From the VictoryBriefs website:

In Memoriam: John McKay (1986-2005)
by Jon Cruz
August 3, 2005

MENLO PARK, CA - John McKay—one of the most accomplished debaters in the history of the national circuit—passed away yesterday, August 2, 2005. A founder and four-year president of the debate team at Menlo-Atherton High School, McKay became the head coach of the program upon his graduation. In his senior year, he earned nine bids to the TOC, where he was a semifinalist. He placed at the MBA and Stanford Round Robins, was runner-up at the Minneapple, closed out CPS and MLK, and won Manchester, Grapevine, the Victory Briefs Round Robin, and the St. Mark’s Heart of Texas Invitational. A VBI alumnus and a student at Stanford University, this weekend’s Session II would have marked his fourth session teaching with us.

Committed to the expansion of debate opportunities to underpriviledged and underserved areas, programs, and individuals, McKay established the Voices Foundation for the Promotion of High School Debate. The organization recently announced the debut of its travel scholarship program. As a debater, a coach, a friend, a colleague, and a visionary, McKay touched so many of us: beyond his obvious skills as an instructor and debater and the increasingly omnipresent blue Voices “DEBATE” wristbands, his enthusiasm for the activity was already legendary even at his young age. Please join us in remembering John McKay.

1. At 09:05 AM on 4 August 2005, hirsh wrote:

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean.
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”

I love you, John Mckay

2. At 09:32 AM on 4 August 2005, Alex wrote:

I’m still in shock. I just want to echo Hirsh in saying, I love you, John McKay.

3. At 09:34 AM on 4 August 2005, H.Nagle wrote:

debate will miss you.

4. At 09:58 AM on 4 August 2005, Vikrum Aiyer wrote:

Whether you actually interacted with John or not, if you’re reading this site you more than likely were familiar with his feats. From climbing up trees, to shooting off water guns, to lecturing on salvaging debate rounds, to salvaging poker rounds, to racking up 9 TOC bids—Mr. McKay’s contributions to our community as a teacher, a competitor and friend were vast. And for that we will never forget his voice. MSJ will never forget his waking up a hotel room at 6AM by yelling ‘nagger’ at the top of his lungs. Debaters will never forget his voice of clarity in round. Students will always remember his voice of instruction. And educators will continue to preserve his vision of ensuring that the voice of others be encouraged and heard.
Thank you John McKay
Rest easy

5. At 10:11 AM on 4 August 2005, brandon sherman wrote:

As a member of John Mckay’s lab, I had the privilege of witnessing and experiencing a small part of John’s never-ending contributions to the debate community. While his intelligence and skill were always apparent, his incredible sense of humor was unique and refreshing, especially in an activity where many take themselves a bit too seriously. Along the same lines, John was always extremely approachable and friendly. While I only knew John through debate, I’m sure that he will be terribly missed, but fondly remembered by family and friends extending far beyond our community.

6. At 10:14 AM on 4 August 2005, Aracelis wrote:

We’ve lost such a brilliant mind, and such a wonderful member of our community. Hirsh quotes Alfred Lord Tennyson, and I am reminded of a verse from In Memoriam that fits all too well -

…I linger’d; all within was noise
Of songs, and clapping hands, and boys
That crash’d the glass and beat the floor;
Where once we held debate, a band
Of youthful friends, on mind and art,
And labour, and the changing mart,
And all the framework of the land;
When one would aim an arrow fair,
But send it slackly from the string;
And one would pierce an outer ring,
And one an inner, here and there;
And last the master-bowman, he,
Would cleave the mark. A willing ear
We lent him. Who, but hung to hear
The rapt oration flowing free
From point to point, with power and grace
And music in the bounds of law,
To those conclusions when we saw
The God within him light his face…

There are many things in this world that I cannot fathom, or understand. But I know this much for sure: John McKay was a deeply caring and talented individual. I am honored to have known him, and worked with him. He will be greatly missed, and remembered always with much fondness.

7. At 10:38 AM on 4 August 2005, katie wrote:

I think it’s going to take a lot of us a really long time to actually believe this. John always amazed me, first with his debate skill, then with his absolute dedication to giving back to the community. He was one the nicest, funniest, and most grounded people I’ve met in the activity, and though I didn’t know him nearly as well as a lot of people, I know we’re all going to have a hard time recovering from this. Rest in peace, John McKay. Thanks for everything you’ve done.

8. At 11:17 AM on 4 August 2005, Elisa wrote:

I echo Brandon. I was lucky enough to be in McKay’s lab this year, and I now understand fully what people mean when they call him a debate legend. He was an extremely talented debater who had a work ethic like no other. He would regail us with “war stories” from his time on the circuit, and I was in shock that such a down-to-earth, hilarious guy had the experiences he did. Everyone in the debate community is aware of John’s accomplishments and contributions, but it’s important to remember that the person behind all of those was one of great integrity and humor. It was a pleasure knowing you, John. Rest in Peace.

9. At 11:33 AM on 4 August 2005, Seamus wrote:

John was the kind of person that made lots of other people feel good. When I was a judge the thing I observed more than anything was how hard John worked. His research and understanding of all issues on a topic were unbelievably thorough. It was clear to me that this was the kind of individual who made debate meaningful, but was also was given meaning by debate.

In working side by side with John as a colleague I was amazed at how well he interacted with students. He was everyone’s friend. He’d talk to them about poker, war stories, practice drills and whatever else for hours at a time. He made debate camp fun for a lot of people who might have stressed out too much or been loanly. Super-soakers and poker can do a lot for you when you’re away from home for the firs time. He will be missed at VBI as I’m sure he will be in so many hearts in the debate community.

10. At 12:12 PM on 4 August 2005, Arthur Conte wrote:

A debater, a friend, a contributor, and a friend. Some few words to speak of John McKay. Like everyone has said, his humor was genuine, sly and original. His debate skill was incredible, quick and deep. But his friendliness was inumerable. John McKay, as many have said, was the most approachable person I’ve ever known. Being a member of his lab last summer, I got a first-hand look and feel of the “John McKay” and yes, he is all of those wonderful things that everyone said he was. I personally will miss him a lot because he was a real friend. I remember in one of his mods at vbi this summer he was practicing throwing cards to make them hurt, and I became his target. Right there, I think many of you that just read that said “Yeah, thats SO John McKay”. And it is, that was John McKay, and who he will always be in our deepest of hearts… …And so, Ladies, Gentlemen, Debaters, Coaches, Judges, VBI staff, his family of course, his friends and anyone who knew him in passing, I toast, to the spirit of John McKay. May his soul rest easy, and may his memory inspire us to be great.
To John McKay

11. At 12:18 PM on 4 August 2005, Joseph Gazzola wrote:

When I had free time at a tournament, I would often find out who John McKay was debating in the next round and go watch. After about the third time, he asked who I was and what school I was from. He didn’t realize that I was there just to see him debate. If he had known that, he might’ve thought I was weird. Yet John was that good. And I think everyone would agree — whether you had seen him debate or not — that John was a phenomenal force in the debate community. He will be missed, and I will never forget him. Say a prayer for John.

12. At 12:22 PM on 4 August 2005, Belinda wrote:

I remember when I first met John during my freshman year of debate at the Berkeley tournament when he told me that my teammate “poned” him in a round at Stanford the previous weekend. That was about four years ago when John first made me laugh and showed me that friendship was possible amidst the crazy world of debate. Since then, John was a constant source of laughter and amazement not only for me, but also for anyone who knew him or met him. And since then, it was John who “poned” people with his brilliance, humor, and integrity. More than being a phenomenal debater, John was a phenomenal person whose grace was not hidden by his mischievous smile. I wish I said this to him more often, but I love you, Dude, and I always will.

13. At 12:26 PM on 4 August 2005, Jon Gordon wrote:

After round 7 at TOC my sophomore year, I knew very few people, as I hadn’t yet really competed on the national circuit or attended debate camp, and wasn’t sure where to go, so I wandered the halls until I encountered somebody on the second floor whom I asked for direction. The VBI photo archives were not as comprehensive or widely viewed at the time, so I didn’t recognize John until he introduced himself. I had heard of his feats and I responded like an immature sophomore, “Oh my god, YOU’RE John McKay?!?” While successful debaters can sometimes be exclusive or elitist, John was not at all and invited me to walk with him downstairs to the meeting where they would announce who had advanced to “bubble” and elimination rounds. As we walked John talked with me about his rounds, my rounds and debate in general. While I was surprised at the time by John’s willingness to tolerate my pestering and talk to me despite the fact that I was an unaccomplished sophomore and he could have simply pointed me in the right direction and walked off to talk with his friends, having gotten to know John a lot better since then, I can say that I am not at all surprised. Not only was John a great debater, but he was a great person, who truly believed in the value of debate and wanted to extend the opportunities he had to as many people as possible.

At VBI Session II, I got to know John even better and came to recognize the depth of his intelligence as he passed on to me some of his debate knowledge and helped me improve as a debater. More importantly, John made session II fun, enforcing the rules with his super-soaker, which led to many funny photos, engaging in physical challenges and teaching me how to play poker just a little better so I wouldn’t lose all my money. Throughout the year, John continued to help me with debate, working with me on cases and blocks and telling me which case to run in front of and how to adapt to various judges. It was always fun watching John play poker online late at night, talking to him about poker and hearing his hilarious stories about debate and life. Whether it was talking with John about debate, poker or life, I can truly say that I enjoyed the time I spent with John and will miss him. It was a pleasure knowing you and looking up to you John. Thanks for befriending me, helping me out and guiding me. Rest in peace.

