2014 Comet Debate Institute Staff

Below are the senior staff members of the 2014 Comet Debate Institute. We will be adding additional staff bios and information as new instructors join the CDI – check back for updates.

Policy CX – Faculty

Scott Herndon

Scott Herndon

Director of Debate
BA, The University of Kansas
MA, Kansas State University

Formerly a coach at Kansas State University, Scott Herndon has been at The University of Texas at Dallas since 2002. In that time, UT Dallas has qualified for the National Debate Tournament (NDT) seven years in a row, received invitations to the Kentucky and the Dartmouth Round Robin competitions, reached the quarterfinals of the NDT in 2010 and the elimination debates of Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) nationals for eight consecutive years. An experienced instructor and judge, he has been a debate camp instructor at the World Debate Institute, Baylor University, International Debate Education Association Conference and the University of Kansas. Herndon was recognized as the CEDA Southwest Region Critic of the Year in 2004 and 2009.

Phil Samuels

Phil Samuels

Debate Coach
BA, Emporia State University
MA, University of Kansas

Phillip has been involved in college debate for over ten years. He debated at Emporia State University where he cleared at most national tournaments, including the National Debate Tournament. As a coach Phil did his graduate work under Scott Harris at the University of Kansas where together they coached six first rounds in six years and an NDT champion. Phil now coaches and teaches at The University of Texas at Dallas. He has worked at numerous debate camps over the last decade including the Jayhawk Debate Institute, the Spartan Debate Institute at Michigan State, and Stanford University. Phil's lab students have gone on to receive multiple TOC bids, compete at every major national tournament, and have won the Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri State tournaments. For the last four years Phil has also been an assistant coach for the College Preparatory School (CPS), in Berkley California. As a coach at CPS Phil has coached teams to out rounds at every major national tournament including the TOC and a finalist at the 2012 NFL National Tournament. Finally Phil has worked with Urban Debate Leagues (UDL) all over the country including the Minnesota UDL, the KCUDL, and the NYUDL.

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Debate Coach
MA, Wake Forest
PhD Candidate, University of Iowa

Christopher (CT) Thomas started debate at Blue Valley Northwest HS in Overland Park, KS. He debated competitively in college at the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA). There he qualified to the NDT as well as made it to out-rounds of national tournaments and the Cross-Examination Debate Tournament (CEDA). After UTSA, CT received his masters in Communication Studies from Wake Forest University where he also coached debate. CT has also coached on the HS circuit: Churchill HS and Reagan HS in San Antonio, TX and currently Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. He has experience (both debating and coaching) ranging from traditional policy-oriented debate to performative and identity-based strategies. Also currently, CT is working towards his Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa.

Lincoln Douglas – Faculty

Shanna Carlson

Shanna Carlson

Debate Coach
Illinois State University

Shanna has been involved in collegiate debate for nine years. She debated at Washburn University where she cleared at most national tournaments, including the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. In National Forensics Association (NFA) Lincoln-Douglas debate Shanna had many out-round appearances and speaker awards, including Top Speaker at the Top of the Rockies Debate Tournament in 2007. Shanna had a winning record at every NFA national tournament. As a coach Shanna works under Glenn Prince at Illinois State University, where in their first year of competing in Lincoln-Douglas debate all of their debaters qualified for the NFA national tournament and Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) national tournament. She coached a Double-Octo Finalist at NFA and a Quarterfinalist at PKD. Shanna taught at the Intensive Course in English Debate in March 2014, at Japan’s prestigious Kyushu University.

Demarcus Powell

Demarcus Powell

Debate Coach
The University of Texas at Dallas

DeMarcus debated for three years at Crowley High School, where he qualified for U.I.L. Regionals and TFA State all three years. He was captain of the Crowley debate team.

Residence Director

Don Gonzalez

Don Gonzalez

M. Ed. North Texas University
Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet School

Don Gonzalez returns to the Comet Debate Institute for his second year as the Residence Director. Prior to working at the CDI, Don served seven (7) years as the Associate Director of Residence at the Mean Green Debate Workshops. Don is a teacher at the Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence where he has taught for 15 years and coached the debate team. His debaters have excelled on the local, state and the national circuits. He’s had students qualify to the TOC, NFL Nationals, the NDCA Championships and NAUDL Nationals. Don retired from active coaching last year, but he continues to support his school’s program primarily in fundraising.

Don is a parent of three children and his philosophy of supervision in the dorms is simple: treat the students with the same dignity and respect he would want for his own children. Don believes his primary responsibility is to insure the safety of the students while maintaining a nurturing environment that supports the learning process taking place in the labs.