Reflections on the “End” of a Season

by Holly Custer, Head Coach, Wooster (Akron)

“Oh no!  It’s my last practice . . . EVER!”

We’ve all heard this before—especially as the State Tournament becomes just a memory; for an OSDA coach, this time of year is bittersweet.

We all have worked incredibly hard—helping our students hone their skills all year, watching with pride as they grow and improve—while always knowing, in the back of our minds, that it will come to an end.  We know that our students have made great strides, and we know that we have imparted as much as we could in the short time we have known them.

So…what comes next?

For a few of our students, we have the National Tournament to work toward.  For those students, the hours of practice are not over just yet.  (They have earned a slight reprieve, though!)  As much as we want to practice, I encourage our national qualifiers to “let go” for a short time; therefore, after the State tournament, we take several weeks off.  After all, everyone has some aspect of life that needs attending (laundry, friends, seeing that bright yellow ball in the sky that we forget exists during those long winter months …); we take those few weeks off to regroup and reground ourselves.

Beginning around mid-April, we have fresh eyes and fresh perspectives.  This is the time when we examine pieces, cases, and selections.  We look at where we were at the end of the season, and we take stock of what we like—and what we think could use some work.  It is fairly common for us to rearrange, reword, or change characterizations. Now is our time to try out some new things.

Sometimes, we go back to what we had, while other times we find something new that works even better.  Either way it goes, we know that we have tried and have made it the best we can.  Practices ramp up through May, and we keep working until competition starts.  The few weeks of reprieve we took in March and April have given us a new lease on what we are doing, where we are going, and what we hope to accomplish.  By this point we only have several more practice sessions left, but what then?

Ultimately, it all comes to an end.  But how do we say goodbye to these students?

How do we let them know they have impacted us just as much as we hope we have impacted them?  The answer: (I wish I had one.)

Every year at this time, it becomes harder and harder to say goodbye.  Of course, it does. We have spent so much time, effort, and energy with these students that they become a part of our lives, but we know that their time here is finished.  We know they have bigger and better things waiting for them.  We know that we have prepared them as best we can for whatever comes next.  And then we have to let them go—but not without reminding them of what waits for them if (and when?!) they choose to return.

Like many teams, we have a banquet to celebrate our year.  We take a moment at our banquet to recognize each class, and when we get to our seniors, we provide them with a senior gift.  Although it is not much, we hope that it provides them with a fond memory when they look at it; we also hope that the little reminder of our team stays fresh in their minds.

As we send our seniors off, we always remind them that they have a home with our team.  We remind them of how nervous they were when they began, and we try to help them see how much they have grown since then—whether it be over one year, two years, three or four.

We ask them to remember the team that supported them, and to try to give back when they have the opportunity.  Sometimes that means they come back and work with students, sometimes that means they judge for us … and sometimes, it means they begin to coach other places, helping train the next speakers of the OSDA.  (Whatever way it comes, we are glad for it!)

These individuals know they have a place where they can come and be who they are.  Although they no longer have practices with us, they know they can still come home.  And is that not what we hope for—a lasting relationship with our students that continues to be fruitful well into the future?

As we send our seniors off to their futures, let us all remind them not only of what they have accomplished—but of what remains to be accomplished.

And through it all, we will be here for them.  


For the Love of Policy Debate

by James Kellams, Debate Coach, Hoover High School (CAN)

Hello, fellow OSDA coaches and friends.  I am James Kellams, currently the debate coach at Hoover High School in North Canton.

At Hoover, I am responsible for teaching the head-to-head, confrontational debate categories of Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas.  But I also teach another form called Policy Debate (PD), or Cross-Examination (CX) Debate, or Two-Person (2P) Debate.

Maybe you’ve heard of it?  I would not be surprised if you’ve heard little about it, nor would I be surprised if you’ve heard only negative things about it.

In general, “Policy” tends to be a unique and often misunderstood form of debate.  It does not fit well with the prevailing Ohio tournament formats because the rounds take way too long to complete; judges tend to be way too highly specialized (thus, difficult to find); and the competitors tend to speak way too fast—so fast, in fact, that some of my colleagues might claim it should not be considered a legitimate communication event.

Personally, I have been involved with Policy Debate in one capacity or another since about late 2005.  Believe me, I’ve heard all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  After all, a category as old as Policy Debate tends to collect a lot of baggage; in fact, it became weighted-down with negativity and nearly died in several Ohio districts.  (The “Queen of Debates” was supplanted by a younger, tournament-friendly, judge-friendly upstart eventually named “Public Forum Debate.”)

