gonzaga wins the "Men's division" and Weber wins the "Women's division." in the second year of their competition.

1961-62:        After serving as assistant debate coach at Weber College for 14 years, E. Carl Green is elected President of Phi Rho Pi

1961:             Weber College celebrates the 25 year of hosting its high school tournament, with more than 1,500 competitors in attendance

1962:            "Weber College" becomes Weber State College, a public institution awarding four year degrees.

1963:             The high school tournament continues to attract 1,500 competitors every year.

1965:            Legendary director of over 30 years, Leland Monson, retires as debate coach but remains at Weber State as chair of the Humanities Division.  Robert Mukai is hired to direct the debate team.  Weber State wins sweepstakes at its first tournament with Mukai at the helm hosted at Brigham Young University.  The Wildcats place ahead of the College of Eastern Utah (2nd) and the University of Utah (3rd). Debaters, Mary Clarke and Kathy Burke, place second.

1965:              Weber State hosts more than 1,000 high school students at the largest debate and speech tournament in the nation.  In addition, Weber State holds a series of competitive speaking events in Ogden highlighting the Vietnam conflict.

1966:               Beloved Assistant Professor and Director of Forensics,  Captain (Ret., U.S. Army) Robert Mukai, Esq., and two members of Weber State College Debate team (Mary Clarke & Clifford Hughes), are killed in a tragic car accident while returning from a debate tournament in California.  Professor Mukai was born and raised in Ogden, and strong evidence suggests that Professor Mukai was 8-0 and top seed after preliminary debates at the 1952 N.D.T. for the University of Utah (we know that he had has qualified in 1951 as well).  He was also a scholar of forensic pedagogy in secondary education.  Posthumously, Professor Mukai was named one of the "Top 50" most influential role models for young Utah lawyers by the Utah Bar Association.  As the Weber State yearbook, the Acorn, stated: "Robert Mukai, in all his personal relations, brought to Weber debaters the friendly exchange of ideas and a sense of unity not before felt on campus." 

1967:               John Hebestreet becomes Director of Forensics. Weber State freshman debater, Randy J. Scott, steps up to become "debate team manager" for the year.  The Intermountain West's largest high school debate tournament continues to be held.

1969:               David M. Kennedy, former Weber College debater, becomes Secretary of the U.S. Treasury


1970:               Weber State debaters and future Professors of Communication, Becky Sparkman (Johns) and Randolph Scott, win the "Best of Utah" championships at the College of Eastern Utah.

1971:             Weber State College is chosen as one of thirty five sites to host the University of Victoria's international debate team.  The New Zealand team debated the question Resolved:  That social injustice justifies violent protest. John Hebestreet coached the team of Doug Threkheld and Diane Braegger to best the pair from New Zealand.

1975-76:        Weber State Debate struggles with changing competitive norms in college forensics.  In spite of competitive success of the speech team, the organization suffers an identity crisis.  Participation numbers plummet.  Alumni and donors become concerned.  Its historic mission - to distinguish Weber State through competitive argumentative and debating excellent - is jeopardized. 

1977:             Ogden businessman and Weber Debate alum, Paul Valentine Skeen (Class of 1967), organizes a community backlash against Dean Robert S. Mikkelsen's decision to terminate funding for the team (Dean Mikkelsen was both a Weber College debater, Class of 1948, and a former student director of the Women's division of the high school tournament under Professor Monson).  Administrators partly reverse the decision and hire Weber State Debate alum Randolph J. Scott to serve as Director of Forensics.   Randy, as he did in 1967, steps in to save Weber's oldest and most competitive team from losing its way.

1981:            Under Randolph J. Scott's directorship, Weber State College qualifies Jill Niederhauser and J. Wayne Alldrege as its first team to the 35th annual  National Debate Tournament.  Ms. Niederhauser Parrish, Esq., would become one of the first female justices of the Utah Supreme Court.

1981-82:       Director Randolph J. Scott serves as President of Cross Examination Debate Association.

1983:            David Berube becomes the Director of Forensics.

