Our first alumni profile features Chase Harrington, who grew up in Laguna Hills, CA, and competed with SCARLET from 2006 to 2010. Before Stoa was founded in his senior year, Chase competed in tournaments organized under NCFCA dating back to his first tournament at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA, in January 2007. Chase was a competitor at the first-ever Stoa tournament in January 2010, the Concordia Challenge, where he remembers preparing novices for their first debates in the new world of Stoa.
Chase primarily competed in Lincoln Douglas and Extemporaneous speaking and qualified for both events for Stoa’s first NITOC in 2010. He describes his love for Lincoln Douglas Debate, “A one-on-one discussion of competing values is a uniquely American form of debate — one that is lamentably gone from our political scene. Debates illuminate both sides of a complex issue. That alone would do immense good to unwind tribal attitudes and bruising campaign seasons.”
Once his Stoa competition career wrapped up with a 2010 NITOC Championship in Lincoln Douglas, Chase enrolled at Concordia University Irvine where he graduated in 2014 with a BA in International Studies. He then decided to pursue a career in law and completed his JD at Duke University’s School of Law in 2017. After passing the bar, he became an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty — a firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty for people of all faiths. In his role, he helped defend the rights of an order of nuns called the Little Sisters of the Poor as well as representing the Klickitat and Cascade Tribes of Yakama Nation in Washington state and Buddhist capital defendant, Patrick Murphy, in Texas. Chase describes the impact of religious liberty, “Religious liberty matters to me because it is a tangible way I can treat others — even those with whom I have sincere and passionate disagreements — as people made in God’s image.” Currently, Chase practices law in the executive branch of the United States federal government in Washington, DC.
Over the years, Chase has been involved with Stoa in various ways, first as a Coach for VALOR throughout his time in Southern California for college and then later serving on the Stoa Lincoln Douglas committee for four years. One of his favorite Stoa memories was when Chase was coaching VALOR students at a NITOC. On the final morning, two of his students were in the final round of Parliamentary Debate, but his morning alarm didn’t go off. Chase was abruptly awakened by a phone call and an anxious debater shouting at him to get to the prep room because topics were being announced in minutes. He leaped from his bed, dressed in the elevator, brushed his teeth in the car, sprinted to the prep room — and made it! He says, “Everyone had a good laugh at my bedhead and half-tucked shirt, but I think it quieted nerves in the few moments we had before the topic was announced.”
For his fellow alumni, Chase has these words to say: “Alumni should appreciate the enormous privilege it was to compete in Stoa and give back. Hundreds of adults sacrificed their hobbies and free time to do menial tasks like check timer batteries, print schedules, make nametags, or tabulate a 300-competitor tournament so you would learn to think clearly and speak confidently. That is an immense gift. The best thank you alumni can give is come back — not to relive your glory days — but to judge graciously and serve.”