Current Faculty & Staff

John Scoggin | Director


Since graduating from The Blake School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, John has coached for Loyola High School. During the last 5 years John’s students have over 100 bids to the tournament of champions. He has coached 2 TOC finalists, 2 TOC quarterfinalists, a TOC Top Speaker, and champions of many major national tournaments across the country.

Bob Overing | Director


Bob is a director of Premier, former debater for the USC Trojan Debate Squad, and current student at Yale Law School. As a senior in high school, he was ranked #1, earned 11 bids and took 2nd at TOC. In college, he cleared at CEDA and qualified to the NDT. His students have earned 51 career bids, reached TOC finals, and won many championships.

Michael Overing


Michael is a practicing attorney in Pasadena, CA, and he has been involved in debate since 1976. He was a Nebraska state champion in policy debate and went on to debate for the University of Nebraska where he qualified to the NDT. He then coached policy at USC where he is now a professor in the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. In 2010, he became the head coach of Loyola High School’s debate team where he has coached two TOC finalists, a TOC quarterfinalist, and a 6th place policy team at NFL Nationals.

Tim Alderete [LA Session]


Tim is the Debate Coach at The Meadows School in Las Vegas. He has coached debate for 28 years, teaching at debate camps for 25 years, leading over 40 labs at Michigan, Northwestern and Stanford. He has coached state champions in Nevada, Michigan and Illinois, in both Policy and Lincoln Douglas.

Areas of Expertise: policy debate arguments, especially their use in Lincoln-Douglas.

Monica Amestoy


Monica debated for Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Cañada, CA, where she helped start the debate team and was the first person to attend TOC from her school. As a junior, she reached octafinals of the NDCA championships. As a senior, she reached quarterfinals of the Harvard Westlake Tournament, earned top speaker at the Cal Berkeley Invitational, and received speaker awards at many other tournaments while reaching bid rounds at Valley, Apple Valley, Alta, VBT, College Prep, Stanford and Berkeley. Monica also competed at the Hockaday and Lexington Round Robins. In college, she debated for the University of Utah where she reached three final rounds of NPDA style parli debate. She currently lives in downtown Salt Lake City and has primarily worked as an 8th grade teacher to students with Autism.

Areas of Expertise: critical race theory, performance studies, post-structuralist theory, decoloniality, and a guilty pleasure for theory debates.

 Katya Ehresman [DC Session]


Katya debated for four years at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas with local and national success. As a debater Katya qualified to UIL state, NSDA nationals and TFA state twice. Katya broke at every local tournament she went to her senior year and accumulated numerous top speaker awards including 4th speaker at St. Marks. Katya broke to elimination rounds at tournaments such as Grapevine, UT, Colleyville, Harvard and Churchill, also getting to the bid rounds at Colleyville and Harvard and winning Churchill. Katya also championed the Hockaday Women’s Round Robin. In addition to LD, Katya competed in CX and Extemp and outside of debate participated student government, volunteer work and regional activism for women’s rights.
Areas of Expertise: performance, Deleuze, identity politics, and topicality

 Chase Hamilton | Curriculum Director [LA Session]

While competing in LD at a small program in Dallas, TX, Chase qualified for TFA State 4 times (placing 5th), UIL State 3 times (placing 3rd), NDCA Nationals twice (placing within the top 15), and the TOC once with 3 bids, reaching late out-rounds at tournaments such as Yale, Berkeley, and St. Marks. As an individual coach for 5 years, Chase has qualified debaters to every national tournament including half a dozen to the TOC, and has taught for four summers at the UTNIF, including the top lab in 2016. Chase graduated in 2016 from UT Austin with honors in Philosophy and Government as a Dean’s Distinguished Graduate, the highest possible award in the College of Liberal Arts, given to 12 people out of 2,500.

Prince Hyeamang [DC Session]


Debated for the Apple Valley High School in MN for 4 years. Attended the TOC twice finishing with a winnning record senior year. Received invites to Valley, Sunvite,  Minneapple,  Kandi King, and Debate LA RR. Competed at Valley RR his senior year and at the Minneapple RR his junior and senior year. Also competed in congressional debate.

Emmiee Malyugina [LA Session]


Emmiee debated 4 years in Policy and LD for Harker. She qualified for the TOC her senior year, reaching elimination rounds at most national tournaments, including Valley, Voices, Glenbrooks, St. Marks, CPS, Golden Desert, and Berkeley. She has also competed at the Voices and Harvard-Westlake round robins.

