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DISCUSSION => Open Topic -- Any issue => Topic started by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:12:43 PM

Title: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:12:43 PM
For members of the debate community that are not on Facebook, I will cross-post the messages about Vince Binder here.

Vince, who debated for Jupiter High School and later at the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of West Georgia, and was currently serving as a debate coach at Florida State University has been missing since April 2.  Last week reports linked Vince's disappearance with three escaped fugitives from a Louisiana prison that had been arrested in Miami.  Today, the news out of Tallahassee is reporting that one of the fugitives has admitted that they kidnapped, robbed and killed Vince.  The details are still pretty sketchy and Vince's body has not been found, but many members of the community are starting to grieve for Vince.

Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:14:46 PM
From Gordon Stables:

No words to really express how sad and senseless this all is. Our deepest thoughts and prayers with you and all whose life was better because of Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:16:18 PM
Joshua Hoe :
If the news is true, and I certainly hope it is not, it is another sad day for our community as we lose another great person. I knew Vince to be a fun and great person and very talented debater and coach. RIP to Vince Binder and all my thoughts are with his family and close friends today
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:16:44 PM
Sue Peterson:
  It is at these times that we can begin to question humanity, but for every violent, tragic and disturbing event, there are many more peaceful, joyful and confirming actions from one person to another - let's not forget those. Let's honor Vince's memory and Joe and Amro's courage by doing good and adding value - by being the antithesis of this violence.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:17:17 PM
Gordon Stables:
 Words fail to express the sadness when a bright and shining light is dimmed. All we can do is keep that light in our hearts to honor the way they inspired us.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:17:49 PM
Matt Gerber:

 Sorry to hear the news about Vince...a big loss for many, many people. I know the Baylor debate crew is thinking about his friends and family.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:18:28 PM
Dan Bagwell  :

what a strange, sad year for debate. RIP Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:18:57 PM
Suneet Gautam :

 its hard to make sense of it all when something so senseless can happen to someone so good.. RIP VB..
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:19:34 PM
Josh Gonzalez:
 So very sad and without the words or thoughts to ever understand something like this. All that I keep thinking about is how incredibly unfair and capricious life can be and how lucky I am that Vince, all of the other friends that we've lost this year, and all of the rest of my great big, extended family have been a part of my life, and I a part of theirs. Rest in peace, buddy, it is a privilege to call you my friend.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:20:14 PM
Scott Herndon :

RIP Vince. My thoughts ate with his friends and family
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:20:49 PM
Christian Sedelmyer :

Thinking of Vince, his family & friends.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:21:25 PM
Michael Davis :

 is glad he got to hang out with Vince at CEDA and wishes he could do it again.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:21:55 PM
Seungwon Chung :

 My thoughts are with all of Vince’s friends and family. RIP Vince
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:22:24 PM
Paul Mabrey :

thoughts and prayers go out to Vince his friends and families. Just sad.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:22:53 PM
David Register :

This is tragic. My thoughts are with Vince and his family and friends.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:23:26 PM
Todd Jordan :

Heartbroken for Vince, his family and friends. There are no words for this.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:23:51 PM
Tyler T-boi Boykin:

 I first met Vince at the debate house where I did not actually know he was Vince until I saw him smiling, laughing, and joking around with Jim. At tournaments he frequently commented on my clothing as he referred to it as "fly". He helped me call UWG my home. I love you Vince. You touched my heart, even if it felt like it was only a moment. He lived by the unwritten code of love. That was Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:24:43 PM
Joe Patrice:

 Like many others, I am thinking of Vince, his family and friends today.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:25:16 PM
Michael Gentile :

 is really sad...vince was a good man who didn't deserve this...we are all members of the WGA and FSU families today and all my love goes out to them...fuck man, this sucks
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:25:42 PM
Marissa Grayson :

I will never forget the sound of Vince's laugh or his contagious smile. He truly inspired me to be a better coach and person, reminding me of the importance of enjoying life each day, being patient yet persistent, and recognizing strength in everyone. My heart goes out to everyone who was as lucky as I was to know him. In dedication to Vince, I will forever refer to the politics DA as the Clinton disad.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:26:15 PM
Michael Hester :

 Vince lived at the Debate House last summer. While he was there, one of my sister's dogs experienced a healing miracle. Gypsy's condition, which caused her skin condition and bald patches, cleared up. For the first time ever, she had a thick coat of fur! No itchiness, no redness, no nothing! When Vince left for grad school, her condition returned. That pretty much sums up what it's like to be around Vince Binder.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:26:49 PM
Hajir Ardebili:

I second Sherry's comments. Although I did not know Vince, he's part of the debate family, and I feel as though I did. It's evident that he was dearly loved by those around him. I've been glued to the news reports in the last couple of weeks and have been sending my most positive vibes in the hopes that everything would turn out okay. This is an absolutely heartbreaking tragedy and my thoughts and love and with you all.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:27:16 PM
Izak Dunn :

My thoughts go out to Vince, his family and friends
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:27:52 PM
Brian Rubaie :

 heartbroken. RIP Vince :(
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:28:44 PM
Buddy Khan :

my thoughts are with Vince's family and friends
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:29:14 PM
Aimi Hamraie :

tragedy makes the right words impossible to form. my deepest condolences to vince's friends and family.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:29:48 PM
Matt J Stannard :

 My unconditional love and support to Vince's family, friends and colleagues.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:30:27 PM
Leah Moczulski  :

My heart and prayers are with my debate family today. We are a strong community and can get each other through even the worst of times.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:30:56 PM
Gabriel Murillo :

my heart goes out to friends and family of Vince. what a sad day.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:34:21 PM
Ryan Galloway :

 mourns a lost colleague and friend...
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:34:51 PM
Doowon Chung:

 is in shock. RIP Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: joe on April 19, 2010, 04:41:12 PM
I'm profoundly sad about the situation and can't get over the randomness of it all, but am not going to let it color my perceptions of the world to the point where I become jaded--Vince built up a reservoir of good memories in our hearts that easily overwhelms the events of this month.

CEDA should consider creating the Vince Binder award for comeback debater of the year--it'd be a great way to acknowledge not only what Vince meant to me and others, but to reward those like Vince who have gotten knocked down and used debate as a means to a second chance.

p.s.-Many of the posts I see don't recognize the amount of places Vince touched--He not only debated at West Georgia, but also FSU and Florida.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 04:52:29 PM
Jim Schultz :

ATTENTION: ESPECIALLY DEBATERS. If you haven’t already, please make a donation (www.helpfindvince.com). The funds are first used in the event that a reward is distributed for leading us to Vince, then if his family needs any help with arrangements etc. Finally we will ABSOLUTELY set up a debate fund in Vince's name, just working on which 501(c) 3 umbrella we will place it under.

My friend Danielle is a professional fundraiser and ensures she will make sure donations go to the correct place and report to you on the difference they made. Danielle is one of Vince’s best friends. It’s also Danielle’s birthday on Sunday, and she says this would be a great gift. I can't see the names of donors YET, so if you do, please let me know so that I can thank you up and down!
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 05:02:59 PM
Kathryn Rubino:

 What an incredibly sad day... my thoughts are with Vince, his friends and family
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: neil berch on April 19, 2010, 07:18:37 PM
I only met Vince once, but even that one time, he seemed like a special young man.  What a tragedy.
--Neil Berch
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: prappmund on April 19, 2010, 07:54:14 PM
Shocked and saddened to hear about Vince. :(  Seems like just yesterday I saw him, when I came back to Vandy briefly to help judge, and he was his ever jovial self.

I debated Vince often.  While he was at UF, we attended a lot of the same regional tournaments, and given the low numbers of open teams at those tournaments, we hit each other frequently.  Whenever I saw that I was paired up against him/Brianna, I knew we were in for an intense debate.  Probably about Consult Russia.  I remember once we debated at the Shirley and he eyed my Vanderbilt ballcap I frequently wore then, which had a big 'V' on the front. He said- "Dude.  Is that "V" for Vince?  Bro, you better take that off, you're gonna send the judge subliminal messages to vote for me!"

Since graduating undergrad, I still ran into Vince from time to time when I could make a tournament.  It was always great chatting with him in between rounds, grabbing drinks at last year's NDT, or a host of many other occasions that I'll remember fondly.  He was a great debater and wonderful guy.  D6 tournaments just won't be the same without him.  RIP, buddy.

-Phil Rappmund
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:40:17 PM
Michael Klinger :

What an unbelievable tragedy. I never knew Vince as well as I'd have liked, but he clearly shaped the lives of many people I care deeply about for the better. For that, I'll be eternally grateful. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:42:13 PM
Melissa Anne Newton :

What to say--Vince taught me to never write a person off. Its a long story that dates back 10 years...
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:43:45 PM

Corey Turoff:

 RIP Vince...you will be missed greatly by many
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:44:36 PM
Hooky Fan :

Eternal rest, grant unto Vince Binder, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:46:06 PM
Eric Jenkins :

I didn't know Vince, but I am deeply saddened. This has made me realize how awesome the debate community is, and how thankful I am for being a part of it. I do hope that the anger and sadness does not make the community turn from its principles in a cry for vengeance, though
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:46:33 PM
Nicole Richter  :

tragic news. My thoughts and love go out to the friends and family of Vince today.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:47:16 PM
Toni Nielson :

My heart goes out to Vince's family & friends. A real tragedy
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:47:42 PM
Blake Johnson:

 horrified about Vince. thoughts and love with his friends and family. if were a praying man, i'd say a prayer today.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:48:48 PM
Jaipaul Rekhi :

so sorry for everyone who knew vince. this is horribly sad and upsetting. its unbelievable that some people can treat others in such an evil way. i hope we can use this moment to grieve the loss of a great person rather than as a recourse to hatred. so sorry everyone :(
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:49:13 PM
Adam Symonds :

My thoughts and prayers are with Vince's family and friends.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:49:47 PM
Mike Carlotti :

terrible day. my heart goes out to all those close to Vince
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 19, 2010, 09:50:30 PM
Anjali Vats:

 Lots of love to Vince's family, friends, and debate families. Vince is an amazing person. Despite the grim news, I'm still holding out hope that he's okay.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: kevin kuswa on April 20, 2010, 06:39:16 AM
Damn it.  What a terrible tragedy.  Was so hoping the news was not accurate.  Vince was such a kind-hearted person and I'm thankful for the few encounters I had with him over the years.  All my thoughts go out to his family and friends.  kevin
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: Hester on April 20, 2010, 09:51:02 AM
Thanks to everyone for the love and support directed toward Vince and his loved ones. The tireless efforts of his closest friends (former debater Danielle Hegedus being at the top) in following up on Vince's disappearance and doing everything they've done to get news coverage, initiate campus vigils, etc. are strong evidence of the kind of person Vince Binder will always be known as.

