thank you and farewell

Damien Pfister pfist001
Mon Apr 24 21:42:52 CDT 2000

After five years in this activity, the thank you list that I have generated is
far too expansive to be summarized in one email~Ebut I~Rll give it my best
shot.  I guarantee there will be a host of inside jokes few people will get,
but if you hang with me, your name might just be on the list.  I apologize
if you aren~Rt and think you should be though.  I probably meant to
include you but ran out of space in what is a really long email.  :-)

I want to start out my thanks by pointing out some people in my region
that have been incredibly helpful and supportive from the very first year
I debated.

Mike Krueger has always been incredibly supportive~Wfrom sharing
technology to cites to better Clinton answers, Mike and his team have
always been there for me~Emuch love to Ben, Natalie, Terrance, Matt,
Bryan, Meg, Loreida, Drew and MTSUers long past graduated.

ML Sandoz and the Vanderbilt squad have always been equally
supportive.  ML judged one of the most pedagogically enlightening
rounds I ever participated in several, several years ago, and I have
always looked up to her as a great role model.  Her students, even Gab :-
), are tributes to her program!

Scott Elliot always believed in us, and I was so happy to finally winn that
damn Mardi Gras tournament you wouldn~Rt believe it.  Even though we
never did restructure the 1AC (much), we used a ton of his cites this year
and I thank him for that and wish him the best at law school.  Don~Rt
become a corporate sellout.

One of the coolest things I have ever seen is the way that the Alabama
squad pulled together before semis at CEDA Nationals~EI will never
forget that moment or other moments like after we all lost in triples at SIU
in 99, realizing Ed and Ben were leaving us.  These folks have been my
family for half a decade, and I am honored to have been a part of them.  I
want to give big shout outs to people I have hung with (and spent too
much time in the van with) the longest~E

Lisa Gonzalez is not only going to show me around the Bronx next year,
but she is going to break out in a debate way, so ya~Rll better watch out!  I
owe Lisa big time for a certain card she cut that won us a big round this
year~Wshe knows what I am talking about and I am forever indebted to

Ted Stein is the Ism.  I~Rll never forget during one of his formative
tournaments talking to him about an argument that he could make and he
said ~SWait!  I think I have a card that says that in my pocket!~T and he
pulled out a crumpled up card from his pants pocket that sure enough
said what we had been talking about.  Ted~Rs enthusiasm and passion for
debate inspired me in times that I was really feeling down about debate.

Tameka Phillips is far too much like me for me to be entirely comfortable.
She~Rs got some serious fire in her and I respect that a lot.  Better watch
out for her too~Walthough she~Rs going to have to work on her ~Slittle r~T
impression to make the van rides similar next year.

Enslen Lamberth and I have known each other for eight years now.
We~Rve been through more ups and downs than a bad 2AC, but somehow
we~Rve figured out how to manage.  If you want any stories about her, do
let me know~EI~Rm the perfect surrogate big brother.

LeNee Carroll and I debated together for a whole year, and it was one of
the best experiences of my life.  She is incredibly caring, and probably
taught me more about how debate must become more humyn than
anyone else, which is quite a compliment from someone who has spent
an inhumyn amount of time in front of a computer.

John Jester and I have worn out the pavement around our quad more
than once~EI appreciate everything that he has done for me, and will
always be there for him.  He~Rs quite possibly the funniest person that I
have ever met~Wperhaps he~Rll follow my lead in telling jokes in debates.
Quite frankly, when he gets his debate on, he is off the hook.

Ben Osborne has been with me through so many ups and downs you
cannot even imagine.  We~Rve come a long way from 995, when we
debated on the proposition Resolved: The sea monsters should deter
Western European exploration of the oceans.  His whale joke keeps me
laughing to this day.

Wiley Gordon has come so far so fast I can hardly believe it.  I want to
thank him for working so hard, for encouraging me to speed up, and for
forcing me to straight turn everything.  I couldn~Rt have wished for a
better partner to conclude my career with, and I thank him for everything.
 This guy is the gutsiest debater I ever knew, and it was an honor to
debate with him.