1985:            The "Weber State Round Robin" - dedicated to excellence in intercollegiate debating - is hosted for the first time, endowed by the Val A. Browning Foundation.

1985:            Weber State debaters, Kevin Boyer & Bill Whicker win the Cross Examination Debate Association final  tournament (the de facto C.E.D.A. national championship prior to 1986) hosted by the University of Nevada-Reno.  Kevin also receives the "Individual Achievement of the Year" award from Weber State University.

1986:             Pierre Heidrich becomes the Director of Forensics.  Weber State hosts Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha with more than 1000 attendees.  Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa is voted  "Speaker of the Year."

1987:              Weber State debaters, Tony Justman and Jimmy Summers, clears to the elimination rounds of the 41st annual  N.D.T.  as the 11th seed.  This is the first time Weber State debuts in the elimination rounds of the N.D.T.  However, they are defeated by West Georgia College.

1987-88:         Rebecca Johns serves as the first Assistant Director of Forensics.  One of the first women in N.D.T. history to direct an intercollegiate policy debate program.  Hosts the N.D.T. as well.  Now, Professor of Communication.   Weber State also qualifies two teams to the N.D.T., the first time this difficult feat is accomplished.

1988:              Weber State College hosts the 42nd annual N.D.T.


1988:              Weber State debaters, Tony Justman and Jim Summers, clear to the double octafinals of the 42nd annual N.D.T. and defeat CSU-Fullerton on a 5-0 decision.  Although they are the 8th pre-bid and have a 6-2 records in prelims, they are defeated by Harvard University on a 4-1 decision.  Mr. Justman was also the Outstanding Student of the Year for the Department of Communication.    Also, Lisa Johnson and Howard Allen qualify for the N.D.T. as the "B team."

1988-2001:      Under Director Micheal "Bear" Bryant, Weber State University racks up two "top 16 teams" pre-bids and  two elimination round appearances at the National Debate Tournament in a span of three years.

1989:               Weber State debaters, Ted Bixby & Jim Summers, capture the 7th pre-bid, and the 9th and 10th speaker awards at the 43rd annual N.D.T., but in a heart breaker, fail to qualify for elimination rounds. Also, Lisa Johnson, debating with partner Korry Harvey, qualified and competes at her second N.D.T. - the first woman from Weber State to achieve this distinction.

1989-91:         Susan Malone serves as Assistant Director of Forensics.  Susan was a former successful Weber State debater and is now the principal at Hillcrest High School (Midvale, UT).

1990:               Weber State debaters, Ted Bixby & James Martin, capture the 9th pre-bid, and once again appears in the double octafinals of the 44th annual N.D.T.  They are defeated by the University of Kentucky on a 4-1 decision.

1991:              "Weber State College" becomes Weber State University

1991:              Weber State debaters, Chad Derum & James Martin, appear in the double octafinals of the 45th annual N.D.T.  They are defeated by Emory University (Atlanta, GA.) on a 3-2 decision.

1991-93:          Michael Shelton serves as Assistant Director of Forensics.  Michael and Bear qualify Weber State teams to the 46th and 47th National Debate Tournaments.  After Weber, Mike would complete his doctorate and would become a Visiting Assistant Professor in the highly esteemed Department of Communication at the University of Kentucky.  

1994-95:         William Shanahan serves as Assistant Director of Forensics.  Weber State debaters Nick Coburn Palo and Steven Clemmons have a strong showing at the N.D.T. running the narrative, Space Traders. Mr. Clemmons is also the first African-American to qualify for the N.D.T. on behalf of Weber State University.


1995:              With a generous endowment from the Browning Foundation, the "Weber State Round Robin" becomes the Val A. Browning Round Robin - the oldest intercollegiate policy debate tournament in the Western United State.  Korry Harvey & Gabe Scott, from the University of Alaska, win the 1st annual Val Browning Round Robin.

1995-96:       With the emergence of a unified topic process, Weber State Debate merges its C.E.D.A. and N.D.T. teams into a unified policy debate squad.