I'll say one thing now and I'm sure I'll be repeating this message many times in the future. This message is for the debate community. His academic efforts over the last two years need to be emphasized. Vince Binder is a GREAT example of someone taking control of their future. West Georgia has had the most prominent examples of this kind of situation, but it's not unique to us: debaters who struggled to handle the academic load early on, who flunked out or just quit, people for whom finishing their college degree should have been easy, but for various reasons never was.

We all know the great young debater who couldn't stay focused, did poorly, left college, and never quite found their way back. Some of them are fortunate enough to come from economically privileged backgrounds and/or from family support structures that basically made up for their own individual failures. Those are the lucky ones. For the ones who had to accept the consequences of their less than scholarly behavior, getting back into school and finishing their degree can be extremely difficult. I can't stress enough that College Debate is frequently the lighthouse in the storm for these folks. It is the ONE incentive that encourages them to try again - to come back to college and apply themselves in ways they never did before. From the list of those who follow this path are some of our best success stories. From UWG alone, Kris Bonilla managed to graduate law school, Sarah Holbrook has become one of the top debate coaches in the nation, Joe Koehle is kicking ass at K-State, and Geoff Lundeen is on the path to grad school and will soon add another great mind & heart to the coaching ranks.

Vince Binder was blazing that same path. He was never a stud debater. And he damn sure never caught a break in terms of finances or other support. And yet, he not only ended his undergraduate career with a top ten 1st round bid, but earned his degree with a 3.6+ gpa at UWG and did all this while paying his own way through school. Vince Binder is a success story from which all of us can learn a lesson. He didn't get beat down by bad breaks, he took personal responsibility, achieved the goals he set for himself, and did all of this with a friendly demeanor and personality that put everyone around him at ease.

Not every debater who's faced tough times and wandered through the drop-out wilderness can be the kind of great guy Vince Binder will always be. But Vince showed that every debater who's wondered if they'll ever make it through the undergraduate jungle need not give up. You CAN succeed.

The tragedy of the last few weeks is overwhelming right now. Losing Vince to such senseless violence sucks. There is no silver lining, and I'm not naive enough to try and wish away the pain all of us are feeling right now. But I'm not going to let the actions of losers turn Vince Binder's life story into a victim's narrative. Vince could have accepted the victim label a long time ago, but he didn't. He chose to be a victor instead. While all of his close friends will be remembering Vince Binder for the wonderful, WONDERFUL human being he has been to all of us, those who weren't lucky enough to know Vince that well can at least remember him as a winning example of how to make the most of one's life.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 10:02:20 AM
Thanks Mike.  Your comments provide some way to feel something positive.  I am sure I speak for the entire debate community in saying how sorry I am for the pain that all of you at UWG are going through now.

Sherry
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 10:03:06 AM
Garrett Abelkop :

doesn't understand how such a horrible thing can happen to such a great person. Vince was an awesome competitor & coach and an even better friend. I will never forget the times we shared - RIP.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 10:05:59 AM
Matt J Stannard :

 like so many other times in the past year, feels compelled to tell friends and family I love you all. It's been a hard year for so many people. Hang on to one another.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 10:07:09 AM
 James Radford  :

Vince was one of my first debate role models. We used to debate him and Neil at high school tournaments like the Florida Blue Key, FSU, etc. One time, when I was visiting friends in Tallahassee, my car got towed, and Vince let me borrow the money to get it out of impound. I'll always remember him as a great friend and ...a brilliant guy. My thoughts and prayers to his friends and family.:
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 10:08:54 AM
From the helpfindvince web site

Vincent John Binder was born November 25, 1980 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York.

Ever since he was little, Vince loved encyclopedias. His mother Lili Ann, a schoolteacher, read Vince an encyclopedia fact every day, nurturing his curiosity and passion for knowledge at a young age.

 As a child, Vince loved fire trucks and always wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. At age eight, he moved with his family to Jupiter, Florida. After his mother’s passing, he stayed in Jupiter with his aunt and uncle, Marie and Al Anderson, and his cousin Chris Anderson.
Vince attended Jupiter Middle School where he made friends quickly and pursued his love of baseball, basketball and football. After graduating from Jupiter Middle School, he attended Jupiter High School, where his love for debate grew. His knowledge of sport statistics was endless, as was his supply of different hats. Vince graduated from Jupiter High School in 1998 and pursued his passion for debate and public speaking in college.

 Vince was a proud graduate of the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Georgia and a member of the college’s top winning debate team. Following graduation, Vince’s love for debate led him to the media and communication studies master’s program at Florida State University (FSU), where he was also pursuing a rhetoric degree. Vince was a beloved speech department teaching assistant and enjoyed teaching his speech students, fondly calling them “his kids.”

Vince was also an FSU debate coach and extremely proud of his team’s progress. He spent many hours coaching, encouraging and challenging his fellow classmates. He loved hanging out with his Tallahassee friends and enjoyed engaging in deep conversation over a beer or two. He was often seen walking around FSU campus, wearing one of his trademark hats, and jamming out to Bad Religion or The Rolling Stones on his iPod.

Vince’s positive attitude, compassionate nature, smiling face, and bright blue eyes are deeply missed by us all. Come home soon, Vince. We all love you and miss you.

 
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 10:09:32 AM
Vince's Life as a Debater
by Jim Schulz
 

Vince was a successful debater from the very beginning when he was dominating the Florida novice Lincoln-Douglas circuit. He quickly moved on to the more challenging Florida policy debate circuit and was crowned novice state champion with his partner Jim Schultz. Vince excelled at the varsity level in high school as well, reaching elimination rounds at many national tournaments and receiving many individual speaker awards.

 

He continued this excellence in college, culminating in his senior year at West Georgia University where he reached elimination rounds at every tournament he attended, including sweeping the UNLV round robin and invitational tournaments with a combined 17-1 record, going to the finals at Northwestern, and semifinals at Wake Forrest.

 

For his accomplishments during the regular season Vince was voted as part of the 7th best team in the country receiving an automatic invitation to Nationals. He reached elimination rounds at both National tournaments, and placed 3rd at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) national where he was recognized as the 6th best overall speaker at the largest tournament in the country that year. With all of his success in debate he was also recognized as one of the most social and nicest debaters on the circuit.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 12:55:20 PM
Darren Elliott commented on Michael Hester's status:

"I am glad my students had a chance to spend some learning moments with Vince at the D6/SE CEDA tournament this year.  They learned from him, even if only during a brief period of time.  It should give us all pause to embrace the time we have with each other and make each experience meaningful and valuable.  It's gone all too quickly.  Thank you for inviting us in, embracing us, and giving us the opportunity to know someone who is so loved by those that know him best.  Our thoughts and love with Vince, his family and friends, and all of D6/SE CEDA.  ~chief and kckcc blue devil debate"
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 01:08:10 PM
Jim Schultz:

 I appreciate the outpouring of love and support. Especially those who have donated to helpfindvince.com - this a great way to honor Vince and remember him as a giving and caring person. I am angry and frustrated, but I refuse to let that turn to hate or to incite violence. One love.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 01:26:59 PM
 Phillip Crowe :

 The Vince Reward Fund has hit $4,000. Please help us hit our initial goal of five thousand by donating today at www.HelpFindVince.com/
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 20, 2010, 08:27:54 PM
Adrienne Brovero :

 My heart aches for the debate community once again. Much love to the Florida State, West Georgia, and Florida squads, and to all of Vince's family and friends.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 22, 2010, 07:38:07 PM
Jim Schultz :

in Thomasville, GA there are 2 Wafflehouses at one intersection, kitty-corner from one another, or as Vince called it WaffleHenge... almost as good as the time Vince met Tommy Frazier, of Nebraska Corn Husker fame in a Wafflehouse in Tallahassee and talked to him about the triple option and the running game for the next hour....
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 26, 2010, 02:10:37 PM
John Prieur :

 is incredibly shocked and saddened to learn about Vince  Binder missing... I sure hope you're alright old buddy, my thoughts and prayers are for a safe and happy return. And though it makes me shudder to say, I sure hope you are at peace.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 26, 2010, 02:16:53 PM
Danielle Hegedus:

Vince, no one has ever lit up a room like you. You could make any situation (including the time the debate van broke down on the way to Wake Forest and we were stuck at a gas station for 14 hours) better. I miss you and love you with all my heart. The love that your friends and family have for you is so overwhelming. We just want you back.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 26, 2010, 02:17:39 PM
Joel Rollins:

   My thoughts are going out to you and your family. A friendlier person I have never met.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 01:40:44 PM
Here is the latest news on Vince.  I am very sorry for Vince's family and friends, but at least this might bring them some peace, and help bring those that committed this horrible crime to justice.  Rest in peace Vince.

