Coach Profile: Sam Wooddell

Ace Peak has brought on three new coaches this year. We want you to get to know them! Over the next three weeks, Coaches Sam, Leah, and Jacob will be answering a series of questions that Drew and I ask them. Let’s kick things off with our Team Policy extraordinaire, Sam Woodell!

Drew: “Of all the speeches you’ve given, which is your favorite?”

Answer: “The last one I ever gave: my 1AR in TP Finals at NITOC 2018. Throughout the year, I had struggled to prioritize my arguments and use my time strategically. That typically resulted in dropping arguments or wasting time on positions that barely mattered. Leading up to NITOC, I spent dozens of hours practicing my 1AR responses to fix these mistakes.”

In finals we were running a plan to pass a primary seatbelt law, or in other words, a law that allowed police officers to directly stop and issue citations for violations of seatbelt laws (in many states, officers can only issue seatbelt law citations if a driver has been pulled over for a separate reason). Our opponents ran a topicality press, seven solvency arguments, a couple of disadvantages, and several significance arguments.

Needless to say, the finals 1AR was one of the hardest speeches I’ve had to give. However, the countless time I had spent practicing paid off. I was able to dismiss the topicality argument, counter each solvency argument with superior evidence, and use impact calculus to outweigh their DA’s and significance positions. Because I had drilled myself on this speech so many times, I didn’t drop a single argument. That speech was a culmination of everything I had worked for that season, and it helped us seal the National Title.”

Joseph: “What advice would you give to your 12-year-old self?”

Answer: “Work as hard as you can. It’s beyond important to fully invest yourself in everything you do. However, there’s no reason to work alone. One of the coolest parts of speech and debate is the community of people you have around you. Give speech and debate your all, and build relationships with the people God puts in your life.

The friendships you form in speech and debate can last for years beyond. Looking back, I see how rewarding it was to widen my circle and become friends with tons of others, especially competitors who had different life backgrounds or levels of experience in forensics. Invest in yourself and invest in other people.”

Drew: “What’s a subject you want to learn more about?”

Answer: “Definitely philosophy. I enjoy epistemological studies: the question of what human beings can know. There’s a lot of worldview diversity in epistemology, and learning how other people think is one of my passions.

I attend Hillsdale College in Michigan, and throughout my studies, I’ve had the pleasure of reading Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Hobbes, Paine, as well as many others. Among these, I’ve taken a special interest in Descartes (the “I think, therefore I am” guy). Descartes is known for arguing that certain kinds of knowledge can be obtained innately, without any external proof. At a time where most “knowledge” of the world was based on what the Catholic Church or political elite of the day would claim, Descartes’ ideas ran against the grain. They also served as the foundation for philosophical rationalism, one of two major theories that dominated philosophical discussion for the next three centuries. The history of these ideas fascinates me.”

Joseph: “Why do you coach debate?”

Answer: “I feel called to do coaching. I want to see every student realize how great they can become, and then show them how to get there. Coaching isn’t just a job to me, it’s an amazing chance for me to help people succeed and become truly better people. I got to see this firsthand over the summer tour, and now that I’m coaching privately, I can make this experience part of my everyday life.”

Sam loves working with new students. If you want to get coaching from him, click here!