Louisa Melcher [LA Session]


Louisa Melcher debated for Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles, and was captain of her team for two years. Throughout her career, she received TOC bids at Alta, Greenhill, Valley, and Berkeley, and competed in the Valley, Cal, and Battle for LA round robins. She will attend Columbia University in the fall.

Areas of Expertise: theory, policy-style debate, fem and race Ks.

John Overing [LA Session]

John debated two years for Loyola High School. As a senior, he earned six bids to the TOC, placing in finals, semifinals, and quarterfinals twice at four separate octas bid tournaments. He also won the Golden Desert Invitational and competed in several round robins. He will be enrolled at UC-Berkeley next year, where he plans to debate in college Policy.

Areas of Expertise: evidence/empirics comparison, policy-style debate, stock kritiks, and rapid skills improvement.

Xavier Roberts-Gaal [DC Session]


Xavier is Student President of the Walt Whitman Speech and Debate Team (MD). He is a two-time semifinalist at NCFL Nationals, a qualifier to NSDA Nationals, and has earned three bids to the TOC. Xavier also directed LD tabulation for the 2015 Capitol Beltway Invitational hosted by Walt Whitman. Outside of debate, he enjoys cooking, playing piano, reading philosophy, and swimming.

Areas of Expertise: framework debate (especially Kant, post-Kantian philosophy, Levinas), asexuality studies, 2AR crystallization.

Nick Rogers


Nick debated for Loyola High School from 2012-15, serving as captain his senior year. He was in outrounds at tournaments including St. Marks, Meadows, Blake, Golden Desert, and Stanford over his junior and senior years, earning a bid and reaching three bid rounds to the TOC. He attends Santa Clara University, majoring in Computer Science. While he no longer works at the Premier Debate Institute, he is a valuable curricular and web consultant.

Areas of Expertise: ethical modesty, reflective equilibrium, Nietzsche, pragmatism, rule consequentialism.

Brendan (Bo) Slade [LA Session]


Bo debated for Loyola High School (CA) earning two TOC bids at Golden Desert and Harvard-Westlake. He reached elimination rounds at tournaments such as Alta, Cal, CPS, Emory, Greenhill, Golden Desert, HW, Stanford, UPS, and USC. He qualified to the California State tournament and also won the 2014 Jack Howe Invitational at Cal State Long Beach. He now competes in policy debate for Indiana University.

Areas of Expertise: the politics disad, case research and strategy, topicality, and policy-style debate.

Shailja Somani | Webmaster, Editor


Shailja currently attends Johns Hopkins University and coaches LD, Policy, and Congress at Loyola Blakefield in Maryland. She was the president of speech and debate when she competed for Lynbrook High School, clearing at tournaments such as Loyola and Golden Desert. Shailja has taught many speech and debate events at Lynbrook and also ran Lynbrook’s Speech and Debate Camp for middle schoolers. Having to coordinate and attend many tournaments independently with her Lynbrook teammates caused her to develop a passion for helping out and working with independent and lone wolf debaters.

Areas of Expertise: theory debate, policy-style arguments, stock kritiks.

 Oliver Sussman [DC Session]


Oliver debates for Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (MA). As a junior, he cleared at TOC and was a finalist at the Harvard Invitational. As a senior, he was ranked #1 nationwide on and finished #1 on Premier Debate’s ADP rankings. He has won the Yale Invitational, Apple Valley, and the Apple Valley Round Robin. He also placed 2nd at the Glenbrooks and 3rd at TOC. He is a Premier16 alum of the L.A. session.

Jong Hak Won [LA Session]

Jong Hak debates for West Ranch (CA) and has three bids to the TOC. He is a Premier16 alum and invitee to the Premier16 Invite-Only Week.

Parker Whitfill [LA Session]


Parker debates for Phoenix Country Day School (AZ). He qualified to the TOC his junior and senior year. In his senior year, he reached late elimination rounds at almost every tournament he attended, most notably finals of Voices and semifinals of Greenhill. He also received top 5 speaker awards at Apple Valley, Voices and Harvard Westlake. He is a Premier15 alum.

Areas of Expertise: theory, evidence comparison, util debate and debate strategy.

Former Faculty & Staff

Mia Berman

Mia formerly debated for Hopkins High School in Minnesota. Currently, Mia is a freshman at Johns Hopkins University double majoring in International Studies and Philosophy and minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies. She coaches Loyola Blakefield.

Kathy Bond


Kathy debated for four years at Meadows in Las Vegas, NV. She cleared at almost every tournament her senior year, reaching three bid rounds in the process. Most notably, she won the Arizona State tournament, participated in the Voices Round Robin, and reached late elim rounds at Damus. Kathy also works with Access Debate, and will attend Reed College in the fall.

