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Climb Speech & Debate Camp
Staff Bios


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.

Natalie Neumeier, Camp Assistant Director

Natalie has worked with Climb since April 2021, helping with the 400+ students that participated in our April-May programs. She has worked with younger kids at her dance studio teaching them how to dance. She has also helped children at We Rock the Spectrum Federal Way in learning how to develop the social skills needed for life. She has been involved in running the Seattle University debate club's social media account as well as participating on the team. She has also fundraised for her Church's annual garage sale. She is ready to help Jim and all the Climb participants at the camp!

Debate Lab Leaders

Blakely Rudolph, MS and HS Lab Leader

Blakely debated her sophomore year of high school all the way to her senior year, mostly participating in congressional debate. Her junior year she qualified for state debate and her senior year qualified for NCFL nationals in congressional debate. She has been to 15+ tournaments and was a captain on the team her final year on Mead High School's debate team. Now she participates on Whitworth's forensics team. During her years in high school debate, Blakely participated in oratorical speaking and POI. She qualified for state in oratorical speaking her junior year , and she also qualified for nationals in both oratorical speaking and POI her senior year of high school. She has participated in these individual events at 15+ tournaments. She has worked with Climb debaters through most of our 2020-21 programs and she is ready to help you grow as a debater at our camp.

Julie Badgley, Elementary and MS Lab Leader

Julie has worked with Climb the Mountain for the 2020-2021 year providing instruction to elementary and middle school students. Julie has participated in debate at the award winning University of Washington Bothell program. She has also done extemporaneous and impromptu speaking and has won several awards. She will give you clear feedback to make you a better debater.

Kailey Wilson, Elementary and MS Lab Leader

Kailey has worked with Climb the Mountain since 2019. She is a kind and supportive instructor who has worked with our elementary and middle school students. Her students have gone on to win multiple awards. She has worked with many young kids including in programs besides debate. She is studying elementary school education ​at Seattle University to become a teacher. She is ready to help you become a stronger, better debater.

Laura Roark, Elementary and MS Lab Leader

Laura is a great instructor for Climb. She has worked with elementary and middle school students and brought them to much success. In high school, Laura debated in Public Forum and multiple speech events. Laura partnered with beginners, coaching them as far as out-rounds at national level tournaments in under a year. In Western Washington University Laura competes in PNW debate and Policy and has finaled at every tournament in which she has competed. At Western, she produces instructional material for debate new team members. She teaches the rich concepts in debate to competitive success. She is ready to do the same for you--making you a great debater.

Lucas Watson, LD Lab Leader

Lucas debates Policy and PNW debate at Western Washington University and returns for a third year with Climb. He debated for over three years at a high school level (PF: 1 year, LD: 2 years). In his senior year, in LD, he finaled at every tournament attended including qualifying (undefeated) to Nationals and receiving 2nd at State (3rd place Speaker). He participated in Impromptu for over three years, breaking and finaling at numerous tournaments. He was involved in the instruction/education of teammates throughout his last two HS 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. Most recently, he coached LD for Eastside Catholic High School with one of his debaters getting top 4 at State and qualifying to Nationals.

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. Nico provides high quality instruction and coaching.

Peter Litster, Elementary and MS Lab Leader

Pete has worked with Climb for nearly a year. He was a successful speaker and debater. He achieved NFL (now NSDA) Triple Ruby, double qualified for NFL Nationals in Team Policy/CX and Foreign Extemp, completed the 1992 National Forensics Institute at American University. He also taught at the Sun Country Forensics Institute in Utah. He earned four industrial-sized totes worth of trophies in multiple events over 3 years spanning local, regional, state, national, NFL division and NFL nationals resulting in the 1993 Maurice Warshaw Political Science Scholarship (Full ride) at the University of Utah. He will bring his in-depth approach to debate to you to help you improve your knowledge and understanding of debate.

Skye Cordero, Elementary, MS, and HS Lab Leader

Skye has been an instructor with Climb for much of the 2020-21 year. In middle and high school, Skye Cordero competed in Lincoln Douglas debate and placed at both the Washington's State Debate Tournament and NCFL Nationals. She was first in the Greater Spokane League's Lincoln Douglas debate. She also coached her peers in LD debate. She did British Parliamentary debate at Pacific Lutheran University and received first place at Linfield University's tournament and placed at Lewis and Clark College's tournament. As a high schooler, she went to state for Original Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation and Performance of Oral Interpretation. She received numerous award at a local level in all three events. She is ready to give you the instruction you need to improve.

Sloane Goldberg, MS Lab Leader

Sloane is Climb's newest instructor. She participated in debate as a middle schooler, winning one tournament and multiple speaker awards. Then, she coached debate for four years, acting as a student coach for 2, then transitioning into the head coach for the University Prep debate team for another 2. During her time as the lead debate coach, she coached multiple students at University Prep who received speaker awards. She is ready to bring her talent and knowledge to you as a debater.

Thadeus Smith, LD Lab Leader

Thadeus has worked in Climb's afterschool program for over two years 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

Tyler Durbin, MS Lab Leader

Tyler has worked with Climb extensively and has been a leader in beginning the Greater Seattle Debate League. Tyler competed in debate for seven years - four years of high school policy debate (breaking to elimination rounds at the NSDA national tournament his senior year) and three years of college NPDA debate (getting 7th place at the NPTE national tournament his junior year). He has helped coach LD debate at Bellingham United Debate (had a competitor break to elimination rounds at the UPS tournament), taught at Capitol Debate summer camps in "Club Style" debate and public forum debaters at Wesley Music & Arts Academy and BC Forensics League. Tyler has competed in impromptu and extemporaneous speaking in his four years of high school competition and for two years in college. Since finishing his competitive career, he has judged IE events at college tournaments such as the WWU tournament. He brings all of this experience and success to you--because he will really help you improve as a debater.

Yanti Sanusi, Elementary and MS Lab Leader

Yanti is a homeschool mom, yoga teacher, and enthusiastic debate instructor. In high school she competed in Original Oratory and Interp and received more than 30 awards. She won first place at multiple public speaking competitions, received the University of Florida Scholarship Award for Debate, and twice qualified for CFL Nationals. She has judged 15 tournaments, primarily in Congressional Debate and Public Forum debate. Yanti has coached elementary, middle and high school students and is ready to help you become a great debater.

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.