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Coaching Staff

John Koch
Director of Debate

John Koch joined the Vanderbilt Debate Team as Associate Director of Debate in 2016. Koch was formerly the Interim Director of Forensics at the University of Puget Sound, and had previously coached at both Wayne State University and Capital University.




M.L. Sandoz
Director of Forensics

M.L. Sandoz joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1991 and is currently the Director of Forensics. Professor Sandoz teaches sections of Public Speaking, Argumentation & Debate, and Interpersonal Communication. In the 2003-2004 academic year, Sandoz was the President of CEDA (Cross Examination Debate Association) and the Director of the CEDA National Tournament held in Louisville, KY. She has served CEDA in numerous roles and has won many coaching awards.


M.L. Sandoz’s Various Debate Roles:

  • Executive Council (2004-present)
  • President & National Tournament Director (2004)
  • Cross Examination Debate Association: National Tournament Tabroom Staff (2002-present)
  • Topic Selection Committee
  • CEDA Constitutional Revision Committee (1999)
  • CEDA National Awards Committee (1998)
  • CEDA National Nominating Committee (1998)

M.L. Sandoz’s Coaching Awards:

  • Melissa Maxcy Wade Award (2016)
  • CEDA Brownlee Award (2012)
  • SEC Director of the Year (2011)
  • CEDA Galentine Award (2006)
  • The National John A. Jacobsohn Memorial Award for career contributions to education through debate.
  • Outstanding Coach of the Year, 2003, Southeast Central CEDA.
  • The Dr. Amy Fugate Leadership Award, 2003, presented at the Kansas City Kansas Community College Invitational Debate Tournament for outstanding leadership in CEDA.
  • Southern Forensics Association’s Forensic Educator of the Year, presented at the Southern States Communication Association 71 st Annual Meeting, Lexington, KY, 2001.
  • Critic of the Year Award, Southeast Central Region, Cross Examination Debate Association, 2000.
  • Top Coach Award, Novice and JV National Tournament, Towson University, Cross Examination Association, 2008, 2004, 1999, 1998, 1997, and 1995.
  • Faculty sponsor for VUPoint, a weekly television program aired by Vanderbilt TV, a closed circuit student-run station. VUPoint hosts debates and discussions on issues important to Vanderbilt, Tennessee, the United States, and the world. This program won the 2002 CEDA National Public Debate Award.

Gavin Gill
Head Debate Coach

Gavin is an alumnus of the program, originally joining the Vanderbilt debate team as a novice in 2014 and eventually serving as a Policy Debate Captain. He returned to the debate program after graduating in 2018, working as a volunteer assistant coach and as a traveling judge in a variety of debate formats. In the time since, Gavin has joined on in an official capacity as the Head Debate Coach, where he currently oversees its British Parliamentary Debate coaching program.

Gavin earned a B.A. in Neuroeconomics from the College of Arts and Science.