Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum

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The Team

Students

Reece Likeke Aguilar

Reece is a freshman majoring in English and is currently enrolled in the Honors College at UNLV. He competed in policy debate and in individual events for four years at Loyola High School, in Los Angeles, CA. In high school policy debate, Aguilar qualified for the prestigious High School Tournament of Champions and The National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament. He aspires to be either a lawyer or to teach English at his high school alma mater.


Jerrelle Berrios

Jerrell Berrios

Jerrell Berrios is a junior majoring in Philosophy: Law and Justice. He competed in Lincoln-Douglas debate for two years at Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, where he qualified for National Forensic League (NFL) nationals in 2011 and 2012. Berrios' ultimate goal as a member of the UNLV Debate Team is to qualify for the elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament.


Sara Beth Brooks

Sara Beth Brooks

Sara Beth Brooks is a senior majoring in Communication Studies. She began her debate career at Los Rios Community Colleges and also competed for California State University, Fullerton, before coming to UNLV. In the 2014-2015 season, Brooks and her partner finished as an octafinalist at tournaments at the UMKC and Weber State University debate tournaments, and won the UNLV Las Vegas Classic debate tournament by besting nearly 100 teams. Brooks also advanced to the double-octafinals of the CEDA National Championship and she also represented UNLV at the 2015 National Debate Tournament. For the past two years, she has been named a National Debate Scholar for her excellence in both academics and debate. Brooks is also very active in UNLV CSUN Student Government, where she currently serves as the Attorney General.

Kevin Carrera

Kevin Carrera is a junior majoring in Philosophy. He debated at Green Valley High School in Henderson, NV for 2 years. Kevin is currently in his 4th year debating at UNLV.


Cade Cottrell

Cade Cottrell is a junior majoring in Communication Studies. He debated for Lone Peak High School, in Highland UT, where was awarded the top speaker at the Utah State Championship Debate Tournament in his senior year. Cade is currently debating in his fourth year at UNLV. For the past two years, Cade has been the argument coach at Green Valley High School, where he helped coach the first team from Clark County School District in over two decades to qualify for the prestigious Tournament of Champions.


Matthew Gomez

Matthew Gomez

Matthew Gomez is a sophomore majoring in political science. Matthew began debating in Utah at Bingham High School where he became the first team in school history to qualify to the Tournament of Champions and finish in the top 16 at the National Forensics League Tournament. Following high school, Matthew attended Weber State University for his freshman year, winning the Idaho State University Tournament, taking top speaker awards at Arizona State University and the University of Nevada, UNLV's Las Vegas Invitational, and winning the Freshman of the Year award in CEDA's District II. He transferred to UNLV in fall 2014 and is looking forward to representing the Rebels at debate tournaments across the nation.


Jeffrey Horn

Jeffrey Horn is a freshman enrolled in UNLV’s Honors College majoring in political science. He debated for Green Valley High School in Henderson, NV. Horn qualified to the National Speech and Debate Tournament his sophomore, junior, and senior years, debating in the elimination rounds each year and receiving top 10 speaker awards his junior and senior year. In his senior year, Horn appeared in late elimination rounds in numerous nationally competitive tournaments and qualified to the prestigious Tournament of Champions.


Roman Kezios

Roman Kezios

Roman Kezios is a junior majoring in Political Science. He debated for four years at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA. He advanced to the elimination of multiple tournaments, including quarterfinals of the Golden Desert Tournament at UNLV, and he was first speaker at the Victory Briefs Tournament. During the 2014-2015 competitive season, Roman advanced to the elimination rounds at multiple regular-season collegiate debate tournaments including UNLV and Weber State University.


Zane Miller

Zane Miller is a freshman enrolled in UNLV’s Honors College majoring in Political Science. He is from Boise, Idaho, where he attended Centennial High School and debated for all four years he was there. He has won multiple speaker awards and in-state tournaments in Idaho. He qualified to National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament three times and advanced to elimination rounds at over a dozen tournaments. He is happy to be a part of the UNLV Debate Team and is looking forward to a successful college debate career.


Zane Miller

Zane Miller is a freshman enrolled in UNLV’s Honors College majoring in Political Science. He is from Boise, Idaho, where he attended Centennial High School and debated for all four years he was there. He has won multiple speaker awards and in-state tournaments in Idaho. He qualified to National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament three times and advanced to elimination rounds at over a dozen tournaments. He is happy to be a part of the UNLV Debate Team and is looking forward to a successful college debate career.


Rose Nordberg

Rose Nordberg is a frosh majoring in Film Studies. She debated for two years at Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, NV, where she was the team captain for policy debate. Nordberg also was a news anchor for her high school’s broadcast program, until they told her she spoke way too fast. She hopes to continue to develop her debate skills at UNLV and to venture further into the world of policy debate.


Christian Ogata

Christian Ogata

Christian Ogata is a junior majoring in Political Science. He debated for three years at Centennial High School in Boise, ID, where he advanced to the elimination rounds at multiple TOC bid tournaments and received speaker awards at national tournaments like Gonzaga University and The National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament (12th speaker). During his first year at UNLV, he and his partner advanced to the final round of the Cal State University, Northridge tournament where he also received the 3rd Speaker Award. He has since advanced to the elimination rounds of multiple tournaments including UNLV, Weber State University, and Arizona State University.


