Joel erickson

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Joel is an NCFCA alumnus and veteran coach with six years of experience mentoring debaters, including several national champions and national finalists.

After obtaining his degree in Philosophy at Wheaton College, Joel served as his alma mater’s Assistant Director of Forensics, teaching classes in argumentation theory and coaching British parli. He’s garnered numerous accolades high school and college, winning competitions in both parli debate and mock trial and earning second place for his petitioner brief at 2020 AMCA Nationals. He concluded his forensics career with the highlight of his college experience—traveling to Bangkok for the 2020 World University Debating Championship.

Joel has coached over five hundred students through individual sessions, clubs, school programs, seminars, and camps. He’s also written extensively for various sourcebooks (including Ethos!) and served as a consultant for NCFCA’s Value Debate Committee. He will be attending Harvard Law School this Fall.

Coaching Philosophy

"I can't wait to immerse my students in the big ideas of philosophy, politics, and economics. I view it as my ultimate objective to equip and inspire students to think deeply. My pedagogical approach revolves around the following three principles:

(1) Substance. In LD, it’s easy to enjoy success as a demagogue—exploiting emotional appeals, charisma, Founding Fathers quotations, and grandiose rhetoric to win ballots without offering substantive argumentation. I fundamentally emphasize robust reasoning—ensuring your cases are philosophically coherent while maintaining accessibility and mass appeal.

(2) Independence. I strive to coach you how to coach yourself—developing the capacity for diagnosing your shortcomings and prescribing solutions.

(3) Character. Debate is not merely about the success one achieves, but the person one becomes. Trophies and titles dissipate, but character, skills, and legacy remain."

Notable Awards

As a debater, Joel advanced to finals at seven British parliamentary tournaments—including the Pan Pacific Debating Championship—and won four championship titles. As a result, he was named Outstanding Debater of the Year by the Midwest Debate Association in 2019. Moreover, he and his partner qualified to AMCA Nationals in moot court and were the top seed at the Chicago Regional Championship, winning best advocate awards there. The following season, their brief won second place at 2020 AMCA Nationals. For mock trial, Joel has won two tournaments and was Wheaton’s top prosecuting attorney at both the AMTA Opening Round Championship Series and National Championship in 2018. In high school, he prequalified to NCFCA Nationals in multiple speeches, advanced to LD semifinals at two NCFCA National Opens, and ranked in the top twenty-five LD debaters at NCFCA Nationals.

As a coach, Joel has helped myriad competitors actualize their personal goals—whether that’s winning your first round or your first tournament. He’s coached numerous students to elimination rounds at Nationals, three of whom secured championship titles. He considers learning alongside and forging friendships with students his greatest blessing.