Rollin G Osterweis Tournament at Yale

2023 — New Haven, CT/US

About Rollin G. Osterweis

The YDA received our first coaching by Professor John Chester Adams (Yale 1896), from roughly 1914 until his retirement in 1948. Our second and last faculty coach was Rollin "Rolly" Osterweis, who took the position immediately after Adams' retirement.

Training under Osterweis was rigorous. The team was split into a freshman team and a varsity team, each of which had regular practices. Since debate topics were often known in advance, members were expected to do extensive research before each competition - our archives are filled with receipts for handbooks and research manuals. Osterweis placed special emphasis on refining speaking style: debaters even had to tape-record and then evaluate their own speeches. Osterweis' pupils often made debate the center of their life at Yale, joining the Yale Political Union (YPU), debating for their residential college teams, and competing in numerous prize debates held on campus. Osterweis also advised the YPU and taught a course called The History of American Oratory, which trained students in rhetoric through the examination of historic political speeches and was almost a requirement for YDA members.

Upon the retirement of Osterweis in 1979, Yale faculty founded in his honor the Osterweis Memorial High School Tournament to promote debate in local public schools; the YDA continues to host this tournament annually, in commemoration of the beloved coach's life and debate work.

For more information about Rollin Osterweis, visit his Wikipedia page here: