Debate Camp - Staff

Jayhawk Debate Institute Staff 

The Jayhawk Debate Institute year after year has one of the finest staff of debate coaches and instructors you will find anywhere in the country. Here is a list of some of the great staff members at the 2020 JDI!

Camp Director - Dr. Scott Harris

Dr. Harris is the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate at the University of Kansas.  He has won numerous debate coaching awards including: the Educator of the Year Award from the KSCA in 2019 and in 2018; the James J. Unger Coaching Award in 2018, the Ovid Davis Coaching Award in 2018, the Jeffrey W. Jarman Award in 2017; the David Brownlee Debate Coach of the Year Award in 2015; the Northwestern Debate Society Award for excellence in coaching in 2010;  the Ovid Davis Coaching Award in 2009; the George Ziegelmueller Award for excellence in debate coaching in 2006;  and the Debate Coach of the Year Award from Wake Forest University in 2006. He is currently President of the Cross Examination Debate Association. He served as President of the American Forensic Association 2012-2014 and Vice-President 2010-2012.  He has taught at many debate camps including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Stanford University, the University of Iowa and Baylor University and has taught debate in Beijing China.

Associate Camp Director - Benton Bajorek

Benton is a PhD student in the Department of Communication Studies. He is an Assistant Debate Coach at the University of Kansas and Debate Coach at Bishop Seabury. He began his debate career at Arkansas State University where he competed in multiple forms of debate including Parliamentary, IPDA, Team IPDA, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum.  During his time competing, he received several top speaker awards, won first place at multiple tournaments, and ended his senior season as a 2015 Team IPDA National Semifinalist. He has been a member of the University of Kansas debate coaching staff for 3 years.

Assistant Camp Director - Alaina Walberg

Alaina is completing her 2nd year as a master’s student in the Communication Studies department at the University of Kansas. She is an Assistant Debate Coach at teh University of Kansas. 

Alaina also coached at Blue Valley North this past year, where she had teams in elimination rounds of countless tournaments, including a quarterfinals appearance at the Tournament of Champions. As a debater at Baylor University, she was an NDT qualifier and appeared in elimination rounds at both local and national tournaments. As a high school debater for Olathe Northwest, she was the top speaker at the NSDA national tournament. Alaina has taught at a number of debate camps over the last five years, including the JDI and the UMKC Summer Debate Institute.


Selection of teaching staff for the 2020 JDI is in process. Below are individuals who taught at last year's JDI.



Ian Beier

Ian is debat coach at College Preperatory School in Oakland CA.and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas.   He has been an assistant coach at the University of Kansas for 4 years. He was formerly Assistant Coach at Damien High School. In 2015, his squad was in finals of the NSDA tournament, octofinals of the NDCA tournament, and participated in deep elimination rounds at several national tournaments. Prior to his time at Damien, he was the Assistant Director of Debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  As a debater at the University of Northern Iowa he qualified for the National Debate Tournament and won the Heart of America Tournament hosted at the University of Kansas. Ian has extensive experience teaching at numerous debate camps.



Lexi Oatman

​Lexi just graduated with a B.A. in Speech-Language and Hearing Sciences from the University of Kansas and plans to pursue a Master's degree in Speech- Language Pathology. She has been an assistant coach at Blue Valley Southwest High School for the past 4 years. While coaching, she focused on teaching first year debaters the basic fundamentals of the activity. She also worked closely with the program's top varsity teams and traveled to national tournaments, including the Tournament of Champions and the NDCA. She received the NSDA Three Trail District's Distinguished Alumni of the Year award in 2015 and the Kansas Speech & Communication Association's Student of the Year Scholarship in 2016 for the work she has done in the Kansas high school debate community. This will be her second year working at the JDI.





Cecilia Cerja

Cecilia is a second year master’s student of Communication Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Cecilia also teaches at the University of Northern Iowa. Her favorite part about teaching is seeing the growth of her students as they get better at giving speeches throughout the semester. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Affairs at James Madison University. While at JMU she was a member of the JMU Policy Debate team. She is currently an assistant coach for the University of Texas-Dallas Policy debate team and is the graduate assistant for the UNI Lincoln Douglass debate team. Cecilia’s favorite part of debate is getting to see debaters talk passionately about their favorite arguments.


Eric Short

Eric has a master’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of Northern Iowa. He is currently a Teaching Specialist at the University of Minnesota and an assistant debate coach at the U of M and Niles West High School. At the University of Minnesota, he teaches classes in Public Speaking and Small Group Communication. As a coach, his teams have cleared to deep elimination rounds and won speaker awards at every major national tournament, including semifinals of the 2015 National Debate Tournament, winning the 2017 Greenhill Tournament and finals of the 2018 NSDA National Tournament. Eric has worked summer camps since 2003 and prioritizes working with students on skills they need to both execute and beat any type of debate argument. 


Josh Michael

Josh recently received his master’s degree in Communication Studies from Baylor University and will begin his PhD studies this fall at the University of Southern California. He debated for both the University of Florida and the University of West Georgia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. As a debater, Josh made it to the Quarterfinals of CEDA and the Double-Octofinals of the NDT. For the past two years he has coached at Baylor where three teams have made it to elimination rounds at the NDT. The thing Josh enjoys most about debate is witnessing how students grow when they encounter new literature bases, especially when it relates to parts of their identity they have previously struggled to express.


Peg Wefald

Peg received her master’s degree in Economics from the University of Illinois-Chicago and her bachelor’s degree, with honors, in Economics from the University of Kansas. From 2012-2016, Peg was a member of the KU debate team. While debating at KU, she had many competitive successes including winning the 2015 Bear Shock Tournament at Wichita State University. Prior to her time at KU, Peg debated at Manhattan High School where she accrued 11 single season DCI bids, not including additional bids she received outside of the regular season, making her a DCI bid record holder. This will be her fifth summer teaching at the JDI.


Jamie Welch

Jamie is a recent graduate of Wichita State University with a degree in Political Science and will be pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Washburn University this fall. Jamie was a four time NDT qualifier, an NDT double octofinalist in 2019, and made numerous elimination round appearances throughout her career. Additionally, she received a 2019 CEDA All-American award, an award that honors thirty individual debaters from across the country for their competitive and academic success as well as their contributions to their team. Throughout the last few years, Jamie has coached for multiple high schools including Campus, Maize, Kapaun Mt. Carmel, and Blue Valley Southwest on both the local and national circuits. Her teams have been state semi-finalists and made it to elimination rounds of the NCFL tournament.

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2020 Debate Camp
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