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 Inductees

2017 Inductees (from left to right)
Jimmy Smith, Dr. Polly Reikowski, Julie Sheinman, Jacci Young, and Jay Rye

 
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It was a great honor to be asked to write brief biographies of the truly remarkable people who have been elected by their peers to enter the NSDA Hall of Fame… What I hope is that each member will read all the bios and meet colleagues they never knew, or wanted to know better, and learn the history of their profession by reading the exploits of colleagues in times past.

— James Copeland

About the Hall of Fame

Introductory Essay

By James Copeland (2017)

It may appear curious that a national organization founded in 1925 waited more than 50 years before establishing a Hall of Fame to reward members who had rendered exceptional service and/or who had achieved exceptional success. Yet not until the October 1977 Executive Council meeting was a motion passed unanimously to establish a National Forensic League Hall of Fame. The guidelines for such an organization were brief, yet complete:

I. Mr. Bruno Jacob, Secretary-Emeritus, shall name the first ten members of the Hall.

A. The initial ten inductees shall be, in the opinion of Mr. Jacob, the all-time greatest NFL coaches (currently coaching or retired, living or deceased) based upon:

1. Service to the NFL
2. Chapter awards (largest chapter, leading chapter)
3. Record at the National Tournament
4. Record at district and State tournaments

II. Additional coaches may be elected by:

A. An “old timers” committee composed of Mr. Jacob, Mr. Odom, and Mr. Winfield may recommend retired or deceased coaches to the members of the Hall. A 2/3 vote of the living members is required to elect these members.

B. District Chairmen or members of the District Committee may suggest retired or inactive coaches they consider worthy of election to the Hall. These names shall be submitted to all coaches holding three diamonds or more. The two nominees each year receiving the greatest number of votes by preferential ballot shall be inducted.

III. Additional persons, not coaches, may be elected by:

A. A unanimous vote of the Executive Council (these persons shall have rendered great, unstinting and continuous service to NFL).

Mr. Jacob wrote the reasons for his founding member selections in the September 1978 issue of Rostrum: “In selecting the coaches to be nominated to the Hall of Fame, I set up two criteria:

First, that coach shall have demonstrated over a number of years a consistent ability as a superior speech teacher and speech coach as demonstrated by several tangible achievements: the number of students qualified to reach the finals in the national speech tournament; the winning of championships in that tournament; the winning of the Tau Kappa Alpha [now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob] Trophy (or the tournament sweepstakes [now the School of Excellence] award); attainment by the coach of the NFL Diamond Key Award.

Second, devotion to the NFL [now the NSDA] as indicated by service as District Chairman, National Director, National Officer, or as host to the National Speech Tournament.”

Mr. Jacob then named ten founding members to the new Hall of Fame. By unanimous vote, the Executive Council had earlier named Mr. Jacob to the Hall of Fame. Rostrum editor Albert Odom, himself later elected to the Hall, wrote in the September 1978 Rostrum: “Bruno E. Jacob was presented the NFL Hall of Fame membership number one. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone except Mr. Jacob that he would be the number one selection.”

The award was presented on behalf of the 450,000 members of the NFL. Karl E. Mundt, Former United States Senator and longtime National Forensic League President, was posthumously awarded membership number two.

The 12 initial members were officially inducted at the National Tournament banquet held during the 1978 National Tournament hosted by Northwestern University. An elegant ceremony was performed at McCormick Place, the Chicago convention hall on the Lake Michigan shore. Each living member spoke, but the premiere speech was delivered by Mr. Jacob. Frail and ill, Mr. Jacob poured out his heart about the meaning of the National Forensic League and the wonderful people who rendered great service to the organization and to the youth involved in speech activities.

Unfortunately, no audio or video copy of that speech can be found, but perhaps Mr. Jacob’s retirement speech, delivered at the 1969 Washington, D.C., National Tournament banquet, can provide a glimpse of Mr. Jacob’s emotions and the power of his oratorical skills.

“…What can a man say at a moment like this. There are moments in life when a heart is so full of emotion… The book of my life is nearly finished. We are writing the pages of the last chapter now. I am haunted by the words of the dying Cecil Rhodes…, ‘So much to do, so little done.’ As I look back I am distressed by the opportunities neglected, the blank pages in my book. But the moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on. Nor all my piety or wit will lure it back to change half a line, nor all my tears wash out one word of it.”

The Hall was expanded at the Spring 1987 Executive Council meeting: “Moved by Mitchell, seconded by Fernandes, that this year the Hall of Fame admit three retired and three active coaches. Passed. Unanimous.”

