The YDA's Coaches


Throughout much of the history of the Yale Debate Association, the organization was led by a coach who was a full time member of the faculty. Most notably, the YDA was coached by the late Rollin Osterweis, who successfully led the team for decades. Dr. Osterweis gained notoriety during the 2004 elections, when he was credited with teaching both John Kerry and George W. Bush the finer points of debate and public speaking. This picture shows both Dr. Osterweis (back row, first from left) and Mr. Kerry (back row, third from left), along with the rest of the team.

Since the early 1980s however, the organization has been entirely student run. A student elected board is charged with managing the team's tryout process, finances, tournament selections, and all other important decisions. However, the team still has regularly obtained the help and advice of formerly successful debaters that are still part of the Yale community at the Law or Graduate school to help guide the team. Although these coaches do not always play a direct role in the day to day operations of the team, they have played an important function in helping to develop skills and run tournaments.

Current coaches

Allison Douglis is currently a J.D. student at Yale Law School. She graduated from Yale in 2015 with a B.A. in Philosophy. As an undergraduate, Allison competed with the Yale Debate Association in both the American and British Parliamentary styles, where she was an APDA Nationals quarterfinalist and fifth speaker (in different years), a two-time USUDC semifinalist, NAUDC and Oxford quarterfinalist, and winer or finalist at several other tournaments. She has also been on the Adjudication Team for the Yale IV. As a debate coach, Allison has coached Lincoln-Douglas debate for Ridge High School and at numerous summer programs, coached parliamentary debate for the New Haven Urban Debate League, and trained the YDA novice class as the team's 2014 Membership Director.

Eric Brooks graduated from Yale University in 2014 with a B.S. in Mathematics. He competed in over 60 tournaments for the Yale Debate Association from 2010 to 2014. He currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Russell Leibowitz graduated from Brandeis in 2014. During his APDA debating career, he placed first in over 10 tournaments and broke in over 50 tournaments. He currently works as a campaign manager at Calone for Congress. 

Nita Rao is a former Monash debater and winner of the World University Debating Championships (WUDC). She is the British Parlimentary coach of the YDA.

Coaches Emeritus

David Vincent Kimel is the head coach emeritus of the Yale Debate Association.

He graduated Summa cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University in 2005 with a BA in Classics, concentrating on Greek and Roman history. In that same year, he and his partner became the first top ranked TOTY pairing in the history of Harvard debate. (Coincidentally, he tied former YDA coach Rory Gillis for 6th place Speaker of the Year.) A two-time winner of Harvard's Coolidge Debating Prize, he served as the Chief Adjudicator at the North American Championship in 2007.

Following graduation, Kimel worked at the POSCO steel factory in Pohang, South Korea and eventually started his own business with former Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society President Scott Lichtenstein. "Imperial Publishing" provides English language material and instructional materials in debate to schools in East Asia. To date, Kimel has published a translation of Plautus' Menaechmi and several textbooks for children (such as Ancient History from Augustus to Zoroaster and The Renaissance: Or How I Learned to Stop Praying and Start Loving Naked Statues). 

Alex Worsnip was a PhD student in philosophy at Yale. His coaching expertise is mainly in British Parliamentary style, having competed on the BP circuit for four years for Oxford before coming to Yale. Amongst other things, he has been a Grand Finalist at the World Championships, a Grand Finalist at the European Championships, the winner of the International Mace (the British and Irish joint national championships), and the best speaker at the Cambridge IV. As a judge he has been Chief Adjudicator of the Oxford IV and Yale IV, amongst other tournaments, and chaired numerous elimination rounds at Worlds and Euros. Before coaching at Yale, he coached Oxford's Development Squad for two years as well as coaching the Welsh team at the World Schools Debating Championships to their first ever semi-final.

David Trinh was 2nd TOTY in 2012, 10th TOTY in 2011 and 7th SOTY in 2012. Known for focusing on law and economics, Trinh was the author of notable cases such as "Trills," "Debt Brake" and "Citizens United v FEC was wrong decided." Trinh also currently holds the record for the most number of national qualifying points in APDA history. In 2012, Trinh graduated magna cum laude from Yale College with a B.A. in economics and political science (and distinction in both majors). While at Yale, David was also the founder and editor of the Yale Undergraduate Law Review. He currently works at a hedge fund in Westport, CT where he serves as an Investment Associate.

Alex Taubes graduated from Yale Law School in 2015. Alex graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science in 2011 from Boston University where he was President of the Boston University Debate Society. In 2011, Alex was the first APDA debater since Yale Debater Brian Fletcher, class of 2001, to win APDA's Team of the Year (TOTY), Speaker of the Year (SOTY), and National Championship in the same year. Alex also served as President of APDA from 2010-2011 and Vice President of Operations from 2009-2010. Between college and law school, Alex worked in the chambers of Judge David S. Tatel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In addition to coaching the team, Alex provided advice to Mayor Toni Harp during her mayoral campaign, along with head coach David Kimel. Alex enjoys Major League Baseball, reading, and commuting between New Haven and his family's home in Madison, CT.

Nick Cugini graduated from Yale in 2015. During his time on the Yale Debate Association, Nick competed extensively in both the American and British Parliamentary styles. In APDA, he reached the final round of APDA's National Championships, the semi-final round of the North American Championships and won 9 individual tournaments. He was 2nd Team of the Year in 2011, in the top 10 Speakers of the Year in 2011 and 2012, and was the Novice of the Year in 2010. In British Parliamentary, he reached the semi-final round of the World Championships and the Oxford IV and was a two-time finalist at the HWS Round Robin. Nick also served on the Executive Board of the YDA as Membership Director in 2011.