Sherry

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20100428/BREAKINGNEWS/100428007/Binder-s-body-believed-to-be-found
Update: Missing Florida State student's body believed to be found near St. Augustine

democrat staff report • April 28, 2010

After a search encompassing hundreds of miles, the Tallahassee police believe authorities have found the body of missing Florida State graduate student Vincent Binder this morning.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has reportedly located a body in Saint Johns County, west of St. Augustine.

Believed to be that of Binder, the body was found at about 8 a.m. in a field near U.S. Highway 95 and State Road 16.

The area is close to the Twelve Mile Swamp Conservation Area.

One of three fugitives from Louisiana arrested in Miami earlier this month told authorities that they forced Binder into a stolen truck with the intent to rob him.

The escaped prisoner said that after purchasing gas at a station in Madison, the other two men walked away with Binder and returned without him.

Return to Tallahassee.com for updates on this developing story.
Original post

According to the Tallahassee police, the body of missing Florida State graduate student Vincent Binder may have been found this morning.

In a press release, TPD reports that at about 8 a.m. today the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found a body in a field near U.S. Highway 95 and State Road 16, which .

It's believed the body is that of Binder, who went missing in the early morning of April 2. The cause of death is still being investigated.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 01:41:44 PM
Alysia Cockrell Davis:

 is saddened by the loss of Vince. The debate community has lost another light. It's up to the rest of us to shine brighter in his honor. RIP Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 01:48:40 PM
Andrea Reed :

what a sad day, RIP Vince
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 02:44:35 PM
David Register:

 Sad day. RIP Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 02:45:59 PM
Jaipaul Rekhi:

 I'm heartbroken that vince ran into these demented people. Killing is not ok whether for greed or for justice. Both sides are fucking insane. RIP man :(
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 02:48:43 PM

Statement From FSU President Regarding Student Vincent Binder
April 28, 2010 Education No Comments
http://capitalsoup.com/2010/04/28/statement-from-fsu-president-regarding-student-vincent-binder/

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State University President Eric J. Barron released the following statement today after receiving news that law enforcement agencies had discovered a body in St. Johns County believed to be that of Vincent Binder, a graduate student and teaching assistant in the College of Communication and Information who had been missing since April 2:

“The entire Florida State University community is deeply saddened by the loss of graduate student Vince Binder, who touched so many lives as a teacher and debate coach in his college. It is difficult to comprehend the senseless nature of such violence, especially for a promising young person with a full life ahead of him. Our hearts are with Vince’s family and friends, and we will provide the full support of the university to them as we mourn with them.”
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 03:01:57 PM
Doug Dennis :

 RIP Vince. Can something positive happen to our community? Sad, but at least there's closure. I feel gutted.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 03:32:51 PM
Suneet Gautam:

  good friends we have, good friends we've lost.. rip vb
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: stables on April 28, 2010, 04:15:28 PM
Our thoughts and prayers are with all whose life was better because they knew Vince. At this moment of remarkable sadness and anger let's all try to be there for those suffering. Its clear this a giant task because of how many people he really touched.

Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: dbuescher on April 28, 2010, 04:19:37 PM
This is such a sad and tragic story. My thoughts and wishes go to Vince's family and friends.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 04:45:13 PM
Michael Davis  :

was really hoping for better news from Tallahassee. Vince was a really great guy.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: Mike Davis on April 28, 2010, 04:46:45 PM
Last year at the NDT, shortly after Vince's last debate, we talked about why Vince had debated for West GA and where he saw himself going in the future. He made sure that I understood that he loved debating, but at the end of the day he was very excited about coaching. His excitement helped remind me why I love coaching. The best way we can remember Vince is by remembering why we do this in the first place. To celebrate the love of debating, coaching and the company of a wonderful group of people.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 04:47:01 PM
Jim Schultz :

I will never find the right words. You will always be with me. Having known you is the only thing getting me through this. You have made me so much funnier, smarter, stronger, better. I just hope this brings you the peace you deserve.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 04:48:24 PM
Kristen Taylor:

Jim, Tomorrow is the yearly Jupiter Debate banquet. We are dedicating it to Vince to celebrate his life and his contributions to Jupiter and to debate. You are in our thoughts.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 05:41:48 PM
James R. Brey commented on Jim Schultz's status:

"I agree with the sentiment - Vince made so many of us funnier, stronger, smarter and better.   Be at peace "
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 06:54:18 PM
Marissa Grayson:

 â€œThe way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning" (Mitch Albom) ... Thanks so much to Vince and the too many others our community has recently lost for your devotion and for helping us find meaning in our own lives.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 06:54:48 PM
Eric Tucker :

Remembers Vince Binder's smile, intelligence, humor and kindness. Vince is irreplaceable, and I mourn his loss.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 07:25:32 PM
 Loving Memory Nick Halliday :

 If God now his Vince in his loving embrace, I pray that Vince's family and friends can also find peace. Know that he is safe now and you have him forever in your hearts.
With Love, Teresa
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 08:14:32 PM
Max Wolson:

Vince was my debate partner at UF (2005-2006). I was really not a fan of debating, but because of a series of events I ended up paired with Vince early on. Vince was really really good. I was new to the event and was really not good. Despite the fact that I was clearly the weak link in our pairing, there was literally never a point where Vince was anything but positive with me. When we lost rounds, it was frequently traceable to a mistake I made. When we won, it was definitely traceable to a move Vince made. But the way that he interacted with me, you'd never have known that.
I realized fairly early in my time debating for UF that I did not want to be a policy debater anymore. I realized at the same time, however, that because our team was so small and because Vince would be partnerless without me, if I quit it would effectively end Vince's season. Solely because I did not want to end Vince's year, I continued debating. I am a die hard UF basketball fan and watched UF win its first basketball championship in a hotel bar in Texas because of traveling to debate alongside Vince. I visited Walla Walla, Washington and dealt with 10+ hour layovers traveling in each direction to debate alongside Vince. I can safely say looking back that I don't think that many people would have shown enough passion in an activity, the way that Vince did, to make me feel like I owed that to them.
I think the biggest memory that sticks out for me with Vince was a moment in our hotel room the night after we were eliminated from the national championship tournament. Earlier in the day, we had lost to the second best team in the tournament because of a politics argument. That argument had been put into the round -- against the wishes of our coach -- solely because I told Vince I was uncomfortable with other arguments and felt comfortable with that one. Vince put it in for me and we lost. Our judges specifically cited that argument as a weakness that cost us. Later that night, I walked into our hotel room and Vince was sitting with a friend of his. Where most people would have been justified for being upset at the way their season had ended, Vince was just fine. Vince proceeded to BRAG about me to his friend. He told him how impressed he was and told him how well I had done against the second best team in the tournament. Again, I was not a fan of debating, but being complimented by Vince was something that I have not forgotten and doubt I ever will.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 08:20:39 PM
James R. Brey:

"The fact that there are so many Vince Binder stories is a testament to how profoundly he affected us all.  Let me add to the list of stories.   I remember watching Vince his Sr. year of high school while recruiting him to attend FSU. He told me about the “French Fry” incident that had occurred earlier that semester.  From the very beginning, I found Vince to be interesting, to say the least.
   As a first year debater, Vince was quite fond of the works and writings of Ayn Rand. On numerous occasions, he tried to explain Objectivism to me to no avail.  One evening, after a practice round, he threw up his arms in frustration and said something about “Damn Twins Fans.”
   That fall, FSU travelled to Wake Forest.  Our van broke down and we were stuck on the road for several hours.  Vinny was at his best.  At one point, he was discussing his latest ‘hook-up’.  Soon, the tow truck driver arrived and said he would have to hook-up the van and take it to the nearest city.  Vinny looked at me and assured me his hook-ups were much, much better.
     During his second year, after the Baylor tournament, we all stayed with friends in Dallas before flying back to Tallahassee.  The majority of the evening – hours – were spent discussing pro football’s greatest dynasty’s.   Vince loved his Steelers!             During his Sr. year at West Georgia, I talked to Vince and Jim on several occasions during their run at Wake, NW, CEDA and the NDT.   I was so very proud of how far Vince had come - no doubt their success was deeply rooted in their friendship.             After graduation, Vince and I talked about FSU grad school and his desire to coach debate.  It would be a perfect match.  Vince has come so far and had done so well.  He will be missed by everyone.
    Vince, I was pleased to meet you.  I will not forget your name.  "
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 28, 2010, 08:25:01 PM
Marissa Grayson   

Subject: another vince quote
Hi Sherry,

I thought this might be nice to share on the CEDA forum. One of Vince's partners at Florida had this as her status - Brianna Coakley: "because of Vince I still kinda think its a good idea for the US to consult Russia...about pretty much everything. Sad news today."

Then one of our novices from that year replied to her status -
Melissa Softness "because of Vince I know that William Rehnquist is no longer chief justice. i hope he rests in peace."

Our community needs some seriously good news! Love, Marissa
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 29, 2010, 09:52:56 AM
 Paul Debogorski :

 Vince and I were both on the debate team all four years together in high school. He was a master at it, and he could make the most sound argument you've ever heard for or against something and take a jab at someone at the same time. It didn't matter what his opinions were on the subject, whatever he got for or against ......a topic, you'd think he believed it 150%. I'll miss him a lot.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 29, 2010, 09:53:33 AM
 Eric Cole :

 Hurting for those who knew Vince...I wish I had known him better because its apparent that he touched so many people both within the debate community as well as outside of it. Its clear that the world has lost a great guy...my only hopes are that those responsible get what they deserve and that those that were close to him find strength in one another.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 29, 2010, 09:59:41 AM
This is a comprehensive news account of events throughout the month of April.

http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2010-04-29/body-found-field
The St. Augustine Record
Body found in field
Cops: Man might be missing FSU student believed to be abducted by La. jail escapees
Posted: April 29, 2010 - 12:19am

 
Officials with the medical examiner's office remove a body believed to be that of missing Florida State University graduate student Vincent Binder from a field near Interstate 95 and State Road 16 on Wednesday in St. Augustine. By PETER WILLOTT, peter.willott@staugustine.com

Officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and others talk after a body believed to that of missing Florida State University graduate student Vince Binder was removed from a field near I-95 and State Road 16 in St. Augustine on Wednesday. By PETER WILLOTT, peter.willott@staugustine.com

By JENNIFER EDWARDS, RICHARD PRIOR

A weeks-long search for a missing Florida State University graduate student may have ended Wednesday morning when lawmen found a man's body in a remote field near State Road 16 and Interstate 95.