At the Fall 1987 Council meeting, a special committee was established to discuss Hall of Fame membership qualifications. The committee was comprised of Jean Boles, Charline Burton, Ralph Carey, Carmendale Fernandes, Richard Sodikow, L. D. Naegelin, H. B. Mitchell, and James Copeland, acting NFL Secretary.

That committee recommended that four nominees should be elected each year: two by the three-diamond or higher coaches, and two by the living Hall members. Twenty-five years of service or retirement was required for nomination. An “old timer’s” committee and Honorary nominees could also be elected.

Originally, the names of nominees elected were kept secret, like the Motion Picture Oscars, and announced at the national banquet. After a few newly elected members failed to attend the banquet or failed to qualify students to the National Tournament and did not attend, it was decided that, like the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the new inductees would be announced in advance.

In 1987, a separate Hall of Fame banquet was established, hosted by Billy Tate, to induct the new honorees prior to their public presentation at the Donus D. Roberts Diamond Assembly.

Two Hall of Fame members, Jean Boles and Ruby Krider, deserve special commendation. Jean Boles served as Hall of Fame secretary from her induction in 1983 until her death. Ms. Boles, a former student of the legendary debate coach H. B. Mitchell and later an outstanding Texas coach herself, corresponded with Hall members, spearheaded the establishment of Hall of Fame scholarships for the winners of the National Tournament supplemental events, and was instrumental in obtaining a federal not-for-profit designation for the Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Krider, inducted in 1979 and one of the finest teachers of oral interpretation in the NFL, originated the idea for a Hall of Fame pin. She and her husband Clem designed an octagonal, gold pin with the NFL key as the escutcheon, bearing the image of the eye which sees all sides of a topic, the lamp of knowledge, and the initials NFL diagonal across the key. The words “Hall of Fame” border the edges of the pin, which is still in use and highly treasured to this day.

It took more than 50 years for the National Forensic League (now the National Speech & Debate Association) to establish a Hall of Fame. After almost four decades, what is the state of this elite, yet important, organization now? Some Halls of Fame are so large that the honor seems meaningless. Once during a performance of the Grand Ole Opry, the aging Roy Acuff, once the Opry’s greatest star, and an early member of the Country Music Hall of Fame introduced a singer by saying, “Please welcome a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame… I think he is a member… They’re gettin’ so many in there it’s hard to keep track…”

Bruno Jacob’s decision to limit Hall induction to only those coaches who have achieved consistent superiority in teaching and coaching and have performed exemplary service to the organization is a standard which has stood the test of time. Although one may argue that deserving coaches not yet tapped deserve election, no one can persuasively argue that any previous inductee did not earn that special honor. Only one individual elected to the NFL Hall of Fame refused induction! The great Minnesota teacher R. J. Happe coached many champion debate teams and two future Minnesota governors. Happe was also the first four-diamond coach in NFL history! Yet he refused induction because he was angry that Mr. Jacob did not choose him as one of the original members.

Some Halls of Fame are governed by politics: membership is determined by friendships and marred by campaigning. The famous Oklahoma coach Charline Burton insisted during a 1978 meeting of the Special Hall of Fame committee that Hall recognition “not be political!” Her words were true then and true now. Voting to enshrine a coach should never be based upon friendship, never be decided upon state or regional pride, and certainly never be influenced by competitive animosity. Campaigning by a coach or their supporters is out of character. This ultimate honor should seek the person!

So how stands our Hall? Strong and vibrant! Ninety-two years after the founding of the NFL, the careers of more than 200 members in the National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame will continue to serve as a beacon to those who spend their careers “Training Youth for Leadership.”

John West, an honorary NFL member and great supporter, knew of an Association of Halls of Fame. Members include Halls with huge museum displays and auditoriums, which are visited by millions of people yearly, as well as smaller Halls, only marked by a small plaque or a book of names. But all of these Halls have one thing in common: members who have achieved uncommon and sustained excellence.

The National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame is neither the grandest nor the smallest Hall, but it is one of the strongest and most elite: honoring almost a century of fine teaching and coaching of speech activities for almost four decades. Its members invite you to achieve membership: Bruno Jacob and more than 200 honorees have marked your path.

Author's Note

It was a great honor to be asked to write brief biographies of the truly remarkable people who have been elected by their peers to enter the NSDA Hall of Fame. I assume I was selected as author because I personally knew all but seven of the honorees. I bridged two generations: I met founder Bruno Jacob as a student contestant in 1957. I am writing these words 60 years later, after missing my first National Tournament since 1964.

