Former Liberty University Debate Director Brett O’Donnell was the guest of honor at Thursday’s Debate Team awards reception.
O’Donnell, who led Liberty’s debate team for 18 years, took time away from his duties as Communications Strategist for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s campaign, to attend the surprise unveiling of the debate center’s renaming as the Brett O’Donnell Center for Debate and to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.
While director of debate, O’Donnell’s teams won 18 national rankings championships. He has coached over 10 individual novice, junior varsity, and varsity teams to national championships.
“Had Brett not had a vision 20 years ago of what Liberty Debate could become, none of us would enjoy the benefits that we enjoy right now,” said Liberty University Debate Team coach Michael Hall. “There are a lot of people who are responsible for the success of Liberty Debate, but there’s no one person who is more responsible than Brett O’Donnell.”
Hall was the former director of debate at Penn State from 1995 to 1998 and was the assistant debate coach at Liberty from 1993 to 1995.
“I’m overwhelmed … Liberty Debate really is a community — it’s all the people and students who have toiled tirelessly for this program and for the vision of Dr. Falwell. It’s the administrators who have supported us and most importantly friends and coaches who have been there throughout my career,” O’Donnell said.
Debate Team Awards:
Novice of the Year: Austin Woodruff
First Year Debater: Jeff White
JV Debater of the Year: Joshua Turnage
Most Improved Debater: Benjamin Hagwood
Team Spirit Award: Michelle Oh
Director’s Award: Garrett Halydier, Chase McCool
Dr. Mark Lloyd Award: Garrett Halydier
Service Award: Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Brett O’Donnell