But a core group of coaches, judges, and alumni were determined not to allow 2P to disappear, and soon they realized there still existed a very strong recognition (by the then OHSSL Executive Committee) that Policy Debate should continue to be supported in Ohio tournaments by those directors willing to provide the needed competition rooms, tab room space, and printer paper.

As a result of this support over the last few years (yet perhaps unnoticed by some), Policy Debate has had a renaissance of sorts—driven by coaches determined to revive the best of what it used to represent: strong ethics; professionalism; masterful argumentation skills; and most important, a highly educational activity.

Nevertheless, despite the tremendous and exciting resurgence of Policy Debate, there are still many problems for which there are no easy solutions.

Tournament directors take pride in offering fast and highly efficient tournaments. Moreover, the adoption of the Bid Qualifying System in Ohio has been an extremely successful way to ensure excellent competition and maximum attendance at tournaments with limited numbers of rooms and capacity.  Yet while Policy Debate also has adopted new ways to speed up and be more cost efficient (with paperless debate and the National Debate Coaches Association’s open-evidence project)—even the most efficient rounds take at least an hour and a half to complete.

As a result, Policy teams can only debate three rounds while Public Forum and Lincoln-Douglas may debate four or five.  Also, the Pre-District Qualifying (PDQ) tournaments require break-rounds, which (even if started at noon on a Saturday) may often continue past five o’clock in the evening.

Consequently, all too often awards and recognition for Policy Debate success tend to take place mainly within the Policy community, among Policy competitors and coaches and a spattering of Policy judges.  Rarely, it seems, are Policy Debate teams on the stage in front of their school peers, and teams who have no Policy debaters often hear little-to-nothing about the accomplishments of these worthy student competitors.

While tournament-wide recognition of Policy Debate excellence could serve as an incentive to attract others to the extremely enriching tradition of 2P, I understand the logistical problems with hosting this category of competition.  I’ve often walked the cold, dark halls of schools on a Friday or Saturday evening, when few outside of the category are still around.

Nevertheless, I encourage everyone to recognize that these young men and women are continuing a noble tradition—one to which they, too, dedicate countless hours of research, work, and practice to perfect their craft.

They learn traditional argumentation skills, philosophy, critical thinking, research skills, and so much more while gaining an extraordinarily diverse education that will serve them throughout their entire lives.  I know this because I’ve been involved with the activity long enough to witness the fruit it bears.

I encourage you not to forget these students likely still in competition rooms while their classmates gather in the auditorium for awards and honors.  Take a moment to recognize them.  Name them and let them know that what they do is worthwhile.

They will appreciate it so much, and traditionalists like myself will thank you.


One “Heluva” Dilemma: The Social Relevance Factor

by John Weaver, Perry High School (CAN)

I sat around a dining room table with several of my coaching friends one unseasonably warm Saturday evening, decompressing from the day’s events.

My colleagues meticulously examined their students’ critique sheets as I stuffed my face with chips smothered in “Heluva Good!” dip.  I was suddenly taken aback by a groan heard ‘round the world (okay… ‘round the dining room).

“’Be more socially relevant.’  I’m sick of seeing this comment on ballots.”  Between chip-and-dip inhalations, I commiserated with my friends.  I listened as my colleagues evaluated the comment, which slowly descended into a full-on existential crisis.  “Can’t a speech be just that—a speech?”

“Regardless of what we think of this binary view, it exists, and many judges seem to consider these connections in their judgements.”

Can’t a performance just be entertaining, or does it truly have to be a part of some larger commentary?  The answer is simple: it can be whatever a coach and competitor decide it should be.  There is, after all, no OSDA rule stating that the speaker must connect the performance to some greater purpose.

But if the comment is being made—if judges pen the phrase each Saturday morning—it suggests that audiences are thirsty for that connection.

We live in an era of change, debatably one akin to the social movements of the 1960s.  As a result, we read and view stories with a sort of double-vision.  Suddenly, films such as the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters or 2017’s Wonder Woman are heralded as feminist works celebrating the genius of women, as opposed to being merely entertaining stories whose protagonists just happen to be women.

Books such as Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, a young adult novel about an African-American girl shot to death by a white police officer, become exemplars of racial violence and inequality instead of simply being tragic tales about characters who just happen to be different races.  Songs such as Katy Perry’s “Firework” become anthems for the LGBTQAI community instead of simply being songs about general empowerment.

