Coach Recognition

Coaches at National Speech & Debate Association member schools are eligible for several awards that recognize their service to students, their schools, their communities, and the national organization. Learn more below!

Diamond Awards

Diamond coach awards reflect excellence and longevity in the activity. Coaches receive one point for every ten merit points earned by their students. Coaches then earn Association membership and advanced standing at the same milestones as students, until they earn 1,000 points and the Donus D. Roberts Quad Ruby Coach Award.

A coach’s next award is the First Diamond, earned when s/he receives 1,500 points and has been coaching in the Association for at least five years since achieving the degree of merit (25 points). Five years must pass between each new diamond award, and a certain number of points must be earned during each interval.

Coaches who have received diamond awards during the current academic year are recognized during the Donus D. Roberts Diamond Assembly at that year’s National Tournament.

Hall of Fame

The highest honor for any high school speech and debate coach is election to the National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame. Each year, nominations are sought from member coaches. In the month of April, current Hall of Fame members and coaches with at least three diamonds vote to determine which nominees will be elected members of this most distinguished body.

2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

2017 Inductees (in alphabetical order) — Dr. Paulette “Polly” Reikowski, James W. “Jay” Rye, III, Julie Sheinman, Jimmy L. Smith, and Jacquelyn “Jacci” Young

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

2016 Inductees (in alphabetical order) — Byron Arthur, Eloise Weisinger Blair, Mark Ferguson, Robert Shepard, and Dr. Alfred “Tuna” Snider

Nomination Process

Who Is Eligible?

Individuals with 25 years of NSDA coach membership, or who are retired from coaching and teaching, are eligible for this prestigious award.

How Do I Nominate Someone?

Keep in mind, your identity as nominator will remain confidential. Therefore, your coach biography (300 words or less) should be written in the third person and focus on the coaching history and qualifications of your candidate. Some topics to focus on could be awards, accolades, accomplishments, career highlights, character, and personal contributions. (Note: Only NSDA member coaches may submit a nomination form.)

Sample Biography

Jane Smith has been a dedicated coach of speech and debate for the past 30 years. A five-diamond coach from Blank High School, Jane is the epitome of integrity and dedication to the National Speech & Debate Association.

Competitively, Jane has qualified 11 students to the National Tournament. Her team has sent five students to the final rounds and has captured three national championships. During Jane’s coaching career, Blank High School has won the Largest Chapter Award and the District Sweepstakes Award several times.

Jane has had an outstanding career at the state level as well, directing her team to eight High School League State Championships in speech competition. In 2005, she won the Outstanding Speech, Debate, and Theater Award from ABCDE. In 2007, XYZ awarded her the Outstanding Individual in Speech and Theater. In 2009, the State High School League inducted Jane into their Hall of Fame.

Jane is generous with her time, evidenced by her extensive service to the Association and her state. For eight years, she has served as district chair. She is co-founder and co-director of her state’s debate camp. Jane has also hosted an invitational tournament for the past 10 years.

Her teams’ awards and achievements are only a snapshot of the important role that Jane plays in the lives of her students. Jane spends tireless hours not only to improve her students’ forensic skills, but also to be a mentor and role model teaching her students to be responsible citizens as well as worthy competitors. Jane exemplifies the true spirit of the Association’s mission to bring lifetime skills of language and communication to the youth of our country.

With three decades of exemplary coaching, teaching, and service to her students and colleagues, Jane Smith richly deserves induction in the National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Service Award

Coaches who perform service for the Association, such as hosting tournaments, writing or presenting about the Association, recruiting a new chapter school, or writing an article for Rostrum, earn service citations. Those who earn 20 citations are given a special gold key. Those who receive 50 citations are presented with a bronze plaque.