Salim Damerdji

Salim was Director of Philosophy Curriculum at Premier 2016. Salim debated for four years at Los Altos High School (CA). As a senior he placed 2nd at the Golden Desert Invitational and 3rd at the Berkeley Invitational. At TOC he was the 11th speaker and 11th seed. His students at Mission San Jose and MVLA have earned 17 bids in two years. They have won Stanford, JV Berkeley (twice) and College Prep. He also coached two debaters – including a sophomore – to quarterfinals of the 2016 TOC. Salim double majors in Philosophy and Statistical Science at UCSB and is a member of the Ethics Bowl, Philosophy Club, and Parliamentary Debate Team.

Areas of Expertise: political philosophy, ethics, debate theory.

Tyler Gamble

Tyler debated for The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas. He qualified to the TOC his junior and senior years. His junior year, he earned a total of 3 bids and 4 bid rounds. He got to elimination rounds at Greenhill, St. Mark’s, Meadows, University of Texas, and Lexington in his junior year. He attended the California and Kandi King round robins. He also was well versed in local debate qualifying to the Texas Forensic State Tournament every year in high school.

Kris Kaya


Kris debated for four years at Peninsula High School (CA). He competed in two bid rounds his junior year and qualified to TOC his senior year. Kris reached elimination rounds at Loyola, CPS, Voices, Damus, USC, Emory, Harvard Westlake, Stanford, and Berkeley and received speaker awards at Loyola, Voices, Damus, USC, and St Marks. He also competed in the Voices RR and the Harvard Westlake RR and broke at a finals bid in policy.

Elizabeth Pavlath


Elizabeth debated for four years at La Reina High School and served as captain her junior and senior years. She was the first debater at her school to compete on the national circuit and the first nationally ranked debater in her school’s history. Elizabeth reached outrounds at Stanford, College Prep, and Golden Desert, and qualified to the NDCA tournament. She will attend Cal State Long Beach in the fall.

Andrew Pérez

Andrew debated four years at Loyola High School (CA), qualifying to TOC his senior year. Additionally, he was top speaker at Cal Berkeley and 6th speaker at TOC. He is currently a freshman at Harvard where he studies economics. Andrew is an alum of Premier15.

Tom Placido

Tom debated for Loyola High in Los Angeles for three years, qualifying to the TOC his senior year. Since graduation, he has coached at Loyola and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy while debating for the University of Southern California Trojan Debate Squad. Tom is a junior at the USC pursuing a dual MA/BA in Economics.

Luis Sandoval


Luis debated for The Meadows School in Las Vegas, NV, for four years. He reached six bid rounds winning three total in his career. He received speaker awards at Alta, Golden Desert, and USC and a top speaker award at Alta. His best results include semi-final finishes at Alta and Golden Desert, a finals finish at USC in policy, and top sixteen at St. Marks.

Areas of Expertise: performance-style debate, race literature, ethos, ASPEC.

Melanie Shackleford

Melanie debated four years at The Meadows School in Las Vegas, NV. She was in the outrounds of Alta, Blake, and Golden Desert and was the top seed at Alta her junior year. Her senior year, she competed in the Voices Round Robin, was a semifinalist at the Voices Invitational, and went 4-3 at the TOC.

Nick Steele


Nick Steele debated for Harvard-Westlake (CA). As a competitor Nick has reached late elimination rounds of nearly every national tournament he has attended including Loyola, St. Marks, Apple Valley, Glenbrooks, and many more. He was co-champion of Loyola and the Voices Round Robin. He qualified to the TOC three times and won it his senior year.

Areas of Expertise: race literature, policy-style debate.

Marshall Thompson

Marshall was Director of Philosophy Curriculum in 2015. In his four years debating at Walt Whitman, Marshall won major national tournaments including the Greenhill and Bronx invitationals and the Montgomery Bell Academy Round Robin and qualified twice to the TOC. Since graduating, he has coached debate while studying philosophy as an undergraduate at Wheaton College, where he is president of the Philosophy Club. He is now a PhD student in Philosophy at Florida State.

Nicole VanderMeer

Nicole competed both in Lincoln Douglas for Bainbridge High School in Washington and in policy for the Barkley Forum at Emory University. She served as captain of her high school team and qualified to the state tournament her junior and senior years. At Emory, Nicole won the Vanderbilt Invitational and worked with the Atlanta Urban Debate League. She is currently a PhD student in History at the University of California at Santa Cruz.