Meet Concordia’s new directors of speech and debate

The Concordia Courier

Headshot of Sean Nowlan

By Leonard Memon | 9/2/2022

The CUI forensics team has a new director of debate and a new director of speech for the 2022-2023 competitive year that aim to place forensics competitors in a position to win national titles and make life-long friendships along the way.

Blake Longfellow, the new director of individual events and speech, was a highly successful speech competitor and is a well-respected coach. As a competitor in college, he won nine national championships, including three team national championships. Most notably, he was the 2011 National Champion in Informative Speaking at the National Forensics Association Championship which included all universities.

As a coach, he revived a community college program to become the back-to-back California State Champions in 2021 and 2022, and a top two community college program in the country in 2021. He also coached two students to become the number one overall community college competitors in the country in 2019 and 2022, and brought many more to individual national championships.

Longfellow said, “Every team I've ever been a part of has won their respective state and national championship as a team, and I don't plan to let that streak end with Concordia.”

When Longfellow is not coaching or working on his other business, he said, “I like taking road trips to national parks. Since 2020 I have visited almost 30 national parks and now spend as much time as I can in Montana. I also like hiking, swimming and playing super nerdy strategy computer games.”

Sean Nowlan, the new director of debate, is an exceptional alumni of Concordia debate. Nowlan graduated in 2022, and debated in competitive collegiate debate throughout all three years of his undergraduate degree for Concordia University Irvine. During that time, he won the novice brackets of his first debate tournament and won the National Christian College Forensic Invitational Tournament, winning numerous awards and breaking into many outrounds along the way.

Nowlan said that in his spare time, “You might find me running a D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) campaign, playing wargames or reading a good book.”

Longfellow said that one of the reasons he chose Concordia was because “Concordia has a long history of excellence in speech and debate.” He added, “When the opportunity to continue my coaching career at a university with the prestige of Concordia presented itself, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity.”

Nowlan was also attracted to Concordia because of the success it has had within the forensics world and the alignment he had with Concordia’s mission statement. He said, “I decided to coach debate at Concordia University Irvine because it has a proud and prestigious competitive history within collegiate debate, all while supporting the mission of Concordia as an institution. Succinctly, its program is equal parts competitive, academically rigorous, and fun.”

Nowlan added, “This year the future looks bright, and I'm excited to see what great things await any team, no matter the sport, that competes for Concordia.”

Longfellow and Nowlan have goals to make Concordia’s forensics team highly competitive. Nowlan said “My goals for the debate team this year are to build on progress from the previous year to maximize the growth process of debaters that started last semester.” Longfellow said, “I'd like to see us remain a top ten team amongst all universities, and win the Christian College Nationals.”

Concordia’s forensics team is looking to grow in size. Longfellow said that one of his goals was to have the forensics team “double in size.” He added, “We are already one of the larger teams in the nation, but if we can double the number of students on the team, we will be the largest university team in the western half of the United States.”

Forensics competitors do not have to be Communication Studies or History and Political Thought majors to join. Nowlan said, “Whether you're a Business major, a musician or philosopher, debate is both accessible and beneficial to any college student's academic career. Every debater that goes through our program not only feels more academically equipped, but also tends to gain a lot of lifelong friends along the way.”

Longfellow encouraged students to join the team by saying, “One thing I love about speech and debate is that anyone can be successful. Unlike sports where someone that is bigger and stronger has an inherent advantage, in speech and debate, anyone can become a champion if they're willing to put in the work. I'd suggest that anyone considering joining should attend a few meetings and try it out, all levels of skill and experience are welcome!”

For those who would like more information regarding the forensics team or are interested in joining, please contact



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