14. At 12:27 PM on 4 August 2005, Landon wrote:

John, I am so glad to have you known both as a teacher and a colleague. You were great both as an instructor and as a friend. Your dedication to this activity was seen in many ways and appreciated in many ways. I will always remember the times we spent together at VBI and how awesome of a person you were. You are missed, I love you John.

15. At 12:33 PM on 4 August 2005, Ernie Rose wrote:

I’m not good at talking about things like this, but I’m going to miss you John. Before I was any good at this activity, very few people would even talk to me. John was one of the first debaters to actually recognize me, always willing to help me out at tournaments. I’ll always remember playing that silly little cubix game with you for hours at a time at night when no one else was online. I’ll always remember arguing with you over whether or not that silly pink shirt belonged to you or me. I’ll always remember you starting an organization that will change the lives of a number of debaters like me, who couldn’t travel without the assistance of people like you. You could have never given a shit about anyone else in this activity, but you recognized your role and stood up for the little guy. That’s what I’ll remember about you John. Plenty of people look up to you, John, and they always will, as long as I’m around.

16. At 01:14 PM on 4 August 2005, Tim wrote:

Teaching a lab this summer with John gave me first-hand insight into just how much John cared about debate and the debate community. His love and dedication was well known and well respected, and my heart goes out to his family and close friends. We have really lost one of the best.

17. At 01:36 PM on 4 August 2005, Sonya wrote:

now that it’s been a couple days, the numbness is starting to subside and i’m starting to realize what this community has lost. debate is full of brilliant minds, but very few that are set on making the activity more inclusive and accessible to everyone like john was. the first time i met mckay was at a local tournament where he handed me a copy of the infamous “ghost case” and told me to run it. i thought he was nuts, but throughout the season, john became my favorite debater to watch. that summer at vbi, he was one of the most approachable staff members, and i found myself always going back to him - if not for case help, then for war stories and just someone to chill with. when he started voices, i thought it was awesome that someone who had more than enough money to travel and camp and get coaching realized that there were others in the community without the same opportunities. on top of just noticing that some people were disadvantaged, though, john took steps to bridge that gap with the wristbands (he got me to lug 80 million of them across the country to sell at nationals, haha) and the foundation. at the voices RR, i had a chance to debate 5 of the nation’s best debaters while contributing to an amazing cause, so thanks for that opportunity, mckay. i didn’t get to know you well enough when i could, mckay, but i’ll always remember those rounds i watched you debate, conversations we had, poker hands i always lost, and water gun fights on the promenade (fights? i guess it’s not really a fight if only one of us has a water gun…) you were by far my favorite debater to watch, and i had immense respect for you. take it easy, and you’ll live on in our thoughts and our voices.

18. At 01:42 PM on 4 August 2005, diane wrote:

I remember way back when we were sophomores competing at the Stanford Invite, and you followed me around the whole tournament apologizing for a win that you thought was illegitimate… and then at Harker our junior year when you wanted those golden eagles more than anything and even offered to forfeit our next bid round if I let you have one of them (sorry I didn’t believe you, but at least you got one the next year)… and since then, just hanging out at tournaments and at VBI… and in between, you IMing me anecdotes and advice about debate, school, and life in general. I’m never going to forget how you helped me out when I needed someone to talk to, or the random visits to your giant Branner dorm room where you’d play poker, talk about Dome, and do other ridiculous things. I’m sorry that you’ll never get to see Voices develop into its potential, but I’m sure you know that the entire debate community is thankful for your efforts and initiative with the program. You will be greatly missed.

19. At 01:58 PM on 4 August 2005, Lindsey wrote:

I’ll always heart you John

20. At 02:17 PM on 4 August 2005, Stacy Thomas wrote:

I want to contribute to honoring John’s memory but have been struggling with what to say. His death simultaneously doesn’t seem real and also seems too real. The last time I had a chance to catch up with John was at the Stanford Round Robin in February. We stayed up in the hotel lobby into the early morning hours telling old debate stories and discussing school, Voices, and judging. Neither one of us was in a hurry to leave since the tournament provided the opportunity to visit with people we hadn’t seen in a while. He shared some of his quirky habits for winning rounds, like choosing to wear blue instead of red to communicate a soothing rather than angry presence, or purposefully sitting in the desk of the student who had won the previous flight to gain a psychological advantage. He paid attention to people, and was not only tuned into what he needed to do to communicate with them, but also cared about doing so. It was a talent that impressed me. I always liked John. Inside rounds, he was just funny, and outside rounds, he could be genuinely nice. I wasn’t a close friend like some others in the community. I knew him more as a student, and he wasn’t even my student. But, I always felt a connection with him whenever we interacted. It seems like he touched many people in the same way. When he started Voices, I was proud that a young person in our community could care like that. It was heartwarming and motivating that a single student was starting this project — not a teacher or coach or forensics organization — and taking the time to seriously do it right by researching nonprofit status, setting up a board, starting fundraising projects, etc. It made you remember what was good about what we do. The loss of a young person with this kind of compassion and connection is difficult to process. For those of you who were close to John and who are having a hard time right now, I offer my love, comfort, and support.

21. At 02:50 PM on 4 August 2005, Joey Savage wrote:

Goodbye, John. You will be greatly missed, even by those who never had the luxury of meeting you.

22. At 03:08 PM on 4 August 2005, Louie wrote:

John, you were a good friend when I was alone in a new place and I was truly grateful to have you as a friend. I don’t know what else to say except that I’ll always remember you as someone who made debate fun for me and brought new meaning to the activity, and as a genuinely good person. I’ll miss you.

23. At 03:09 PM on 4 August 2005, Alex wrote:

Beyond his obvious contribution to the debate community, John was one of the truly good people in the debate community. When my teammate and I showed up at the Stanford tournament this year without a coach, John not only took us to the tournament registration, but also showed me around his dorm, introduced me (someone he hadn’t even known before that tournament) to his friends, and talked about debate and life with me while playing poker. One moment that I will always remember was when John joked that, one day, he would live at the University of Kentucky and replace Dr. Patterson as the director of the TOC. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that running a debate tournament is just the kind of thing John McKay would do, and he would do it because he cared so much about the activity and the people in it. We’ll miss you, John. Rest in peace.

24. At 03:18 PM on 4 August 2005, Frank Sun wrote:

I have been out of the debate activity since judging churchill earlier this year, and just as I am looking to get back in the mix, I am hit with this tragic news. Like most people, I have found John to be a very friendly person. Since the first time I have judged him, at Grapevine his senior year, I have found him to be an excellent debater in his own unique way. I am always pleased with his performance in round. Although I can’t say we are close friends, but having an acquaintance like John definitely made my days in judging the activity an enjoyable one. We shared war stories, we played poker together, we sat together at the VBT RR dinner. John, you were one of a kind, and I am glad that I was lucky enough to have our paths crossed.

25. At 04:08 PM on 4 August 2005, Vinitha wrote:

John has been a mentor to me. As a soph I religiously watched him debate hoping to absorb a portion of the skill and passion he possessed. More importantly, John was the first ‘circuit’ big name debater to ever befriend me. It is because of him that I love this activity and have always felt comfortable in it. But most importantly John was a GREAT friend… a support system… an overall good person. I’m at a loss for words to describe his personality. I can’t express my love for John and all that he has given me… He started a foundation to give back to this community. I hope i can assist his goal and keep the foundation alive even after he has passed. John- I’ll always remember all those late night aim chats… staying at Cluck U till 2 AM with you playing poker because you were havin too much fun to take me home…and when u read epistemic paternalism in the 1AR and crushed me and then made it a point to tell me I had potential.. and that i was really really good for just having started my soph yr…that still means a lot to me… You will forever be missed… RIP no response feels adequate… all i want to do is sit and cry… i cant imagine tournaments without john.. debate won’t ever be the same.

26. At 04:11 PM on 4 August 2005, dean fleyzor wrote:

Due to a lack of words earlier, and still now, all I can really say about John and my experiance around him is that anything he did could eb classified as a “John McKay”. Everything from his little sayings to the way i saw him teach our book group was a “John McKay”. I think what everyone else already said pretty much tells the story of this, so I won’t repeat. He was one of the highlights of my camp experiance, and it’s sad to realize that no one will be a part of that anymore. Here’s to you, John

27. At 04:18 PM on 4 August 2005, Corbin Cass wrote:


28. At 04:41 PM on 4 August 2005, Kandi King wrote:

Dearest John,

You always made me laugh and I always loved watching you and the “Bad Boy Posse” as I called you guys! As is evidenced by the eloquence of the posts on this forum and others, you touched lives in ways few do. What a wonderful tribute to you and your caring of others and for this activity. I know you were an ad hoc member of my team - you and Paul and Tim and Eric and Chris and … and I will always remember our great conversations, how you always egged Paul on to goad me, but, most of all, I will remember your smile! We will take care of promulgating what you started and I hope you are watching… and I echo Stacy’s words to those of you who are his friends, peers and coaches and sponsors. My heart aches … I am going to miss you, sweetie!

