Coaching – Joining Debate Leagues

There are three debate leagues to which schools in Palm Beach and Martin counties generally belong:

1: The Palm Beach Catholic Forensic League (PBCFL) is the local affiliate of the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL), comprised of around 25-30 public and private high school programs primarily from Palm Beach and Martin counties.

Your officers, along with a number of other experienced coaches in the league, are available to answer questions, offer teaching and coaching ideas and perspectives, and assist you at both the classroom and debate tournament levels.




The PBCFL hosts around tournaments from September through April, rotating among different schools in the league. The “Grand Finals” tournament is a national championship qualifier, and individuals who advance from that tournament will compete at the NCFL “Grand National” tournament over Memorial Day weekend.

Your school will have to pay $75 dues to the PBCFL for the school year. If your school competed at last year’s PBCFL Grand Finals national qualifier but did not send students to the national championship, your team’s yearly dues are already paid.

The PBCFL “Guidelines for Behavior” and “Suggested Guidelines for Competition Attire” are included in the linked Welcome Letter at the bottom of the page, as are the “PBCFL Membership Invoice” and “NCFL Member School Data Card.”

2: The Florida Oceanfront National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) District reaches from Palm Beach north to the Indian River/Brevard county line and west to Hendry County. There are eight counties that make up Oceanfront: Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee, Highlands, Glades, and Hendry.

Roughly 25-30 schools are in the Florida Oceanfront District. Many are also in the PBCFL. There are two NSDA national qualifier district tournaments a year – the Congressional Debate qualifier, and the Speech/Debate qualifier. Students advance from both to compete at the NSDA national championship.

The NSDA was formerly known as the National Forensic League (NFL). The acronym/reference is still likely to come up in discussion.

HOW TO … Register with the National Speech & Debate Association



The NSDA uses an online results recording system, which allows coaches to update student and team results. In order to use the online recording system, you have to make sure that your NSDA dues are paid. Go to the “Join The League” link, then click either “Join” or “Renew” and follow the instructions. (Or click the “To pay with check or purchase order” link.) You need to get a check requested from your school’s book keeper for $149 made out to the National Speech & Debate Association. After the payment has been received by the NSDA, you can work with the online system. You will have to register with the NSDA. (Each individual lifetime student membership, after achieved, is $20.)

3: A third league is the Florida Forensic League. About 15-18 area schools are members of the FFL Macaw Region, which stretches from Palm Beach County north to Volusia County. The Macaw Region representative position is Traci Lowe. The FFL has three tournaments a year – a regional qualifier in early February, the state varsity championship in early March (novices are eligible to compete there, too), and a novice state championship in April.


The FFL membership drive kicks off around Sept. 1. League officers will announce when registration is open online using the Speechwire registration website; coaches can then apply for membership. The deadline for registration without financial penalty is December 15. Membership is $70 for the year if a returning FFL program, $35 if your school has not been a member in the past three years. FYI, 6-7 Macaw Region entries in each event will qualify for Varsity State; the exact number is still to be determined. To compete at Novice State, teams need to have at least one competitor at the regional tournament.

LINK: Palm Beach Martin 2019-20 Debate Coach Welcome Letter