Tom Umstattd’s Thoughts About the Parents’ and Coaches’ Workshops,

 NCFCA and CFC in General after the National Debate Tournament, June 2004


Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

  My, now graduated, 18 year-old son, Thomas, has been very interested in public speech, debate and politics for about 6 years.  In our family, he has been the driving force in these important worthy endeavors.  In 2000, he won second in team policy, in the home school debate tournament, launching him into numerous opportunities in politics, government, interning in the Texas Legislature, working on various campaigns, etc.  This last school year, he won first place in impromptu speaking in the home school NCFCA Texas Speech and Debate Tournament.  After some discussion, Thomas and I decided to go to Lynchburg, Virginia to the national tournament.

  At the national tournament, sponsored by Liberty University, I was generally absolutely impressed.  The caliber of speakers, content of subjects, topicality of issues, and timing of the workshops were far superior to anything I have seen in any venue in many years, at any level.  At least at the top of this organization, the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) and Communicators For Christ (CFC), are America ’s best.     I told my 16 year old daughter, Cynthia, who I am very disappointed that I did not have go to this tournament with her older brother, Thomas , that under this home school program, she could learn in 2 years, what has taken her parents a lifetime to learn.  Now Cynthia can learn from NCFCA:  formal speech and debate which can provide a means for home schooled students to learn and exercise analytical and oratorical skills, addressing life issues from a Biblical worldview in a manner that glorifies God.  So can my other children:  David, William and John.

  The challenge for NCFCA is to have this professionalism trickle-down to those at the debate club level.  In Texas, this has been happening, somewhat, especially in DFW, Houston and Corpus areas and at the Texas State level.  After there being no home school debate tournaments in Texas in 2002, the past 2 years have seen a tremendous growth and development.  Mike Lambert, president of NCFCA moved to Midland, TX in about 2002.  Between he, HSLDA president, Tim Lambert and others, the NCFCA in Texas has grown like beans in a rainy summer.

    We realized in 1999, that debating in the public school system (with UIL & TFL) was incompatible with what we esteem as home school believers.  We desire more than anything to raise godly seed, to make our children disciples of the Lord Jesus, to empower them to constructively touch the world, as “they contend with their enemies within the gate,” to teach them to organize their thoughts, speaking clearly and persuasively and be respectful.  UIL  & TFL coaches do not reign in immoral lines of argumentation of their contestants, the winner of an individual event topic in 1999 was on “Teenage Lesbian Vampires.”  Speed and spread, or talking faster than normal people can understand, was venerated; godly principals not.

  There is a temptation by us Christian home schoolers, to take the world’s system, and insert our Christianity into it, instead of using our Biblical world view as a basis, and creating something from God Himself.  For example, changing 1 alcoholic + 1 alcoholic = 2 alcoholics to 1 apostle + 1 apostle = 2 apostles is not the methodology to make a Christian curriculum.  What we as Christians often do are to make the sign of the cross over our plagiarism of the world’s system, and call it Christian home schooling.  We have the Christian world view given to us by God Himself in the Bible.  We have His Son’s body active here on earth in the form of us, His church, expressed in many locations throughout each town.  The NCFCA is not copying the world.  NCFCA and CFC have created, a living, developing, delightful venue of speech and debate, where parents and students learn together.


  After attending the national debate tournament in Lynchburg, VA, I have these thoughts and comments:

  1. My son, Thomas, was the first debater from the Austin area to attend the national debate tournament since 2000 when Austin teams took 1st and 2nd place in team policy debate in the Texas State debate tournament.  This is when Austin had a debate class/club with Coach Kay Hart.  In about 1998, a Texas team took first place in nationals.
  2. 39 states with 455 contestants were represented at nationals.  The strongest states were California, Oregon, Hawaii, Georgia, Louisiana, Colorado, Florida, Alabama, Maryland, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas and Michigan.
  3. Texas showed up a little.  Although Texas’ 2 best debaters, the twins, Aaron and Alicia Watson were eliminated by Hawaii in the first "out" round of the finals, they got most and next most speaker points of all.
  4. There are more than a dozen different debate and speech events.
  5. Lincoln Douglas values debate has not existed in Texas at all in the home school community in the recent past.  It is quite popular in other states.
  6. The individual event, Extemporaneous Speaking, is considered the most valuable and rewarding competitive individual speech event in the national debate tournament.  They even devoted an entire day, just to this event.
  7. The quality of the high school contestants is superior.  As Thomas says, “These are the movers and shakers, the leaders of tomorrow.  I would think that 95% of those here will be America ’s legislators, judges, business owners…  At least they will effect positive change.”
  8. I feel like I have not adequately supported Thomas in his desire to improve his speaking skills, until very late into his 12th grade year.  I am currently embracing this shortcoming of mine, knowing that success is a poor teacher, and allowing God to teach me what He will.
  9. My responsibility in teaching my children communication, debate and oratory skills, although may be supplemented by others, cannot be delegated to others.  The art of communication is best learned at home, even when my son has much more talent and ability than I. 
  10. When I was young, I remember my parents and grandparents, especially my dad and my grandfathers, would spend countless hours discussing all manner of issues:  public figures, current events, international public policy, politics, sports, education, the Vietnam War, hippies, rock music, economics, family matters, etc.  I recall listening mostly.
  11. The home school resources are out there.  I need to get plugged in.
  12. Although I did not “do” debate in high school, it is not too late to learn.  We can learn along with our children, as we have done in so many other subjects.
Photographs from Patrick M., "Darklordofdebate"

