The debate team consists of students and coaches

The Team


Bridget Beckett

Bridget Beckett is a senior majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Family Studies. She began her debate career in her junior year at UNLV and is entering her second year as a debater on the team. Bridget plans to apply for law school upon graduation with hopes of attending Boyd. She desires to learn effective communications skills from debate for her future career as a lawyer.

Brett Boelkens

Brett Boelkens is a first year enrolled in the UNLV Honors College majoring in Architecture. Boelkens debated at Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Lincoln Douglas for one year and Policy for one year. He and his partner reached semi-finals at the Nevada State Tournament.

Joe Bradley

Joe Bradley

Joe Bradley is a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies. He transferred to UNLV in fall 2017 from George Mason University where he debated for two years. Last year at UNLV he made it to elimination rounds at multiple tournaments in the JV division and moved into competing in the varsity division. After graduation, Joe hopes to attend a top-tier law school and eventually work to improve the U.S. Legal system.

Simon Lamsal

Simon Lamsal

Simon Lamsal is a Junior majoring in Business Information Management. Simon is also an international student from Nepal. He started his debating journey in Nepal during high school where competed in World Schools Debate (WSDC) and British Parliamentary debate formats for two years. Simon reached the finals of the National Debate Fest in his home country, which motivated him to continue his debating journey in America. Simon spent his first year debating in Novice and JV accomplishing a lot in a short time. He and his partner have won several tournaments and have been successful in reaching the final round of multiple tournaments. He looks to continue his education in the field of Data Analytics and hopes to become a Data Scientist one day.

Joshua Padilla

Joshua Padilla

Joshua Padilla is a Junior majoring in Civil Engineering. He debated for 2 years in Lincoln-Douglas and occasionally in Congressional debate at Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has been on the team for more than 2 years and has competed in multiple collegiate tournaments at the Novice and JV level. Joshua most notably reached the Quarter Finals at the 2019 D1 Pacific Championships at the JV level and was a tournament winner at the 2019 Winter at the Beach and USC Alan Nichols Tournaments at the Novice level. Joshua hopes to continue to find success in debate and further improve his communication skills to help him succeed in the future.

Madeline “Max” Reese

Max Reese

Max Reese is a sophomore majoring in English and minoring in Spanish. Reese debated for four years at McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada. In that time they qualified to the National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament twice. Reese also was named top speaker at the Arizona State University invitational two years in a row. In their senior year, Reese and their debate partner advanced to the out-rounds of every major national tournament they attended, and they advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Tournament of Champions. In college, they and their partner advanced to the semi-finals of the ASU invitational, and the octo-finals at the American Debate Association national tournament. Following graduation, they hope to attend law school and pursue a career in immigration law.

Allie Ryerson

Allie Ryerson

Allie Ryerson is a Junior enrolled in the UNLV Honors College majoring in Accounting and minoring in the Brookings Public Policy Program. Ryerson attended Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada where she competed in public forum debate for one year and policy debate for three years. She participated in Las Vegas Debate League throughout her high school career and attended the Rebel Debate Institute in the summer of 2016. During her senior year of high school, Ryerson and her partner finished in fourteenth place, out of more than 200 teams, at the National Speech and Debate Association National Championship Tournament. Last year, Ryerson and her partner advanced to the semi-finals of the Arizona State Tournament and the octafinals of the ADA Nationals Tournament. Following graduation, Ryerson plans on working as a tax specialist at a Certified Public Accounting firm.

Alex Zavala

Alex Zavala is a freshman majoring in Communication Studies. Alex attended Coral Academy of Science, Las Vegas and competed in public forum debate for four years. In that time, he and his partner reached quarterfinals at the Nevada State Tournament his junior year and finals his senior year. During his senior year, he also was ranked first in National Speech and Debate Association points among public forum debaters in the state of Nevada. He also competed at UNLV’s Golden Desert Debate Tournament and took second speaker overall his senior year. Alex looks forward to learning the ins and outs of collegiate policy debate. After graduation, he hopes to become a professional speechwriter or a speech and debate coach.

Coaching Staff

Jacob 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, creating the UNLV Debate Team from the ground up. In his decade at UNLV, the team has had amazing successes, and has steadily improved year after year. The UNLV Debate Team is now consistently ranked among the top ten policy debate programs in the nation. The team has become a national powerhouse with the capability to win multiple national championships. In 2018 Thompson was awarded The “George Ziegelmueller Coaching Excellence Award” by the Board of Trustees of the National Debate Tournament.

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. Thompson also directs the program's summer debate camp for middle and high school students. Generally speaking, his scholarly interests lie in the areas of argumentation, political campaign debates, and U.S. foreign policy rhetoric. Overall, with the help of the rest of our amazing coaching staff, Thompson hopes that UNLV will consistently be one of the most competitive debate programs in America.

Tom Gliniecki

Tom Gliniecki

Tom Gliniecki returns as the Assistant Director of the team for his fourth year, after UNLV’s two most competitively successful seasons to date. He received his undergraduate degree in International Relations while debating for Michigan State University, and went on to earn his Master’s in Communication Studies from UNLV. After gaining coaching experience working with the debate team at Dartmouth College and the National Debate Tournament semifinalist team at Michigan State University, he returned to UNLV to help the Rebels compete at the highest levels of the activity.

Connor Munsinger

Connor Munsinger joins the UNLV coaching staff as an Assistant Debate Coach after receiving a B.S. in Economics from Michigan State University. Connor competed in policy debate for Sioux Falls Roosevelt in high school and continued his career at MSU, where he debated for three years. He achieved a high level of success in college debate, including receiving an invitation to the Kentucky Round Robin, and is excited to continue his participation in the activity as a coach. Connor looks forward to working with the team and helping the program continue to build upon its accomplishments.