Investigators believe the deceased man is Vincent Binder, 29, of Tallahassee, missing since April 2.

Sgt. Chuck Mulligan of St. Johns County Sheriff's Office cautioned late Wednesday, "We do not have confirmation that it is Binder."

According to various media outlets and investigative releases, Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents had developed information that led to a body search being launched near the St. Johns County Agricultural Center.

Searchers found a body about 8 a.m. Wednesday. The search for evidence continued most of the day.

Reporters and TV crews were officially blocked off from the scene as scores of FBI, FDLE and Sheriff's Office deputies pored over the remote, grassy area.

A Sheriff's Office helicopter looped overhead until mid-afternoon.

Binder was originally from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, N.Y., and reportedly moved to Jupiter when he was 8 years old.

His friends had not seen him for a week before Tallahassee police opened a missing person's case April 9.

Officers believed Binder might have been abducted by three men who had escaped from a jail in Avoyelles Parish, La., and who had also robbed two other people before encountering Binder.

Those escapees, Peter M. Hughes, Kentrell F. Johnson and Quentin M. Truehill, reportedly held a makeshift knife to the neck of a jail guard and escaped March 30.

Authorities chased them with dogs but lost them in the woods.

Truehill was serving 30 years for manslaughter and armed robbery, Hughes four years for unlawful entry of an inhabited dwelling and Johnson 10 years for armed robbery and a parole violation.

In Opa-locka, just north of Miami, a bank clerk became suspicious when a black man tried to use a card belonging to a white man. The security guard tried to talk to the men, but they drove off, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

"That license tag number ultimately led U.S. Marshals to the three fugitives, who were found hiding near the Miami Budget Inn, 8989 NW 27th Ave. about 8 a.m. Monday, April 12," the Tallahassee Democrat has reported.

They immediately were taken to Miami Dade Correctional, then escorted back to Leon County.

The Miami Herald reported that officers found a bloody knife, cash receipts and other evidence inside the stolen black 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck used by the fugitives. Some of that evidence reportedly has been traced back to Binder.

About Vincent

Vincent John Binder was pursing a master's degree in media and communications studies and "liked to walk everywhere," the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

After his disappearance, his friends in Tallahassee raised thousands of dollars for reward money and created a website asking the public for information on his whereabouts.

That website describes him as 5-feet, 10-inches tall, 180 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. In Binder's pictures, his smile is friendly and mischievous.

He moved to Jupiter, Fla., when he was 8 and graduated from Jupiter Middle School, then Jupiter High School in 1998, the www.helpfindvince.com website said.

Binder earned a bachelor's degree in 2009 from the University of West Georgia in Carrollton before entering graduate school at FSU, where he became a member of the school's winning debate team. He then became a debate coach pursuing a rhetoric degree.

He lived in an apartment off Airport Drive in Tallahassee.

"Vince was a beloved speech department teaching assistant and enjoyed teaching his speech students, fondly calling them his kids," according to the site.

By the time police found a body they believe is Vincent, 127 people had donated a total of $7,416 to help find him.

The disappearance

On April 2, Binder reportedly left a friend's apartment in Tallahassee after midnight to walk home, about one mile away.

He never arrived.

Tallahassee police began their search for him on April 9.

A statement by that agency released Wednesday said TPD officers checked Binder's apartment without finding anything.

Then the Special Victims Unit reviewed Binder's phone and financial information.

Binder's gas card was also used in Jacksonville and at various points along Interstate 95 headed south.

"Investigators linked the possibility of the three fugitives to Tallahassee and the possible disappearance of Vincent Binder," according to a TPD news release.

Investigators also learned that Binder's debit card had been used at a Fast Track gas station on U.S. Highway 221 in Greenville, Madison County, about 40 miles east of Tallahassee off Interstate 10.

The search for Vincent Binder moved there, and the Madison County Sheriff's Department looked for him, unsuccessfully.

One of the fugitives, Johnson, reportedly told authorities that his two companions forced Binder into a stolen truck, intending to rob him.

He later added that the other two men led him away and came back later without him.

"They didn't have to kill him that way," Johnson said.

However, that story seems doubtful because the body believed to be Binder was found in St. Johns County, not Madison.

Aftermath

A full tally of the charges against Peter M. Hughes, Kentrell F. Johnson, and Quentin M. Truehill has not yet been made, pending an autopsy and verification of the body's identity,

But so far, they have been charged in Leon County with being out-of-state fugitives from justice, kidnapping Vincent Binder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill.

Florida State University President Eric J. Barron, after hearing about the body being found, issued a statement.

"The entire Florida State University community is deeply saddened by the loss of graduate student Vince Binder, who touched so many lives as a teacher and debate coach in his college," Barron said. "It is difficult to comprehend the senseless nature of such violence, especially for a promising young person with a full life ahead of him.

"Our hearts are with Vince's family and friends, and we will provide the full support of the university to them as we mourn with them."
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 29, 2010, 02:33:49 PM
Anjali Vats:

 Vince, you didn't deserve this. RIP and know that you will be missed.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 30, 2010, 03:58:31 PM
Scott Elliott:

"my condolences to the FSU and West Georgia debate programs. This is a tragic loss."
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 30, 2010, 09:51:14 PM
 Beth Walker Frady  :

On behalf of Vince's friends and family, I would like to thank everyone for their love and support in the search for Vince. We miss him dearly, and while we continue to, we will be arranging services for him and to
honor him in the days to come. Stay tuned for those dates, especially those of you who won't be able to make it to services in NYC. We should know more about the services here at FSU tomorrow and immediate days to come. For now, thanks again for all of your help. My best friend is sorely missed by many.

Love you all, Beth
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 30, 2010, 09:52:16 PM
 Phillip Crowe :

 Friends: Thank you for your never-ending patience and attentiveness. Vince was my fellow TA and through the past 16 days since he was reported missing I have truly appreciated all of your help and support. Vince was a great man, you are all great people.

Thank you.
Sincerely, -
Phillip Crowe
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on April 30, 2010, 09:53:15 PM
 Colin Gold :

 My thoughts and prayers are with Vince's family members and close friends. I had the pleasure of having Vince as my speech teacher last semester & thought he was one of the coolest and funniest guys I'd ever met. It's shocking that someone who was so full of life & nice to everyone he came in contact with could be taken like this.

RIP Vince
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 01, 2010, 08:10:52 PM
 Rob Rek  :

On behalf of myself, my father and the rest of Vincent's family I would like to thank all of his friends and his FSU family, all the people who worked so hard to help find my brother this way we can bring him home and he could be put to rest..Thank you all for the donations that were made in his honor so that his name w...ill always stay alive....Once again we just wanna thank everyone.....I LOVE YOU MY BROTHER!!!!!
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 04, 2010, 05:05:16 AM
Mike Eisenstad :
Although I only knew Vince for about a year, it was easy to see he was a genuine, all-around good guy. Seeing him debate with Jim, he'd always bring smiles and laughs to debates, reminding us that it's not always all about fierce competition, but also about having fun enjoying what we do. Vince never failed to say "Hey...Eisenstadt......how's Vegas man!?!?" whenever I ran into him, be it at the IHop at Wake or in the hallways during rounds at a tournament. Vince has brought so many people together and reminded us how important the cohesion of our community is in times of need. You will be missed, but your positive influence will continue on forever. Thank you for the good times, the smiles, the advice, and the support you gave.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 04, 2010, 06:27:09 AM
 Amber DeBrule :

 Vince-

Thank you for everything you taught us (your students), for bringing a bit of sunshine into each of our days, for actually caring about all of us, for making us feel at ease before giving our speeches, and most of all, for changing our lives. What happened to you isn't fair, it is just plain horrible, and I doubt any of us will ever be able to understand such senselessness. I can only hope that justice will be served to the horrible men who did this to you. But I do know one thing: you may be gone, but you will NEVER be forgotten. Your memory will live on through your family, your friends, your students, and every life you have touched. I know that you have forever changed my life and I hope I will see you again someday, it's such a shame it won't be during this life.

We all love you and miss you. Rest in peace.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 05, 2010, 05:47:36 PM
Jim Schultz:

I am listening
(speech given at the TOC)

Thanks to my University of Kentucky debate family for giving me the opportunity to speak at the TOC and share what it is about debate that is truly important to me. Thanks to Dr. Patterson and Roger Solt, john sharp, Mike Gentile, Suneet & Sohin Gautam, AJ O’Donnell, Garrett Ablekop, Bryan Gort, and although he isn’t here, Angelo Theodosopolous. I love you all, and I hope you know it.

In case you haven’t had the misfortune of having me judge you, or the possibly worse misfortune of having debated me, let me just quickly say that I debated for the University of West Georgia where I was fortunate enough to win more debates than I lost, largely because my partner’s were able to carry me. But, I also debated at Florida State where I struggled to go .500 at national tournaments. And, in high school, I debated for Jupiter High School in south Florida and had very little success outside of novice competition. I also took (redacted) years off of college and spent some of that time coaching high school. I have spent the better part of the past 16 years making connections in debate. Yeah, yeah… I’m old. And most of the competitors here don’t see the difference between how old I am, how old Roger Solt is, or how old Mr. Smelko, or how old JW Patterson is. We are all over 30. This means some of you may not have been born yet, and none of you were out of diapers. This means I have met A LOT of people through debate. I debated with 16 different partners between high school and college. It is these connections that have kept me around for so long. I’m not just talking about those of you who are still active in the community. But people that came into debate for a year or two but stay in your life forever. It is these friendships that are my biggest victory in debate. It is without a doubt my debate family - really debate families - that really matters at the end of the day. Almost all of my best friends are debate people.