Since the bios are about members of the NSDA Hall of Fame, NSDA honors and service are highlighted, but NCFL, Barkley Forum, state league, and national circuit successes are also mentioned. I ask the understanding of the readers on two points. The brevity of the bios was decided by the NSDA. I know much more could have been written about each member. And the difficulty of accessing decades old state and invitational tournament results often meant that members’ honors are incomplete. Fortunately, many living members of the Hall were most cooperative in helping me create a complete picture of their careers, by filling out a questionnaire and by personal correspondence.

I believe a biography should be interesting to read. A bio contains records, but must be more. Most important is that it have a theme to describe each individual career and individual anecdotes to illuminate each individual personality. My template was the brief bios occasionally found in The New Yorker magazine.

Each living person mentioned herein will, of course, read their own bio. What I hope is that each member will read all the bios and meet colleagues they never knew, or wanted to know better, and learn the history of their profession by reading the exploits of colleagues in times past.

I wish to thank the people who made this project possible: Pam Cady Wycoff (MN), who proposed the original idea; Annie Reisener (NSDA office), who oversaw the project; Vicki Pape (NSDA office), who edited the bios and layout; David Johnson (TX) and Ron Krikac (WY), whose knowledge of NFL history was essential; and all the Hall of Fame members, past and present, who lived these fascinating lives.

I hope to live to finish all the bios. If not, those that I wrote are signed with my name.

Respectfully,
James Copeland

The Founding Class

1978 Inductees

ABOUT THE FOUNDING CLASS | The 12 initial members were officially inducted at a banquet held during the 1978 National Tournament hosted by Northwestern University. An elegant ceremony was performed at McCormick Place, the Chicago convention hall on the Lake Michigan shore. Each living member spoke, but the premiere speech was delivered by Mr. Jacob. Frail and ill, Mr. Jacob poured out his heart about the meaning of the National Forensic League and the wonderful people who rendered great service to the organization and to the youth involved in speech activities.

Bruno E. Jacob
Bruno E. Jacob, Founder

Inducted 1978
Wisconsin

Born in 1899, Bruno Jacob attended Ripon College, a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. At orientation, several members of the Pi Kappa Delta Chapter declared, “Frosh, you will debate!” From that odd meeting, an interest, a career, and a life was built.

Bruno thrived as a debater. One man who saw Bruno debate described him as a classic debater, one who knew the rules of debate and was well researched. But 1920s college debate was largely audience debate. Large crowds packed auditoriums to hear the clash of collegiate rivals; oratory and persuasion were the key to winning the audience. The motto of Pi Kappa Delta was, “The art of persuasion, beautiful and just.”

Mr. Jacob was a persuasive speaker, as his later speeches would prove. While in college, he compiled a handbook, Suggestions for the Debater, which was nationally circulated and very popular. Bruno graduated in 1922 and coached debate at Chippewa Falls High School (WI) for two years before he returned to Ripon College to teach Speech. He was also PKD Chapter Business Manager.

In 1924, a letter was sent to the Ripon College PKD Chapter by coach Ray Cecil Carter at Albany High School (NY), asking if PKD allowed high school debaters to become members. Mr. Jacob had earlier considered forming a society for Wisconsin high school debaters. He answered, “As far as we know there is at present no organization for high school debaters… If we felt that there was a real and sufficient interest among high school students and coaches, we would, I am sure, be willing to go to considerable effort to sponsor such an enterprise.” A survey was taken; 24 schools professed interest. A constitution was adopted, a key designed, and the National Forensic League was born.

Mr. Jacob’s concept of the new NFL was a mirror image of his collegiate forensic society: an elite group of talented, interested, and competitive members. Debate would be the main focus; other public speaking activities, secondary; interpretation events, tertiary. Competitive speaking would be awarded higher credit points than non-competitive, original speeches more points than memorized.

Most important, the NFL point system, brilliantly conceived by Bruno, was aspirational as well as competitive. It made every competitor a winner. Even if a student won no trophy or medal, points could be won at every interscholastic contest. A debate win earned more than a loss; a higher rank in a speech round earned more than a lower rank. At least ten points were required in competition; but other points could be earned speaking to adult groups.

When a student achieved 25 points, they were eligible for membership. To Mr. Jacob, winning the National Tournament was not the most important prize. Most important was gaining NFL membership. Even if one never won a contest, one could win membership in an elite national society.

