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What works in my district is communications to individual coaches. I make sure I talk to and email all coaches . . . making sure they each feel part of the district and that the district sees them as important.
Another important district tournament decision has been to always have someone at our tournament in tab that is not part of our district. This neutral person helps everyone see that no one coach in our district is running the show but that a neutral person is pushing the buttons.
For the past 3 years our district has held a “team building” day early in the season. This includes morning workshops and an afternoon practice tournament for new competitors, coaches, and judges in the district. We have seen teams grow. This also helps contestants learn the tournament procedures before they actually go out to compete.
Keeping programs alive and growing is a huge problem in my district. We have some large programs that live through the tests of time. And then we have many small programs that come and go. I find that if there is no administrative support (financially and active involvement) along with a faithful coach, the team will not live long. If anyone out there knows the secret to making this happen, please share!! Another issue that exists in my district is that speech and debate is not part of the curriculum in schools. I have seen districts that have it as part of the curriculum (especially if speech is required for a least one credit), and in these districts programs thrive. Someone needs to be an advocate to state legislatures to required programs in their states.
Each spring my district struggles to decide how deeply we check interp pieces at the district tournament. This process seems to be encouraged yet now required. It seems it is still necessary but we still don’t feel the national office is firm on this.
We too hesitate with piloted programs. Which should we do and which should we not? It seems that many of the piloted programs help larger programs and larger districts.
For SOY, my district lets committee members read and rank the students. If a committee member has an applicant, we ask a non-committee member to step in and read/rank the students. We have had district chairs from other districts as well as executive board members join in on this decision making process when they have attended our district tournament. It really helps to have leaders outside the district join in the process making the winner seem more validated.