The American Debate Association honors debaters, coaches and alumni of the debate community every year at the National Tournament.

All nominations should include the name and school affiliation of the person making the nomination and be sent to the ADA President. Nominations are accepted for the following awards:

Excellence in Coaching Award – This award is to recognize the excellent performance of a coach, whether a director, assistant or graduate assistant at an American Debate Association school. Nominations should include information on the coach, examples of excellent performance, whether through anecdotes or debate records.

Past recipients:

2022   Adrienne Brovero, University of Mary Washington

2021   Fred Sternhagen, Concordia College

2020   Carly Wunderlich, Michigan State University

2019   Brian Delong, Indiana University

2018   David Cram Helwich, University of Minnesota

2017   Ken Strange, Wake Forest University

2016   Danielle O’Gorman, United States Naval Academy

2015   David Arnett, University of Kentucky

Founders Award for Service – This award is to recognize someone in the American Debate Association that goes above and beyond the requirements of their job – examples of potential recipients include outgoing president, retiring member of ADA, a coach who plays an active role in dealing with new programs, a grad student serving as treasurer, tab room staff, exceptional tournament hosts, etc. This award can also include alumni that are still active with the American Debate Association in some way. Nominations for this award should include the nominee’s name, debate history and your reasoning why they have gone above their job requirements, and their ADA school affiliation.


Joy Johnson, 2020 Award Winner

Past recipients:

2022   Priten Shah, Classrooms.Cloud

2021   David Cram Helwich, University of Minnesota

2020   Joy Johnson, Julia Burke Foundation

2019   Danielle O’Gorman, United States Naval Academy

2018   Adrienne Brovero, University of Mary Washington

2017   Warren Decker, George Mason University

2016   Patrick Waldinger, University of Miami

2015   John Katsulas, Boston College

Distinguished Alumni Award – This award is designed to recognize a former member of the American Debate Association community that makes/made a significant contribution to society, their professional industry or a social movement. Nominations should the nominee’s name, debate history and their significant contribution.

Past recipients:

2017   Matthew Sullivan

2016   Timothy O’Donnell

2015   Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

Outstanding New Director Award – This award, established in 2023, is given to a new Director who demonstrates outstanding achievement in scholarship, service, community building, or competitive success. The ideal candidate should be in their first seven years as a Director.