Mean Green Comet Debate Institute

Middle School

What to Expect

Our Middle School division enters its 8th year and celebrates more than 700 students who have joined us since 2014. Our staff has worked with high school and middle school students for decades. We pride ourselves on setting the standard for debate training everywhere. With this model, we continue to provide superior summer instruction in competitive speech and debate for middle school students with the goal of remaining one of the leading Middle School summer speech & debate camps in the world.

Solid Foundations Built with Contemporary Instruction

Competing on today's speech and debate circuits requires the ability to blend an understanding of traditional concepts with an eagerness to explore new ideas and strategies.

Our senior teaching staff were selected because of their experience as classroom teachers who demonstrate a commitment to mastering changing practices. Building champions requires low teacher-student ratios, high quality practice sessions, and one-on-one attention. Our classroom sessions are limited to an 8:1 ratio. Students learn research, writing, and presentation skills and engage in daily practice. Our balanced approach ensures students have the most well-rounded experience possible.

Setting the Standard

As middle school debate continues to grow in the area and around the country, we are proud to be among the first to offer a summer program for competitive debate at the highest level. Our staff has more than a decade of experience directing one of the nation's leading speech and debate workshops. Alumni have enjoyed incredible success at local, regional, and national level competitions at the high school and college levels and have matriculated to some of the finest colleges in the world.

Purposeful lessons allow us to establish high standards targeted at building solid foundations reinforced through practice. Students in competitive debate at the middle school level excel over their peers in areas of critical thinking, close reading of literature, and writing. The confidence gained through participation positively affects students in all areas of their academic and social lives.

Student-Centered Instruction

Students are divided into small “labs” based on their experience which mimic classrooms and are led by two or more instructors. Our goal is to place our most experienced teachers alongside contemporary champions in each event to provide a well-rounded approach to learning. Instruction is tailored to the individual student with the goal of meeting students where they are and guiding them along their own competitive paths.

Individual Attention

As a father, a lifelong educator, and champion debate coach, I know well the importance of participation in speech and debate. In a rapidly changing world, young people require strong analytical and advocacy skills to face tomorrow’s challenges. Competitive speech and debate help provide these invaluable skills. More than just trophies, we aim to help students cultivate a voice. Speakers and debaters know this, and that is why many are already busy preparing for the 22-23 season.

Summer workshop is vital to the success of forensic competitors. A week of debate camp equates to roughly a semester of class time. In days past, these camps were afforded only to the elite, and their weeks of preparation put them far ahead of their opponents. Those students who wish to excel will be attending camp of some kind, and we clearly understand the kind of impact losing instruction will have compared to peers. This is why we have brought a national-level workshop to the North Texas area.

Middle School Schedules 2023

  • Sessions will be held daily 9am-8pm with multiple breaks throughout
  • Sunday instruction includes the option to sleep in and take a morning break
  • More detailed schedules will be released in early June

Lincoln Douglas Schedule Public Forum Schedule Intro to Public Speaking Schedule

Session Descriptions

Lincoln Douglas

This program concentrates exclusively on Lincoln Douglas Debate and aims to be the most rigorous experience available for Middle School LD debaters. This program will serve students with 1+ year of competitive debate experience. The lectures, strategy sessions, and curriculum will not repeat from previous years. Students will read and assess critical theoretical books and essays, will be required to engage in extensive research and progressive argument and case writing, and will learn how to work with advanced policy arguments. Participants in the advanced workshop will compete in a tournament at the end of the session. This program will provide the same curricular goals as a third-year high school policy debate program but is tailored for highly successful Middle School Lincoln Douglas Debaters preparing for a competitive tournament schedule. The LD Scholars program will invite our most competitive and experienced students into advanced sessions on their own that account for their previous success and prepare them for the next level.

Public Forum

This program will concentrate exclusively on Public Forum Debate and is suitable for students who have 1+ years competitive experience in PF debate. Students will receive instruction in Public Forum that will provide a foundation for Middle School tournament success. The program has a focus on balance, with a curriculum that concentrates on speaking, presentation, and delivery at the same time teaches research techniques, basic argumentation, and case writing. The goal of this session is to help students develop the skills necessary to propel themselves forward in Middle School public forum debate tournaments. The PF Scholars program invites our most competitive and experienced students into advanced sessions on their own that account for their previous success and prepare them for the next level.

