LARAMIE — The University of Wyoming (UW) is offering a program called Team Wyoming, in which high school students across the Mountain West can receive free supplemental debate coaching.
Students who sign up for the program are given the opportunity to work with UW Director of Debate Matt Liu, UW assistant coach Lawrence Zhou, and other Team Wyoming coaches from UW.
Liu said this is the first year Team Wyoming is being offered, but they are hoping to expand the program so more students within Wyoming can receive the coaching, as well as kids in surrounding states.
Team Wyoming levels the playing ground by allowing all debate students access to supplemental coaching without the thousand dollar costs other supplemental organizations charge.
Kaitlyn Campbell is a senior at Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA), an online school, and has participated on the Saratoga speech and debate team in the past. However, she said this year Saratoga did not have enough students to form a team. Luckily, Team Wyoming worked with WYVA to start a team for the virtual school this year.
Liu said Team Wyoming reached out to the WYVA principal this year to start a team for the school that is coached by the UW Debate Team this year.
“WYVA is a part of Team Wyoming, but it is unique because it is solely coached by the Team Wyoming coaching staff,” Liu said. “Team Wyoming has students from several other Wyoming schools participating, but all of them have their own coach or coaches except WYVA.”
Campbell said her experience with Team Wyoming has been “phenomenal”.
“I have learned so much about debate through Team Wyoming. It is honestly amazing how much information I’ve gained within these past few months,” Campbell said. “I went from knowing absolutely nothing about Policy Debate to being able to compete with the best in the state. The resources and advice they offer are honestly unparalleled.”
About the Coaching Staff
Team Wyoming uses the expertise of the UW Debate Team for their supplemental coaching staff. Liu, UW Director of Debate and Director of Forensics, has a master’s degree in Communication Studies from Wake Forest University. He has been involved in competitive debate for nearly 20 years.
Before coming to UW, he coached several national championships in college debate at the University of Minnesota, Wake Forest University, and Liberty University. Liu has also coached multiple national championships at the high school level while working for The Harker School, New Trier, and Bronx Science.
While attending college himself, he won and was top speaker at the American Debate Association national championship, and was a quarter-finalist at the National Debate Tournament.
Lawrence Zhou, UW assistant debate coach, has a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems with minors in Philosophy and Marketing from the University of Oklahoma. He is the Co-Director of Lincoln-Douglas Debate and Director of Publishing at the Victory Briefs Institute, and an assistant coach at The Harker School.
While attending college, he was the National Runner Up at the 2018 Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl National Competition, advanced to outrounds at the 2016 and 2018 Cross Examination Debate Association National Tournament, and championed the Beijing Language and Culture University in British Parliamentary debate.
“The UW debate team has been great every step of the way,” Campbell said of her experience in Team Wyoming. “The coaching and advice they give really shows their experience in the event.”
Learning and Improving
Campbell said not only is participating in Team Wyoming a lot of fun and educational, but the program has shifted her focus to what she’s capable of in debate. Though she isn’t sure what her goals are for the season, she feels she is better equipped having been a part of the program to dream bigger for herself.
“At the beginning of the season, I would have said, ‘do my best’, however, I think that I definitely want to qualify for nationals or even win state,” Campbell said. “At this point, I’m just focusing on learning and improving, which Team Wyoming is helping me to do every day.”
According to Campbell, Team Wyoming has offered her a more fulfilling debate season.
“This has honestly been an amazing debate experience this year, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she said.
For more information on Team Wyoming and how to apply for the program, visit the Team Wyoming website.