Regardless of what we think of this binary view, it exists, and many judges seem to consider these connections in their judgements.  It could all just be another stylistic anomaly, but the mere fact that it’s a recurring comment suggests otherwise.

I was taught by my coach (some 20 years ago) to always “remember thy audience.”  So we coaches have a choice to make: do we teach our students that their ten minutes should be dedicated to unearthing a buried societal sin, or that their time is best spent helping audiences forget the problems surrounding us?

It’s a complicated question with an even more subjective answer, and one that we must ultimately address on our own.

While a ponderous message is all well and good, how do we find the social commentary in a Don Zolidis piece about a zombie apocalypse?  How do we make amusing-yet-trivial literature something extraordinary?  Again, the answer is simple: we can’t—at least, not in the interpretation of literature events.

There are OSDA rules that prevent us from altering an author’s intent, and if we try to force the literature to fit a mold, it likely will feel inauthentic.  We do, however, have the power to choose material that speaks to a socially aware audience, and it’s not all a litany of Sylvia Plath novels.

“The material is out there for us to rediscover or unearth from obscurity.”

Steve Martin’s The Underpants explores gender politics through a story of a woman who inadvertently moons the king.

Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike considers the demise of family values through three middle-aged, single siblings who are named after their parents’ favorite characters from Chekhov’s plays.

There are so many comedic memoirs by writers the likes of David Sedaris, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling.

The material is out there for us to rediscover or unearth from obscurity.

So here I sit, several weeks later, devouring yet another bag of chips (again slathered in dip), enduring my own existential crisis as I’m inundated by news stories of government shutdowns, border walls, FBI investigations, and arrests.

Despite it all, I take comfort in knowing that, regardless of the decisions I make as a coach, the solutions to our problems can be found in the next generation.


Peer-Coaching: A Wise Investment

by Missy Stertzbach, Head Coach, North Canton Hoover HS (Canton)

“Just like that, my peer-coaching system started to take shape, and I have never looked back.”

Not long ago, I sat in an overcrowded high school auditorium as the novice members of my team received awards.  From behind me I heard another longtime coach say, “Wow, congratulations on having such a great crop of novices.”

I turned my head and whispered, “Thanks.”  Then I turned toward the front again while I experienced waves of both pride and guilt.  The source of the pride was obvious—our novices had done a great job.  But I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I had just taken credit for something to which I had not contributed.

After all, I had not coached a single one of those novices.  Instead they had each been coached by a varsity member of our team.

I began using peer-coaches about seven years ago.  My team had grown rapidly and I suddenly found myself overwhelmed.  Out of necessity, I started randomly asking my varsity kids to “watch her,” or “teach him to pop,” or “show him how to hold the binder.”  Thanks to our varsity kids jumping in and helping with our newbies, we were ready to compete at the first novice tournament.

Just like that, my peer-coaching system started to take shape, and I have never looked back.  Over the course of the first two or three years, I tweaked the system until I finally arrived at the one I currently use.

The following guidelines are what I have in place that work for me and my team.  As a fellow coach, please feel free to use them in their entirety, or as a starting point to build your own guidelines.

  1. Varsity (peer-) coaches are juniors or seniors and are handpicked to be varsity coaches based on their skill, experience, and personality.
  1. Varsity coaches are invited to coach, but they may refuse based on their own personal responsibilities and time factors.
  1. Varsity coaches are matched with a novice student who competes in their same event, or in a similar event.
  1. Varsity coaches are required to practice with their novice at least once per week.
  1. Adult coaches always have the final say regarding coaching decisions.
  1. As the season progresses, adult coaches will become more involved with the coaching of novices.

I can honestly say that using my varsity kids as coaches to the novices (or “babies,” as we call them) has allowed my team and my students to thrive.  We have found that the benefits are far-reaching for all of us.

Obviously, the benefits for me as a coach are great.  Instead of spending hours teaching the babies the basics, I am free to focus on recruiting and organizing the team, selecting and arranging cuttings, preparing and blocking the varsity competitors.

But beyond this, there are significant advantages for the novices, as well.  They bond more quickly with their varsity (peer-) coaches than they would with me.  (I have been told that I can be an acquired taste….)

“Instead of spending hours teaching…the basics, I am free to focus on recruiting and organizing the team, selecting and arranging cuttings, preparing and blocking the varsity competitors.”

Also, I find that novices tend to learn “the basics” better from someone who is closer (in time) to having learned those same basics for themselves.  My varsity competitors remember how hard it was to learn to plant their feet, to slow down, and to speak up—so they tend to be extra patient with the novices who struggle with these initially.