1996-2000:    Eric Marlow serves as Assistant Director of Forensics

1998:             Weber State debaters, Dave Anthony & Jason Menzies and Dan Dilsaver & Aaron Muranaka, represent Weber State - as the only teams from the State of Utah - to qualify for the last N.D.T. held in the the State of Utah (the 52nd).

1999-2001:    Weber State debaters, Zach Westerfield & Mike Zahller,  qualify for three N.D.T.s: the 53th54th, and the 55th

2000-03:        Eric Mueller serves as Acting Assistant Director of Forensics and then as Acting Director of Forensics.  Weber State debaters win the Val Browning Round Robin twice in three years (Scott Odekirk & Kellen Mcaffee, 2003;  Zach Westerfield & Mike Zahler, 2001).  The 'Cats nearly sweep all three years, but are foiled by California State University-Bakersfield in finals of the 2002 tournament.

2002-03:       Jan M. Hovden serves as Assistant Director of Forensics.  Professor Scott recalls Jan Hovden as one of the "most professional and hard working" forensics directors Weber State has ever had.

2003:            Omar G. Guevara becomes Director of Forensics.  Working with department colleagues and administrators, new goals are established for the Weber State University Debate Team.  Among these goals are:  a renewed emphasis on academic performance of debaters,  doubling and then tripling participation rates among student participants, advancing goals of Diversity and inclusion, renewing ties with the Ogden community, developing partnerships and joint endeavors with the local high schools, hosting national conferences and tournaments and, most importantly, continuing to pursue competitive debate excellence. 

2003-04:        Nathan Ketsdever serves as Assistant Director of Forensics, assisted by Doug Dennis.  Mr. Dennis becomes the first African-American coach in Weber State Debate's history.

2004-05:        Debater, Michael Shackelford, receives the Tim Browning Award for Leadership at the Arizona Debate Institute.  Debating with  Desaray Odekirk (Brown), and coached by Scott Odekirk, they go 4-4 at the 59th annual National Debate Tournament - the best performance for Weber State at the N.D.T. in 10 years.

2004-09:        Richard  M. Tews serves as Assistant Director of Forensics, becomes the second longest serving assistant directory in the history of the program after Professor E. Carl Green.

2005:            Debater, Michael Shackelford, makes history as the first W.S.U. debater to qualify for the National Debate Tournament four (4) times in (4) years.

2005-07:        Omar G. Guevara is elected to Chair of N.D.T. District IX

2005-09:        The University of Wyoming, under former Weber State Wildcat-turned-Cowboy Director Matthew J. Stannard (class of 1995), come to dominate the Val Browning Round Robin - winning it three times in four years.

2007:              N.D.T. double octafinalist from Eastern New Mexico University, John A. Foy,  joins the coaching staff and Weber State Debate innovates with new types of theo-philosophical arguments.

2008:              Ryan Cheek, attending his third N.D.T. for Weber State and Stacy Dawson, go 4-4 with 14 ballots at the 62nd annual National Debate Tournament.  Best Wildcat performance since the 1995 N.D.T.

2009:               The Wasatch Homeschool Debate League is formed by Weber State Debate alum, Sam Martineau (Class of 2010).  The first of its kind in the Intermountain West.  The annual Fall Championship tournament is subsequently held every year at Weber State University.

2009:               Shola Adesanwo becomes the first African-American woman to qualify for the 63rd annual National Debate Tournament on behalf of Weber State University.

2009-10:        Upon completing his M.A. from the University of Wyoming, John M. Foy serves as Acting Assistant Director of Forensics.

2009-12:        N.D.T. District IX is dissolved, and the programs of the Northern Rockies join with District II. Omar G. Guevara is elected to a three-year appointment as chair of this newly merged district.

2009-12:       Weber State hosts the District II Qualifying Tournament for the National Debate Tournament (2011 cancelled due to last minute weather emergency). 

2010:             Stacy Dawson and Emmalou Rees, become the first team to attend the 64th annual  National Debate Tournament on behalf of Weber State University composed of two women.  In the 2010-2011 academic year, 46 full-time Weber State students traveled and competed. This established a new high for participation numbers.  

