Joining Debate Leagues

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

PBCFL

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.

  • PRESIDENT: Traci Lowe, Suncoast HS
  • VP, INDIVIDUAL EVENTS: Paul Gaba, Wellington HS
  • VP, DEBATE EVENTS: Anna Hutcheson, Clark Advanced Learning Center
  • SECRETARY: Angie Anyzeski, Dreyfoos School of the Arts
  • TREASURER: Daryl Hall, Palm Beach Central HS

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.

NSDA

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.

  • FLORIDA OCEANFRONT NSDA DISTRICT CHAIR: Paul Gaba, Wellington HS
  • FLORIDA OCEANFRONT NSDA DISTRICT COMMITTEE MEMBER: Angie Anyzeski, Dreyfoos School of the Arts
  • FLORIDA OCEANFRONT NSDA DISTRICT COMMITTEE MEMBER: Daryl Hall, Palm Beach Central HS
  • FLORIDA OCEANFRONT NSDA DISTRICT COMMITTEE MEMBER: Richard LoSardo, Martin County HS
  • FLORIDA OCEANFRONT NSDA DISTRICT COMMITTEE MEMBER: Traci Lowe, Suncoast HS

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

Click the following link to create an account. After new coaches have completed the form from the link, please continue by clicking “Log in Now” and link yourself to your school as the “Advisor.” https://www.speechanddebate.org/join/

Once both steps have been done, complete the contact page form and send the email, which will trigger the NSDA to make the advisor change.

Coaches can log into their account page and set up their school’s membership. From the account page, please take the following steps:

Click “Renew School” on the left (from your “Account” page) to go through the renewal process to create an invoice. You will then have the option to pay with a credit card or print the PDF of the invoice to turn into your financial office. As soon as the dues are paid the school will be activated in our system, as well as having access to limited resources in our system (member level). As soon as the resource package has been paid, you will have access to all the resources.

Once your school membership has been set up, you’re ready to start adding students! As your team’s advisor, a crucial part of your role is to register students for their membership in the National Speech & Debate Association. When your students become members, they will earn points through speech and debate competition, be eligible for national recognition, and have access to online resources at their fingertips.

To create an invoice for student memberships, visit the “School Roster” page and click the word “Buy” next to a student whose individual membership you would like to pay. Clicking the “Buy” button will take you to a page where the names of all students with unpaid memberships are listed. You can toggle the button from the left to the right for each student you wish to appear on the invoice.

When you’re ready, click “Create invoice and proceed to checkout.” Once the invoice is created, any credit on your account will automatically be applied to the invoice. If the available credit does not pay off the invoice, a balance will remain, which you can elect to pay via credit card online or send in a check. If you would like to switch it to automatic billing (the system will automatically bill you on the 1st and the 15th of each month for those students with at least 25 points) , visit your School Profile and click “Autobill 25+ pts”.

The NSDA offers a comprehensive Resource Package that is an excellent aid for teaching in the classroom. Normally it costs $199 for the year; for 2020-21, the NSDA has reduced it to $99 if you purchase it by October 1, 2020. For more information on what it includes, go to https://www.speechanddebate.org/rp/.

FFL

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 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.

  • FLORIDA FORENSIC LEAGUE MACAW REGION DIRECTOR: Traci Lowe, Suncoast HS

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.

FCDI

New to the state in 2020-21 is the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI), a program announced in January 2020 that supports civics education through speech and debate programs. The mission of the FCDI is to create access and opportunities for all students to have the best civics education including curriculum, debate programs, and high-quality teachers that are catalysts for students becoming great citizens who can preserve our constitutional republic for future generations.

Sixty high and middle schools, representing 29 districts in Florida, were chosen to participate in the first phase of the FCDI. Nine are in the Southeast Florida Region, whose Regional Ambassadors are Paul Gaba and Traci Lowe. There will be three Wednesday after-school tournaments, plus a three-day national championship in March. All schools, regardless of FCDI status, are eligible to compete at FCDI tournaments, which are $3 per competitor.

  • FLORIDA CIVICS AND DEBATE INITIATIVE DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Eskin, Florida Education Foundation
  • SOUTHEAST FLORIDA REGIONAL AMBASSADOR: Paul Gaba, Wellington HS
  • SOUTHEAST FLORIDA REGIONAL AMBASSADOR: Traci Lowe, Suncoast HS

INDEPENDENT TOURNEYS

Independent tournaments are those not associated with a specific speech and debate league, usually hosted by colleges or high schools. Examples include (but are not limited to) the Yale Invitational, Florida Blue Key Invitational, Patriot Games Invitational at George Mason University, and the Barkley Forum at Emory University.