29. At 04:49 PM on 4 August 2005, Rukmani Sahay wrote:

you were my debate coach @ mv this past year and my lab leader @ vbi you were always there to help us whenever we needed help you even took us to westwood on the last day of camp you will truly be missed
rip john mckay

30. At 04:51 PM on 4 August 2005, Elizabeth Tam wrote:

John, you are one of a kind. You brought something that nobody else could, whether it be in a lecture of yours, just walking around, or even while teaching our book group. You brought life, fun, and happiness to everybody that you came into contact with. Coming across a person like this is very rare, amd I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet you. I’ll always remember the fun times we had in book group. You were an extrodinary, intelligent person, and will not be forgotten. I’ll miss you a lot.

31. At 05:07 PM on 4 August 2005, at wrote:

much love john, may we always remember you in glorious light

32. At 06:03 PM on 4 August 2005, Naveen Jayaraman wrote:

Having known John for the all-too-short time of only a year, I wish I could say I knew him half as well as most of the people above have. From giving the coolest room checks at Session II last year, to telling the best stories in lab this year, John was the epitome of an awesome person. Upon first meeting McKay, I was amazed at how intelligent he was, and of course, as a freshman, awe-struck at the fact that this kid who had had so much success in an activity that seemed to define me also shared a similar passion. The effort John put forth and exerted within the community was, and still is (for me, at least), astounding. For someone so young, John contributed so much to the community; it is, as Stacy Thomas put it, almost surreal, and yet all too real at the same time. John was one of the people that could instantly put a smile on your face, because he was always doing something to make you laugh without really trying to. McKay was an amazing lab leader, as well as an intelligent person, an awesome person to talk to, and an all-around inspiring individual. Rest easy, John.

33. At 06:10 PM on 4 August 2005, nance wrote:

I have 3 distinct memories of John that I find particularly inspiring.

The first begins in Seattle at this December’s VBT@seattle. Andy O’connnell, Jon Moore and Mckay were the three instructors. It was really easy to see right away that Mckay was incredibly easy to get along with and laid back. The way John lectured us over those 2 days was incredible. I dont think Ive ever learned so much in the course of 48 hours. one moment though will always be in my mind. Jon Moore (who was Andy’s assistant at mercer island) had scheduled a date with his girl friend to watch some ballet show in down town seattle at the paramount and so Andy and Mckay made fun of mr moore for no end for this. But what really stuck out was the fact that with jon moore’s absense left 1 or 2 lectures without a lecturer. I think Andy filled in for the “crystalization” lecture but the one that no one wanted, and it was pretty clear was the Kritik lecture. I could hear andy and mckay trying to push it off on the other one. But eventually Mckay volunteered to do it. Mckay was a team player above all else. a guy who could always put him self in the other guy’s shoes.

my second memory comes from Stanford, more specifically the final round where Mckay was on a 3 person panel. It was very very late and only 15 or 20 people were sitting in the classroom. The mood was kind of tense (after all the loser only got a 20 gig i pod) and to break the silence about 5 minutes before the ac was due. Mckay made a joke about all that he did during lectures when he attended class was to read all the comments that previous students had left on the little desks. then he instructed all of us to do the same. Thats so Mckay. But more importantly right before the rounds start the panel decided there needed to be an “official timer” a girl volunteered and asked if the debaters needed hand signals. the debaters declined and some people in the room laughed at the new timer becuase she didnt know (or was being overly polite) that adwait and tripti had there own timers. and mckay stood up (he was probably sitting but in my imagination hes definitely standing) and told everyone to stop being dicks or whatever. In all the times I was around mckay it seemed like he always stood up for the under dog. we can see that in his dedication to Voices. He is always looking out for the under represented person. trying to give them a hand.

My final memory comes from this summer’s session 1 specifically one of the last morning modules. It was a mod on salvaging the round. how fitting for mckay. the other 2 instructors were very tired and couldnt stay awake. so Mckay being the great guy he is, teaches us the mod. supervising our 2 ar’s and helping us get better. Mckay cared about everyone he came to know. and was so dedicated to this activity.

He will be missed and never forgotten

34. At 06:36 PM on 4 August 2005, Jeff Damasco wrote:

I didn’t really know John McKay or anything, but I stil feel bad. I still remember his “Salvaging the Round” lecture, which was one of the many that I enjoyed thoroughly over at VBI. As many above me have mentioned, McKay is a very funny guy, which is the reason why I remembered his lecture. I can’t really say anything else, except that I give my condolences to his family and friends for losing a loved one.

The debate community will remember you, John McKay.

35. At 06:38 PM on 4 August 2005, ryan luong wrote:

the debate world will never be the same without you. i was in one of your modules and you taught me so much in such a short amount of time. RIP

36. At 06:47 PM on 4 August 2005, Cyrus Lohrasbpour wrote:

We were just acquaintances but I always admired you for your talent and personality. Thanks for being part of a great high school event for me. Rest easy,

37. At 06:55 PM on 4 August 2005, Corinne wrote:

John, when I met you at VBI this summer, I was completely blown away. You were just so smart and so funny that I couldn’t help but be in awe. Going to your modules and watching you teach showed me just how awesome you were. You brought the humor that only you could bring to our 1AR modules and you made sure that we were always having a blast. I just looked forward to going to your modules and being around you bcuz you ALWAYS brought fun to every single thing that you did. You were the quintessential debater and I felt honored whenever I got the chance to hear you teach. All in all, John McKay, you were an amazing person and I’ll miss you sooo much. Rest in peace, John. I’ll always remember you <3

38. At 06:59 PM on 4 August 2005, Justin Bromberg wrote:

Although I only knew John through VBI modules and practice rounds in which he judged me, I still feel as if I can associate with the above posters’ sentiments about John’s sense of humor and passion for the debate community. His passion for the activity was apparent in his Salvaging the Round module, for example, in which he gave debaters invaluable advice about rebuttal strategy and how to remain confident when debating top gun debaters, all amongst his amazing sense of humor. John was, from what I very briefly witnessed, a great person. Rest in peace.

39. At 07:30 PM on 4 August 2005, Chris wrote:

I didn’t know him well. When I was around John McKay, I didn’t know whether to call him “John” or by his last name. I have no stories about him, but the conversations we had in my book group last year will always have a special meaning now. I know that he had the intelligence to look deeply at life, and maybe he didn’t like what he saw. I’ll miss him and remember him.

40. At 07:42 PM on 4 August 2005, asmitty wrote:

i know virtually everyone in the debate community is still in shock and mourning. many of you are probably constantly refreshing this page to see what other people have to say about john. don’t do that. i didn’t know john all that well, but he probably would have hated the idea of just sitting in front of an obituary page on vbd refreshing for updates and bemoaning the past. go play a game with someone. talk to a friend and tell them about something funny you saw on tv today. call someone you don’t talk to a lot and ask what’s up. all of these might seem trivial in the wake of john’s passing, but it’s these little random acts of kindness that made john so awesome, and they’re the best tribute that we can pay to him.

41. At 08:07 PM on 4 August 2005, Sean wrote:

I too only knew John through the two weeks that I spent at VBI this past summer. Although my contact with John was limited, I can’t say that I was untouched by his never wavering and always enthusiastic personality. Specifically, I remember how he managed to ‘squirt’ every camper with his water gun by the end of session I and I will imagine he did the same with Session II debaters. John McKay will be greatly missed, but let us all take a page out of his book and never forget those who need help the most; John always gave back and never was there a day where myself or any other person ever encountered otherwise.

42. At 08:19 PM on 4 August 2005, Winston Gu wrote:

John was a great guy, someone with whom I interacted with both as a fellow debater and as a judge. He was always very friendly, and extremely funny. A very talented and accomplished debater, he will be greatly missed both in the LD community and as a friend. May you rest in peace John. We will all miss you.

43. At 08:20 PM on 4 August 2005, christopher wrote:

i never had the pleasure of knowing john as the debate legend…but i did get to know him as an awesome module teacher and a water gun shooter…and an occasional hall wanderer. it`s funny how john could start a conversation with you even if you were just standing there randomly. rip john.

44. At 08:34 PM on 4 August 2005, David Wolfish wrote:

You were a fantastic competitor, but an even better person and friend. I will miss you.

45. At 09:01 PM on 4 August 2005, Claire Le Goues wrote:

I never knew John well (though he was always, always friendly), but I liked him from the day I met him, judging him his junior year at Manchester. I had judged him at least 4 or 5 rounds by semis, and was highly impressed by this goofy kid from California who was so technically sound. I was especially impressed by how good he was at working with his arguments, given that they were mediocre at best. At the end of the RFDs in semis, I wanted to commend him on this ability, and began with “Well, most of your arguments are pretty dumb.” I realized (late) that this was probably not the best way to frame the comment. The rest of the room was just like, “Claire!”, but John totally got it. And he laughed, and thanked me for the compliment. That takes a certain unique kind of personality.

46. At 09:08 PM on 4 August 2005, Allison Huberlie wrote:

I only met you in January, but I’ll always remember you judging me, hanging out with me at the VBT/TOC when I was just some sophomore, and talking to me about how I could get involved in Voices. Thanks for all of that. I’ll never forget your willingness to include everyone and your genuine love for everyone in our community. From Voices to water-gun fights in the mall and on the promenade, John put a smile on all of our faces. Thanks for the memories, John. You’ll never be forgotten and will be missed forever.