By 1930, the NFL was not the only national organization supporting high school debate. The National University Extension Association (NUEA) also favored a national debate event and a single yearly topic. Mr. Jacob made an agreement with the NUEA. They would select the national debate topic and provide content materials to the debaters. The NFL would conduct a national tournament. Bruno wanted the NFL to host a national tournament, just as Pi Kappa Delta did. He realized that a tournament was critical to motivate members and improve secondary school speech education.

In 1950, Mr. Jacob wrote:

“Although tournament winners are appropriately acknowledged, the selection of national champions has never been the primary purpose of the National Tournament. Two other motives dominated. First, to provide a compelling incentive for students to undertake the arduous efforts necessary to acquire a high degree of skill in public speaking. Second, to establish a demonstration laboratory where the best in current high school speaking could be observed by students and teachers from every section of the country, for the improvement of the speech techniques in their own areas.”

The first NFL Nationals was held in May of 1931 at Ripon College. In all, 49 schools from 17 states attended, with 138 students competing in Debate, Extempore Speaking, Oratory, Oratorical Declamation, Dramatic Declamation, and Humorous Declamation. A total of 53 coaches were present. The New York Times covered the tournament with a front page article.

Bruno Jacob struggled to keep the League alive during America’s Great Depression. “Our printer agreed that if we kept our debt under $1,000 dollars at the end of each year, he would continue to print,” recalled Bruno years later.

In 1934, Mr. Jacob moved the NFL to Denver for two years, where he completed his Master’s degree. While on a camping trip with the President of Tau Kappa Alpha, a collegiate forensic society, Bruno persuaded him that TKA should sponsor a trophy (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob trophy) to reward the school that had accumulated the most rounds of competition at the National Tournament.

Mr. Jacob often said, “Contestants should be eliminated as quickly and fairly as possible.” Donus Roberts, who attended more than 50 Nationals, and served as an ombudsman at several, remembers, “More than anything Bruno stood for honesty, integrity, and character.” Over the years, Mr. Jacob would allow no taint of favoritism by tournament officials. Hall of Fame Vice President Vernon Metz recalled that Bruno admonished a famous debate coach for attempting to influence judges.

Past President James Hawker tracked speech round speaking positions assigned by a famous coach and found that the coaches’ own entries always were placed in favorable positions. When shown the evidence, Bruno never again asked that coach to tab. When the state of Kansas would not allow Kansas students to attend Nationals, Mr. Jacob hired Kansas coaches to run the tab room. They were absolutely neutral. Mr. Jacob would do anything to protect the NFL’s reputation for fairness.

In 1936, the sixth National Tournament was hosted by Classen High School in Oklahoma City, OK. The tournament hosted 365 students. One was an African American, Caleb Thompson, from Peekskill High School (NY). It is unclear whether he was the first African American entry at Nationals, but certainly the first to compete where Nationals was held in a state which forbade, by law, the mixing of the races in high school competitions. The tournament host, Hall of Fame coach C. E. “Pop” Grady, faced a dilemma: Oklahoma City schools were segregated by law. But Caleb was an official entry, having won the New York State District. Under NFL rules, he had the right to compete.

Grady’s solution: Thompson could compete, but at Douglas, the African American school, not at Classen. Thompson was entered in Dramatic Declamation. The three judges each round would judge the White contestants at Classen and then be driven to Douglas to judge Thompson. An editor of the local African American newspaper protested the arrangement. The student said he would rather withdraw than be segregated. Mr. Jacob’s policy was that the local host arranged local events, but the National Forensic League ran the tournament. Mr. Jacob was firm. Thompson would compete at Classen. Thompson did, and won the event.

In 1938, Mr. Jacob convened the first National Student Congress. It was well received and became a regular event. The League’s motto was, “Training Youth for Leadership” and youth congresses were ideal learning laboratories.

The 1941 National Tournament featured a speech contest entitled “Americanism.” Six months later America entered World War II. No tournaments were held during the war years. The National Congress convened in 1942 (praised in a letter from President Roosevelt), 1943, and 1944. Students could earn points by community and patriotic speaking. In 1945, there were four regional contests in Extempore, and a national final at Northwestern University. In 1946, Extempore, Oratory, Oratorical, Dramatic, and Humorous regional contests were held; finals were held at Northwestern again. No debate was allowed.

