2016 Byram Hills Round Robin Champion
UC Berkeley ’21
I did dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of drills with Paras on util, theory, and strategy. I think it’s pretty safe to say that anyone who has worked with Paras has noticed huge improvements in short periods of time. Anyone who wants to be competitive on the LD national circuit would be silly to waste an opportunity to work with someone who has a unique talent and knowledge base in teaching and working with debaters from all types of backgrounds.
Paras helped me get more flexible in the types of arguments I was able to execute – I went from only being able to go for the K to being able to confidently go for substance as well as T and theory. This flexibility made rounds much easier, because I had the ability to go for the most strategic out. I know for sure that I would not have had the performances I had during my senior year without Paras. The flexibility of debate skills I can execute as well as the technical efficiency and perceptual dominance I have would not exist without Paras’s support, dedication, and effort to make me the best debater I could be.
One of the most helpful things about doing drills with Paras was how in depth he would go in each aspect of the speech until I could do it with perfect time allocation and content. We would redo speeches many times. He would never sugar coat his comments – he would be brutally honest in constructive ways until I could give the speech to the best of my abilities. He pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and wouldn’t let me stop until my speeches were great.
We started off drilling every type of theory shell that is commonly read against kritiks – each session drilling one or two shells and then going over my responses. I would redo the speeches after every session until it got to the point that I was extremely comfortable extemping answers to a shell in round (which I never thought would be possible). We also went very in depth on theory paradigm issue debates, redoing them until I felt comfortable going for reasonability and drop the argument in every round where it was strategic. Additionally, we extensively practiced going for topicality for 6 minutes in the 2NR against various 1ARs from online rounds. Paras gave me feedback and redid the speeches with me until I felt like I could comfortably give a similar speech versus any 1AR.
Paras also helped me improve on util debates. I never felt very comfortable with even basic cost-benefit analysis, but consistent drills and redos with Paras on various util positions (responding to extinction scenarios, small impacts, DA weighing, etc) increased my comfort level immensely. He helped me find a balance between big picture argumentation and efficient line by line, as well as framing and crystallization.
However, despite all the drills I did with Paras, the work that most stands out to me most are the hours we spent working on strategy. Over the course of several days, Paras and I went through every possible combination of 1N strategy and possible 1AR and 2NR responses to that strategy. We listed out the pros and cons of each strategy in different situations. These sessions were the most time I had ever spent thinking about debate strategy, and they forced me to think of strategy in very mathematical ways in terms of time tradeoffs. Thinking of strategy in this way helped me make strategic decisions in intense rounds, in order to get a leg up above my opponents. Paras forced me to think of debate as a chess game, with the goal of efficient argumentation and effective time trade-offs.