47. At 09:13 PM on 4 August 2005, Alex Zhao wrote:

I only knew you because of a few modules at VBI and because you judged a round of mine, but from what little I saw of you I knew you were just a great person. R.I.P.

48. At 09:24 PM on 4 August 2005, debater wrote:

RIP, you will be loved forever.

49. At 09:41 PM on 4 August 2005, Sean Mumper wrote:

wow, this is some intense shit. I got to coach John and Tom their senior year, and that was a fucking blast. John pissed me off sometimes, but no debate year was as memorable as keeping track of those kids. We won some tournament, pulled some pranks, and tried our best to have fun the entire time. RIP man, i’ll see you in another life.

50. At 10:52 PM on 4 August 2005, jess h wrote:

when we first met in our round many years ago, you put up a damn good fight…a fight you won. when we last met, you put a damn good fight when i tried to apply your make up. but i won. when we parted ways (after you gave tim’s water gun to tye and not me) you hugged me, and wished me a good trip home. i wish you a good trip home, McKay. i miss you.

51. At 11:02 PM on 4 August 2005, patrick miller wrote:

well shit. i didn’t know john terribly well - chatted with him a few times during tournaments and stuff, spent a week with him in a lab - but i can say that his vitality and dedication is something that i thought would live forever. your spark will be missed, john. -pat

52. At 11:41 PM on 4 August 2005, gyawu wrote:

I remember meeting john 4 years ago at VBI, just hanging out in the hallways. He struck up a conversation with me because I didnt know that many people very well. He had an amazing sense of humor and what he has done for the debate community will never be forgotten. thankyou john

53. At 12:17 AM on 5 August 2005, nance wrote:

ive already posted once before but i would like to take some more time to share more memories. John had a very unique and spontaneous personality that really made him John. at vbi session 1 on the “night at westwood” I was in john’s group we had a fucking blast. We had absolutely no plan. we wandered the streets of westwood till Mckay thought of something so “Johnish”. we were going to crash the party. if we had gotten our hands on squirt guns that night we would all go down in the vbi lore. but even better than his spontaneous personality was his loyalty to friends. that same night as we were heading back to the campus when we passed the hookah bar. though no words were spoken Mckay nodded his head toward Bentley and Tim Hogan and told them to go have a good time at the bar, he would make sure the campers got back safe. thats the kind of guy mckay was he was always thinking about his buddies. though they declined and we ended up eating at In n Out the loyal gesture went a long way.

Another fond memory is sitting in the court yard of De Neve enjoying the nice day while watching everyone play frisbee. I began to talk to adwait who was also reluctant to join in. ( i hurt my leg and adwait is just so adwait ) and as we began talking about, something about theory and where I should start reading… i guess it was on semiotics and where to look first. well right then Mckay comes running up with only one shoe on trying to catch adwait. I guess adwait had taken a flip flop from John about an hour before. as john chased adwait around the plaza twice I couldnt stop laughing and dont think i had ever laughed that hard in all my life.

thank you for all the laughs and all the memories

54. At 01:00 AM on 5 August 2005, Donne wrote:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleep as well,
And better then thy stroke; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.

55. At 01:24 AM on 5 August 2005, Darby wrote:

I did not know John that well, but I remember him as a larger-than-life presence in the debate community. As well as watching a lot of his outrounds at tournements and I remember his brilliance. Even more than that, though, I remember a lot of instances at VBI or outside of rounds where John just made something so humorous. Whether he was schooling Jon Gordon in the rules of online poker, having a waterfight in Belinda and my room at 4 am, or making fabulously timed comments about everyone and everything, he made himself memorable. Thank you, John.

56. At 01:54 AM on 5 August 2005, alex hsu wrote:

RIP John Mckay.
My condolences to all of the good friends of John. I didn’t know him well, but I knew enough of you to realize the kind of friendship he held with you all. I will never forget his “berryhill vision” squat as he talked to Anthony a couple years ago. I knew as a debater to be feared rightfully and respected, and as a judge that was honest and clear. I know that’s only part of who he was, but I will honor him for these qualities as best I can. To everyone else, take care, keep his memory alive by debating and remaining active in the community.

57. At 02:01 AM on 5 August 2005, Alex wrote:

I have to agree with good o’le Alex Smith here. I didn’t know John well, but my most amusing memory was him squatting and assuming the “Anthony Berryhill vision” a few years ago when I was still a bright eyed junior just entering varsity. That sort of personality would have never encouraged us to simply give up on life now that he’s gone. However, with that in mind, I honor Mckay for what I knew him as: an excellent debater, coach, and to me a very honest judge. My condolences to all of his close friends, and to all the debaters, take care for this is definitely a shocking time.

58. At 05:56 AM on 5 August 2005, Gagan Biyani wrote:

John McKay was truly an amazing person—not only as a competitor and a teacher, but also as a friend. Wow—I will truly never forget our times together from coaching us to TOC to the overstay at the Hotel in Santa Monica. May you rest in peace, John.

59. At 10:51 AM on 5 August 2005, Daniel Sheehan wrote:

Over the three years I knew him, John always struck me not just as a hard-working and dedicated competitor but also as a compassionate friend who cared deeply about the activity and everyone in it. He was the first friend I ever had in debate - he made an effort to meet me and talk to me before anyone knew who I was, and he always strove to make me feel included and accepted among the “national circuit” crowd. I know many other people who felt the same way. John didn’t have a bad bone in his body - he just always wanted to make people laugh and enjoy themselves. He had an amazing way of connecting to all types of people - whether it was through his debating, his teaching, or his watergun antics - that always set him apart from other people. The debate community has really lost one of its best.

60. At 01:14 PM on 5 August 2005, Steffany Oravetz wrote:

I always enjoyed watching John debate, even when his style rubbed me the wrong way. And despite the fact that I would let him know when something he did in a round displeased me, he was always willing to listen to the criticism and make improvements. I think a lot of debaters should learn from that. John McKay, you were a strange but good hearted young man. I’m going to miss seeing you around.

61. At 02:18 PM on 5 August 2005, Jane Boyd wrote:

I first met John when he came to the Grapevine Classic two years ago - I was thrilled to have a California entry. Low and behold — he won the whole thing. He did a great job. He spoke faster than I liked :), but he had good ideas and was incredibly nice in my encounters with him. He has taught us important lessons - he listened to the judge, took criticism well, and most importantly felt he had an obligation to give back to this activity. He left a legacy with the Voices Foundation — the best memorial that debaters and coaches can give is continuing his efforts to make an elite activity more inclusive. This was his dream and his mission. He will live in our memories and the Voices Foundation

Very respectfully,
Jane Boyd
Director of Forensics
Grapevine HS, Texas

62. At 04:18 PM on 5 August 2005, Shrenil wrote:

Hey John, you were always entertaining while chasing us around with water guns last years when we didn’t want to sleep, and trying to drill political philosophy into our heads in book group when us new comers had no idea what we were learning, but you were successful in teaching us, and you will always be remembered.

63. At 04:21 PM on 5 August 2005, Ben Tseng wrote:

John, I don’t think I’ll ever understand why you did this, but I hope that you’re truly at peace now. I might never have showed it, but I always enjoyed your presence — whether it was on the good ol’ Pacific forums on or at a tournament as my competitor, as the son of a judge (bless your mom), or as a contestant, livening things up for me when I was a judge in, to me, the unfamiliar Northeast scene.

64. At 04:22 PM on 5 August 2005, Buddy wrote:

May John rest in peace and rest assured that he left behind a world that cherished his presence and loved him dearly. John was always able to make us smile and may he smile down upon us. As a colleague and as a friend, good bye John.

65. At 06:03 PM on 5 August 2005, Andrew Garvin wrote:

John and I had made plans to play basketball this week. In his last email correspondance with me, all that he said was:

“I love you Garvin.
John McKay”

Reading that email 3 days before he passed away, I laughed - he WOULD say that. I didn’t cry at first - I didn’t comprehend what had happened - but now that I try to gather my thoughts and memories of John, tears are definitely welling up. To be honest, I don’t know if I knew John well. Perhaps better than most. I remember when, almost exactly four years ago, I met him at SNFI. His lab had a rivalry with mine - which of course culminated in an all out watergun brawl with him, as pudgy as he was, leading the charge (this, by the way, is most likely where he picked up his watergun-toting ways). I also remember having long (seriously people, marathon-esque) conversations with him about everything from ro-shambo, to determinism, to our shared belief that we were awesome because we pondered the meaning of life at age 8, to Pedro the Lion. Apparently, none of his other friends liked Pedro because he is “hella Christian”. Later, he bought me a Pedro shirt at a concert he went to - for those who have seen it, it is the shirt with the faceless lion. For some reason though, he would always say “Why don’t you like me Garvin?”. Perhaps it was his insecurity speaking. Being around him, you would never guess it though. As a debater he commanded a presence like none other. As a teacher, he spoke with confidence, reason, and compassion. As a friend, I could laugh with him (TOC comes to mind), I could share a shirt with him (or, in the case of VBT, he could steal it), and I could share a bed with him (on multiple occasions in fact). These are not signs of insecurity, these are signs of a confident young man poised for success. And yet, here we are. Whenever I wear my Pedro the Lion shirt, I will think of you. Whenever I am teaching crystallization without a partner, I will think of you. Whenever I look at the goofy picture in my camera of you in a suit, wearing a baseball cap, a large bow made out of lace, with your headphones on your shoulders, I will, of course, think of you. So to answer your question John, I did like you. In fact, I love you McKay.
Rest in peace buddy,
Andrew Garvin

66. At 06:25 PM on 5 August 2005, Jed wrote:

As a competitor, John was a constant, rather daunting, presence. I never knew him that well as a person, but even so it was impossible to ignore just how much he meant to so many in this activity. When I first saw on VBD that he had started the Voices Foundation, I always meant to drop him a line and tell him how flat-out admirable it was. For some reason, I never did. It’s a small consolation now, I suppose, but I didn’t want to repeat the mistake this time around. My thoughts are with you and all those who knew you,

67. At 06:45 PM on 5 August 2005, Peter Damrosch wrote:

much love, peace be with you john
mckay/case lab 05

68. At 07:16 PM on 5 August 2005, kd wrote:

I’m not an eloquent person, nor am I someone who finds ease in conveying thoughts or emotions when upset. So while this is brief, my thoughts and feelings of him as a person and a debater, and of his passing on are no less than monumental. Perhaps in time I will be able to say more. I will never forget you John McKay, and I hope you have found peace in the hereafter.

