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Climb Speech & Debate Camp
Staff Bios
(2020 staff shown)


Jim Hanson, Camp Director

Executive Director of Climb the Mountain Speech and Debate Foundation, Jim Hanson is one of the most successful coaches in the history of speech and debate in the United States. He has won four different Coach of the Year awards, two awards for environmental protection with paperless debating, and a Mellon grant for diversity. He has directed six different national championship teams/squads, 167 teams that advanced to CEDA or NPDA elimination rounds or qualified to the NPTE or NDT (an all time record), a national champion finalist at US Universities and he is the author of nationally acclaimed debate and individual events textbooks. He currently serves as director of the Seattle University debate program and teaches a variety of communication courses.


Ethan Phillips, Camp Assistant Director

Ethan has been involved in debate as a judge and as an assistant for Jim for the past year. He has experience in administrative work, fundraising, organizational, and outreach work for the FIRST Robotics Competition team, and the Iron Riders. Ethan brings those talents to the Climb camp for a second year along with excellent judging at middle school debate tournaments. Ethan has a great memory and helps with laptops, photography, and camp attendance. He is friendly and ready to help.

Debate Lab Leaders

Angie Tinker, LD Lab Leader

Angie has worked with Climb for 5 years and has been the assistant debate coach at Pacific Lutheran University, where she has coached teams into finals consistently. She has taught at debate camps for two years, both at the Women's Debate Institute and at Climb the Mountain. During her time as a debater, she has cleared consistently at highly competitive tournaments, notably the Remy Wilcox tournament, Berkeley Invitational, and Idaho state debate championship in high school level policy debate. At the collegiate level, Angie has cleared and defeated top teams in the National Parliamentary Debate Association format at the Mile High Swing, and in British Parliamentary debate, she has regularly been in finals elimination rounds and won the Mark O. Hatfield Invitational.

Alex Williams, Middle School 3 on 3 Parli Debate Lab Leader

Alex has been involved with debate for seven years now, as both a competitor and coach and has worked for Climb for 3+ years. They debated Public Forum for five years during which time they won state and attended the NSDA national tournament. Alex is currently a British Parliamentary debater at PLU where they have placed in the finals of regional tournaments and attended nationals two seasons running. In addition to continuing involvement with their high school team as a judge and coach, this is Alex’s second year with Climb leading the Middle School Parliamentary labs. 

Alex Lindgren-Ruby

Alex has worked with Climb, working in our afterschool program and clinics. Alex was in the USU national championship finals round for first years. They have won:

-2nd place in LD, Oregon State tournament spring 2017
-non-advancing Semi-Finalist Willamette University tournament fall 2017
-Semi-Finalist Cleveland High tournament fall 2017 (no finals were held past quarters)
-1st place Linfield College tournament spring 2018

-2nd place senior expos. Logan Will Ultimate Challenge (grants pass HS tournament) spring 2017

They were a captain on the "Cleveland Cannibals" HS debate team for the 16/17 and 17/18 school years. The captain role included:

-"stop/start" and other debate practice drills, specifically helping novices in PuFo and LD
-individual instruction/help in case-writing techniques
-lectures on theory including internal structure of contentions/advantages/disads, topicality, and use of evidence.

Alia Memon, LD Lab Leader

Alia returns for a second year as a Climb LD lab leader. She participated in Lincoln Douglas debate for 3 years at Interlake High School. She qualified to the Washington state tournament and NSDA nationals all 3 years. She co-championed the state tournament her junior year. She was in elimination rounds at NSDA nationals in both her junior and senior years. She received one TOC bid in her senior year. She was Lincoln Douglas squad captain at Interlake for 2 years in which she helped train a number of novices. She participated in impromptu speaking for 3 years in which she was a finalist at four tournaments. She helped to create a Lincoln Douglas curriculum (lesson plans and drills) for Interlake High School. She also helped oversee incoming squad captains.