How to Earn Service Citations

Revised April 2018

Service Performed Citations Issued
Recruiting a new member school 2
Sponsoring a new chapter 2
Year as a District Chair 5
Year as a member of a District Committee (Not Chair) 3
Year as a member of the NSDA Board of Directors 3
District Tournament Tab Staff (Non-District Committee Member) 1
Holding a tournament for ten or more schools 1
Tabbing a tournament for ten or more schools 1
Volunteering at the NSDA National Tournament 1
Serving in Tab at the NSDA National Tournament 3
Chairing an Event at the NSDA National Tournament 3
Serving on the National Tournament Host Committee 5
Curriculum/Educational Support for National Office 1
Pre-Approved Speech and Debate Advocacy Events 1

Award Procedure

As of April 2018, the process for submitting Service Citations is entirely digital!
All citations must be submitted through a coach’s NSDA account.

To submit citations:

  1. Log in to your NSDA account on www.speechanddebate.org
  2. Click on the blue rectangle that reads View that is next to your recorded service citations.
  3. Select the appropriate category of service and provide a short description.
  4. Click that your submission follows the NSDA Honor Code and then click Add

Each citation is reviewed by Recognition Coordinator, Lauren McCool.
If you have any questions or concerns about this process, please contact her via email at lauren.mccool@speechanddebate.org.

District Leader Commendations

Recipients are nominated annually by their peers for going above and beyond in the areas of leadership and service, which may include excellence in district communications or publicity, developing district programs and resources, and/or district membership and engagement support. In addition to District Committee members, other coaches, administrators, parents, or volunteers in the district may be considered for this award.

2017 District Leader Commendations

Jessica Benton – South Carolina
Lee Ellen Beach – Tennessee
William Brown – Colorado Grande
Gayle Hyde – North Dakota
Ryan Lovell – Tall Cotton (TX)
Jarod Ockander – Nebraska
Martin Page – New Jersey
Angelique Ronald – Sierra (CA)
Cory Shay – Valley Forge (PA)

Frank Sferra Director’s Commendation

The Director’s Commendation is awarded annually for outstanding contributions by a coach.

Congratulations to the 2017 recipient, Dr. Darrell Harvey, from in Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland!

Dr. Darrell Harvey

Introduced in 2014, the Director’s Commendation is awarded annually for outstanding contributions by a coach. The Director’s Commendation is named after Frank Sferra, a longtime coach from Colorado. During his lifetime, Frank was a fierce champion of all speech and debate programs. He had a passion for providing assistance to all with a vision for building the activity. Upon college graduation, Frank founded the debate program at Bishop Machebeuf High School. He later began his tenure as the Mullen debate coach, which would span half a century. Over the years, Mr. Sferra served as a district leader in Colorado and President of the Board of Directors, earning many accolades including his seventh diamond and induction into the Association’s Hall of Fame. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to recognize Frank’s many contributions to the speech and debate community in 2015.

Frank Sferra

James M. Copeland High School Coach of the Year Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s James M. Copeland High School Coach of the Year Award annually honors high school coaches who reflect outstanding leadership and commitment to speech and debate activities.

The 2018 recipient is Joni Anker from Eagan High School in Minnesota.

Joni Anker

2018 Selection Process

A selection committee comprised of members of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors and the Executive Director reviews nominations submitted by member schools. Nominations are accepted February 1, 2018, through April 6, 2018.

Nominees

To be eligible for nomination, a high school coach must:

  • Currently work as a high school speech/debate coach in a National Speech & Debate Association member school.
  • Have completed five consecutive years of experience as a high school speech/debate coach at an NSDA member school (experience need not be in the same school).
  • Plan to continue working as a high school speech/debate coach next year at an NSDA member school.
  • Agree to nomination.
  • If selected as the winner, be able to participate in the National Speech & Debate Tournament, held June 17-22, 2018, and/or be present to accept the award on Thursday, June 21, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Nominees must be coaches who:

  • Encourage speech and debate education through active support of curricular and/or co-curricular programming.
  • Foster cooperation between the speech and debate program and the rest of the school, showcasing students and their achievements with administrators, school board members, and the community at-large.
  • Lead a continuing dialogue with students, parents, faculty, and staff members to sustain and grow speech and debate participation.
  • Encourage team spirit and play an active role in the speech and debate program.
  • Demonstrate leadership and exemplify committed support to the speech and debate program’s livelihood.
  • Advocate for speech and debate activities within the school and the community at-large.
Nominators
  • Any current or retired NSDA coach, student, alum, or parent may nominate a coach for this award.
  • One individual must be the official nominator, and may only nominate one person for the award.
  • Coaches may not nominate themselves.
  • Members of the Board of Directors may not be the official nominator for a coach and must recuse themselves from the selection committee if any coach in their district is nominated.
Nomination Materials