69. At 09:09 PM on 5 August 2005, jim schroeder wrote:

maybe its because im not a national circuit debater, but does anyhow know how john died? I dont understand how such a great person would have his life end the way it did, as im sure all who knew him are unsure. The waterguns were classic. I just wish i could have been sprayed one more time. RIP John

70. At 01:50 AM on 6 August 2005, nila wrote:

I know this time has been very difficult for a lot of us, and I offer my condolences to all those who knew John. Looking back at the memories of camp, tournaments, and Stanford, I cherish the memories I have, a fraction of the impact John Mckay has made on others: watching countless legendary rounds, dozing on the BART after lab at Berkeley, the AIM convos with cards shared, general struggling, the crazy car ride to Harker to judge, bringing the environment debate topic back to life in our fall introductory seminar this past year, hanging out in his Branner dorm room. In the years I knew John, I marveled at his sense of humor, the kindness he approached everyone with, and his incredible work ethic. His talent and dedication to the activity were unparalleled. His pimp ass room at Stanford could be heard from dozens of feet away. John was a unique and amazing debater and friend and I am privileged to have known him. I genuinely feel he, in many ways, has shaped what the debate community is today; and what it will become through his memory.

71. At 08:45 AM on 6 August 2005, Lucey Bowen wrote:

As an adult whose know John since 3rd grade, I am stunned at this news. I’d like to make a contribution to Voices in John’s memory. Jon Cruz, could you arrange and post an address to which this could be sent?
John—-RIP, you fought the good fight.

72. At 09:44 AM on 6 August 2005, David McKay wrote:

I am John’s father. For those that are unaware: John died tragically at his own hand. This has been absolutely devastating to his family. It is of some solace to read these comments and to know that John was a bright light in so many lives, as he always was in mine. At the same time, it amplifies the pain to know that so many have lost so much.

I will never understand why John took the path he took. There were no warning signs. He was an independent thinker who always made his own decisions. I always hoped he would turn to me when he felt he needed support, so that I could help guide him; often he did, but this time he did not. I can only ask all of you: if you ever feel that you are pushed to the wall and have no way out, please give someone a chance to help you. If you feel that you can’t ask for yourself, then please do it for John.

Dave McKay

73. At 01:20 PM on 6 August 2005, Bo Snitchler wrote:

I know this is belated, but being in his lab, McKay was the single reason why I made it through camp. Sleeping 4 hours a night, and making seemingly little headway, he was able to steer me on the right course, motivate me to try my hardest, and helped instill within me a work ethic I’ve never had before. In addition, he in one day’s time, turned me into an infinitely better speaker by knocking out all of my filler words. Any success I have, whether in debate, extemp, or anything down the road is at least partially attributable to the work ethic I learned under his tutelage. Thanks for everything John.

74. At 02:19 PM on 6 August 2005, Juliet wrote:

John, thank you for being a mentor and for being a friend. Your consideration, insights, and sense of humor always amazed me. I’ll be sure to laugh at Descartes for you.

75. At 03:03 PM on 6 August 2005, Melanie wrote:

John, you have touched so many lives and will never be forgotten. Rest in peace. My prayers go out to you and your family.

76. At 03:33 PM on 6 August 2005, babb wrote:

I’ve been blessed to know John as a bright lab student, one of the finest debaters I’ve ever watched, and as an energetic and beloved teacher & colleague. Words and sentiments don’t begin to describe the confusion and heartache with which this community reacts. But they also cannot begin to describe the hope and love John brought us. John—with his vision, compassion, and friendship—will be cherished even as we struggle to cope and understand.

77. At 04:46 PM on 6 August 2005, marie thayamballi wrote:

Even though I did not know John very well, when Fabien announced to me that John had died, my pain was the agony of a mother, of a parent. I have had the opportunity more than once over the past few years to work closely with his mother, Sheila, as a judge, official chaperone or assistant coach/advisor, and I can only begin to imagine the despair she is feeling. My thoughts and condolences are with his parents and twin brother. For the past few days, my hopes and wishes have mirrored Mr. McKay’s plea, and have been a constant source of discussion with my son; if any of you feels that life has nothing more to offer, please confide in a friend, a parent, a counselor. You don’t have to go through this alone. No parent should have to be faced with such a tragedy.

John, I hope you have found peace at last.

78. At 08:08 PM on 6 August 2005, Andrew Jarrett wrote:

If you were ever around him, you could just feel…life coming off of him. I never spoke one word to John, but every time I heard him speak to someone, I was instantly interested in what was going on. He had a certain charisma that no one else was bold enough to adopt. There is no doubt in my mind that John will become a legend in the debate realm. And there is no doubt in my mind that he deserves it.

79. At 10:23 PM on 6 August 2005, monte wrote:

I don’t really know how to put into words what I am feeling. It was difficult for me to write this becuase it would confrim that you are gone. I never got an opportunity to know you well, but you did judge me a couple of times. The first time you judged me, I didn’t realize that you were the infamous John Mckay, but I gained immense respect for you after the round on the way you conducted and presented yourself, and the advice you gave my oppoent and I to make us better debaters. I didn’t know you extremely well, but I still feel the great loss and tragedy of you no longer being with us. This is what made you special: you were able to reach out and touch people who barely knew you. I feel at a loss not being able to get to know you better. Rest easy man.

80. At 07:08 AM on 7 August 2005, Minnesota Debater wrote:

I am one of those people that didn’t know John very well directly, but was still amazed by his committment to the activity and community. When John was debating, I remember saying to myself that this kid was incredibly smart (maybe a typical debater jealously developed). This was a kid who was really going places in life. Now, the thought of all of that potential being snuffed out is quite hard to bear. Theres not really much to be said that already hasn’t been said, so I think I’ll close with this: John Mckay, thank you for showing this typical jealous debater that debate is more than rounds and contentions, but making friends and bonds that go well beyond high school.
Peace Out

81. At 10:25 AM on 7 August 2005, Prateek Tandon wrote:

Wow…I’m completely in shock. I was looking forward to talking to John at session II. No words can express the gratitude I feel for having been lucky enough to know John these past couple of years. Any words I write are imperfect for describing the memory of John. As a sophomore watching him obliterate outrounds, I admired no other debater more highly. John was our coach at Monta Vista this year and his help was invaluable in our success. I can attest to John’s compassion. He stepped in to help us transition from a student run to a coach led team at a time when no other person would. But to speak of him as a coach would not sufficiently describe him. He was more than a debate coach to us. The thing that set him apart was his kindness. He was one of the most open, approachable, and humble of people I have ever known. I have deep condolences for Mr. and Mrs. Mckay and for everyone here that has been touched by John.
Rest in peace John and thank you for everything.

82. At 05:52 PM on 7 August 2005, Neil Conrad wrote:

Mr. McKay - Thank you for the wisdom in your post. Know that your son will be missed by all of us and that it was no one’s fault.
John - It was a privilege to debate you, an honor to coach with you, and a pleasure being your friend…

83. At 06:11 PM on 7 August 2005, Anonymous Debater wrote:

As a person who almost went down the same path as John, I can understand how John might have felt when he made the decision to take his life. Although it is a drastic step, it is one which many choose because they think it is the only way to escape their pain. However, those who successfully take their lives don’t realize the consequences of their actions. We may leave our own pain, only to magnify it and leave it as a burden to others. For anyone who considers suicide as a possible choice choice, think again. Even if everything seems lost, there is always a way out. Mr. McKay is right. Talk to someone you trust, whether it is a parent, a coach, or a friend. I guarantee they will be able to help you, or lead you to a person who can. John, although I never knew you personally, you have taught many people throughout your debate career and throughout your life. Thank you for teaching us this important lesson.