After the war, some academics felt debate had become too competitive; students should be taught cooperative methods of problem solving. The National Association of Secondary School Principals Contest and Activities Committee effectively ended debate at the National Tournament by ruling “approval was not accorded any contest involving interstate travel of more than one student from any state.” Thus, two-person debate was eliminated! Mr. Jacob, a former debater, a man devoted to debate, did not give up. Working with Professor Karl Robinson of Northwestern University, he successfully persuaded the NASSP Committee about the academic values of debate. Debate returned at the 1950 Nationals. But victory came at a cost. To make room for the return of Debate, Oratorical and Humorous Declamation were dropped from the tournament. (Humorous returned in 1977.)

In the post-war years, Mr. Jacob worked tirelessly to build the League. He traveled more than 20,000 miles each year, mostly by car, to award plaques, visit tournaments, and convince schools about the benefits of joining the League. Hall of Fame Coach Arlene Akerman recalls, “I was so impressed that Bruno came to Fairmont-East [OH] to present our NFL Charter. The administration was also impressed. Bruno had a persuasive power that was outstanding.” Always organized, Bruno had several kinds of speeches prepared for his high school appearances. Depending on the time and place allowed by the local principal, the speeches ranged from a two-minute announcement over the school PA system, to longer and different speeches for an after-school meeting of the speech club, an all-school assembly, and a pep rally!

By 1950 his NFL work was so time consuming, Professor Jacob resigned his teaching position at Ripon College to administer the League full time. In 1950, the NFL published an elegant book which chronicled the first quarter century. The past was ornately celebrated, but the best was yet to come!

The Depression, WWII travel restrictions, and the decision of the NASSP to eliminate debate had taken its toll on the NFL. Chapters numbered 480 in 1938 and only 532 a dozen years later. The 122 qualifiers at the 1950 National Tournament was 16 fewer than the first Nationals, and only one-third of the 365 entries in 1936. But there were a large and growing number of affiliate schools, waiting for a Charter. The coming post-war baby boom would produce more and more students and schools.

Bruno Jacob and the NFL had powerful friends. NFL member number one, Karl Mundt, was now a Senator; Bruno stood on the rear portico of the White House to confer NFL membership on former Texas debate coach President Lyndon Johnson. Bruno worked with Network radio stars like Ted Malone. After the 1939 Beverly Hills Nationals, Hollywood personalities became NFL supporters.

In 1957, the Congress of the United States decreed that the Bicentennial of the Birth of Alexander Hamilton would be celebrated with a student Constitutional Convention of State and Territorial Speech Champions. Bruno Jacob, his son Richard, and the NFL staff were selected to manage the event in Congress Hall, part of the Independence Hall Memorial in Philadelphia.

Bruno continued his peripatetic travel schedule. He preferred to drive on scenic byways, rather than interstate highways, so he could visit as much of the country as possible. He devised the hobby of visiting every county seat in America and sending himself a postcard from each one. Donus Roberts recalls that Mr. Jacob visited a forensic event in Watertown, SD and was delighted to visit one of the finest county courthouses in the USA. Bruno’s younger son, Richard, confirms that indeed “[Bruno] did complete the task of visiting every one (of more than 3,100) U.S. county seats, including Alaska and Hawaii… Some counties changed the location of their county seat, and he actually made subsequent trips to pick up the new location.” Mr. Jacob was quite irritated when the U.S. Postal Service began using generic postmarks on mail, instead of the postmark of the town sending it. He would return the postcard without the local cancellation to the town postmaster, to be hand canceled with the local postmark.

Bruno faced financial problems at the 1963 National Tournament at Rice University in Houston. Wealthy Oveta Culp Hobby, publisher of the Houston Post, had pledged the money to support the tournament, but at the last minute withdrew her offer.

Bruno was very reluctant about seeking or accepting sponsors. But at the 1968 Macalester College Nationals in Minnesota, the Reader’s Digest Foundation sponsored the tournament and more. They took the winners on a tour of Europe!

Lila and DeWitt Wallace, owners of Reader’s Digest, were supporters of Macalester College. Mr. Jacob became good friends with the Wallaces and often visited their home in Pleasantville, NY. Their foundations offered to sponsor the National Tournament every year. At that time, the Digest, with the largest circulation of any magazine in the world, was hugely profitable and the Foundation was well funded. One board member was Melvin Laird, former Wisconsin Congressman, and friend of Bruno and NFL President Senator Karl Mundt. Alas, the sponsorship lasted only three years. Mr. Jacob’s successor refused to fly or drive yearly to Pleasantville, which was necessary to retain this valuable sponsorship.

