Debate » Welcome


Damien participates in policy debate, competing across the state and regularly travels nationally for invitational tournaments. Damien has one of the most successful programs in California for over 60 years. Take a closer look at these pages to learn about the history of Damien Debate, team tournament  schedule, and this year's national debate topic!
Every year, the National Speech and Debate Association in conjunction with the National Federation of High Schools issues a nation-wide vote of its membership to choose a specific resolution that our students will debate for a full year.
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase fiscal redistribution in the United States by adopting a federal jobs guarantee, expanding Social Security, and/or providing a basic income.
Debate has existed at Damien since the early 1960's. The program was granted a charter by the National Forensic League in 1964. In 1968, Damien won its first state debate championship. Since that time, Damien has maintained a level of competitive excellence virtually unmatched in the state of California.
Dozens of Damien debaters have gone on to have successful college debate careers: The most successful of these was undoubtedly Mark Fabiani, who won Top Speaker at the 1975 National Debate Tournament. More recently, there have been several Damien alums who have been noteworthy names in college debate: Paul Derby, Kevin Tessier, Bryan Yeazel, Shuman Sohrn, John Miller, Omri Ceren, Andres Gannon, David Munoz, Christian Rodriguez, Christian Bato, Alex Velto, Omar Darwish, and Stephen Lewis among others.
The program was blessed in the early years with talented coaching. The program was begun by Mr. Charles Stamps, who coached the team through the late 60's. The program was successful throughout the 60's and into the 70's, with strong administrative support, and leadership from coaches Robert Schwartzberg ('70-'73), Jim Caforio ('73-'74), Barbara Busse ('74-'79), Paul Hudson ('79-'80), and Bob Mocharnuk ('80-'82). Chuck Ballingall came to Damien in the Fall of 1982. In 1998, Mr. Ballingall became the youngest coach ever inducted into the California High School Speech Association's Hall of Fame. In 2008, he became the 14th Californian to be inducted into the National Forensic League's Hall of Fame. 
Chuck unfortunately passed away in 2017 and Assistant Director Donny Peters was promoted to Director. Donny would lead the team through the next five seasons, until stepping away in 2021.
Alumni Tim Lewis (Class of 2013) was hired in the Summer of 2021 and has led the team through the present.
Tim Lewis (Class of 2013) is the Head Coach and Director of Debate. Prior to returning to Damien, Tim was the Head Coach and Director of Debate at Hebron High School in Carrollton, TX where he was the most holistically successful speech and debate coach in program history. Tim is a scholar-practitioner of cultural studies and critical theory. Tim debated for Damien High School in La Verne, CA where he was in no fewer than five TOC bid rounds. In the five years that Tim has coached for Damien, Tim's teams have notably won the University of Washington Championship, Georgetown Day, Harvard Westlake, CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton, the UC Berkeley Round Robin, Woodward, Loyola, Lewis & Clark, have participated in elimination rounds of the Tournament of Champions, were finalists of Berkeley, Long Beach, and The Meadows tournaments, have been in late elimination rounds of Greenhill, Emory, and The Glenbrooks, and have been recognized by the University of Michigan's National Coaches poll as a Top 10 Team in the nation.

Tim has a BA from Occidental College in Critical Theory and Social Justice and an MA from the University of La Verne in Social Justice in Higher Education Administration. Additionally, Tim was the long-term Managing Editor of Critical Theory and Social Justice: Journal of Undergraduate Research, leading it to become the top publication in its field. Tim has written debate blog posts for Exodus File, functioned as the Residence Hall Director for the Northwestern Debate Institute and Emporia State University, and is an editor at Surreal Poetics. Tim's academic work focuses on Georges Bataille, post-colonial intervention, transgressive poetry, and identity-in-resistance. Tim recently had a book of poetry, Suburba(in)e Surrealism, published in August 2021 and a second book Constellations of Bramble Thrashing published in February 2023.