In more recent years, I’ve realized that even the varsity coaches learn and grow from the coaching experience.  They gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be “coachable,” and as a result, they usually become more coachable themselves.

But the greatest benefit of being a varsity peer-coach does not apply to speech and debate competition.  From my experience, I’ve witnessed how they become better people for the experience.  They learn to be more patient, to work with all types of people, to manage their time, and to care about the success of others in a meaningful way.

The pride that my varsity coaches express when their novices are successful is one of the greatest benefits I witness as a head coach.  When that happens, I know that they have truly become coaches themselves.

“From my experience, I’ve witnessed how [varsity peer-coaches] become better people for the experience.”

Let me be clear: on that recent (aforementioned) Saturday afternoon, I felt somewhat guilty—but not because I didn’t coach my novice students at all.  My guilt stemmed from the fact that I had not given enough credit to those who had coached them the most: my students who had become peer-coaches.

In this way, peer-coaching is one of the best investments in my team’s future.  #

Thoughts on Middle-School Forensics

by Bill Prater, Coach, Findlay & Whitmer High Schools (Toledo)

You may say I’m a dreamer,

But I’m not the only one;

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one.

It’s hard to believe that John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine” was released to the world 47 years ago.  However, even as we look back almost a half-century later, his words ring just as true now as they did then.

For me, that world is Speech and Debate.

Over my 19 years of coaching, one constant has never wavered: we are a group of individuals doing everything we can to improve the lives of the high school students of this state.

Every year OSDA alumni come back and regale us with the stories about how they continue to use skills they learned from forensics as they move through their adult lives.  Being the dreamer that I am, the prospect of expanding what we do to the middle school students in the state of Ohio means that more students will be exposed to the life lessons and enjoyable experiences that Speech and Debate bring.

And—like John Lennon—I’m not the only one.  The passion that is now being displayed by the students, coaches, parents, and administrators at the middle-school level has grown exponentially in just a short amount of time.

However, as with any new endeavor, there are going to be bumps in the road.

The Middle School Committee knew this would be the case when we were formed just over a year ago.  As chair of the Middle School Committee (as we enter year two), I would like to explain to you the vision that we see for middle-school forensics as it continues to grow in the state of Ohio.

Middle-school speech and debate are a living, breathing organism—thus, changes will continue to be made on the fly.  But I hope that if we give all of you a better understanding of what it is we see for middle school competition in Ohio, maybe someday you will join us.


“The passion that is now being displayed by the students, coaches, parents, and administrators at the middle-school level has grown exponentially in just a short amount of time.”


First and foremost, let me say that we on the Middle School Committee know that different coaches and programs have different end-goals when it comes to what they want to achieve from middle-school speech and debate.  We do not wish to intervene with any of that. Our goal was, and continues to be, to do the best we can to create an educational and enjoyable competitive experience for our middle-school forensicators.

Therefore, we have looked at the setup of several different states and how they run their middle-school programs.  We have looked at how best to incorporate what we already do with high school to best fit our middle-school students.  This involves everything from choosing the competitive categories to the manuals that govern competition.

Of course, there may be disagreement in what is offered, which would be similar to disagreement at the high-school level.  We all have categories we would like to see added.

Nevertheless, our vision is more about skills than categories.

What skills do middle-school students need, and what skills will help them as they move on to compete in high school?  That is the goal within athletics, as it is in the classroom.  By operating within a system that is skills-based instead of category-based, students can learn the big picture of debate, interpretation, public address, and limited prep—instead of merely learning a category.

I am fortunate to be entering my 5th year of coaching middle-school students.  These students are doing remarkable things, and it is our job—our duty—to do everything we can to teach them, and to allow them to learn and grow.

The exponential rate at which middle-school programs are growing across the state is exciting, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that this continues.  You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I see a time when we have separate middle-school tournaments.

At the National Tournament, the National Speech and Debate Association always has the middle-school National Champions come on stage during the high school ceremony to showcase what NSDA deems the “future of speech and debate.”  (This year, they even had elementary-school students.)

It was fun to see.  But it made me think.

Middle school isn’t the future; it’s the present.  When (not if) we teach our middle-school students to speak, write, research better than they did the day before—we only make the world a better place.


“[O]ur vision is more about skills than categories.”


As I said before, forensics is a living organism.  As we enter the “terrible twos” of our Middle-School Committee, we know there will be growing pains.  We will all continue to have different goals and expectations, and that’s fantastic.