Bruno Jacob was the most modest of men. When asked to provide material for an article about himself, he always replied, “Make it short, very short.” He kept his salary low and NFL expenses low. Executive Councils often offered to raise his salary, but he declined. When traveling, Bruno usually stayed in private homes of NFL coaches, and was treated like an honored guest.

Mr. Jacob was 70 years old in 1969. His retirement was poignant. Mr. Jacob always hoped one of his sons would succeed him; they each had worked at Nationals. But both his sons wished to pursue other careers. Robert, the eldest, received his degree in Physics and worked at Livermore Labs on Atomic Energy projects. He would later earn an MBA and work for IBM. The younger son, Richard, would earn a Ph.D. in Physics and teach Physics and Computer Science at three colleges.

Bruno retired with great fanfare and honor. He was presented a new car and a trip around the world. His Speech of Farewell, quoted in part in the Hall of Fame Essay, had people in tears. The tournament was in Washington, D.C., where Senator Mundt and many prominent NFL alumni appeared. Bruno seemed happy as Secretary-Emeritus. He came to the office every day as he had for years: helping to record points, audit district tournament results, and help plan the National Tournament.

Ripon College needed space in Middle Hall and the NFL had to move. The Council sent Mr. Jacob to California and elsewhere to raise money from alumni and friends to purchase a headquarters.

Bruno Jacob was a brilliant man. Although born in the 19th century, he had the mind and vision of a 21st century entrepreneur. He seized on an idea and built a thing of value that still serves thousands of students almost a century later.

And the students always appreciated what Bruno built for them. The great Illinois debate coach George Stege remembers: “Mr. Jacob came to Glenbrook South High School to give a Leading Chapter Award at a morning pep assembly. After the athletic introductions and cheers, Bruno delivered a dynamic speech about the success of the NFL Chapter and presented the award to the principal. A student in the audience yelled, ‘Three cheers for Bruno!’ The audience erupted with cheers!”

National champion coach David Johnson concludes, “Thinking of Bruno reminds me of ‘Mr. Chips’—he is really that modest man, who works tirelessly because he believes in the next generation…. The song they sing after Chips has died ends, ‘was I brave enough and true?’”

Bruno Jacob was brave enough and true enough to give his life to the NFL, and ask little in return.

— Compiled by James Copeland

James M. Copeland
James M. Copeland

Inducted 1978
Michigan; Wisconsin

Teams coached by James Copeland at Battle Creek Central High School (MI) and Marquette University High School (WI) won the NFL National Sweepstakes ten different years and the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Grand Sweepstakes six different years. Copeland believed that winning the Sweepstakes was the true test of a program: broad and deep excellence across many events and involving many students.

Another goal of the teams Copeland coached was the close out, two debate teams from the same school meeting in the final round. They accomplished that at the NCFL Grand in 1974 and the Barkley Forum in 1971. In 1976, they were the first school to ever place two teams in the semifinal round at NFL Nationals, but both were defeated. They also closed out their state tournament twice.

Copeland coached five NFL national champions (three in Boys’ Extemp, two in Oratory) and six runners-up (a CX team and four orators—one student twice) among the 27 students who reached the final round. He coached multiple winners in the NCFL.

James Copeland was the only person to hold every NFL office: district chair, councilor, vice president, president, and secretary. During his 18 years as secretary, the NFL changed markedly. The organization grew to include corporate and foundation sponsorship, student scholarships, new events at the National Tournament (including Duo Interpretation, Public Forum Debate, and Storytelling), a professional awards assembly, an educational video series, computer credit point recording, and an expanded Rostrum magazine. Perhaps his major contribution was rescuing the League from bankruptcy, advised by NFL auditors, Coopers and Lybrand, in 1987.

In high school, Jim won the National Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Speech Contest. In college, he won the Northern Oratorical League Championship. His book, Cross Examination in Debate, is devoted exclusively to CX Debate. For 24 years, he served on the Associated Press panel which evaluated the presidential debates. He was awarded a Barkley Forum Key and the Pelham Commendation. Copeland remains involved with the National Speech & Debate Association today.

— Compiled by James Copeland

John D. Davies
John D. Davies

Inducted 1978
Wisconsin

In 1958, John Davies was named “The Foremost Speech Coach in America.” Quite an honor when his competitors were Hall of Fame coaches like R. Paul Hibbs and C. E. “Pop” Grady.