I will never win another debate round. Some of you are now in the same boat. In the coming hours through out today, or in the next few weeks, or in what you will find out is a very fast moving 5 or 6 years all of you will taste your last W on a ballot. But, the friendships you make in debate will last a lifetime. This is cliché, but its true. And its something we should not lose sight of. And its something we need to remind each other of more in how we treat one another. You will never want to tell the people you love how much you appreciate them, and how much you love them, as much as when you are no longer able to. And you will never want to tell anyone more than the people you meet in debate. These are the best people you will meet ever. Period. That bears repeating. These people are the best people you will meet ever.

Eventually you will forget the details of losing your last debate, but you will not forget the good times you had at camp, at tournaments, and away from debate with these people. You will not forget any of your partners, even if you have 16. You will not forget your coaches. You will never forget your best friends.

At the NDT, Harvard’s Sherry Hall, who is amazing beyond what I considered possible, gave a speech about the loss the debate community, and some of my debate families endured this year with the passing of Scott Deatherage and Ross K. Smith. She quoted something Marie Dzuris said on Facebook; “We as a community are once again being sent a message, are we listening?” Sherry continued, “we don’t know how much time we have, or how much time anyone else has for that matter. We need to take the opportunity to tell people who have meant to so much to us and touched our lives what we think of them while we still have the opportunity to do so…Many people wrote messages after Ross, Duck, and Coach Duke passed away about how they wished they had said this, or thanked them for that. We have been sent a loud message. Are we listening?”

Let me echo and emphasize this statement. DO NOT TAKE IT GRANTED BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. You will never regret taking the opportunity to tell your partner, your coach, your favorite judge, your friends how much you appreciate the big and small things about them. The best advice my amazing coach at West Georgia Mike Hester gave me was that I take the time to appreciate debate while I’m still doing it. I think I was pretty intense about winning, but this appreciation let me be just as intense about having fun and being nice to my partner, opponents, and judges…. Most of the time. But, let me stress that point again; we debate because we love the activity and the people in it, take the time to appreciate it while you are still competing. This may be my favorite quality in a debater persona, enjoyment of competition and competitor. I love debaters that love everything about debate. And I love everything about Vincent J. Binder.

I will never find the words to express just how much Vince means to me. I debated with Vince as a novice in high school in Jupiter Florida in 1995, again at FSU in 1999 and finally at West Georgia in 2009. Vince was immediately one of my best friends, and not long after that part of my immediate family. Vince was THE REASON I had any measure of success in debate. He was fearless, the better the competition the better his performance. Vince was hysterical, with his quick whit in cross-ex, his self-acknowledged bad singing of Beatles lyrics in 1ac tags – “its not really, getting better all the tiiiiime” and his referring to the politics disad as the Clinton disad still in 2009. Vince was passionate, intense, and hard working – he loved everything about debate, but he loved wining as much as anyone, and he worked twice as hard as any other partner I’ve had.

As much as Vince was great at debate, he was a much much better friend. He was compassionate, and giving, and kind. And if I didn’t mention it, the dude was hysterical. His one-liners are going to be quoted by his friends forever. A lot of his humor came from his comfort in his own skin despite being one of the goofiest dudes I’ve ever met in my entire life, and this was obvious from his wardrobe. I once saw him wear blue plaid shorts, a green plaid shirt with a red plaid jacket over it, a red bucket hat, and of course mismatched argyle socks – with sandals. Always mismatched socks. The dude had more pairs of mismatched socks than a Goodwill. But his standard everyday look always seemed to involve a wool cap that anyone else would pull over his head, but he would have sitting flat on top of his head – and it would magically stay there as if velcroed to his dome. I swear that hat would stay in place sitting on top of his head in a hurricane. But, despite his goofy clothes, he was extremely intelligent and strictly business when the timer was on. His drive never got in the way of his ability to win over friends quicker than anyone I’ve ever met. Vince is one of a kind and if you didn’t get the chance to meet him, I’m sorry for you, because you missed out on the greatest guy I’ve ever met.

Vince had a life that was far from free of adversity and obstacles, but he refused to allow himself to ever get down, and never once thought of himself as a victim. Although he was taken from us recently in tragic circumstances, I refuse to remember him as a victim. I will always remember him smiling. Always with a bounce in his step. Joking with everyone. Drinking with everyone. Laughing with everyone. Making all of us smarter. Making all of us funnier. Making all of us better for knowing him.

Vince was loud. Almost everything about him was big and loud…. Maybe not Gentile loud, but loud. His clothes, his constant jokes, his huge laugh, his really bad singing, his chanting for John Starks, the Knicks, and the Seminoles, even his facial expressions and hand gestures were loud. But nothing is louder than his silence. I miss you almost as much as I love you.

I’d like to answer Marie Dzuris now. I am listening. I am all too aware how precious my time is with my debate families. I’d like to take a moment to just recognize and thank a few of my brothers and sisters that are here. Robbie Mulholand, Tim Case, and Cat Duffy – I could not do this without you. Leah Moczulski, Scott Odekirk, Tony Johnson, Alex Lamballe, Brian Rubaie, Abe Corrigan, Corey Turoff, Sara Sanchez – thank you for your love and support recently, it means the world to me. And it helps in a way I cannot explain.

Thanks to my debate family that is not here. Karen Harrison and Kiran Dhillon, you are my family, you are blood. Joe Koehle and James Brockway, I love you guys and wish you were here. James Brey, Mike Hester, Mike DeLeonardo, Neil Blackmon who also debated with Vince in high school. You all were central to Vince and I being who we were as teammates.

Danielle Hegedus is one of my best friends from debate that has not been active in the community since 1999. She never qualified to the TOC or the NDT but she was a great debater and has been one of my best friends for 15 years. Danielle has been so strong and amazing recently, it’s just unbelievable. Danielle is driving an effort to create a NAUDL scholarship in Vince’s name. I have no doubt this will happen, and will be a great way to commemorate him. I cannot thank Danielle enough. And I cannot thank anyone how has, or will have donated to the scholarship fund enough.

Thanks to the people that make the community unbelievably welcoming and warm. James Herndon, who is undoubtedly the best example of this I can think of. If you don’t like that guy, something is wrong with you. Mr. Smelko, Nick Coburn-Palo, John Hines, Eric Tucker, Martin Osborne, and someone I’m glad decided to stay around next year, Will Sears are all also great examples of how gracious our debate families are.

Thanks to the opponents that made debate better by challenging us. There are three of you particularly that pushed us; Seth Gannon, Stephen Weil, and Matt Fisher – I feel like every speech Vince gave that was amazing came right after a speech that one of you gave that was only slightly worse than Vince’s. And every speech I gave that wasn’t terrible came against one of you, almost always in a losing effort.

And for those of you that I forgot to mention by name, thank you for your forgiving my shortcomings. I hope you know I love and appreciate you too.
Thank you all for taking the time to listen to me this morning.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 05, 2010, 06:46:37 PM
Austin Woodruff

Thanks so much for writing this Jim. I wish I was around early enough to know Vince, I only had the pleasure of being judged by him once this past year.

You, more than anyone else that i've met in debate, inspired me to become a better debater and a better person in debate. I remember meeting you for the first time at ADI after my novice year and ... See MoreI immediately began looking up to you and haven't stopped. Getting to debate you at the NDT was one of the most awesome (and most of all, humbling lol) experiences I've had in debate so far. Thanks for always being so kind and being a great person to look up to.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 05, 2010, 06:47:17 PM
Jeff Bowen

Touching, man. I only had a short run in debate -- a year in HS and one small tourney w/ FSU, but you're right. Meeting you, Vince and the other oodles of wonderful people made debate easily one of my most prized involvements (not to mention, all the intellectual and academic benefits).

Glad you got the opportunity to give this speech. ♥
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 05, 2010, 06:48:17 PM
Nick Coburn-Palo

Thank you for reminding us all not to take for granted the wonderful community we are so lucky to be a part of...Even more than that, as I have watched you tend to the hearts of those most deeply touched by the loss of Vince, it has left me in awe, the power of your friendship...it is a true measure of a life well lived to have made a friend of ... such exceptional quality...your strength, fidelity, and heart bring honor to our community and to the memory of Vince...thank you for being you...Much love, NCP
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 05, 2010, 06:49:15 PM
Michael Hester

great job, jim. earlier today, i found an email vince sent me when he was first considering transferring to uwg. it's boilerplate material - just the standard update on his application and inquiring about scholarships. and yet, i read it over and over to myself because it was written by vince and i was able to hear his voice saying the words. it's weird how such banal items become infused with sentimentality. i'll never delete that email.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 05, 2010, 06:49:44 PM
Danielle Hegedus

Hester--I have two very run of the mill emails from Vince from March 25th, right before he went missing. One in which I ask for his # b/c my dog ate my phone and he responds with "1-800-THE BEST" and another about how tragic his NCAA bracket was. I just cried and cried looking at them today because I realized I'd never get another email from him. Like you, I'll keep my Vincent Binder email in my inbox forever.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 06, 2010, 08:58:51 PM
Information on Services from Marie Anderson (Vince's Aunt)

Maria Barbera Andersen   

Subject: Vincent

Hi Sherry, This is the latest news about my nephew. I will be there with my son Christopher. Jim posted it on his Facebook page:
Vinny is going back to New York. The wake for our boy, Monday May 10th @
Schaefer's Funeral Home 2-5pm and 7-9pm 4123 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.
Please come honor the greatest person we've ever known. In lieu of
flowers, make a donation at http://www.facebook.com/l/9a90e;www.helpfindvince.com.