84. At 09:38 PM on 7 August 2005, Debra Cruz wrote:

Dear Mr. McKay:
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your wife, and John’s twin brother at this very difficult time. Although we did not know John directly, we know that he was “a bright light in many lives.” Thank you for your words of wisdom. Your son will be missed by many, many people. You have our deepest condolences.
Debra and Jose Cruz

85. At 09:58 PM on 7 August 2005, Casey Trombley-Shapiro wrote:

McKay was one whackass kid. I really didn’t know him well, but I did have some fun times with him when I did get the chance. He came to my house for my birthday and while everyone else did the party thing, he actually sat and listened to my dad rant about science and art (and even acted interested). When I told my dad the other day about John’s death, he said he remembered McKay as “gregarious;” he really liked him for it.
McKay and I talked for about an hour at TOC my junior year about random stuff… in the girls’ bathroom. And this year, he let me stay with him at Stanford, and I got to watch him interact with his college friends. The amount of respect they showed him was pretty awesome, even if it was mostly displayed by acts like saving the best controller for Halo for him. McKay was damn well-liked, and kudos to him for it. I don’t care how he debated or where he worked - he was a great kid (even if he was telephonobic).
Please take Mr. McKay’s words seriously if you are having a hard time. Taking one’s own life is a permanent solution to a potentially temporary problem. And for everyone else, watch out for your friends and even just acquaintances. This may seem totally lame or obvious and you may have heard it in school or something, but here are some warning signs of depression from :
Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
Persistent boredom; low energy
Social isolation, poor communication
Low self esteem and guilt
Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
Difficulty with relationships
Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
Poor concentration
A major change in eating and/or sleeping patterns
Talk of or efforts to run away from home
Thoughts or expressions of suicide or self-destructive behavior
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
A friend of the family who’s a child psychologist was visiting when I found out about John. I asked her what people can even do if they DO see the warning signs. She told me about some questions you can ask your friend if they profess to thinking about suicide or you think they might be considering it: ask them if they have a plan
ask them how long they think they can make it
ask how long they’ve felt this way
ask about their support system - find out if they’re close with their parents, who their best friends are, if they’re close with
siblings, teachers, etc. Then talk to those people and key them in.
try to gauge how serious the problem is and definitely get help from either professionals or someone who’s close to your
friend. Better safe than sorry.
Some more websites I found (I just quick searched google/askjeeves, so I’m sure there are better sites if anyone knows them): a site for if you think you might be depressed - product=bipolar&source=google how to help a friend - how to help a friend -

86. At 10:14 PM on 7 August 2005, Chris Davis wrote:

a heart so big, God couldn’t let it live.

87. At 10:34 PM on 7 August 2005, Alex Weaver wrote:

At first I knew John through reputation only… in fact, I remember reading his posts on Westman from damn near the time I
started getting into coaching. I remember vaguely being aware that he was from California and therefore I wouldn’t have to
worry about seeing him at any of the tournaments I went to until I had someone in the TOC. I thought the thousands of
miles separating me from him was enough to consider him out of my sphere. Boy was I wrong. John (alongside others)
took it upon himself to expand his debate world outside of California, rising to national prominance and indeed turning
what was once a very isolated debate state separated from the rest of us by some very tall mountains into what it is today:
arguably the most fertle ground for high school debate in the country. John literally crossed mountains for the activity he so
loved, and I truly admired his passion.
It was passion that defined John, I think. Many people in the activity are intelligent, as John was, and many people in the
activity are quirky, as John was. Few people, however, shared John’s drive and his passion for debate. He turned himself
into one of the best debaters in the country, if not the best debater in the country, from truly humble beginnings. In a world
where so many people are given the resources to succeed, he had to earn them. When so many people who are successful
enjoy schools with wealthy debate programs, he went to a school with no real debate program. When so many people are
recruited into the activity by coaches, he had to recruit coaches to come to him. So many people could and would have
thrown in the towel, would have given up. Not John. All the circumstances he had to fight through just to get to a national
tournament, let alone compete and excel at one; all of the lives he touched during his great career and indeed after it… we
owe it all to his passion. Thanks, John, for being one of the good guys. We all loved you as a friend and brother. Take care.
Alex Weaver
Texas Tech University

88. At 11:10 PM on 7 August 2005, Erin wrote:

I saw John’s sn sign on a few hours ago, and as soon as I saw it I thought that this was all a lie, and that if I imed him he’d respond and say that it was just some horrible joke that someone had made, and even though I knew that it wasn’t true, I wanted to believe it. I’m glad that I got the chance to meet John, to see him get thrown to the ground by Steph, play poker, and cuss like a sailor when he got stung by a bee. I just wish that I could’ve known you better, you were truly unique.
Namaste John.

89. At 12:39 AM on 8 August 2005, sheila wrote:

A memorial service for John will be held at the Menlo Park Recreation Center, 701 Laurel Street , Saturday August 13 at 11 a.m. we hope you will join us. If anyone is coming from out of town, the MA debate Mom’s have offered their floors, their cots, and their yards (for sleeping bags) or we can have a real wake and just stay up all night.

90. At 12:45 AM on 8 August 2005, sheila wrote:

A memorial service for John will be held at the Menlo Park Recreation Center, 701 Laurel Street , Saturday August 13 at 11 a.m. we hope you will join us. If anyone is coming from out of town, the MA debate Mom’s have offered their floors, their cots, and their yards (for sleeping bags) or we can have a real wake and just stay up all night.

91. At 12:50 AM on 8 August 2005, sheila wrote:

A memorial service for John will be held at the Menlo Park Recreation Center, 701 Laurel Street , Saturday August 13 at 11 a.m. we hope you will join us. If anyone is coming from out of town, the MA debate Moms have offered their floors, their cots, and their yards (for sleeping bags) or we can have a real wake and just stay up all night.

92. At 12:58 AM on 8 August 2005, sheila wrote:

Services for John will be at the Menlo Park Recreation Center,701 Laurel Street , Menlo Park, 11 a.m. Saturday, August 13,2005. You are welcome to join us. Dress will be causual.

93. At 05:37 AM on 8 August 2005, KC wrote:

Mr. and Mrs. McKay,
Thank you for providing the world with such a wonderful person. John and I spoke a few times regarding debate a few years back and he always tried to make me do LD, which I didn’t do until this year, thanks to his constant endorsement to the event. I didn’t get a chance to tell him that I actually did it, or that I won the one tournament I did it at, but I take comfort knowing that someday he will be able to find out. May John RIP and may his family and friends find the comfort that they need.

94. At 08:17 AM on 8 August 2005, Lor wrote:

John, I never did have the privledge of meeting you, but looking at all these posts and your debate career, you really are a brilliant person. I hope you have found peace. To his family and friends: I’m extremly sorry for your loss.

95. At 01:51 PM on 8 August 2005, Robert June wrote:

John -
Hadn’t seen you for a while before this - it saddens me that I’ll never be able to see you or talk with you again. You made out-of-state tournaments a blast for me and Grant - he’s also deeply affected by your loss. Take care, buddy.

96. At 03:39 PM on 8 August 2005, Daniel Ehlers wrote:

Wow… I am just completely in shock by all of this. When I was first told of this on Sunday, I really couldn’t believe it. All of my teammates always talked about how awesome John was in debate, but I never knew who he was until I was in John’s lab at VBI Session 2 last summer… And he really was as amazing of a person as everyone said he was. I’ll always remember when he came in ten minutes later to our module on “Salvaging the Round” because he overslept, and he had no notes, so he introduced us to what he called “Salvaging the Module” and shot us with his water gun every so often. He was truly an amazing person, and I think the world has truly lost something.
Rest in peace, John.

97. At 03:43 PM on 8 August 2005, Sach Wickramasekara wrote:

I’m not one of John’s friends from debate, but I lived in the same dorm as him for my whole first year at Stanford. I live in Switzerland, so news took a little while to travel here, and I just found out tonight. John was more than a friend.. he was my bro, and i can’t even begin to count the amount of good times i had with him. John was an amazing and unique kid, whether it was playing games wit him, shooting hoops at the park, playing poker for big bucks, or just plain old eating pizza and chilling. The time I spent with him was simply unforgettable. Words can’t express what I’m feeling right now John, they say real men don’t cry but homy I’m missing you- I can’t believe I couldn’t say goodbye to you properly.. you were an inspiration to all of us homy, trust me we’ll miss you so damn much. I don’t know what else to say.. except my deepest condolences go out to John’s family and friends.

98. At 03:52 PM on 8 August 2005, Marie wrote:

I love you John. Debate will miss you as someone so well put…tears

99. At 12:33 PM on 9 August 2005, Ryan Bethell wrote:

I lived across the hall from John this year in Branner; I’m probably one of the few people here who didn’t know him from debate, but in the year I lived with him, he became one of my closest friends. The characteristics I noticed most about John, aside from him obvious intelligence, were his determination, and humility. John’s determination was obvious; he strived to be the best at everything he did, and there are very few things that he didn’t succeed at in this regard. By far, John was the most accomplished poker player I’ve ever met, (obviously) the best debater, and writer. I even recall I recall John spending hours a day for over a week practicing his free throws, hoping to improve his basketball skills… I guess none of us can have it all.

Another, more abstract, example of John’s determination was the first memory that came to me after I heard the tragic news. John and I, along with a couple of other Brannerites, went to a concert in Oakland just this past May. John was determined to get to the front - right up next to the stage. Nothing too difficult, except John was wearing flip-flops. He’d lose his shoes just about every ten seconds as he tried to push his way through the masses of sweaty, large bodies. Finally, John gave up - but not on getting up to the stage. John left his shoes somewhere in the crowd, and pushed, crawled, and fought his way to the front of the masses in time for the end of Taking Back Sunday’s set. His feet had looked better.