Debate - Nat'l Tourn 6/04

Parents’ and Coaches’ Workshops

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Tom Umstattd attended these workshops in brown


9:00 Welcome


9:30 Workshops


Conquering the Chaos of IE Tab:

Konrad Hack, NCFCA Tab Director 2000-2004 (CA)

Kathy Kenny, NCFCA IE Tab 2002-2004; Tab Room Director (MS)

Charlotte Rehn, NCFCA National IE Committee, Tab Room Director (CA)


NCFCA Judging Philosophy

Christy Shipe, NCFCA Vice- President (VA)

Teresa Moon, NCFCA Director of Forensics 2000-2003 (TN)


Teaching Beginning Debate

Brett O’Donnell ( Liberty University )


10:45 Workshops


Making Debate Tab a Win-Win

Konrad Hack, NCFCA Tab Director 2000-2004 (CA)

Kim Sheffield, NCFCA National Debate Tab Room Director, 2001-2004 (CA)


Coaching Individual Events

Moderator: Teresa Moon, NCFCA Director of Forensics 2000-2003 (TN)

Heather Lane , NCFCA National IE Committee 2002-2003, IE Coach (CA)

Sono Harris, Speaker, IE Coach (OR)

Lori Culp, Former College Forensics Competitor, IE Coach (MS)

Mike Kenny, MS State Representative, Coach (MS)


Choosing and Writing an Affirmative Case

John Ross –Assistant Coach, Liberty University


Lunch (Hosted by Liberty University )

Instead of lunch, Tom judged the first round of Extemporaneous (9 speakers)


Debate at the College Level

Liberty Coaching Staff




1:30 Workshops


Evidence Use and Ethics in NCFCA

Moderator: Mike Larimer, NCFCA President, Debate Coach (TX)

Carl Doozan, Debate Coach (FL)

Lisa Lee, Debate Coach (TN)

Sue Sheffield, NCFCA Board Member, Region 5 Director, Debate Coach (CA)

Christy Shipe, NCFCA Vice- President (VA)



Coaching Policy and Values Debate

David Graham, NCFCA Board Member, NCFCA Debate Committee, Debate Coach (CA)

Diana Wolfson, IL State Representative, Debate Coach (IL)

Mike Kenny, MS State Representative, Debate Coach (MS)

                         (Tom listened to portions of both of these)

IE Orientation for Parents and Coaches

(What is included in the orientation and why.)

Teresa Moon, Teresa Moon, NCFCA Director of Forensics 2000-2003 (TN)

Charlotte Rehn, NCFCA National IE Committee, National Orienteer, 2002-2004 (CA)


2:45 Workshops


Keeping the Focus on Christ

Mike Winther, Club Director and Coach (CA)

Elliot Pope, Former NCFCA Competitor, Club Director and Coach (CA)


Team Debate Orientation for Parents and Coaches

(What is included in the orientation and why.)

Teresa Moon, Teresa Moon, NCFCA Director of Forensics 2000-2003 (TN)

David Graham, NCFCA Board Member, National Orienteer, 2002-2004 (CA)


Teaching Speaking Skills

Liberty Coaching Staff



4:00 Workshop


Town Hall Meeting

Discussion forum to address league issues

Mike Larimer, NCFCA President




No fees or registration required

Team Policy Debate possible topics for next year:

Resolution A - Resolved: That the United States should reform its federal election system.

Resolution B - Resolved: That the United States federal government should significantly reduce the power of the Department of Homeland Security.

Resolution C - Resolved: That the United States should change its energy policy to substantially reduce its dependence on foreign oil.  Resolution C is the Team Policy Debate topic for 2004-2005


Lincoln-Douglas Values Debate possible topics for next year:

Resolution A - Resolved: Democracy is overvalued

Resolution B - Resolved: The restriction of civil rights for the sake of national security is justified.  Resolution B is the LD Values Debate topic for 2004-2005


Resolution C - Resolved: Violence is a justified response to an oppressive government


New Speech Wildcard Event:  Oratorical Interpretation.  This is an interpretive event. An interpretation of a famous speech or sermon will be presented (for example, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" or Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"). The purpose of this event is to help students understand the elements of truly great communication through rhetorical analysis, and to study the historical and cultural context of influential speeches. Some of this material may be incorporated into the presentation.

  At this time, it is unclear if last year’s speech wildcard event, Impromptu Apologetics will remain an event.  I hope it does.  It makes for a great method to study scripture.