2010:            Debater, Stacy Dawson (Class of 2010) becomes the 2nd Wildcat debater to qualify for the National Debate Tournament four (4) consecutive in four (4) years. She is also the first woman to achieve this very rare accomplishment.

2010:              Weber State University hosts the C.E.D.A. Executive Committee & Topic Conference Proceedings  (Immigration).  Leading civil rights activist, and University of Iowa debater, Chris Newman delivers a powerful critique of Arizona's SB-1070 in a moving speech to the assembled debate community and W.S.U. faculty.  Ogden's very own Jesse Garcia provided the opening remarks.

2010-11:       Veronica M. Guevara serves as Acting Assistant Director of Forensics, becomes the first Latina to join the Department of Communication faculty as a full time colleague.

2011:             Ryan K. Cheek (Class of 2008) becomes Assistant Director of Forensics after completing his M.A. from the University of Wyoming.  Ryan also becomes the youngest person to ever assume the full time faculty appointment.  Jamie Cheek, a two-time N.D.T. qualifier and octafinalist at C.E.D.A. nationals from the University of Wyoming, also joins the coaching staff.

2012:            Weber State Debate alum, Carol Shackelford (Class of 2004), received the U.H.S.A.A.  5A award for coach of the year - after her squad at Bingham H.S. wins six state championship titles.  Also, Professor Randolph J. Scott retires from the Department of Communication, after serving five (5) three-years terms as Chair.  

2012:           Weber State is the overall top ranked program in N.D.T.  District II  (Rocky Mountain - Pacific Northwest) for the first time since 1992.

2009-13:  Weber State hosts the U.H.S.A.A. State Forensics Championship for Divisions III and V. Weber State has regularly held at least a portion of this event since 2009.

2013:          Weber State University hosts the 67th annual National Debate Tournament.

2013:          Weber State is the overall top ranked program in N.D.T.  District II  (Rocky Mountain - Pacific Northwest) for the second year in a row.  


2014:          Weber State University hosts the National Debate Coaches Association  national championship tournament and the Cross Examination Debate Association Executive Committee Meeting and national topic conference.  This summer also marks the inaugural year of the annual Weber State Debate Institute.  On September 23rd, Ogden City Council and Mayor Mike Caldwell unanimously pass a joint resolution to recognize Weber State Debate for its competitive excellence and service to the community.
2015:    Weber State sets a competitive high water mark, debating into the Elite Eight of the Cross Examination Debate Association National Championship, finishing 6th in the nation out of over 120 teams.  Weber State finishes the year as the top ranked program in the Western Conference for the 4th year in a row and the 17th overall program nationwide.
2016:    Weber State finishes the year as the top ranked debate program in the Western conference for the 5th year in a row and the 14th overall program nationwide. Weber State Debate, once again, hosts the Cross Examination Debate Association Executive Committee Meeting and national topic conference in Ogden (Climate Change).

2016:   Former Director of Debate, Michael "Bear" Bryant dies at 58.  His loss is felt widely by his hundreds of former debaters.  Desaray Oderkirk (Brown) - NDT Qualifier and 2005 Alumna - is also killed tragically in car accident.  She was 35 years old.  The Wildcat Debate family goes into an extended period of mourning.

2017:   Weber State finishes the years as the top ranked debate program in the CEDA Western conference for the 6th year in a row and the 22nd overall program nationwide.  Weber State Debate, once again, hosts the National Debate Coaches Association Championship.  

2017:    Weber State Debaters Kinsee Gaither and Misty Tippets clear at the 71st National Debate Tournaments (5-3-16) hosted at the University of Kansas.  They defeat Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) on a 4-1 decision.  In the octafinals, they are bested by the University of California Berkeley on a 4-1 decision.  GT is the first all woman team from Weber State to appear in the elimination rounds of the NDT, and the first Weber State team to appears in the Sweet Sixteen round since 1991.  Misty also becomes the third only Weber State debater to qualify for the National Debate Tournament four times (4) in four years (4).

2017: Weber State University hosts the 12th annual National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) championship tournament for the second time in four years.  Director Omar Guevara is given the Outstanding Service Award.