Thanks for all your positive thoughts and love for Vin.
Many hugs, Maria
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 08, 2010, 01:42:42 PM
Josh Tandlich

Well said Jim. I love Vince and love you too. You and he took me under your wings even before I arrived at FSU and instantly became my big brothers there. I wouldn't be the person I am today without the lessons I learned from Vince and from you. The debate community and everyone else who he touched will always be aploof with love for Vince.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 08, 2010, 01:43:52 PM
Talon John Powers

Thanks for making this speech. I still can't believe Vince is gone, not after seeing him not a month ago at CEDA. I'll never forget you two in perhaps the most entertaining round I've ever seen, one in which you advocated the shunning of Northwestern University. Keep on being strong, and know that people really appreciated the both of you both in and out of debate.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 08, 2010, 01:44:47 PM
Vinay Pai

I spent all Sunday night being depressed about our performance at the tournament, but you put things in perspective for me Monday morning. I'll tack this on to the list of things you've taught me...and approach our great activity from a fresh perspective. There's always a next year to win debates, but there's not always a next year to tell people how you feel about them. Thanks Jim, and I'll see you in a few weeks.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 08, 2010, 01:45:56 PM
F D Kirkman Sr.

I had the importunity to see you deliver this live @ the BOC and it was moving. I felt your pain, the message was clear. I feel like @ Towson we criticize the debate community alot but your speech really resonated with me, there are people in this community that I do care about and as dysfunctional as the debate community is, we are a family in many way. I hope that speech helped you as much as it helped me.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on May 08, 2010, 01:46:57 PM
Steve Leacock


Something good coming from such a tragedy is the best tribute I could imagine. Good form, sir. I'll never forget those JHS debate trips.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: DanielleHegedus on July 25, 2010, 08:43:49 PM
The scholarship in Vince's name has been established through the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues. Thank you so much to Eric Tucker, Lenny Gail, and all of the folks at the NAUDL who made this happen so quickly. Our goal is to raise $25,000 a year to send UDL kids to debate institutes. So far, we've raised just over $10K, so any donation you can make would have a significant impact--whether it's helping pay for a kid's flight to institute, money for supplies and food, etc. Vince loved summers at debate institute (especially Kentucky) and he loved debate and teaching. I think this scholarship would make him very proud. I sincerely appreciate all of your help and all of the love that you have sent out toward Vince. He is absolutely irreplaceable and is missed greatly. Here is the site: http://www.urbandebate.org/honoringvince.shtml
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on August 05, 2010, 02:27:44 PM
http://www.comm.cci.fsu.edu/Newsroom/FSUComm-Calendar/Binder-Memorial


Binder Memorial

August 21, 2010 6:00pm - August 21, 2010 8:00pm

A celebration of the life of Vincent Binder, a Communication graduate student and teaching assistant who was abducted and murdered in April, will be held from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, in 128 Diffenbaugh. The community is welcome to attend and share memories of our friend, classmate, student and teacher.
At 7:30 p.m., the inaugural Binder's Buddies Walk will leave from the Westcott Fountain and proceed south on Copeland Street, turn right onto Jefferson Street, and at the end of Jefferson turn left and head to Langford Green outside University Center B, where Dr. Davis Houck will make brief comments in honor of Vince.
The Binder's Buddies Walk is being held to remind everyone in the community never to walk alone at night and always walk with a buddy instead. Commemorative T-shirts will be available, and net proceeds will be donated to the National Urban Debate League, which helps deserving students pay expenses associated with interscholastic high school debate.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: fseoer2010 on September 14, 2010, 03:44:20 AM

 Sorry to hear the news about Vince...a big loss for many, many people. I know the Baylor debate crew is thinking about his friends and family.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on March 23, 2011, 05:18:28 AM
Vince Binder was awarded the Matthew Grindy Award for Outstanding Graduate Student at CEDA Nationals.  Jim Schultz delivered a moving speech for his friend.  I am reposting it here.

Vince Binder - CEDA 2011 Matthew Grindy Outstanding Graduate Assistant Coach
by Jim Schultz on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 12:57am

This is the outline from the speech I gave in Binghamton at CEDA nats. I did a decent bit of impromptu, i think the speech form and content might have been better. I forgot to throw some tape on it, so if you didn't see it, you won't know. Sorry Danielle!

 

 

 

I want to say thanks really quick to everyone at CEDA for recognizing such an obvious choice for the Matt Grindy award, and or giving me the opportunity to show some love and admiration for one of the truly great ones our community has ever seen.

 

Given that the Matt Grindy award is intended to recognize both the pedagogical and competitive contributions to the growth and development of policy debate by graduate student coaches, who are balancing their obligations to their school work and that of their programs. The recipient needs to demonstrate excellence in graduate and professional obligations as well as their work as coaches.

 

So, it only makes sense to recognize a graduate student that does not have a director of forensics, or a director of debate, or even another graduate student to help coach. It only makes sense to recognize someone that has never received money for being a Graduate Assistant, and “worked” on a voluntary basis. It only makes sense to recognize someone who was crushing graduate school despite struggling as an undergraduate student to navigate their way through academia. And it ONLY makes sense to recognize the singular nicest, funniest, most caring person I have ever known. It only makes sense to recognize Vince Binder as one of the best among us.

 

In my 7 years as a competitive debater I had over 20 partners. Vince was my partner my novice year of high school in 1994 – some of you were like 3 years old then – and he was also my debate partner two years ago. Vince was always a tireless worker, and THE BEST TEAM-MATE you could ask for. He made every tournament more fun, every meeting run smoother, every practice debate turned into a comedy hour, he made every person on the team he was on (and probably that you were on) love debate more than they already did. He never made excuses, never gave up, always overcame every obstacle with grace and a smile on his face.

 

Vince was not born into a life of privilege. He had to struggle for everything he ever had and all the while he was overcoming obstacles he made everyone around him a better person. He never complained – he never wanted to. He fucking loved life. He was always able to find a silver lining in every situation. Even when no one else could. But not every cloud has a silver lining...

 

Last year at CEDA was the last time I ever saw Vince. Two weeks after the CEDA at Berkeley last year Vince was murdered. There is no silver lining. But just as Vince refused to see himself as a victim, I refuse to remember him that way. It turns out I’m not the only one. I’d like to share some words that some people want to share about Vince…

 

Scott Odekirk of THE Idaho State wanted me to say that Vince gave the funniest debate speech he has ever seen. And Ray Liotta is a shitty actor.

 

Misha Laurents, one of Vince’s professors at FSU that he taught public speaking under:  From the first day I met him, it was easy to detect a quiet confidence and humility behind his sly smile and beautiful eyes.  I had a real affinity for him right off the bat!  Vince's students at FSU adored him, too!  That is in great part because he was intelligent, clever, and kind, but it also had a lot to do with the way he helped them to empower themselves through communication.  He used to say to them 'it's your world' when they got up to speak--which says so much about Vince and what he wanted for his students.

 

Jason Fixelle, one of Vince’s debaters while he coached at FSU: I think the best way to define what Vince was all about is simple. He loved debate… as a small debate team, we experienced some hardship. Regardless of the roadblocks we faced and the losses we endured, nothing seemed to phase Vince. He was always looking forward, trying to improve, … ready for the next debate… I am by no means one of the better debaters Vince has ever encountered, but he had faith and high expectations regardless of prior outcomes. His perseverance and commitment to the team even at our lowest lows was inspiring and really did touch me… as for Vince as a person, from the second you met him it was impossible to feel uncomfortable around him.

 

It's been nearly a year since Vince left our lives and despite the short time I knew him, I still think about him quite often… I know Vince would want everyone to revel in what they have, especially for those attending the CEDA tournament. They get to debate. They have the opportunity to do what Vince loved to do and they should cherish it.

 

Frank “Big Poppa” Irizzary, Vince’s coach while he was at UF:

I know Matt Grindy would approve of Vince Binder winning an award named after him because Vince too had that love and passion for debate, for his debaters and for Florida State University.  I know there were no greater loves for Vince Binder than the love he had for his friends and family, for debate and the debate community and for Florida State University.

 

Dr. James Brey, was the coach at FSU when we first were undergrads, he says:

My memories of Vince are not tied to his humor or his intellect. My best memories of Vince are based in the simple fact that he never gave up. He was never given the privileges many people take for granted. He dropped out of college for several years, but he did return and he did succeed. One of the hidden virtues of academic debate is that the activity is a stepping stone for many participants. It gives students a chance to excel. It gives students a second chance to succeed. Vince Binder took full advantage of the opportunities he was given, never looking back, always looking forward.

 

OK, now, here is my favorite response I got when soliciting for sound-bites about Vince.

Michael Hester, the best coach in debate, and the best ginger in the country writes:

 

 

1)    UWG Debate has a new award named after Vince. the "Vince Binder" award will be awarded to a debater who best exhibits at least one of the following qualities/characteristics:

* "Comeback Player of the Year" – (which is obvi) type persistence, someone who has overcome personal hardships and succeeded in spite of the hurdles they faced;

* someone for whom NO ONE has ever had any criticisms, someone who brings a 100% positive attitude to the squad, whose friendly personality infects the entire program, making every meeting and the entire season through their presence.

 

this award will not be given every year, but ONLY in those years where there is actually someone who meets the above criteria in a way that Vince established with his presence.

 

2) at the beginning of last year my niece Meg had a switch in her teaching duties. due to some budget crises in the county that led to a huge influx of students, she was placed in a different classroom. a couple of months into the semester, her old teaching partner brought her a letter that had been delivered to her old room. it was from Vince. Meg was furious b/c the letter had been delivered prior to Vince's death, and if she had gotten it immediately, she could have thanked him personally. Vince had written a letter to her 5th grade class, and at the top it requested she read it aloud to them. She's never revealed the exact words, and to this day, declines to show it to anyone - it's sort of a private communication between her and Vince. but she did disclose that in addition to telling the students how lucky they were to have Ms. Cannington, it also encouraged them to make the most of their time in school, to never listen to the naysayers who tell them they can't be whatever they want to be, and to give all of their effort to achieving their dreams. Meg couldn't tell us about the letter without getting teary-eyed, and i can't even relay the story without crying. Vince took the time to write a letter to a group of elementary students he would never meet, giving them words of encouragement, a 'pat on the back' from a distance.

