Debate coach promoted to full-time program head at both campuses

By Luke Holthouse

After transforming the Harvard-Westlake Lincoln Douglas debate team into one of the top programs in the country, Mike Bietz has been promoted to Program Director of Debate, overseeing both Middle School and Upper School Debate. He was formerly a part-time employee as the head coach of the Upper School Lincoln-Douglas debate team but will now work full time with the school and on both campuses.

“Since I was 18 years-old, I’ve been a part-time debate coach,” Bietz said. “It’s always been something I had to try to balance with another job, so I’m super excited to have it be number one.”

Since he started at Harvard-Westlake, Bietz coached an individual debater to a first-place finish at eight different national invitation tournaments. He coached Ben Sprung-Keyser ’11 to a championship at the National Forensics League, the official organizer of Lincoln-Douglas debate National Championship in 2010. He has coached two National Champions, 22 National Tournaments of Champions qualifiers and one Tournament of Champions National Champion. Also, Bietz is the only coach ever in Lincoln-Douglas debate to coach a National Champion at National Forensics and Tournament of Champions in the same year.

Bietz was also the director of Victory Briefs Institute, a debate organization that hosts one of the nation’s largest debate camps. Alumni of Victory Briefs have won eight consecutive National Forensics League National Championships since 2004.

He plans to have the team join the Western Forensics League giving students a chance to debate in both local and national tournaments. He said that it was difficult for some to participate on the team because it involved frequent traveling and students often had to miss school for tournaments.