Regarding John’s Humility: I knew John for about three months before the Stanford High School Debate invitational (or whatever it’s called). Now, I’m not a debater, but I knew that John mentioned at some point or another that he was involved in debate, but I never knew to what extent until that tournament. At the beginning of the year at Stanford, while everyone else was bragging to about how good they were at this and that (trying to impress they’re future friends I suppose), John sat back humbly and let his friends come to him (and they did). I remember me and John’s roommate, Pat, and our RA, Rob, were in Treehouse (an on campus restaurant) during the debate invite, and one of us offhandedly mentioned John McKay. The people in line around us feel silent “You know John McKay?” one girl asked. “yeah!” we replied. We got to cut right up to the front of the line. John was so humble about his talents, but he couldn’t keep them unknown forever.

I consider myself lucky to have known John for the short time I did, and I echo the sentiments of everyone here when I say  “John, you will be missed.”

100. At 08:13 PM on 9 August 2005, a friend wrote:

i didn’t know john well, but i know he was a great guy, and obviously he will be missed terribly. to those closer to john’s family than i—please remember to offer comfort beyond the next few weeks. john’s birthday will occur every year, the anniversary of his untimely death will roll around annually, and little reminders of his life will pop up every day. no amount of love and support can be too much. to john’s close friends and family—my heart goes out to you, and i hope that eventually you can find peace in the face of this tragedy. to john, may you rest in peace.

101. At 01:04 AM on 10 August 2005, Jon Kwan wrote:

It’s kinda hard with you not around (yeah)
Know you in heaven smilin down (eheh)
Watchin us while we pray for you
Every day we pray for you
Til the day we meet again
In my heart is where I’ll keep you friend
Memories give me the strength I need (uh-huh) to proceed
Strength I need to believe
My thoughts Big I just can’t define (can’t define)
Wish I could turn back the hands of time
Us in the 6, shop for new clothes and kicks
You and me taking flicks
Makin hits, stages they receive you on
I still can’t believe you’re gone (can’t believe you’re gone)
Give anything to hear half your breath (half your breath)
I know you still living you’re life, after death
Every step I take, every move I make
Every single day, every time I pray
I’ll be missing you
Thinkin of the day, when you went away
What a life to take, what a bond to break
I’ll be missing you
-P. Diddy (featuring Faith Evans) “I’ll Be Missing You”

Mckay, you were the first circuit debater to befriend me even when I was a freshman. You were always such an open and kind person who didn’t measure a debater’s worth by their record, but by their character. I remember playing poker with you after SCU II til 2 a.m. God I won so much money that night ($300?)!! Lol! Good times for sure. That was the first time I played where I actually made money, and it spurred my interest in Hold ‘em. I remember hella idolizing you when you debated. I watched so many of your rounds back in the day, most of which you picked up. Sumo used to make fun of me for being such a wanna-be Mckay. From the way I tried to use so much Cali-speak by incorporating the word “foo” twice in every sentence, to the way I just tried to act like you, it always gave other people something to laugh at! Lol! But besides being such an ideal role model, you were always a good friend who’d help me with debate whenever I asked. And even when I was acting like such an idiot, you’d still treat me with respect. I remember telling novices who felt their efforts were futile that John Mckay didn’t really start debating until his junior year and look how amazing he got in such a short amount of time? I’ll continue to tell novices about all your achievements that were amassed so quickly and how they can do it too. When I first told my brother about how you became such a BEAST, he was completely shocked. He always remembered you as the noob debater kid who wore white sneakers to tournaments. Haha! I remember talking about how you were the type of person who’d stay in this activity forever. You’d be one of those really traditional coaches who’d say: “Back in MY day, debate was like this…” Haha! Well, you know 20-30 years from now when you and everyone debating now will be dino history in debate, I’ll be sure to remind the kids I’m coaching of the Best Debater in his year. I tell them about the war stories of Mckay both in debate and in poker. I’ll tell them about this amazing person with a wonderful attitude who influenced me so much in life not just in debate. Someone who was, most importantly, an awesome person and just happened to also be an awesome debater on the side. Sometimes, it’s still hard to believe that you’re gone. It’ll be weird next year debating and knowing that Mckay isn’t in the judge pool. Gosh, I’ll miss you intensely. I looked up at you once before, but it makes me sad that now I’ll have to look up to see you again. Rest in peace man. I love you.

102. At 01:24 PM on 10 August 2005, Mara Huberlie wrote:

I had the privilege of judging with John McKay at the Victory Briefs Tournament last January. As a “parent judge” it is easy to feel a little intimidated and underqualified around people such as John that really know what they are doing at all times, but John was kind, gracious and very respectful toward me and I really appreciated that. He was surrounded by many peers, yet he took the time to be inclusive of me. I was not surprised to learn from my daughter that he was behind the Voices foundation. He truly had a gift for bringing people in, rather than allowing them to be left out - if only more people thought that way, the world would be a much kinder place. As a parent, my heart goes our to his parents and family and all of his close friends. I pray that you may you summon the strength you need at this very painful time. God Bless John and all of you.

103. At 04:32 AM on 13 August 2005, Omo wrote:

I just came back from Nigeria, and this is the first time I’ve heard this.  I feel sick.
Goodbye, John. I’ll miss you.

104. At 03:26 PM on 13 August 2005, Theresa Price wrote:

Dear Debate Community,
Hi everyone! In July 2005, my daughter, Alyssa, had the wonderful opportunity to receive assistance from John McKay at Victory Briefs Institute@UCLA - Lincoln-Douglas Debate. John McKay made the time to answer SO MANY of Alyssa’s debate questions. Subsequently, I wanted to find out who was John McKay, the student at Stanford and the board member of Voices Foundation. I searched the Internet and discovered a remarkable person who gave non-selfishly to others. It is a reminder to me of the following: (1) It takes only a second to smile at someone; (2) it takes only a second to say “hello.” Let me share a quotation from Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book, “Remember that a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” I will remember to be a “John McKay” by giving to others, to take time and do something nice for myself, and to maintain balance in my life. Since we will never find any answers, may the McKay family, as well as, you and me, focus on John’s beautiful heart of giving to others and his passion for Lincoln-Douglas Debate. May God bless and watch over the McKay family and the debate community.
Theresa Price
Tampa, Florida

105. At 08:48 AM on 14 August 2005, Rukmani wrote:

after all people leave this world, they leave footprints in the hearts of their friends however, not all people leave footprints in the hearts of their acquaintances, those who do are truly the outstanding ones i never got the privilege to become great friends w/ john, he was simply my debate coach and someone whom i admired, but john mckay left footprints in my heart and i will never forget him

106. At 10:56 AM on 18 August 2005, Albert Chen wrote:

rip john mckay

107. At 05:05 PM on 21 August 2005, Caine wrote:

I love you John McKay. Rest in Peace.

108. At 06:50 PM on 22 August 2005, Greer wrote:

I just received news of John’s death, and still cant believe that he is gone. John McKay was my lab leader this year. Besides being legendary in the debate realm for his research during his own high school years (after hearing all of Johns stories about his color coded cards, I began to feel kind of lazy, and was inspired to do more research myself after returning from VBI), John was certainly one of the most friendly people in this activity. In fact, I’d say that he was one of the most fun and cheerful people I have met in my entire life. I regret not being able to say goodbye to him. Being a fellow Californian, I naturally thought I’d be seeing him at almost every tournament in the coming year, and I didn't get a chance to thank him for everything he did for us during VBI. I will never forget John’s laugh. I had the pleasure of sitting in front of him when we were watching “Fantastic Four”, and although the movie really sucked, hearing John’s laugh made the experience pretty fun. From his fabulous rhyming debate raps and water gun fights, to his lecture on ” McKays 10 ways to win more rounds”, I sure will miss him. He truly was an amazing person. It says a lot about a person when you like them so much after only knowing them for two weeks. I’ll think of John whenever I look at my voices bracelet, and that's pretty often-considering I wear it everyday. By the way John, thanks for playing dance revolution with me at the arcade on the last day of lab, when no one else would.

109. At 06:54 PM on 22 August 2005, Greer wrote:

I just received news of John’s death, and still cant believe that he is gone. John McKay was my lab leader this year. Besides being legendary in the debate realm for his research during his own high school years (after hearing all of Johns stories about his color coded cards, I began to feel kind of lazy, and was inspired to do more research myself after returning from VBI), John was certainly one of the most friendly people in this activity. In fact, I’d say that he was one of the most fun and cheerful people I have met in my entire life. I regret not being able to say goodbye to him. Being a fellow Californian, I naturally thought I’d be seeing him at almost every tournament in the coming year, and I didn't get a chance to thank him for everything he did for us during VBI. I will never forget John’s laugh. I had the pleasure of sitting in front of him when we were watching “Fantastic Four”, and although the movie really sucked, hearing John’s laugh made the experience pretty fun. From his fabulous rhyming debate raps and water gun fights, to his lecture on ” McKays 10 ways to win more rounds”, I sure will miss him. He truly was an amazing person. It says a lot about a person when you like them so much after only knowing them for two weeks. I’ll think of John whenever I look at my voices bracelet, and that's pretty often-considering I wear it everyday. By the way John, thanks for playing dance revolution with me at the arcade on the last day of lab, when no one else would.

