The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

New Debate Coach Arrives at Tompkins


A high school teacher circulates through rows of desks in a rectangular room filled with an ambiance of inspiration and hard-work. In each desk is a student, engaged in their assignments, and focused on training for a momentous day. She rotates around to each student, reviewing the content and instilling a few last words of encouragement. This educator is Leslie Hernandez, and not only does she teach students throughout the day, she coaches elite debate competitors for highly competitive tournaments. Last year the team had an admirable season, but this year, with the help of the new debate coach, Hernandez, they plan to go all the way.


“We usually attend around 12 tournaments a year, not including UIL/NSDA District Meets, State Meets, and Nationals”, said Hernandez.


A regular debate tournament is made up of thirteen events and three rounds over two full days. The first round is called the preliminary round, usually students participate in three to four prelims before eliminations begin. Tournaments are usually comprised of over twenty high schools and over 300 students. People come from all over the district, region, state and even the country.


“I feel you have to experience it to truly understand, and what I usually tell the kids when they first join debate is that it is its own world and you either love it or hate it,” said Hernandez.


Hernandez did not always teach debate. She worked for the “State of Texas in Child Care Licensing, inspecting daycares.” Hernandez changed careers because of her love for debate. She found the love as a hobby when she was a teenager. She participated in it as an extracurricular activity in high school. Hernandez grew up in El Campo, Texas and she attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. When she started teaching, debate was not her only subject. She taught a variety of courses from English to Speech, all the way to Oral Interpret theater & Tech theatre. When Hernandez chose Tompkins to teach at, she took into account the subjects taught in the class, the availability of a team and the fact that KISD is a renowned district.


“I wanted a teaching position where I could focus on Speech & Debate and get back to coaching a competitive team while still being close to my family – Tompkins offered all that for me,” said Hernandez.


Coach Hernandez has high hopes for her team this year, as she plans to take last year’s title to the next level. In the 2016-2017 school year, Tompkins debate had over ten students qualify at a TFA tournament, Texas Forensic Association, which is a highly competitive state event. One of the Tompkins students was a UIL state qualifier, which is a tremendous accomplishment considering this is a tournament for the entire state of Texas. At an NSDA competition, National Speech and Debate Association, a student was a semi-finalist in the section congressional debate. Here Tompkins beat Seven Lakes and won the NSDA district sweepstakes. This year the debate team and their new coach are training hard and they plan to return to nationals and win.


“Last year the team had a Semi Finalist at Nationals, so our hope this year is to have a National Finalist,” said Hernandez.

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