Alyssa Gaston, Middle School 3 on 3 Parli Debate Lab Leader 

Alyssa has worked with climb for two years now. Alyssa competed in high school in public forum and qualified for state twice. They coached the Tahoma High School team for one year after graduation, and was the team captain for two years during high school. Currently Alyssa is the Vice President of the Seattle University Debate Union, winning multiple tournaments. Alyssa was a two time state champion for duo and DI, competing for four years in high school and qualifying for nationals twice. They also competed and won trophies through impromptu, spoken word and SPAR. Alyssa was a two time semi and quarterfinalist at the Berkeley and Stanford high school tournaments for duo and DI. Alyssa coached PF and interp for two years as high school captain. After graduating, they helped coach the team in addition to judging formally on weekends. Alyssa coached directly three subsequent interp state champions, but the core of what matters is enabling students to tell the message they want to share with the world.

Derek Hanson, Lab Leader

Derek returns for his second year with Climb. He has been participating in Speech and Debate for 14 years, beginning as a high school competitor, continuing through college, and finally as the Speech and Debate coach for Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, WA. In the last three years, he has had 23 qualifications to the State tournament from his team, and 9 qualifications to NSDA Nationals.Derek competed in Expository Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Interpretive Reading, and Extemporaneous Speaking in high school from 2006-2010. He coaches all speech events at Glacier Peak High School currently, and has been since 2016.Derek believes strongly in firm foundational instruction followed by a gradual release of responsibility. He focuses intentionally on providing direct instruction in the basics of each event and the creation of each student's material, but believes that the work in making the presentation must be done by the competitors (with oversight and advice as needed

J.Anthony Tedpahogo

J.Anthony has worked with the Climb and Rainier Scholar programs leading an entirely new program to a first place and third place showing at the Seattle University middle school tournament. A highly accomplished graduate of the Seattle U communication program, J.Anthony has a knack for getting to the heart of what students need to improve on. He's also a kind and supportive instructor who will help you improve to be your very best.

Lucas Watson, LD Lab Leader

Lucas debates at Western Washington University and returns for a second year the Climb camp. He debated for over three years at a high school level (PF: 1 year, LD: 2 years). In the most recent season, in LD, he has finaled at every tournament attended including qualifying (undefeated) to Nationals and receiving 2nd at State (3rd place Speaker).He has participated in Impromptu for over three years, breaking and finaling at numerous tournaments.He has been involved in the instruction/education of teammates throughout the last two years as Debate Captain of his high school team. This includes teaching and casework with multiple Public Forum teams and speech-drafting with multiple Congress participants.

Nico Roshau, Middle School 3 on 3 Parli Lab Leader

Nico works for Climb and Aurorae Young providing coaching to many middle school debaters who have done very well at tournaments. Nico did three years of policy debate. She and her partner were in the top 20 teams at the Stanford Invitational. They also qualified for state all three years they debated but were only able to go their senior year. Nico has also won many speaker awards in this event. Nico has done three years of interp, and one of oratory. She broke at state in two interp events (DI and DUO) as well as oratory and also qualified for nationals in OO. She has also gone to NIETOC for DI, DUO and OO, and was top 50 in DUO in 2017 at NIETOC. Nico was also voted by her class as most valuable speaker for speech and debate in 2017.

Thadeus Smith, LD Lab Leader

Thadeus has worked in Climb's afterschool program and has competed for four years in high school, breaking to state outrounds in Public Forum his senior year. In 2018 and 2019, he competed at NSDA Nationals in World's Schools Debate, placing 44th and 10th respectively. Over the summers, he teaches club debate to middle/high schoolers with Capitol Debate. Thadeus competed for four years in high school, placing 8th in state in Extemp his junior year. He qualified to the TOC in Extemp and OO, and competed at NIETOC in OO. He also volunteers as a platform speech coach for Thomas Jefferson High School

Coaches Program

Sarah Sherry

Sarah Sherry is one of Washington state’s most respected and successful coaches. She is a triple diamond NSDA coach. Sarah won the 2013 WSFA Coach of the Year Award, was a select NFHS Coach in 2006, and her teams regularly advance into elimination rounds at local and national tournaments throughout the 2019-2020 year. She has developed extensive and excellent coaching resources and is ready to help you build your program.