MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Mercer University alumna Lindsey Hancock Warden recently coached the University Middle School debate team in Memphis, Tennessee, to the 2020 National Urban Debate League Championship.
The two-day virtual event, held May 2-3, marked the first time University Middle School students competed in a multiple-day national tournament. University Middle, opened in 2019, is a laboratory school operated as an extension of the University of Memphis.
Warden’s team defeated Early Scholars Speech and Debate from New York in the final round with a 2-1 decision in front of a three-judge panel.
“Winning the final round of the Urban Debate League Middle School Nationals is a special accomplishment, and it speaks to the dedication of these students, who have poured many hours into research, writing, practicing and watching tapes of past debate rounds,” said Warden, who serves as speech and debate coach and a social studies teacher at University Middle.
Warden, from Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, graduated from Mercer in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and went on to earn a Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University.
She was a member of Mercer’s debate team during all four years of her undergraduate studies. In 2015, she won the state championship in the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association and 10th-place speaker at National Parliamentary Debate Association nationals.
“Mercer Director of Debate Dr. Vasile Stanescu’s coaching and overall role in my life as a mentor and friend has been an integral part of my decision to teach and coach,” said Warden. “My time at Mercer, and particularly my time in the debate program, inspired me to lifelong service. The collaboration and communication skills I developed in working with my Mercer teammates and coaches have served me well over my past several years as a teacher and coach. Thanks to Mercer’s program, I view competitive debate as a catalyst for invested citizenship and student activism, and I see great value in teaching young people to find their voices as they speak their truths.”
“I tell every debater that the only trophy I care about is them – their future successes and the way that they will use the skills they learned in Mercer debate to make difference in the lives of others. That is exactly what Lindsey has done. I am very proud of her,” said Dr. Stanescu.
Warden previously coached high school debate at Tiftarea Academy and directed the public forum division of Samford University’s Debate Institute. She has supported new debate programs at Bethlehem Christian Academy, Oglethorpe University and Birmingham-Southern College.
Her husband, Donald, serves as volunteer assistant coach for University Middle. He is an experienced debater, as well, having founded Oglethorpe University’s debate team and directed the public forum division of Samford’s Debate Institute.
The Wardens met through their high school debate team in 2010 and are both lifetime members of the National Speech and Debate Association.