KU debate student, assistant coach win national awards

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It’s been a season full of hardware for University of Kansas junior Azja Butler and the KU debate team. 

Butler, fresh off being named the top speaker at the National Debate Tournament, won the National Debater of the Year Award from the Cross Examination Debate Association at an awards ceremony Sunday. 

In addition to Butler’s accolade, KU debate assistant coach Jyleesa Hampton took home the Graduate Student Coach of the Year Award — continuing an impressive run for the Jayhawks team which advanced to the semifinals of the national tournament at the end of March. 

“Azja earned this recognition from the college debate community based not only on her outstanding debate skills but also because of her character and commitment to the ideals of the community,” KU debate director Scott Harris said in a press release. “She is an individual who applies her debate skills to public advocacy to make the community around her a better place.” 

Butler is the third KU debater to win the National Debater of the Year Award, joining Hampton in 2015 and Kenny Delph in 2020.

Hampton debated for KU, completed a master’s degree in communication studies and is currently a doctoral student in public administration at KU, the press release said. Hampton has been an assistant coach at KU for the past six years. 

“Jyleesa is an amazing debate coach and an amazing person who has had a tremendous impact on the KU debate program,” Harris said.

Butler and Nate Martin, who were the first and second place individual speakers at the National Debate Tournament, were named to CEDA’s All-American Debate Team. KU students Ross Fitzpatrick, Jimin Park, Michael Scott and Jet Semrick were all recognized as members of the All-Academic Debate Team.  

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