John Davies graduated from Ripon College in 1925. He then served as debate and speech coach at Kenosha High School (WI) until 1963. His students and teams qualified for 32 National Tournaments. Their best year was 1948, scoring two firsts, one second, and two thirds. Davies’ complete record counts four champions, five runners-up, 12 thirds, including two semifinal debate teams, and six other finalists. His record is remarkable because only first place winners at State and Districts qualified.

Wisconsin’s State Speech Festival did not pick single winners, so yielded no qualifiers. NFL district tournaments had far fewer events: CX Debate (not held from 1946-1950), Extemp (Boys’ and Girls’ after 1951), Oratory, and Dramatic Declamation. Oratorical and Humorous were both dropped in 1951.In later years, schools had far more chances to qualify.

Davies’ squad won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy twice. One of Davies’ entrants was Donovan Cummings, who qualified and competed in three events, the last student allowed to do so. Donovan would later be inducted into NFL Hall of Fame.

John Davies and Kenosha High School hosted the 1950 Nationals. Special features of this tournament include the NFL Silver Anniversary Banquet, with main speaker Senator Karl Mundt, free food and lodging for attendees, and the return of CX Debate after a ten-year hiatus. During his career as a two-diamond coach, Davies served on the 25th Anniversary Committee and as Wisconsin district chair.

Davies also starred in several advertising films. He once acted opposite actor Orson Welles and trained students who became film and television actors, like Emmy winner Daniel J. Travanti.

In 1958, John Davies was named the “Foremost Speech Coach in America.” In 1978, Bruno Jacob named him a founding member of the NFL Hall of Fame. What a career! What a coach!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Carmendale Fernandes
Carmendale Fernandes

Inducted 1978
California

The most successful and powerful woman in high school speech activities in the 20th century was Carmendale Fernandes of California. As a young college student, she changed her major from music to speech, seeing more opportunities for women in that field. From her first day as coach at Sunnyvale-Fremont (CA), Ms. Fernandes was a leader.

She served as President of the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) and thereafter was the administrator representative on the Council. For years she coordinated the logistics for Council meetings and the State Tournament. Regionally, she was the first high school teacher to serve as President of the academic Western Speech Association (WSA).

She served on the Speech Communication Association (SCA) Council, the Planning Committee of the Bicentennial Youth Debates, sponsored by the National Association for the Humanities, and coordinator of Youth Activities for the American Forensic Association (AFA).

She made her greatest contributions to the National Forensic League. As Councilor and the first female vice president and president, she served as a role model for others. Carm hosted the outstanding San Jose Nationals in 1990 and helped plan many others.

Carmendale coached a national champion and two runners-up in Girls’ Extemp, a runner-up in Boys’ Extemp, a third place finisher in Oratory, a semifinalist CX Debate team. Her team won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy.

The NFL honored her with five diamond awards, and a Distinguished Service Key and Plaque. She was the only woman selected by Bruno Jacob to the first class of the NFL Hall of Fame. She was always a leader; President Billy Tate called her “Our Carm.” The NFL was so fortunate she was “ours.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

L. Day Hanks
L. Day Hanks

Inducted 1978
California

On a hot night in Washington, D.C., in June of 1969, a slender, balding, older man, his voice brimming with pride and emotion, accepted the plaque for coaching that year’s NFL champion debate team, Los Angeles Marshall High School. The man was L. Day Hanks, who told the audience that the victory of his team was special for him because his son Wendell had coached the College National Champion debate team a few weeks earlier. Bruno Jacob was in that audience. Almost a decade later, Mr. Jacob would name Mr. Hanks as one of ten founding members of the NFL Hall of Fame.

Day Hanks was a Californian. He was interested in everything about his native state, especially the pioneers who settled in California. He often led tours tracing the De Anza expeditions.

Mr. Hanks was a pioneer in speech education. He established the first Southern California Debate League. He persuaded the Los Angeles City School District that speech education was important and extracurricular programs were valuable. He was prescient enough to align the fledgling CHSSA, the California High School Speech Association, with the California Association of Secondary School Administrators. And he co-authored one of the first high school speech texts, Thought Speech.

Founder of chapters at Excelsior High School and John Marshall High School, Mr. Hanks was a significant force in the post-war NFL. He served three terms on the National Council. For many years, Day served in the National Tournament tab room. He coached two champions, CX Debate and Boys’ Extemp, and two runners-up, Girls’ Extemp and Radio Announcing.

A three-diamond coach, he served seven terms as district chair, winning a Gold Award. His chapters won four Leading Chapter Awards and two District Tournament Trophies. A longtime board member of the CHSSA, he is a founding member of their Hall of Fame. A good man, who helped others, L. Day Hanks was a pioneer of speech, from a state of pioneers.

