Tough day Saturday. Revere speech & debate had 12 competitors and 6 judges and parent helpers in eight different vehicles going to two different locations.
It was the ending that brought some tears. We had great expectations, but Revere did not have a single person who qualified for the OHSSL state tournament at the Akron District’s “Littles” championship yesterday. Team Akron will have more then 100 entries going to State though, and I’m extremely pleased that there are so many good and talented debaters and speakers from Akron this year.
This has been a challenging adjustment for me. When I began coaching debate/speech seven years ago in Brecksville-Broadview Heights, I knew the students, knew the school district, and knew some of the parents. That made the process a bit easier for us (Mark McCandless, Dr. Yeh and me).
The acclimation is much more complicated when one doesn’t live or teach at the school where one coaches. Revere’s program might have even disappeared in the fall of 2013, but thanks to Tony Paparella (who recommended me to Phil King at Revere) it did not. But we had five seniors among the six students who were remnants at Revere in 2013-2014. We added a few students last year, but all we could really do was keep the fire alive.
This year, that fire is burning brighter as we’ve witnessed a resurgence in debate and speech. It’s thanks to:
- Nearly 10 dedicated new students who have stuck with the program all year
- Terrific leadership from captains James White and Alexis Espinal
- Help from dedicated parents who’ve judged, opened up homes, and made it clear to their students and to me that debate and speech are high priorities to them
- Assistance from Brad Laidman, who provided advice and case help for our LD and PF debaters
We still have the prospect of “back door” qualifying for States at the upcoming East Ohio District NFL/NSDA tournament on Feb. 20-21 at Medina. But unless that happens, Revere will have but three representatives at States this year — a Congress contingent of White, co-captain Drew Espinal, and Megan Travers. It’s a strong bunch though. All three have finished in the “Top Six” in some Congress tournaments, James as high as fourth and Drew as high as second. We will be ready for States and Nationals in Congress.
Disappointed? Yes. Discouraged? Not at all. We’ve had so many 9th and 10th graders learn so much about debate and speech this year. We’ve set the table for a terrific future.
Students and parents: Don’t stop believing.
And finally — like the mythical basketball coach Norman Dale says in the movie Hoosiers, “my team is on the floor.” You have worked very hard. You understand how the events work. You have come a long way in a short amount of time. You’re a winner no matter what the ballots said, and you’ll be winners in tournaments in the months and years ahead.