Junior receives first-place recognition competing at National Speech and Debate Tournament


Printed with permission of Alex Lee

Alex Lee ’24 (left) poses for a picture with fellow debaters at the 2022 National Speech and Debate Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. Lee and his teammates, under the name West LA Violents, beat out a large field en route to a national debate victory.

Davis Marks and Chloe Park

Alex Lee ’24 won the National Debate Championship and a speaker award at the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky on June 18. Lee’s team won the World Schools Debate division, a three versus three style of debate that is used internationally.

Lee said debate has always been personally significant to him because he found a sense of belonging in the community as an immigrant.

“When I first immigrated with my mom to America, the debate community was my second, and in some ways, my first home,” Lee said. “It took me in under its wings, and the people I have met in this activity have become my closest friends, personal role models, father figures and family. Of course, I love debate for its educational nature, the intellectual vitality it fosters and the strategically competitive argumentation, but when it comes to my passion for debate, it stems from that background.”

Debate Teacher and Speech Coach Sarina Wang said the effort Lee put into refining his debate skills allowed him to qualify for and win nationals.

“Speech and debate is an activity that rewards hard work, and I definitely saw that with [Lee],” Wang said. “Prior to nationals, he was constantly practicing with his team and striving to improve. It was extremely impressive to watch his final round in an auditorium filled with hundreds of spectators. It is difficult to even qualify for nationals, let alone beat out hundreds of the best debaters in the country to be national champion. It is no surprise that [Lee] did so well because of all the work he put into the team.”

Luke Madden ’24, one of Lee’s teammates, said he is proud of Lee’s accomplishment and thinks that the effort Lee puts into debate is shown through his success in competition.

“I am extremely happy about [Lee’s] victory in nationals and am proud about how well he represented [the school],” Madden said. “His hard work and dedication clearly show through in his excellent teamwork, argumentative ability and knowledge of philosophy, geopolitics, history and the World Schools debate style. I know how much effort he put in with his team to achieve that win and look forward to seeing what the debate season looks like in the coming months.”

1,500 schools participated in the tournament, which began June 12 and ended June 17 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. This year’s tournament was the largest in the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) history with over 8,500 students participating across the three divisions covered. Live postings, final rounds and award ceremonies were streamed online to additional viewers.

Lee said competing in the debate was extremely rewarding and he enjoyed getting to bond with his team during the trip.

“Winning Nationals felt like a culmination of my near decade-long involvement in debate,” Lee said. “[Nationals] is the biggest tournament of the year, and the top debaters from all over the world attend. Traveling to Kentucky with some of my best friends after what was nearly a year of intense training, preparation, practice tournaments and coaching felt inherently worthwhile regardless of the outcome.”