110. At 07:45 PM on 22 August 2005, Matt Smith wrote:

John was, as far as I know, one of the most approachable and fun-loving people that I have ever met. He had an amazing debate career, but how he acted as a person far outshined the number of rounds he won and the other debate accomplishments he had. Though I only knew him for 2 weeks at VBI II, I feel that I have known him for years. I know that sounds corny, but as a shy kid to begin with, it was amazing that I could have conversations with him on the second day and not feel nervous. In fact, though it may be hard to believe (and, if he were alive, he probably wouldn’t know it) he had a huge impact on my life. I wasn’t very courageous with meeting people or with debate, as I always sounded like I was losing and was very timid. John judged a round of mine at VBI II, and, to my surprise, I won it. He saw that I was surprised, and after the round, he had a discussion with me about how I do a lot better than I think I do, and how I would feel a lot better if I was more confident. Now (as some can attest), I try to dominate the debate round (in presence) and I have a lot more confidence not only in debate but with life in general. McKay, I owe you more than you could imagine. Though John was an amazing debater, he was an even more amazing person.

I want to share two stories about him that I feel would show John’s character, because I will always remember them when I think of John. Poker at VBI II wasn’t allowed, because the staff felt it would get too far out of hand. But, of course, poker was still played. I remember playing in Lumpy’s room with people like Ari Parker and GBN kids and my friend from Cold Spring Harbor. John knocked on the door, and we scrambled to pick up chips and things like that. John came in, and knew something was up. He started ranting about how we were all in huge trouble for playing poker, and something big was going to happen. Then he stopped, and said something to the effect of “Nah, I’m just kidding you.” Then, he started playing with us. That was the kind of guy John was: he never wanted to bring people down, he always loved to have fun and he loved that other people had fun with him. John’s water gun at VBI was, if nothing else, infamous. He patrolled the halls with it, and when people got out of hand (or, he just wanted to soak Jon Gordon) he would blast them with the water gun. Me, my friend Paul, and Reese and Jack from Eastside Catholic all decided that we would have our revenge. In our night at Santa Monica Pier, we all bought water guns and decided that we would get John back. An elaborate plan was made, including suprise attacks from several floors, and the other three started attacking him. He ran into a room, where I happened to be filling up my water gun for another suprise attack. He pointed his at me and said “If you join my team, I won’t shoot you.” We went along with it, and had an awesome time running around the corridors until another staff member took the guns away. That was the kind of guy John was, though: he wouldn’t break up a fight like that, he went with the fun. That’s why I had enormous respect for him.
John, I’ll miss you. Rest in peace.
-Matt Smith

111. At 08:07 PM on 22 August 2005, JeffColonel wrote:

John McKay was one of the people I idolized and admired, both as a person and as a debater. He has become a legendary icon that we’ve all been fortunate enough to experience. I regret missing the opportunity to know him better, but I count my blessings and am glad that he was with us at all. He was one of the people that I would have loved to be, and someone we all loved to be with. He will never be forgotten, and his legend lives on in our hearts. I don’t think I will ever be quite the same, and while my feelings are overshadowed by those close to him, his friends and family have my utmost symathy. John was a treasure. He was one of the people that make us happy with our lives, happy with ourselves. He was one of those people that could make you smile with just his attitude. He was the kind of person that you can’t help but love. There are no words that could ever do justice to the loss we have suffered. Our tears say more than words ever could. We miss you, John. May you rest in peace.

112. At 10:34 PM on 23 August 2005, Shari wrote:

John McKay was a friend and a mentor. He always made labs more interesting and his way of getting people to sleep on time (shooting them with a watergun) showed his fun loving nature. He helped me more times than I can count with cases and tips on how to be a better debater. He was one of the best researcher I know. He could find sources to back up almost any position. I will miss him more than most people realize. Rest in peace John. The debate community will never be the same without you.

113. At 09:26 AM on 26 August 2005, Kristina wrote:

I met John McKay only this year. And it’s funny…because it wasn’t all that long ago. I can still remember his laugh, the nervous way he seemed to stare off into the distance, and, yes, the waterguns. It’s odd….because McKay felt like….I don’t even know how to describe it….but someone who didn’t give a damn because he cared too much…. He understood things about reality and about people that other’s didn’t, and they influenced his interactions with others and his success as a debater. John McKay is one of the most memorable people you could have met. Even if you talked to him for a split second - you’d remember him. Because that’s the kind of presence he had. He was someone who carried a lot of weight underneath his skin. Maybe that’s why he tended to keep his head down…it was full of thoughts. And not just anything….but sentiments which captured life, and society, and emotion…..

When I first heard the news, which, incidentally, was today…I was shocked. And I became ill…. Not because of his suicide, but, frankly, because the debate community had lost one of it’s greatest contributers. Letting this alone, everyone has lost an individual from whom they could have learned so much, and gained so much. One conversation with him would have made you a better person, even if in the slightest. It would have made you more aware, and it would have made you kinder - because McKay always made people laugh. Being around him was… .comforting….in a way….because for those few moments, you weren’t worried about anything…. I guess because he took people’s worries into himself.

I’m very saddened by his passing. Because as of August 2nd, the world has become an even less inviting and hopeful place….it’s become even less bearable… because it could enduce such a great mind to abandon it. I know he’ll be remembered - there’s not even a question of it in my mind. Even though you can’t read my words, maybe you can feel my thoughts McKay - and I want to say thank you. Because knowing you made me a stronger person. Knowing you was a once in a lifetime opportunity, a gift if you will….and I’m sorry I couldn’t have learned more from you and about you. I don’t know if you’ve found peace, but I hope that at least you’ve found answers.

Goodbye. Till another lifetime, till another world.

114. At 05:43 PM on 30 August 2005, duckdebater wrote:

I remember John. I remember our long long long conversations on aim. He was so funny that I even saved some of the conversations. I don’t know what to say. It was shocking. I best remember him from when he came to the Berkeley Invitational to debate his senior year. I promised that I would watch one of his rounds if he broke. I think I watched him in octos. I just remember him saying stuff about a tiger in the jungle and using that analogy in his speech. When the round ended and the judges kicked us out in order to deliberate, I walked off. John followed me and asked if I was going to wait for the results. I told him that I didn’t need to since I already knew who won. He looked at me with this confused expression and asked, “who?” I laughed, and left, and sure enough he won the round. He was a funny kid. I remember giving him six lollipops during nat quals for controversy. One for each round, I said. I yelled at him for giving his partner a lollipop. His excuse was that he wanted to “share his goodluck.” I’m going to miss him. And his wackiness. From the ghost case, to the Hindu/Buddhist (he wasn’t sure what to name it) narrative that he brought to state quals which nearly got Gagan and Mike kicked out of the competition, to my lollipops, and his controversy case.

115. At 08:07 AM on 31 August 2005, janel wrote:

I remember John. I remember our long long long conversations on aim. He was so funny that I even saved some of the conversations. I don’t know what to say. It was shocking. I best remember him from when he came to the Berkeley Invitational to debate his senior year. I promised that I would watch one of his rounds if he broke. I think I watched him in octos. I just remember him saying stuff about a tiger in the jungle and using that analogy in his speech. When the round ended and the judges kicked us out in order to deliberate, I walked off. John followed me and asked if I was going to wait for the results. I told him that I didn’t need to since I already knew who won. He looked at me with this confused expression and asked, “who?” I laughed, and left, and sure enough he won the round. He was a funny kid. I remember giving him six lollipops during nat quals for controversy. One for each round, I said. I yelled at him for giving his partner a lollipop. His excuse was that he wanted to “share his goodluck.” I’m going to miss him. And his wackiness. From the ghost case, to the Hindu/Buddhist (he wasn’t sure what to name it) narrative that he brought to state quals which nearly got Gagan and Mike kicked out of the competition, to my lollipops, and his controversy case. All that’s really left to say is goodbye. But I just can’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.

116. At 07:24 PM on 2 October 2005, a friend wrote:

John McKay was one of the best debaters that I knew. Not just as a debater but as a general person. He would help me with anything, no questions asked. Even if it was not debate related. While others always thought my questions about debate were annoying, John did not mind, in fact, he usually seemed to be amused. Even when my VBI lab leaders flaked out on me and did not want to help, he was always there to help me with anything. He was always supportive of me, even when I decided to drop out of LD Debate. And the best thing is that he never judged me on how good of a debater I was, but instead judged me on what kind of person I was. Even after I dropped LD, he still talked to me, I was amazed that he would still talk to me even after I dropped, but he was always supportive and always helped me with whatever other problems that I had. McKay was a great person and will be missed, may he rest in peace.

117. At 07:26 PM on 2 October 2005, a friend wrote:

John McKay was one of the best debaters that I knew. Not just as a debater but as a general person. He would help me with anything, no questions asked. Even if it was not debate related. While others always thought my questions about debate were annoying, John did not mind, in fact, he usually seemed to be amused. Even when my VBI lab leaders flaked out on me and did not want to help, he was always there to help me with anything. He was always supportive of me, even when I decided to drop out of LD Debate. And the best thing is that he never judged me on how good of a debater I was, but instead judged me on what kind of person I was. Even after I dropped LD, he still talked to me, I was amazed that he would still talk to me even after I dropped, but he was always supportive and always helped me with whatever other problems that I had. McKay was a great person and will be missed, may he rest in peace.

118. At 12:24 AM on 15 October 2005, anon wrote:

I wish this would get easier…