Debate Leadership Team

Mike Bietz

Mike Bietz, Director

Mike Bietz has been the head debate coach at Harvard-Westlake since 2007. Previous to coaching at HW, he was the founder & Head Lincoln-Douglas debate coach at Edina High School (1999-2005) in Minnesota. While in college he was also an assistant debate coach at The Blake School and Hopkins High School. He also spent a year as the head policy debate coach at Apple Valley HS in MN.

During his time at Edina and HW, his teams have been successful to an unprecedented degree. Mr. Bietz also has the distinction of being the only Lincoln-Douglas coach in history to have students win both the Tournament of Champions and NFL Nationals in the same season. He is one of only 3 coaches to ever coach two NFL National Champions and one of only 2 to do it at two different schools. In addition, he has coached 2 NFL Semifinalists, 2 TOC Semifinalists and 2 NDCA Semifinalists.

Beyond success at post-season National Championships, his debaters have closed-out (taking both first and second place) or won most major national invitationals including: The Greenhill Fall Classic (close-out and win), The Greenhill Round Robin (close-out), The Voices Round Robin (close-out), The Glenbrooks (close-out twice), The Mid-America Cup (3 wins, a close-out), The Holiday Classic at the Blake School (2 wins, 2 close-outs) and The Silver & Black Invitational at Alta HS. He has also coached finalists in the MBA Round Robin, The New York Invitational at Bronx Science, and twice at Harvard University.

While coaching in Minnesota, he coached back-to-back State Championships in Lincoln-Douglas, 2 finalists, a semifinalists and a policy State Championship.

Aside from coaching success, Mr. Bietz is a trusted and longtime leader in the community. He has been a director of a summer debate institute at UCLA for 12 years. During this time over 5000 students have attended the institute. 10 NFL National Champions and 10 TOC Champions are alums of this program. He is a former President of the National Debate Coaches Association, a long-time member of the Tournament of Champions Advisory Committee, a winner of the Blake School Tournament Coach of the Year, The Bronx HS of Science Coaching Award and the Minnesota State High School League Debate Coach of the Year.

Greg Achten

Greg Achten, Flagship Director

Greg Achten is a Co-Director of Debate at The Harker School. His students have won numerous tournaments in Lincoln-Douglas debate including the California Invitational at U.C. Berkeley and the National Debate Coaches Association National Championship. He has also had students receive top 5 speaker awards in both LD and policy at multiple national level tournaments.

Prior to joining Harker, Greg was the Director of Debate at U.C. Berkeley where he coached a Copeland Award winning team as well as a National Championship team. Before Berkeley, Greg was the Director of Debate at Pepperdine University.

Greg has over 25 years of summer debate institute experience including as founding director of the Cal National Debate Institute, director of the Georgetown Debate Seminar, director of the Arizona Debate Institute and has taught at many other summer workshops.

Jenny Alme

Jenny Achten, Faculty Development and Flagship Instructor

Jenny Achten is a Co-Director of Debate The Harker School in San Jose. She has coached multiple national debate champions, including a National Debate Coaches Association Champion and 5 Tournament of Champions winners. She is a member of the Tournament of Champions Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Georgia Debate Coaches Hall of Fame after several years as the head coach at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta.

Previously, Jenny has coached at Pace Academy, Emory University and Arizona State University. Jenny has taught the top seniors lab at Georgetown University, Michigan State and the University of Michigan camps for the last several years. Previously, she worked at a number of other debate institutes, including the Arizona Debate Institute for college students.

Brian McBride, Curriculum Co-Director & Flagship Instructor

Brian McBride is the Assistant Director of Debate and lead argument coach for the legendary USC debate team.

Brian is one of the most accomplished and influential debate coaches of the 20 years. His success as a traditionally trained policy debater plus his involvement in the early evolution of critical argumentation in debate helped Brian be recognized as one of the most talented coaches.

Brian’s debate career began at Westbury High School in Houston, Texas for a squad that was lucky to have five members competing at one time. In Brian’s senior year in high school he amassed a win-loss record of 117 wins and 11 losses, winning twelve tournaments. Brian went on to debate for the University of Texas were he received a first round at large bid to the National Debate Tournament three years in a row, winning multiple tournaments and many top five speaker awards.

After graduating from the University of Texas he went on to coach Northwestern University to win three National Championships (NDT titles). Brian moved to the greater Los Angeles area and was the coach who brought an upstart group of debaters from the University of Redlands to the elite 8 (quarter-finals of the NDT) twice. Brian brought his unique expertise to the Trojans in 2006 and is the head argument coach for USC.