A-to-Z Index

Coaching Staff 

-JMU Director of Debate, Michael Davis-


Mike Davis joined the debate team at Syracuse University at the suggestion of his public speaker professor and his grandmother who always thought he would be good at debate. After several coaching stops, Mike received his PhD from the University of Georgia. He joined JMU as the director of debate in 2006 and plans on staying for a very long time. In addition to directing the debate program, Mike teaches in the public and political communication areas with a focus on social movements and public debate. Mike's greatest coaching accomplishment are the number of his students who have gone on to coach after graduating. If he can help to transfer that love of debate to future coaches, then his career will be a success. Mike's favorite thing about coaching at JMU is the hard-working and extremely intelligent debaters who walk through the debate office doors every year.





-JMU Assistant Director of Debate, Paul E. Mabrey III-

Paul arrived at James Madison University via the great debate states of Kansas and Georgia. He has been involved in debate since his 9th grade year, 1994. Paul debated for Manhattan High School (KS) before eventually becoming Manhattan's Head Debate Coach. He was a successful high school debater in the state of Kansas and coached a number of locally competitive high school teams. Paul has been teaching at various national summer debate institutes for about 10 years.
At the collegiate level, Paul was a successful debater for both Kansas State University and Fort Hays State University. He spent his time at Kansas State debating on the regional and national JV circuit, winning several tournaments and often placing as a top ten speaker. At Fort Hays State, Paul was nationally competitive and continuously on the cutting edge of argumentation and debate practices. He won several regional tournaments (NW CEDA Champs, UNT, UCO), advanced into elims at many national tournaments (Wake, GSU, USC, Fullerton, Kentucky, CEDA and NDT Nationals) and was consistently recognized as a top fifteen individual speaker.
Paul coached as an assistant for both Fort Hays State University and Georgia State University. The teams he helped coach were both competitively successful and argumentatively innovative. They have advanced into elimination rounds at all national tournaments, including both NDT and CEDA Nationals.
Paul has spent the last two years working in Human Resources at Georgia State University while finishing his M.A. in Human Communication and Social Influence. His research interests include rhetorical theory and criticism, governmentality and biopower. He will teach introductory classes in Communication Studies. Paul is extremely happy to be joining the James Madison University Debate Family. Paul is eager to work with such a great group of passionate and engaged students. Paul's vision for James Madison Debate includes a regionally and nationally competitive policy debate team, a robust public debate program, a vibrant relationship with the Virginia high school debate community and a place where research and thinking can productively influence local, regional and national academic and policy discussions.

- JMU Debate Coach, Shree Awsare -

Shree AwsareShree Awsare started policy debate in 2003 at Monta Vista High School in California.  Although he was not a high school debate superstar, debate got him very interested in current events and philosophy.  As a college student, Shree immersed himself in the activity and established the policy debate program at Columbia University in New York City.  During his time there, he cleared at CEDA twice and was part of the first team from his school to qualify to the NDT.  He also won several regional tournaments in the Northeast (Cornell, Rochester, Binghamton) and debated in the elimination rounds of national tournaments (Vegas Classic, Fullerton, and Cal).  During his senior year, he also served as the assistant debate coach at Fordham University.

Shree is currently pursuing a degree in law at the Georgetown University Law Center, but was unable to resist the temptation to get involved in debate again.  He is very excited to work with the debate team at JMU.




- JMU Debate Coach, Matt Brigham -

- JMU Debate Coach, Donald Bryson -

Donald Bryson started debating at Piedmont College in 2004. In 2005, Donald was named the Southeast CEDA Speaker of the Year and enjoyed other successes as a debater.   He has judged at several national tournaments, including elimination rounds at the National Debate Tournament. Donald was previously the policy debate coach at East Chapel Hill High School (NC).  Donald is an analyst at Parents for Educational Freedom, a North Carolina based think-tank.  He thinks that he would not be who he is or able to do his job as well if it had not been for debate. His favorite thing about the JMU Debate team is work with and being constantly amazed at debaters who not only want to be good, but excellent.


- JMU Debate Coach, Steven D'Amico -

Steven D’Amico was an all-American debater at the University of Rochester. He is a recipient of the prestigious Michael K. Davis award, a highly sought after career achievement named in honor of JMU’s own Dr. Michael Davis.
After graduating in 2005, Steven obtained a Master’s Degree in political management from the George Washington University School of Political Management. While at GW, he served as an assistant coach, and later became head coach, of the school’s policy debate team, which qualified teams for the National Debate Tournament through the coveted “first round at large” process.  After leaving George Washington, Steven joined the coaching staff at the University of Richmond, where he served as an assistant coach until he joined JMU’s staff in 2011.
In his professional life, Steven is a political consultant specializing in opposition research. He has served as campaign manager for state legislative and congressional elections, and has served as research director and deputy research director on several gubernatorial and senate campaigns. He currently works for American Bridge 21st Century, a political action committee in Washington, D.C. He enjoys teaching debaters research and argument construction tactics and helping graduating students pursue careers in government and politics.   

-JMU Debate Coach, Alysia Davis-


Alysia Cockrell Davis started policy debate her sophomore year in high school, and enjoyed considerable success as a regional debater in Georgia. She originally joined debate because she needed to fill an elective in her course schedule. While she didn't know much about the activity going in, she was quickly enamored by the fast-paced competition. After high school she attended Mercer University, partly supported by a debate scholarship. During her time at Mercer, she was a four-time qualifier to the National Debate Tournament (NDT). She participated in elimination rounds at the Cross-Examination Debate Association (CEDA) National Tournament. She was also named a CEDA All-American in 1998. Alysia received her Master's degree in Public Policy from the University of Rochester in 2000, where she was an assistant coach. The "Alysia Cockrell Award" was established at the University of Rochester in her honor. Recipients of the award must demonstrate a commitment to encouraging the participation and advancement of women in debate. Since 2000, Alysia has been a volunteer coach at the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and now James Madison. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Women's Studies at Emory University, and is in the midst of writing her dissertation. Alysia teaches in the Women's Studies program at JMU and in the Sociology department at Bridgewater College. At the 2009 CEDA National tournament, she had the honor of receiving the "Becky Galentine Award for Coaching." Her greatest success in debate is undoubtedly the fact that she was a four-time qualifier to the NDT - and three of those times were with a woman partner! Alysia considers herself lucky to be associated with the JMU debate team. The students are engaged, hard-working, and friendly. The JMU team really does feel like a family - something that Alysia loves, even though that makes her the "mom"

- JMU Debate Coach, Kenny Hanson -

- JMU Debate Coach, Sean Lowry - 

Sean Lowry

Sean joined JMU Debate as a walk-on freshman in 2005 with no prior experience. He ended his competitive debate career in 2010 after qualifying for the National Debate Tournament; multiple appearances in outrounds at the Cross Examination Debate Assocation (CEDA) Nationals; winner of the American Debate Association's 2009 Julia Burke Award; and Top Speaker at the 2010 U.S. Naval Academy tournament. Sean is currently an Master's in Public Policy candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park, specializating in International Security and Economic Policy-- whenever he isn't interning for his "Uncle Sam" or coaching debate on the weekends.




JMU Debate Coach, Piero Mannino -

Piero ManninoPiero joined the JMU debate team in 2001 without having had any previous policy debate experience. He served as captain of the debate team for two years. In his senior season, Piero qualified for the National Debate Tournament, was champion of the George Mason University Debate Tournament, and contributed to the squad's achievment of the Ceda Public Sphere Award. Piero recently completed his Juris Doctor and Master's in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently a debate coach and public speaking instructor.