But we must have the same vision.

We’re making conscious decisions to best instill the skills that will benefit students not only as they enter high school, but eventually as they enter adulthood.

So I hope that today (not someday) you will join us, and we can speak and debate as one.


Fundraising Essentials for Your Program

by Jodi West, Head Coach, Poland Seminary High School (Youngstown)

Funding is always in the back of every head coach’s mind when it comes to speech and debate.  As more districts continue to lose district funding sources, fundraising for your team will be more important than ever.  In this day and age, there are many different types of fundraisers out there for your team to utilize.

Do Your Due Diligence / Plan Ahead

Before you complete too much planning, especially if you’re part of a new program, first check with your school/district administrators (early) to understand their fundraising regulations and restrictions.  Some districts only allow a certain number of fundraisers based on the size of the activity/group, while others may need pre-approval from the district treasurer; also, many districts need to inform their administrators/school board of what they plan to do just to get it onto an official school calendar.

Keep in mind, the Ohio State Auditor has been advocating for school district policies regarding crowdfunding sources like Donors Choose, Go Fund Me, EDCO, Crowdrise, etc.  These policies would include any crowdfunding that would be used to “help enhance classrooms and enrich the education of their students.”

The state auditor released a special report in July (2018) citing concerns about student privacy, financial controls and accounting, and reputational risks.  As such, the auditor is advocating for school districts to have official policies in place regarding these types of funding sources.  The following segment (below) is straight from the Ohio State Auditor’s Office regarding the policies it would like to see implemented in school districts.

The Auditor of State’s Office recommends that districts consider designing a policy that incorporates the following guidelines and best practices:

  • Requiring that all crowdfunding campaigns be reviewed and approved by a designated school administrator;
  • Directing the designated administrator to ensure that the proposed crowdfunding campaign does not violate any federal or state law, including those governing the confidentiality of student information, and that the campaign seeks donations that comport with the district’s education philosophy, needs, and technical infrastructure;
  • Designating which crowdfunding services can be used by teachers. These should be services that send donations directly to the school, not to the teacher, to ensure that donations are not diverted or misused. The district also should determine if participation with a given crowdfunding site obligates the school district to assume any responsibility to file government-required reports of charitable activities;
  • Requiring that donations only be used for the stated purpose;
  • Mandating that no donations will be accepted without school board approval;
  • Establishing that all crowdfunding donations are the property of the school district, to be entered promptly into the district property inventory or deposited in district bank accounts so that they are subject to normal financial oversight and auditing.

To see the whole report, just click on this link.

“Before you complete too much planning, especially if you’re part of a new program, first check with your school/district administrators (early) to understand their fundraising regulations and restrictions.”

Choosing the Best Fundraisers for Your Team

So how can you make it rain money for your program?  The answer is simple: Know your customer base; motivate your team to sell; and maintain fundraisers with healthy profit margins.

Fundraising can be the bane of every team’s existence; however, there are ways to make it fun for your team at the same time.  Let’s face it, the way to get the most out of any fundraiser is to get everyone on board—from team members to parents and coaches.

Try activities that put the “fun” in fundraising.

Activities that promote team-bonding have always been successful for my program.  From “Flamingo Flocking,” Bowl-A-Thons, and Car Washes—any event where the students can have fun participating and promoting will motivate them to get out there and sell.

Don’t make it a chore to participate.

Remember, these people are giving up their free time to help.  Make it worth their while.

Show appreciation for the help you receive.

Even if a fundraiser is mandatory on your team, “thank-you” gestures go a long way.

Come up with an incentive for the person who sells the most or brings in the most profit.

This could be reduced/no fees for an overnight trip, first choice of roommates for an overnight trip, or even a simple $15 gift card.

Use fun incentives to promote participation.

Offer things like a whipped-cream pie-attack to the coach of their choice for top sellers reaching certain goals.  Extreme examples of incentives could be shaving your head or beard, dying your hair your team’s school colors, and more.  Other options include wearing a funny wig to school all day, dressing like a clown for the day while teaching, or even (Dare I say it?) a dunk tank.

“Basically, don’t be afraid to try something new.”

Make sure you pick fundraisers that you know will be successful in your local area.

This is a little harder for a new program; however, after a while it becomes easier.   If your school is located in an area with a well-known chocolatier, this is a good place to start.

