Coaching as an Alumni: Keoni Scott-Reid named new Director of Debate at Washington Leadership Academ

My name is Keoni Scott-Reid, and 4 years ago my relationship with WUDL started on the 3rd floor of the Hill Center with reusable water bottles that smelled awful, and bumbling high schoolers bumping into each other.

Our tournaments are not that much different in nature now, and since graduating and becoming an alum and Instructor for the league, the excitement and rush of the tab being put out, is no longer as exciting. I miss being able to debate!

The question I get asked all the time is; what has debate taught you, and I have found the answer. First, revolutionary academic discourse almost always starts with a little bit of trolling , and second is that debating gives a voice to the voiceless, and even to those with gold plated tongues. I am thankful for a league who embraced a 16 year old Black kid with no direction, who thought he knew it all and drew flowers on his t shirts. And I am even more thankful they gave me, now a Black man, an opportunity to come back and teach kids.

Teaching Debate, straight from being a debater is so fun and rewarding but you also learn quickly that special types of people are meant for debating. My kids were never as excited about Kavanaugh trial updates like I am, and I assumed it was normal to constantly obsess about political turmoil but apparently not.

I've learned that information should not be spit out at 245 WPM all day, and I still laugh when I see the looks on kids faces after watching a varsity round. Dr. Omar Price (DuVal), who also works with the league once said ”I learn so much from being around and teaching that I feel like its more helpful for me than the kids!” and I couldn't agree more. Teaching has taught me so much, not only about myself and my weaknesses but also it has helped me tap into a unfounded potential of wanting to be the first hand to push some little weird black kids into the world with their feet running to take it over and put it on their trophy case. Being subconsciously indoctrinated by seeing people who look like me die by the hands of destructive practices of non civil servants, it is uniquely important that we show and prove to little brown and black kids that their narrative is not one paved with blood and chains but with excellency, courage and advantageousness.

My debate mentors are people that I will love and collaborate with until my time is gone and I want to be and provide that figure for someone and pass it along. Kids are stifled and constantly being told their aptitude and potential can be standardized or quantified by a system somebody who never met them created. They have an inherent distrust for the system, their academic spaces have been enunciated around normalcy, and here at WUDL we believe in self empowerment. If you asked me 2 years ago where I would be I could not even imagine being a teacher and college student.

Being the first alumni of WUDL to teach/coach for a team in the league is an honor. The WUDL narrative is a part of the legacy I am working towards and I am proud to be apart of theirs.

This past weekend, my two 9th graders Tamia and Kamani went 2-1 at their first tournament ever. I hope they are ready to move up to Junior Varsity by Christmas.

At first. My stint with teaching starting out with trying to further my own legacy, and now I've found out it's more fulfilling to help others start theirs.

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