Paras Kumar | Executive Director | Drill Instructor
Paras Kumar is a PhD Student at UC Berkeley in Science and Math Education. As a high school debater, he was largely self-taught and didn't have a formal coach. He received 5 bids his senior year, won a semis bid, was top speaker and finalist at a quarters bid, and finished 9th at the 2011 Tournament of Champions (TOC). He created Debatedrills to give students the type of coaching he wished he had received in high school.
Paras is one of the most sought after and successful debate coaches in the United States. Since 2011, he has extensively taught argumentation and logic in a 1:1 setting to over 250 students of all ages and backgrounds, both in the US and abroad. Amongst many accomplishments, he made history by coaching the first ever TOC Champion from Arizona, and then made history again by coaching the most successful 10th grade debater in the history of Lincoln-Douglas Debate to a 2nd place finish at the 2018 TOC.
"I think Paras understands debate at a deeper level than anyone else on the debate circuit. He is a subject matter expert at theory, util, and debate strategy...Paras also made sure to push me on the other aspects of debate that I often forgot. He made sure I was persuasive, coherent, strategic and word efficient." - Parker Whitfill, 2017 TOC Champion
Elyssa Alfieri | Director of Operations | Drill Instructor
Elyssa debated for Harrison High School and graduated in 2016. As a competitor, she qualified to the TOC her junior and senior years. As a senior, she advanced to elimination rounds of every tournament she attended, in addition to competing at numerous round robins including the Greenhill round robin, the Penn round robin and the Hockaday round robin. She also successfully competed in traditional debate styles, finishing 5th at the CFL Nationals in 2016.
She enjoys debates that emphasize critical thinking and research skills and hopes to instill confidence in her students while reminding them to focus on intellectual curiosity and growth. She currently manages operations and logistic for Debatedrills' Private Prep-Sharing Group, in addition to being a drill instructor.
Raffi Piliero | Head Coach | Drill Instructor
As a competitor, Raffi was one of the most successful debaters in the past decade. He debated for Harrison High School for four years, was in elimination debates (top 16) of the TOC twice, won the Greenhill Invitational and the Greenhill Round Robin, and advanced to late elimination debates at virtually every prestigious tournament he attended his senior year. He now does policy debate at Georgetown University, where he qualified to the National Debate Tournament in his first year.
As a coach, his students have received 20+ bids, won the TFA State Touranment and Lexington Invitational, reached finals of the TOC, and reached late elimination rounds at almost every major invitational in the country.
Raffi will be directing the content for our TOC preparation group. Raffi says: "I love teaching students to try their best for competitive success, but am even more passionate about making sure that the skills they take from debate can be applied to the real world."
Jong Hak Won | Associate Head Coach | Drill Instructor
As a senior in high school, I earned seven bids to the Tournament of Champions and cleared to double-octofinals there after earning no bids as a junior. My best tournament finishes include finals at Stanford and semi-finals at Berkeley. I was also invited to the Voices and Berkeley Round Robins and earned top 10 speaker awards at Loyola and Greenhill. I am now currently a policy debater at Georgetown University.
As a coach, my students have received 20+ bids, won the TFA State Touranment and Lexington Invitational, in addition to reaching deep elims of CPS, Glenbrooks, Valley, Berkeley and Harvard and receiving countless speaker awards.
As an educator, my general approach is that it is not my role to impose any form, style, or model of debating onto a student but to provide support and a platform for testing the arguments and strategies that they choose to pursue. My biggest emphasis is figuring out how to tailor a student’s arguments and performance to adapt to the changing nature of the debate game. I believe heavily in the value of good, rigorous research and believe even more strongly that an emphasis on such research is the key to competitive success.
Vida Chiri | Kritik Specialist, Dropbox Coach
Vida competed in Policy debate for University High School (NJ) and competed in policy debate in college for Liberty University. She recently completed her Master's degree in Human Services Counseling at Liberty University. Vida has coached at Newark Science, University High School, and Liberty University. As a high school coach, Vida has coached debaters to win or advance to the late elims of major national and regional tournaments like Lexington, Lakeland, NDCA Nationals, Tournament of Champions, and NSDA Nationals. She has coached various students across LD and Policy debate to the Tournament of Champions. As a college debater for Liberty University, Vida qualified for and advanced to the elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament for three years in a row, with an octofinal appearance in 2016. She has advanced to late eliminations of the Cross Examination Debate Association Nationals, reaching finals in 2016. As a college debate coach Vida Chiri has coached debaters in the elims of most major national tournaments such as Wake Forest, Cal Swings, and the National Debate Tournament.
Lucas Clarke | Assistant Coach | Drill Instructor
Lucas Clarke is a sophomore at the University of Texas who debated on the national circuit for Cypress Woods High School. Despite only debating for 2 years, Lucas received 5 bids his senior, reached elimination rounds of the TOC, quarterfinals of Emory and the Glenbrooks, championed Holy Cross, finished 3rd at the University of Texas Invitational, and had a series of other successful appearances at national tournaments
Lucas has since worked at the Global Debate Symposium for two consecutive summers, and has independently coached students who have succeeded at tournaments like TFA State, UT, and more.
Whit Jackson | Assistant Coach | Drill Instructor
Whit debated at Brentwood School in Los Angeles, California from 2014-2018. He attended the TOC in Lincoln-Douglas as a Junior and Senior, collecting a total of 9 career bids. His senior year, he reached semi-finals of the TOC, championed the Meadows and Stanford Invitationals, and reached finals of the Berkeley and Golden Desert Invitationals. He also received speaker awards at nearly every tournament he attended his senior year, including top speaker at the College Prep LD Invitational and 4th speaker at the TOC.
Over the summer, Whit taught at the San Jose Debate Intensive, where he taught multiple upper-level labs and mentored individual students spanning a wide array of experience and styles. He studies Computer Science and Philosophy at Williams College.
Prince Hyeamang | Drill Instructor
As a debater, I competed at Apple Valley (MN) both locally and nationally for 3 ½ years. I qualified for the LD Tournament of Champions both Junior and Senior year with a winning record senior year (4-3). I also received invites throughout my career to numerous prestigious round robins, including Valley, Sunvite, Minneapple, Kandi King, and Debate LA.
As a drill instructor, I draw from a diverse set of experiences to provide the motivation and insight needed for my students to achieve competitive success. My background competing nationally in NCAA Division 1 wrestling, as well as in high school circuit LD tournaments, have helped me develop a greater appreciation and understanding for the process that is preparation AND the art that is competition. I bring an intensive focus to every drill session. I expect the same from my students. I work to make the most out of every minute spent with a student because I value their time, energy, resources/ I don't care about previous success, just that my students are willing to commit to working hard to improve and achieve competitive greatness.
As a coach, my students have qualified for TFA state, NSDA nationals, and the Tournament of Champions, with an elimination round finish at NSDA nationals.
Connor Davis | Drill Instructor
Connor founded the BASIS Scottsdale LD program in Arizona, and having only done national circuit debate for two years, he qualified to the TOC his senior year, winning a Finals Bid (SWSDIT) and finishing third at Alta. Connor also coached the middle and high school debate programs at his alma matar, where his students won several tournaments, including the Arizona State Invitational. Though focusing in LD, he also earned a bid to the TOC in Oratory.
Currently, Connor attends the University of Michigan, where he studies math.
Areas of expertise: performance debate (especially Irony), writing all analytic frameworks, substantively answering skepticism, lay debate, transitioning to circuit debate