Rylee Taylor

Rylee Taylor

Rylee Taylor is a sophomore majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Gender Studies. Taylor debated for two years at West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. She was a participant in the UNLV Rebel Debate Institute the summer of 2013, and was a lab leader at the 2014 and 2015 summer Rebel Debate Institutes. She is currently serving as a Senator for the College of Liberal Arts in UNLV’s CSUN Student Government. Taylor hopes to become further involved within the debate community and to continue to improve her debate skills. Her ultimate goal as a member of the UNLV Debate Team is to qualify for the elimination rounds of the National Debate Tournament.


Courtnhi Vo

Courtnhi Vo

Courtnhi Vo is a sophomore majoring in Psychology. She debated for four years (two years in policy debate) at Canyon Springs High School Leadership and Law Preparatory Academy in North Las Vegas, NV. She debated her freshman year for UNLV and advanced to semi-finals of the Cal State University, Fullerton tournament. Vo hopes that continuing her debate career at UNLV will help her further hone her communication skills to assist her with her goal of becoming a lawyer.


Coaching Staff

Jake Thompson

Jacob "Jake" Thompson

Jacob Thompson debated at Wayne State University (B.A., 1999), where he learned the value of a great coaching staff, a personal dedication to hard work, and the transformative power of practice. While debating for Wayne State, Thompson competed in the elimination rounds of the NDT and several major national tournaments. After debating at Wayne State, he worked for five years as an assistant debate coach at the University of Kansas, where he also completed his M.A. and Ph.D. (2006). Working at Kansas reinforced his lessons from Wayne State, but also gave him unique insight into argument and coaching strategy. Thompson then worked for three years as the director of forensics at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). In 2005, he coached the UNI debate team to be ranked as the "Most Improved University Debate Team in America".

Thompson took the position as the director of debate at UNLV in 2007, and thanks to the generous support of Dr. and Mrs. Berman, he was essentially able to create the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum from the ground up. In his short time at UNLV, the team has had amazing successes. Thompson predicts even greater success for our program in the future and has been focusing on fundraising and recruiting, which will allow the team to bring some of the best and brightest debaters to compete for UNLV's program. The UNLV Debate Program is quickly becoming one of the best in the nation. Their ultimate goal is to be consistently ranked as one of the top-10 debate programs in America and to win a national championship (or several of them).

In addition, Thompson is committed to expanding access to policy debate for students throughout the Clark County School District. In 2011, he created the Las Vegas Debate League (LVDL) and LVDL Advisory Board. In its short existence, the LVDL has successfully attracted thousands of dollars in external support, has resuscitated policy debate in the CCSD, and continues to add CCSD middle and high schools to the ranks of those that field policy debate teams. Generally speaking, his scholarly interests lie in the areas of argumentation, political communication, and U.S. foreign policy rhetoric. Overall, with the help of the rest of our amazing coaching staff, Thompson hopes to make UNLV one of the most competitive debate programs in the nation.


Matthew Jallits

Matthew Jallits

Matthew Jallits is an MA candidate in UNLV's Department of Communication Studies. He spent the past four years debating for UNLV, where he advanced to numerous elimination rounds of tournaments throughout his career, including Gonzaga University, Idaho State University, and the University of California, Berkeley. As a sophomore, Matthew qualified to the National Debate Tournament. Additionally, in 2015, Jallits and his partner won the Arizona State University Debate Tournament and were ranked as the tournament's top two speakers. Jallits looks forward to coaching the UNLV team this year.


Bill Russell

Bill Russell is in his first year as the Assistant Director of Debate at UNLV. He is from Miami, Florida. He debated at Georgia State University, and at Emory University and qualified for the National Debate Tournament, reaching the elimination rounds all three years, and was named as one of the top ten speakers at the NDT three times. Bill also twice received First Round Bids to the NDT, and received top ten speaker awards at over thirty five tournaments. Bill served as Assistant Director of Debate at Dartmouth College for nine years, coaching a national champion, national finalist, national semifinalist, and seventeen first round teams. During that time Bill was voted one of the Top Five judges of the Nineties in a survey of coaches and debaters who participated during much of that time. Bill graduated magna cum laude from Tulane Law School, and has spent the last nine years practicing law in New Orleans, and had a case tried before the Supreme Court. Bill has two siblings, two dogs, and is married. He is very excited to be back in college debate, and working with the UNLV debate team and is looking forward to a season of excellence.


Tyler Snelling

Tyler Snelling joins the Communication Studies department at UNLV as a M.A. candidate and assistant coach. He debated for three years in Omaha, Nebraska at Millard South High School, where he won the Nebraska State championship and attended the Tournament of Champions & the National Forensic League Tournament. While completing his undergraduate degree at Concordia College - Moorhead, Tyler qualified to the National Debate Tournament twice, won the Emporia State Tournament and the D7 District Qualifying tournament. He is excited to continue his studies of political rhetoric and help guide the rebels to success throughout the season.