CDL Team Spotlight: Meet the Von Steuben Debate Team

Von Steuben has a long history with the Chicago Debate League as one of the earliest teams to join the CDL. With 18 students, Von Steuben’s debate team has experienced some very positive momentum over the last few years.  As an enthusiastic team with both novices and veterans, they’ve used their trials and triumphs through the intense competiveness of debate as tools to improve, and they show no signs of slowing down this year.

Four years ago, Coach Ben Krier joined a dynamic group of kids that he describes as a collection of “pit-bulls and poets,” whose youthful enthusiasm spans from junk food to politics.  The team members established themselves as contenders after debaters Jesse Okwu and Beatriz Jiminez won the LCC Varsity Championships in 2012-13, the team’s first year in the LCC conference. It was a year of tremendous growth for the Von Steuben squad, after enduring some tough losses during the previous season.  The team’s growth and forward momentum stems from the students’ dedication to improve and honest self-reflection. Coach Krier often catches them internalizing  judge feedback immediately following a round and strategizing how to avoid any same mistakes during the next round.

In addition to their dedication at practices and tournaments, Von Steuben debaters have gone in depth in debate through summer institutes. Over the last three years, Von Steuben debaters have been awarded summer debate institute scholarships at various universities including Illinois State, Indiana University, Michigan University, and the prestigious Northwestern University Chicago Scholars Summer Debate program. And five Von Steuben students attended CDSI.

This year, Von Steuben will compete again in the LCC conference, with four debaters competing in the National Circuit through the CDC’s National Circuit program.  Coach Krier reports that the team is positioning itself for a potential jump into the Regional Circuit Conference (RCC) next year. Best of luck!

If you’d like to learn more about each of our teams in the CDL, please visit If you’d like to see a team in action, please contact Cheyenne Cochrane at to find out information for the next tournament.