Middle School Introduction to Speech & Debate

This session is designed for middle school students (grades 5-8) interested in gaining an introduction to a broad range of speech & debate events and is designed for students with less than 1 year of experience. Students will work in very low ratios with experienced classroom teachers to discover the world of competitive speech and debate. Consistent with our philosophy, we will focus on helping students develop a love of expressing themselves in a competitive environment while also offering an environment to improve academic skills. Concentrations include speech delivery, organization, and writing. Students will prepare and deliver speeches in Original Oratory, Extemporaneous Speaking, impromptu, Public Forum, and/or Congressional debate. Evening activities will focus on providing students with a break while also exploring concepts important to their development during this week. These introductory sessions are sure to provide a balanced experience that sends students home eager to continue exploring speech and debate during the school year.

Divisions, Dates and Pricing

Section Dates In-Person Commuter Online

Middle School – Lincoln-Douglas

June 30 – July 13




Middle School – Public Forum

June 30 – July 13




Middle School – Intro to Public Speaking

July 7 – July 13




Division Director

Jason Sykes, Ph.D.

Dr. Sykes is the Director of Speech & Debate at Coppell High School. He has coached debate since 1997, and he worked at several summer institutes before establishing UNT's Mean Green Workshops, which he directed for 13 years until UNT and UTD combined their camp efforts.

Dr. Sykes’s students are highly decorated across several events. Their recent accolades include participation in late elimination rounds at major tournaments in Texas and across the country, the Tournament of Champions school sweepstakes award, four TFA State championship in the last 3 years, and top honors at the Glenbrooks, Harvard, and the Tournament of Champions, among others.

Dr. Sykes was inducted into the TFA Hall of Fame in 2020 and won the St. Mark’s Acolyte Award in 2006. He served on the TFA Executive Council from 2005 to 2009, the Lone Star NSDA District Committee from 2007 to 2009, and the North Texas Longhorns NSDA District Committee from 2019 to 2021. He is a Life Member of the National Debate Coaches Association.

As a college debater, Dr. Sykes competed in CX Debate at the University of North Texas. He won several tournaments and speaker awards and advanced to the elimination rounds of more than two-dozen events, including the National Debate Tournament and four CEDA National Championship tournaments, where he was honored as an All-American and 15th Place Speaker.

Assistant Division Director

Toby Whisenhunt

Director of Debate, Highland Park ISD for 16 years

Toby has qualified teams for the CX UIL State tournament in 15 of those years, making it to elimination rounds frequently. He also has had students advance to the semifinals of the UIL State Tournament in Lincoln Douglas including back to back years in 2021 and 2022. He has qualified numerous competitors for the Texas Forensic Association tournament which includes a top speaker and a state championship in Cross Examination. He has qualified teams for the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky and had debaters advance to elimination rounds including a 2nd place finish in 2006. He developed and implemented the middle school debate curriculum at Highland Park ISD and regularly fields teams of 7th and 8th graders who successfully compete at high school competitions. His passion for debate, ability to connect with students, and skill of explaining complex concepts in an accessible way makes him an ideal coach for novice and experienced debaters alike.

Division Staff

Dr. Brian Lain

Dr. Brian Lain is an Associate Professor and Director of Debate at the University of North Texas (UNT). Dr. Lain has coached students to every college debate and speech national qualifier including:

  • The National Debate Tournament (with 2 top speakers and several first-round at large teams),
  • The Cross-Examination National Debate Tournament (with a top speaker and a 2nd place team),
  • The National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence (with two elimination round participants),
  • The National Parliamentary Debate Tournament (several Elimination round teams),
  • The Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament (with several showcase speakers),
  • The AFA National Speech Tournament,
  • The US Universities World’s Tournament, and
  • The National Forensics Association Tournament.

Dr. Lain is a well-known teacher at the University of North Texas having won the ‘Fessor Graham Award at the University of North Texas in 2014 (the highest honor given by the UNT Student Body). He was recently named UNT’s exemplary online instructor in 2019. Dr. Lain has served as Director of Debate at UNT since 2002. Under his direction, UNT Debate has excelled in national and international competition. The program has consistently been ranked in the top 30 programs by points rankings.

Dr. Lain’s research program focuses on assessment in debate and he led a research team investigating the relationship between summer debate camps and civic engagement development among adolescents.

Erick Berdugo

Director of Debate, South Grand Prairie

Erick has coached for over 30 years. His students have competed at national tournaments including TOC, MBA Round Robin, and Genbrooks. He is currently the Director of Debate at South Grand Prairie HS whose students have taken the LD division at the UIL District Level. Erick also teached college level Physics for high school students through the University of Texas OnRAMPS program. He is also actively involved in scientific research where he has several published articles in the fields of Physical Chemistry and Crystallography.