The rest of the team, Tia, Nikole, Randall, Dana, Charles, Shawnessy,
Andrea, and Chris also get a shout out for putting up with me on van
rides and in squad meetings.  I look forward to seeing you all continue
the tradition.

I also owe Elliot Roberts, Angi Horn (sorry, Angi, but you~Rll always be
Horn to me), Joe Stephens and Thom O~RRourke (all Alabama debaters
past) for debating/coaching/supporting me throughout the years.

I have been blessed with the BEST coaches in the activity.  I know
everybody says that, but I am really serious about it.

It started in junior high school, with Skip Coulter~Rs debate classes,
moved to the high school with Betty Gunn (who can be filed under ~Sd~T
for dedication), Bubba Daves, Jane-Marie Marlin, and Michael Jordan
(the former Samford debater, not #23).  They were all wonderful to me
and planted the desire to debate in my firmly.  Of course, no seed grows
without lots of nurturing, so I would like to thank the gardeners that I
have had in college (and then I promise that I will stop using that

Julia Shaw was a role model for me from day one, which was kind of
surprising since she didn~Rt say much.  But her silences were almost as
powerful as when she did choose to speak~EI have never met anyone
else who spoke such truth to power with such conviction and passion.
Debating with Julia was a wonderful experience, even though we lost on
topicality all the time.  I~Rll never forget her 2AR from the doubles round at
CEDA Nationals in 1998, and I~Rll never forget everything that she taught
me about debate and her friendship.  Her coaching this year was a
welcome addition to the team, as was her advice.

Edward Lee is one of my best friends in the world, and he did more to
inspire me to work hard (and work harder) than anyone else.  Every
younger needs an older to mentor them, and Ed was mine.  I have so
many fond memories of taping Ed~Rs cards down on paper while we talked
theory and philosophy of debate!  He continually is supportive and an
incredible advocate.  I can remember the day when Ed said that he was
going to attend graduate school at Alabama~WI was so happy because I
was able to spend two more years with him.  While we never fulfilled my
dream of debating with each other, I value my time spent with Ed more
than almost anything else.

Gabrielle Prisco has helped negotiate the borderlands between myself
and the other particularly well.  She is so postmodern, if we can truly
impose ~Spostmodernity~T as a grid upon the heterogeneity of thought
that can be conceptualized as post the modern, that it kills me
sometimes~Wer, I mean it troubles the time-space nexus that is designated
by my ~Sbeing.~T  Gab was a wonderful coach and friend~Wif we can use
~Sfriend~T as any type of signifier or relationship, especially when our
dyadic relations are so coded in the institutional boundaries and
hierarchies intrinsic in intercollegiate debate practices (if, that is, there is
such a standardized and homogenous creature as ~Sintercollegiate
debate,~T which clearly there isn~Rt).  Thanks a bunch Gab!

What can I say about Carrie Crenshaw that has not been said a hundred
times before by a hundred different people?  She has single-handedly
changed my life more than any other coach, teacher, or friend.  I owe all
of my successes to her and her incredible devotion to debate and the
debate team.  More importantly than the debate aspect of our
relationship has been her friendship, institutional boundaries be damned!
 I know of few people with the dedication that she has to spreading the
gift of debate to everyone.  She is an incredible model for me and for
many others~WI just hope that I can live up to her expectations.  Thanks
for taking a chance on a bad-word-economy sketchy high school debater
and putting up with me through all of the two-wheeling, family fighting,
van debates on polygamy, and other adventures!  I will look forward to
our continued friendship.

I~Rve made too many friends in this activity to thank on this email.  If
you~Rve read this far, then you are probably one of the people that I
would like to thank.  There are a couple of people that I need to highlight
like a bad Clinton card.

Rachel Saloom and I hardly knew each other before ADI this year, and
now we~Rre great friends.  I~Rm glad that we got to be so close and I look
forward to future encounters, even if she drinks too slow and still can~Rt
win federalism debates.

Natalie Woodward is not only a good debater and friend, but quite
possible the best Girl Talk player in the community.

Helen and Sarah from Vermont rock.  They~Rve had great careers, and it
was always a pleasure debating them and hanging out with them.