Though many districts have policies about selling candy during school hours, do not feel thwarted.  Ask every team member and coach to sell two boxes of candy bars/each, or even $100 worth of Easter candy/each—if that is an option with your local chocolatier (etc.).  Most of these types of fundraisers run at a 40-50 percent profit margin.  (I cannot tell you how fast my own team goes through candy bars!)

Also, make sure you are selling a quality product.

No one wants to buy a rock-hard candy bar, for example.  But a nice, creamy, milk-chocolate bar will fly out of your team’s hands with the money going quickly into your team’s spending account.  (Keep allergies in mind, as well.)

Also keep in mind the price of the products you’ll be selling.

If you are in a lower-income area, find items you can easily sell for $1/each.  Most candy bars from local chocolatiers are within that approximate range.  The fundraising packs you find at Sam’s Club and/or Costco encourage selling at $2/each.  If you go that route, you may be pricing yourself out of a successful fundraiser based on your area.

In my fundraising guide (on the OSDA website), I offer a few different fundraisers that have all been successful for my team.  I do encourage you to check them out as they all yield moderate-to-high profit margins—and with little-to-no upfront cost.

Click here for a link to the guide, for you to read at your leisure.

Basically, don’t be afraid to try something new.  Remember that the best fundraisers are something different that no other group (so far as you know) is currently doing.

With that, good luck raising money this year for your team/s.


In the Name of Optimal Speech Judging

by Chris Jennings, Assistant Coach, Canfield High School (Youngstown)

Fellow coaches, what is the thing that frustrates us most?  What frustrates our students most?

The subjectivity of speech judging, of course!

Subjectivity is inherent in judging.  There is no way to eliminate it, and we shouldn’t want to do that.  But we should absolutely do everything possible to ensure that the judges in the room are the most knowledgeable, capable ones available.

The following are things we can do to improve the quality of judges in the state of Ohio: Continue reading In the Name of Optimal Speech Judging

Coaches’ Conversation


Hello and Happy New Year!

Last month NSDA held its first Twitter Chat that focused on strategies for hosting tournaments.  We stayed on that topic with two OSDA coaches who host large tournaments annually.



Coaches’ Conversation

featuring Dolores Muller (Wauseon, TOL) and Jessica Jones (Olmsted Falls, CLE)

How long have you been coaching?


20 years as a head coach; two years as an assistant


This is my fifth year coaching, all as head coach.

What are 2-3 of the most challenging aspects with hosting a tournament?

Continue reading Coaches’ Conversation

Coaches’ Conversation

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, the Ohio Speech and Debate Association’s Board of Directors proudly unveils what we hope is a new, regular feature in OHIOspeaks—something we’re calling “Coaches’ Conversation.”  {The title still is in alpha testing, but that’s its name for now!)

We as coaches certainly have much to appreciate as our teams finish the first third of the OSDA regular season.  We appreciate our competitors for their effort, their willingness to learn and develop skills through practice, performance, and patience; we appreciate our judges who selflessly donate their time and talent on Saturdays so that we can provide students (and each other) with this life-enriching activity.

Not to be forgotten, your dedication and commitment as an OSDA coach inspires not only your students—but also your peers.  Periodically throughout the season, we’ll try to feature 1-3 coaches’ perspectives on various matters ranging from team-building strategies, to lasting memories, to opinions on OSDA policies.

Whether you’re a grizzled, veteran head coach of 15+ years’ experience—or a first-year assistant still trying to figure out just how the heck Policy Debate works—this is an opportunity to showcase our OSDA family by sharing some insight, and through simply getting to know each other a little better.

We give thanks this week especially to Carrie Spina of both Tusky Valley & Fairless (Canton), and to Jeri Neidhard of Centerville (GMV), who each took time to share responses to several questions.

Continue reading Coaches’ Conversation

The Feminist Kritik (Part 2)

Part 2

by Joan Reardon, Grace Haddad, Alexis Santor, Carley Francis,

with technical assistance from Jen Gonda,

Cardinal Mooney High School (Youngstown)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Part 2 of a two-part series. Part 1 was published on May 6, 2017.  You can read Part 1 here.

The first step to identify or support an issue is to gather data, and this was precisely what the analyzers were attempting to do by evaluating 333 ballots. There definitely are limitations to this study because the research team was comprised entirely of women, and each round was looked at only once. It is suggested that another debate team interested in this issue evaluate the ballots following the steps outlined above to see if the results correlate. In doing so, the issue of female debater perception can be analyzed by more debaters in an attempt to problem-solve this situation.

Continue reading The Feminist Kritik (Part 2)