 

3) and here's a copy & paste of the message i posted to CEDA forums on 4/20/10:

 

I'll say one thing now and I'm sure I'll be repeating this message many times in the future. This message is for the debate community. His academic efforts over the last two years need to be emphasized. Vince Binder is a GREAT example of someone taking control of their future. West Georgia has had the most prominent examples of this kind of situation, but it's not unique to us: debaters who struggled to handle the academic load early on, who flunked out or just quit, people for whom finishing their college degree should have been easy, but for various reasons never was.

 

We all know the great young debater who couldn't stay focused, did poorly, left college, and never quite found their way back. Some of them are fortunate enough to come from economically privileged backgrounds and/or from family support structures that basically made up for their own individual failures. Those are the lucky ones. For the ones who had to accept the consequences of their less than scholarly behavior, getting back into school and finishing their degree can be extremely difficult. I can't stress enough that College Debate is frequently the lighthouse in the storm for these folks. It is the ONE incentive that encourages them to try again - to come back to college and apply themselves in ways they never did before. From the list of those who follow this path are some of our best success stories. From UWG alone, Kris Bonilla managed to graduate law school, Sarah Holbrook has become one of the top debate coaches in the nation, Joe Koehle is kicking ass at K-State, and Geoff Lundeen is on the path to grad school and will soon add another great mind & heart to the coaching ranks.

 

Vince Binder was blazing that same path. He was never a stud debater. And he damn sure never caught a break in terms of finances or other support. And yet, he not only ended his undergraduate career with a top ten 1st round bid, but earned his degree with a 3.6+ gpa at UWG and did all this while paying his own way through school. Vince Binder is a success story from which all of us can learn a lesson. He didn't get beat down by bad breaks, he took personal responsibility, achieved the goals he set for himself, and did all of this with a friendly demeanor and personality that put everyone around him at ease.

 

Not every debater who's faced tough times and wandered through the drop-out wilderness can be the kind of great guy Vince Binder will always be. But Vince showed that every debater who's wondered if they'll ever make it through the undergraduate jungle need not give up. You CAN succeed.

 

Vince could have accepted the victim label a long time ago, but he didn't. He chose to be a victor instead. While all of his close friends will be remembering Vince Binder for the wonderful, WONDERFUL human being he has been to all of us, those who weren't lucky enough to know Vince that well can at least remember him as a winning example of how to make the most of one's life.

 

I thought it was such an obvious choice for Vince to win the Matt Grindy award for everything that he gave us while he was here. I am very fortunate and thankful to get the chance to talk to all of you about what an amazing guy Vince was, it serves as a constant reminder to keep all of the best things about him with us. We need to remember to appreciate each other, because these are some of the best people we will ever meet, and we can't afford to take that for granted.

 

So again, thank you very much CEDA for recognizing Vince for all of his accomplishments. And thank you so much to Vince Binder for everything brother.
Title: Re: Vince Binder
Post by: SherryHall on March 24, 2011, 05:12:09 AM
My Friend Vince, a year later.
by Neil W. Blackmon on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 7:23pm

March 22, 2011

 

This is long. You don’t have to read all of it. I hope you’ll read some of it. Or maybe you’ll read it in bits and pieces—that’s fine too. I just wanted you to know how much I miss, and how much I’ll always be affected by, a great friend.

 

It has been almost a year since the world lost Vincent Binder to violence of the most random and senseless sort. Given the reaction since Vince was taken, stating that a year ago the world lost Vince seems far more accurate than suggesting it has been a year since I lost one of my oldest friends in the world. The world lost Vince—that’s a fairer claim, and that’s been the case since he went missing. The dogged determination to find him was the first indication. The shared despair that crept into every day we couldn’t find him was more validation, and one of the worst variety. The grief in the aftermath was too large to measure, but we (the countless who loved Vince) had one another, even when we hadn’t spoken in weeks, months, or years. All of these emotions-- interspersed over the weeks and months after the shock of initial loss, proved the world lost Vince.

 

Shared joy proved it too. Quite often, the desire of humanity is to express loss in celebratory terms. It makes the grieving easier. Funerals are a “celebration of life”, not a solemn exercise in sadness, we like to say. I’ve never been sure if that’s true. I want to believe it is, to be sure. When it comes to Vince—I can’t say. I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I regret that at least once a week. My understanding is that it was a “celebration” of Vince; my heart and memory tell me that it must have been the first “celebration” involving Vince that was bittersweet. One thing is certain: the memories of Vince that have followed, the outpouring of love, solidarity, generosity, kindness and humor we’ve experienced since he was taken have been nothing short of a genuine “celebration.”

 

 Has this celebration also been bittersweet? No question—there is some of that—always will be. There are a host of us (think “host” in the biblical sense of hundreds) who would instantly trade one anecdote, one laugh about Vince for one more hour with him. There’s an anger involved too, in that respect. That’s not a trade we ever thought we’d have to make. To be honest, there’s still a lot of anger. I’d even argue sometimes it gets the better of us, except eventually we realize that to truly celebrate Vince demands that not be the case. He was too busy living, too busy making others laugh to have much time for anger and petty resentment—and heaven knows he had plenty of opportunity to let anger and resentment drive him. He chose life, humor, intelligence, friendships and passion for the day-to-day instead. If you can’t take joy in the menial, in the day-to-day, you’ll never make it here. Vince understood that. We should all live with such passion. If we think of his loss in those terms, a moment of anger is justified. It’s a righteous anger- one about what the world lost, and why it is a little darker here without him.

 

Fortunately, it isn’t darker in the typically cavernous and gray corners of memory. It isn’t darker when one thinks about the various lives Vince affected, how deeply he affected them, and how permanent his impact will be. Those who remember Vince, those still affected by his mere presence in their life, as colleague, as friend, as family member—they remain as bright reminders. In that respect, this note is a long time coming.

 

I’d be dishonest if I wrote that I’d thought about writing this for a year. At first, I wasn’t even sure what to write or say. It was entirely too difficult. I’ve only been able to think coherently (or mostly) about this for the last few months, and as often as I’ve wanted to put these thoughts to paper or computer screen, it has just been too hard, or life has gotten in the way, or I’ve thought, “I’ll write better tomorrow.” In the end, however, this note is a long time coming. When I see the day-to-day impact Vince still has, on others and on me-- I need, if only for cathartic or somewhat selfish reasons, need to write about my friend Vince.

Above all, I hope to write about both the Vince that colors my memory and the Vince that is so visibly present in my day-to-day life. There is, without question, plenty of both. Most of these thoughts could be addressed at greater length. If you read this and are interested—please talk to me about it and Vince—that’s one of my favorite subjects. In the interest of brevity, I’ve tried to limit this to main ideas and memories, thoughts and gratitude. Is some of this about me? Of course. In my view, there’s no other, no better, manner for me to talk about how Vince affected and still affects my life than by writing a few things about me too. Any other discussion would be lacking, and certainly wouldn’t be worthy of what we lost and what we miss; what I miss: my friend Vince.

Vince the Friend When You Needed One Most: Vince was one of the first friends I made after moving to Florida. To suggest I was socially awkward is half-truth: I was worse. I was socially awkward and I was geographically misplaced. Try being an Atlanta kid in khakis and polos and moving to a beach town in South Florida. Tough, especially at an age where we’re all a bit insecure, and I had that flu worse than most. Fortunately, I sat next to a really nice, funny, (at least outwardly) confident kid from “Brooklyn” in English. And in science. And then in history. Alphabetical order matters in life—my friendship with Vince, my life, is proof. Sports was our first bond (was for a long while), but that was enough for him. And even if he didn’t know it—it was just nice to have someone to talk to—and anyone that’s ever spent ten minutes talking to Vince knows he made you feel like the most important person, the only person, in the world when he was talking with you. It won’t be shocking—but that was Vince early in high school too. There was basketball, football games in a backyard where the punishment for not being any good was a lake as a sideline (I was soaking wet nine games out of ten), Tecmo Bowl tournaments—normal things for kids growing up. They weren’t so normal to me, an outsider who never felt completely comfortable in a new town—but early on Vince was there to make things easier on me, to make me feel needed, appreciated, at home. In the wake of my parent’s divorce—that mattered a great deal. That’s why it was easy for me to decide to help Vince when he and Jim Schultz came to me in search of a debate partner.

 

Vince the Debate Partner: Three things immediately come to mind. First, he was patient, and to a fault. Maybe that’s just because he needed me so bad. I’ll never know the answer to that question, but I imagine it was a bit less a case of Vince’s rational self-interest than that, especially towards the end. Mike DeLeonardo and Jim Schultz, who coached us, and who remain two of the most influential people ever to enter my life, probably lost patience with me justifiably on various occasions. Vince never did. It didn’t matter that I read impacts to internal link turns on an econ disad after convincing Vince to run the argument, for example. I’d sit down, suggest that my 1NR was “devastating”, and Vince would smile and say “Whoa now buddy…Simma down!!”, as only he could. Still smiling, he’d be constructive when anger might have been an easier solution. “You realize they internally linked our disad…here’s why….you read impacts to that turn…”

 

We lost a debate or two my first year debating with Vince in just the manner described above, despite his and Jim’s best efforts. But Vince was patient. He waited me out, and by the end of high school, you could argue I was a legitimate complement to Vince. Maybe not a guy who would ever be as talented (not a great deal of debaters were)—but certainly a legitimate partnership. A great number of other partners would have bailed. I’ve coached a few debaters who’ve left more dire situations since.  That wasn’t Vince. He recognized the work I put in to the activity too—recognized, I think, that my biggest fear my first couple years in debate was letting him and Jim down. That’s a heady thing for a seventeen year old kid to figure out—but Vince did. That’s special. That’s only the beginning.