In addition to basic contact information, you will be asked to provide the following materials when you complete the online nomination form below:

  • Gather and upload two (2) letters of nomination, not to exceed 1,500 words each. The letters should explain how the nominee meets the award criteria and describe their involvement in curricular and extracurricular speech and debate activities. PDFs are preferred, but Word documents (.doc or .docx) are also accepted. Please include:
    • — One letter from the official nominator.

— A second letter from a member student in the program. (If a student nominated, another student or a teacher/coach may be substituted.)

Awards and Recognition

The High School Coach of the Year will be recognized in Rostrum and online. Nominees and finalists may be recognized in Rostrum or through other publications. All nominees and nominators must consent to the use of any nomination materials including photos in NSDA publications.

Middle School Coach of the Year Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Middle School Coach of the Year Award annually honors middle school coaches who reflect outstanding leadership and commitment to speech and debate activities.

The 2017 recipient is C. Ryan Joyce from Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona.

C. Ryan Joyce

2018 Selection Process

A selection committee comprised of members of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors and the Executive Director reviews nominations submitted by member schools. Nominations are accepted February 1, 2018, through April 6, 2018.

Nominees

To be eligible for nomination, a middle school coach must:

  • Currently work as a middle school speech/debate coach in a National Speech & Debate Association member school.
  • Have completed five consecutive years of experience as a middle school speech/debate coach at an NDSA member school (experience need not be in the same school).
  • Plan to continue working as a middle school speech/debate coach next year at an NSDA member school.
  • Agree to nomination.
  • If selected as the winner, be able to participate in the National Speech & Debate Tournament, held June 17-22, 2018, and/or be present to accept the award on Thursday, June 21, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Nominees must be coaches who:

  • Encourage speech and debate education through active support of curricular and/or co-curricular programming.
  • Foster cooperation between the speech and debate program and the rest of the school, showcasing students and their achievements with administrators, school board members, and the community at-large.
  • Lead a continuing dialogue with students, parents, faculty, and staff members to sustain and grow speech and debate participation.
  • Encourage team spirit and play an active role in the speech and debate program.
  • Demonstrate leadership and exemplify committed support to the speech and debate program’s livelihood.
  • Advocate for speech and debate activities within the school and the community at-large.
Nominators
  • Any current or retired NSDA coach, student, alum, or parent may nominate a coach for this award.
  • One individual must be the official nominator, and may only nominate one person for the award.
  • Coaches may not nominate themselves.
  • Members of the Board of Directors may not be the official nominator for a coach and must recuse themselves from the selection committee if any coach in their district is nominated.
Nomination Materials

In addition to basic contact information, you will be asked to provide the following materials when you complete the online nomination form below:

  • Gather and upload two (2) letters of nomination, not to exceed 1,500 words each. The letters should explain how the nominee meets the award criteria and describe their involvement in curricular and extracurricular speech and debate activities. PDFs are preferred, but Word documents (.doc or .docx) are also accepted. Please include:
    • — One letter from the official nominator.

— A second letter from a member student in the program. (If a student nominated, another student or a teacher/coach may be substituted.)

Awards and Recognition

The Middle School Coach of the Year will be recognized in Rostrum and online. Nominees and finalists may be recognized in Rostrum or through other publications. All nominees and nominators must consent to the use of any nomination materials including photos in NSDA publications.

National Educator of the Year Award

The National Speech & Debate Association’s National Educator of the Year award annually honors an individual who has enhanced the quality of education in the field of speech and debate. This award is distinct from our Coach of the Year award as it is focused on the impact that is created in classrooms. Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, the NSDA is pleased to recognize individual state winners. Each State Educator of the Year wis considered for the national award.

Congratulations to the 2018 NSDA National Educator of the Year, Mary Gormley, from Montville High School in New Jersey!

Mary Gormley

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