Crestian Policy Classic

2021 — NSDA Campus, IL/US

Both divisions of this weekend’s Tournament are named after Jerrell Maurice Braden. What – one may ask –

could you tell me about Jerrell:


It’s hard to describe a deceased friend to a generation that didn’t know him. There’s no paragraph that

feels complete; no words can truly describe how important he was to so many people, or how important

he was to me. Writing this is a project doomed from the jump, but I was eager to do it, because he

would be very proud to have a tournament named after him. He would be embarrassed, but it would

have meant a lot to him. He would have liked it very much.


More than any other person I have known, Jerrell went out of his way to help people. It really didn’t

matter who you were, how well you knew him, if you were good or bad at debate, or even if he liked

you. Whether you were the most accomplished senior or the most annoying frosh, he treated everyone

as equally worthy of his friendship. There was no expectation of receiving something in return. Jerrell

helped people simply because he could. So he did. Over and over and over. To three full generations of

MSU and Michigan high school debaters, Jerrell was a good friend, a big brother, a kind uncle.


If you were on the Michigan State University Debate Team between 2000-2011, there is definitely a time

you can still remember when Jerrell went out of his way to help you. Probably several times. He could

always tell when someone was having a hard time, and would always reach out. Usually that meant

going to his house, where he would cook delicious food and watch terrible TV with you. Maybe you’d

talk for hours, or maybe not at all, but you always left feeling better, and you always left knowing that

someone cared. I still don’t know how he did it. He was just SO good at it. A great listener. Always knew

how to meet you where you were. The most patient person. Never told you what to do, but always

somehow knew just how to help you figure it out for yourself.


Jerrell was an avid supporter of debate in general and the Detroit UDL specifically. He liked debate, but

he loved debaters. He only debated at MSU for one year, but for over a full decade, he was a true giant

to our entire community.


Jerrell, my friend, I love you so much, and I really miss you. Every day.

Dave Stoecker-Strauss