 

Vince the Debater: More special. Most people knew it. One story (among many) is demonstrative. Our senior year we decided to go to the Northwestern Tournament despite zero approval from our school board (who rubber stamped such trips) and despite the fact that our coaches couldn’t make the trip. Two teenagers with my old man’s credit card headed to Chicago to debate in a nationally competitive tournament with no coaching staff. What could go wrong?

 

To begin with: everything. We arrived and neither had the cash for a cab from O’Hare to Evanston. Since I (READ: MY DAD, WHO, BY THE WAY, WAS IN SPAIN) was already expensing most of the trip—I was hoarding cash for food, as was Vince.  Being a Chicago pro (having ridden the L once at debate camp the prior summer)—I assured Vince we could take the train safely to Evanston.  Board the train we did. Get off in Evanston we did not.  For whatever reason (Vince was convinced it was due to our recent viewing of The Blues Brothers), I thought Skokie was the appropriate stop for the Omni Orrington (yes, the old grimy, nasty one). We were half a mile into our walk (debate boxes, luggage and all) towards Evanston when I realized that was incorrect. And that’s when the hand cart broke. We spent the next hour and a half taking turns pushing the cart towards the Omni on one wheel. Once we arrived, the hotel had lost our reservation. No- really. We stayed in hotel rooms with friends from institute, agreeing to meet each other in the morning. At registration, I wrote the name “Neil W. Blackmon” as our coach. The Duck told me he was impressed a couple of coachless kids from Bumfuck, Florida even made it to registration.  By the awards ceremony, six wins and an elim victory later—we were the “coachless wonders” from Beach-Fuck, Florida, and Vince Binder was the eighth speaker. It was a special moment for us when the Duck noted at awards that “This is impressive stuff from the ‘Coachless Wonders’. These guys have rolled through the tournament by winning three arguments: 1) their untopical affirmative is topical; 2) the Clinton Disad; 3) Case Turns.” We might have won, or at least kept winning, at tournament too- but that’s another story- one involving a young Dan Shalmon, alcohol, and a young lady. That’s for another time.

 

In the end, Vince the Debater overlapped with the two sides of Vince described above I got to know so well. He was a debate partner, but above all, he was a friend when I needed one most. Knowing that to debate collegiately I’d have to begin giving more difficult speeches, Vince turned the affirmative reins over to me at the season’s final tournaments. “You’ve earned it,” he’d say confidently when I wasn’t so sure. His fire to win and his passion for debate are mostly unparalleled. He also didn’t believe they were mutually exclusive with friendship. That level of confidence he had in me is something I never forgot as my own career proceeded. It is something I’ll never forget in life. It was a big step- and one he and Jim Schultz took together. I lost one half of that great friendship nearly a year ago. I’m blessed to still have Jim, who shares so many of Vince’s tremendous qualities.

 

I’m also blessed to have Frank Irizarry, my college debate coach, and Morgan Weinstein, my last partner at Florida. The honest truth is I’d have lost Morgan years ago if not for the memory of how Vince had treated me as a young debater. As it happened, I had to learn the hard way. Indeed, Vince’s patience was a virtue I should have remembered better. It took making mistakes with future partners, particularly with Morgan Weinstein, to remember patience was essential to an effective debate partnership. Regrettably, I lost my cool and patience with Morgan when he was a freshmen. Following a tournament in Texas, I said some things I never should have thought, much less said. I lost a semester of debate in the aftermath of that incident, debating with floating partnerships and mired in competitive failure. It took a sit down with Frank (a sometimes intimidating proposition, if you know the Big Papa) to remind me of my background, and to remind me how much more I needed to improve as a debater. What I did early on with Morgan—suffice it to say that’s not how Vince would have done it, and I’m fortunate to have come to that realization before it was too late. My life wouldn’t be the same with my friend Morgan—and at base, I can thank Vince’s patience with me as a young debater for that friendship. His treatment of me was a stark reminder that bitterness, resentment, and anger don’t develop talent.

 

Vince at Florida:  As most of us know, things got tougher for Vince after high school. Vince was not immune to the mistakes all people make in day-to-day life. His own personal mistakes set him back quite a bit—most of us know that too. What’s remarkable, what matters, of course, is his response in the face of that adversity. The final chapters of that long road back began at the University of Florida. I saw Vince only sparingly in the years between his departure from Florida State and arrival in Gainesville, and to say it was an enormous blessing to have him back in my life on a normal basis is putting it mildly.

 

Beyond my personal feelings of joy, the impact of Vince’s time in Gainesville was tangible. He provided Gator Debate with partnership flexibility, something lacking since my departure. He provided the city itself with its most unwilling Gator, even borrowing (read stealing) my Auburn ball cap to wear at Dragonfly, the wonderful restaurant where he worked, on game days. Vince took joy in staging protests to his own social location as a University of Florida student. No Gator student has ever cheered harder for Auburn, or celebrated more after a home loss to Ole Miss. But Vince’s time in Gainesville was mostly about his achievement—getting past his mistakes and moving forward in life. Going back to school,  getting back on his feet, and perhaps not slightest of all, getting back involved in debate.

 

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who loved debate more than Vince. The first few conversations about debate with Vince upon his return to Gainesville remain among the most personally gratifying discussions I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed having a drinking buddy back when Vince returned to Florida too. It’s hard to not enjoy a guy who started counting down to St. Patrick’s Day on his voicemail the day after St. Patrick’s Day. It’s hard to not enjoy a guy who takes his hat off at a Boston T station, sets it right next to a subway musician, and does push-ups genuinely expecting people to give him change. I cherished those days too. But above all, Vince and I loved to talk about debate.

 

At his core, Vince believed in debate, cherished the friendships made in debate and believed in an attendant transformative power of community that was present simply by one’s participation in the community. That’s pretty powerful stuff, and it was exactly those sorts of conversations I had in my few opportunities to work with Vince while he was debating at Florida that resonated with me when I decided to get back involved in the activity two years ago upon moving to Atlanta. That decision was a splendid one, and again I can thank Vince. Working with Josh Grace, Stephen Heidt, Joe Bellon, Andrew Barnes and Zach Schaller at GSU the past two years has been an unforgettable experience, and one that I truly believe has laid a foundation for a few friendships that have been life-altering, rewarding, and above all, lasting. Debate is full of these types of remarkable people—which is why it is easier to put on a bittersweet smile and say with a full heart that the greatest of my debate friendships was the one I forged with Vince.  That’s why I’ll close writing about Vince as I left him.

 

Vince, as I last saw him: This was the only place to finish. I arrived in Dallas for the National Debate Tournament last night, almost a year after I last saw Vince. There’s a reasonable chance this is the end of the debate game for me for a while, and that’s fine. If it is, there’s only one way to leave: giving everything I have to help two kids achieve tremendous things in a tournament that is the pinnacle of an activity that has given me so much. That’s what Vince would have done. That’s what I’ll do.

 

I saw him almost a year ago at CEDA Nationals- he came strolling towards the hotel bar in Oakland where I was sitting cutting politics cards. Big smile on his face, “Neil, Neil, Dirty ol’ Neil”, he said. I think we were equally surprised and thrilled to see one another. That week was full of the usual things for me and Vince—drinks in the evening, talks about sports, more discussions about debate, about his career at West Georgia and debating with Schultz, hopes for Josh and Tater’s senior year at Georgia State. Vince even helped me cut a counterplan for a debate with Baylor that ultimately never happened. It had a flaw (I wrote it); Vince corrected it. (A partner to the end, in some respects).

 

The last night I spent hanging with Vince we went to sushi in Jack London Square. Vince loved sushi and always wanted to see if the restaurants elsewhere compared to Dragonfly, where he'd worked in Gainesville and one of the best in the business, anywhere, he said.

 

First of all, there were folks dressed like Bentley Fonsworth—literally umbrellas and everything-- at this place—which we thought was a bit odd. We knew it was a nice sushi restaurant (the prices said so), but we didn’t know there was a jazz club in the back until Vince asked a guy dressed in an all-white suit with a purple cane what the deal was on our way out. Natalie Cole was playing here tonight, he said. The restaurant was attached to a world famous jazz club. “There it is!”, Vince said, and that was that. We laughed about it for a solid ten minutes and that was that.

 

Over sushi and sake (Vince explained several sake-quality distinctions to me—I can almost sound like an expert now), we talked mostly about Vince. His life at Florida State—how he loved teaching, coaching. How he had enjoyed seeing one of his best friends, Danielle Hegedus, in Atlanta only weeks prior—how he thought Atlanta was a good place to live and how I should move to Little Five Points, which he thought would be a “great neighborhood to live in.” We talked about his research he was doing and how he enjoyed visiting the Carter Center on his trip to Atlanta, how he hoped to get back up there soon. We talked about his future after FSU—law school probably, though academia was growing on him, becoming a genuinely appealing alternative. We talked about the friends he’d made since returning to Tallahassee, how he felt like it was a great place for him at this point in his life, and how excited he was for the future. I told him how happy I was for him—he told me to hang in there career-wise. I was smart, he said—things would turn around, something positive and terrific would come my way. He got to debate with me when he had no partner, he reminded me. Sometimes you just have be a little more patient. He was right, is right. I remember leaving Oakland thinking I’d just seen Vince at his best, but not nearly at his pinnacle. A phone call from Jim a week later changed everything—well, most things. It didn’t change how much an impact Vince had, and still has, on me as a person. And that last impression will always be another reason I’m driven every day to be a better person than I was the day before—one worthy of a friend like Vince.

 

Thanks for reading.-- Neil W. Blackmon