Kristi Morioka and Jeremy Hathaway have a special place in my heart.
They~Rve always been incredibly supportive and good friends.

Kansas State is a squad that I have much love for.  Katie Hatziavramidis
(I think that~Rs spelled right~E.) reoriented the way I debate earlier this
year, and Monte Stevens is great, even though he has no fashion sense
and a basketball game to match.  All the young~Runs, like Michelle and
Melissa, are great too!

Cunningham and Charles from Louisville (?) have also become close
friends.  Call them by their last names, they really dig it.  I love debaters
who debate with passion, and these are two of the best.

The Alabama high school debater contingent like Stephen Stetson and
Jim Smith, deserve many kudos. We haven~Rt done bad for a state that
used to have 5 policy debate teams!

There is a host of judges that I would like to thank.  No list can be
exhaustive, but these are the people that have judged me the most over
the years and deserve extra special thank yous:  Jan Hovden, who
always has well thought out decisions (especially re:feminism on
Southeast Asia); Will Repko, who I admire and respect an incredible
amount and who has never made a bad decision that I~Rve heard of
(despite my occasional protests); Glen Frappier, who still has no
basketball game but knows a thing or two about coaching; Jenny Alme,
another closet postmodernist who rocks as a lab leader, friend, and
judge; Will Baker, who liked me enough to encourage me to work with
him; Jim Haefele, the best hack Alabama has ever known; and finally
Shanara Reid, who is an incredible advocate and who teaches me a little
more about life every time I interact with her.

The crowd on Edebate also deserves a special kind of thank you.  I
signed on four years ago and got blown away by the volume of inane
posts and silly rivalries.  Edebate is probably the WORST possible forum
to try to accomplish social change or have ~Sdebates~T about real issues,
but I must admit it is kind of fun to sit back and watch.  I envision
Edebate as a kind of soap opera in which all of the characters have
vendettas or agendas or missions and they hash it out for 30 minute
episodes every day.  Any forum with 1000+ smartass sarcastic verbose
respondents is doomed to dysfunctionality, but since it~Rs my
dysfunctional family, I~Rm a little more okay with that.  So, thanks for the
years of entertainment, and here~Rs to many more.

This is the moment where I thought that I would reflect a little bit about
the activity.  I debated for eight years in high school and college.  I think
that I learned the most about people and relating to people in my last
semester of debate, which made it uniquely valuable.  Debate has been
the best thing to ever happen to me.  The one overwhelming criticism I
have of the activity, though, is that it can be incredibly inhumyn.  Not
inherently, but by practice.  Debaters are by and large the kindest group
of people, but there is something about the activity that encourages
people to sometimes become hyperaggressive.  I have been guilty of this
offense more times than I have been subject to it. I am ashamed to admit
that I have made five people cry in a debate round over the course of my
career, mostly towards the beginning.  The passion of debate must
always be tempered with respect.  All too often, disrespect filters into
debate rounds through mocking, sarcasm, or outright laughing.  If debate
is truly to achieve its emancipatory and inclusive potential, greater
respect must become the norm.  It took eight years of debating for me to
feel marginalized in one debate round in the last semester of my career.  I
was unbelievably close to quitting the activity as a result of one debate
round~WI cannot imagine what it is like to face that type of
marginalization regularly, and I have a much greater respect for people
that do.  Sometimes it takes a really bad experience before you realize
your own privilege, and I think that I am better for it.  I do not know what
you will take from this passage if you have read, but it is something that I
have been thinking about for quite a long time now and I felt like I
needed to say something.  I hope that we as a community can treat each
other not like neighbors, but like a family~Wbecause I feel like this has
been my family for many years~E

If you~Rve read this far, you deserve a gold star.  I~Rll be taking a temporary
leave of absence from the collegiate debate community for the next
couple of years.  I~Rll be working with the New York Urban Debate
League, but you~Rll probably see or hear from me every once in a while.
You can reach me at this email address for a little while and then
probably{ HYPERLINK mailto:pfist001 at } pfist001 at until I get a more permanent address.

Thanks for everything.


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