Ciarra McClinton

First year out and will be attending Baylor University in the fall and will be debating for the Baylor Bears. Over the past three years, I have competed in numerous tournaments and my senior year broke at nearly every bid tournament I attended. During my last year of debate I got really into critical blackness literature and have read authors from Wilderson to Fanon to Hartman. I am stoked to work with you all at camp and can’t wait to see you grow!

Brenden Dimmig

Brenden is the Director of Speech and Debate at Melissa High School. This past year, Brenden was the Assistant Director of Debate at the Delbarton School. At Delbarton, he helped create the middle school debate program and assisted multiple teams in earning silver and gold TOC bids in Public Forum. Before coming to Delbarton, Brenden helped coach parliamentary debate as a graduate debate coach at the University of North Texas. He also helped coach teams to TFA State elims, nationals, UIL State semis, and UIL State finals. Brenden is excited to be back at MeanGreenComet, and helping students reach their potential!

Jose Sanchez

I am about to be a senior at the University of North Texas, where I am studying English Language Arts and communication to obtain teacher certification. I have a passion for reading, writing, and education and have varying levels of experiences in both planning and instruction. In the 8 years I have been involved in Speech and Debate, I have helped teach others at high school and summer camps every year since I graduated - this year will be my 3rd year returning to help with the Mean Green Comet. I really enjoyed teaching and learning from an amazing group of students last year, and hope this year will once again be just as great.

Mak Kovar

Rising senior at the University of Texas at Dallas studying political science and gender studies. In addition to my high school and college debate careers, I have used debate skills for professional speech writing, submitting official policy recommendations to non-governmental organizations, assisting with political research, and community organizing. This will be my fourth year returning to teach at MGC. I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with the next generation of debate students.

Sathvika Masina

In the fall, I will be a freshman at Texas A&M University. I will be studying Computer Science. I have competed in public forum debate at Coppell High School for four years. I am looking forward to working with a great group of students this summer!

Rohan Palavali

I will be a freshman at Rice University in the fall majoring in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. I've competed in public forum debate for three years at Coppell High School. I can't wait to help teach the next generation of speech and debate students!

Mahika Vura

I have been a part of debate at Coppell High School for 4 years! I’ve participated in various events from policy to interp. I’m very excited to have been presented with this opportunity and can’t wait to spread my knowledge!

Joseph Cyrus

Joseph Cyrus is currently a rising junior at Bradley University, studying music and entertainment industry and journalism with a double minor in political science and economics. In high school, Joseph competed for Midlothian High School in Midlothian, TX where he saw outrounds in numerous speech events on the state and national level. On the collegiate level, Joseph has seen numerous outrounds on the national level, with the most recent being 5th place in POI at the AFA National Speech Tournament. During the school year Joseph works with elementary and middle school students for Peoria Public Schools as a coach and is very excited to work with more wonderful students this summer!

Tim Lewis

Director of Debate at Damien High School

Tim Lewis is the Director of Debate at Damien High School in La Verne, CA. Tim was an assistant coach at Damien High School where his students received a total of 6 TOC bids across the last three years (five in Policy and one in LD). Tim's teams have notably won the University of Washington Championship and Georgetown Day, been in the finals of Berkeley, Long Beach and The Meadows tournaments, were semi-finalists at Alta, and have been recognized by the University of Michigan's National Coaches poll as receiving votes for being a Top 25-Team among other successes.Previously, Tim was the Head Coach and Director of Debate at Hebron High School in Carrollton, TX where he was the most holistically successful speech and debate coach in program history with students in speech and debate placing at national-level tournaments and championships. Tim is a scholar-practitioner of cultural studies and critical theory. Tim debated for Damien High School in La Verne, CA where he was in no fewer than five TOC bid rounds.

Townes Schultz

Townes Schultz is an incoming freshman to the University of Kansas and has been debating for four years. In their policy debate career at Westside High School, they've reached the semifinals and top 10 speakers of TFA state twice and qualified to the tournament of champions twice, the first team from their high school to do so. Their senior year, they broke and reached the bid round or further at nearly every national tournament they attended. This is their first year at MGC and they are excited to work with a great group of students this summer!

Tristan Rios

Will be attending UT Dallas in the fall for Computer Science. They are notable for getting to Finals of the NYC invitational along with second speaker their senior year, and qualifying for the Tournament of Champions. They also have been in charge of teaching middle school debate at Lopez where some of their passion for coaching was ignited. They are extremely excited to be helping out and making this camp the best experience possible for everyone involved!

Enroll Now!

Click Here to Enroll

MGCDI in now open! Follow the link above to reserve your spot in our 2024 summer program. The final deadline for all registration is June 9th, 2024.