— Compiled by James Copeland

James F. Hawker
James F. Hawker

Inducted 1978
Indiana

A Sagamore of the Wabash was James Hawker, third president of the NFL. He was a successful coach at both Peru High School and Lafayette-Jefferson High School, but best known as director of judges at the National Tournament. Jim would work long hours, with Marilyn Hageman, often through the night. Prior to computers, judges were hand assigned for hundreds of sections and checked for conflicts.

Jim Hawker rose to prominence in the NFL when, as a young coach, he told Bruno Jacob he noticed that on posted schedules, students of a certain tab room official always seemed to be placed in favored speaking positions. Bruno, impressed, later said, “I wanted a man that smart in the tab room.” A teacher of shorthand, Hawker built a well-known team in the small town of Peru (IN]). “It was amazing,” remembers Ohio coach Don Terry. “Even little kids in town knew about the NFL.”

In 1957, Jim transferred to Jefferson High School, in the college town of Lafayette, Indiana. Speech and debate and the NFL were much smaller in the third quarter of the 20th century. National entries were capped at 300. Only six events were held: CX Debate (now called Policy), Boys’ Extemp, Girls’ Extemp (in 1973 made gender neutral and divided into U.S. Extemp and Foreign Extemp), Original Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation (Humorous was not re-introduced until 1977), and Student Congress [unicameral in some years). Only first place at district or state qualified a student for Nationals. Hall of Fame coach Louie Banker recalls, “It was a big deal if you could qualify twice in five years.” It was equally difficult to accumulate NFL points. The Council limited each student to only 40 rounds a year, plus district and state. This also reduced coaching points. Jefferson qualified multiple students each year. Although Mr. Hawker never coached a national champion, his squad twice won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy. Hawker also coached a semifinal debate team plus three seconds and six thirds in speech events.

Coach Hawker’s Jefferson chapter was a powerhouse in Indiana and in the USA. Five times the largest chapter in the district; 11 times among the nation’s top ten chapters, including six times in the top five. The Lafayette-Jefferson squad won six District Sweepstakes Plaques and two Trophies. Mr. Hawker served five terms as district chair, winning five Gold Awards. He was elected to 13 terms on the NFL Council, including six as vice president and four as president. He was a founding member of the Indiana Hall of Fame and authored its Induction Ritual. Always open to new ideas, Jim was a founding member of the National Tape Debate League. Indiana, like many states accredited by the North Central Association, was not favorable to interstate travel by high school teams. One solution that Hawker endorsed was to have audio taped debate. Speeches on audio tape were sent back and forth by mail. This was time consuming, but allowed teams, who could not travel, to debate teams in distant states.

Hawker was extremely ethical. He insisted that tournaments be run fairly. He is famous for saying, “What is important is to get THE winner, not just A winner.” Hawker’s avocation was drama, and he was a fine director. For many years he directed successful shows for Community Theater Groups in Indiana.

James Hawker was a sensitive man, but if you liked him, he liked you. He was a hard worker and always ready to help a friend. He finally coached a national champion in 1977, when he helped a student from a rival school win the Dramatic Interpretation event. James Hawker retired in 1981, but continued to serve at Nationals until the judge assignments were computerized. Successful, honored, and powerful in an NFL no one remembers. He was the finest man of his time.

— Compiled by James Copeland

R. Paul Hibbs
R. Paul Hibbs

Inducted 1978
Illinois

Perhaps the best coach in the founding class of our Hall of Fame is the least known. NFL founder Bruno E. Jacob was deeply impressed by Paul’s remarkable record when he wrote his reasons for choosing Paul as one of the coaches nominated to the first Hall class: “Coached 25 students to the national finals in 14 National Tournaments. Won four National Championships. Won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy twice. Earned the Diamond Key. All this in only 14 years.” Paul’s students placed first in Debate (1936), Extempore (1937), Oratory (1941), and Drama (1946) at the National Tournament. Moreover, three students finished second and nine students took third place.

A 2009 issue of the DuQuoin Evening Call featured a series of articles recounting the history of DuQuoin High School football, which contained this interesting remembrance from the 1940 season: “R. Paul Hibbs…doubled as backfield coach, in addition to being the nation’s most successful speech coach.” Paul Hibbs’ later career included serving as principal at the high school and as associate professor of speech at Southern Illinois University, where the R. Paul Hibbs Award is still given by the speech department today. Paul also went on to direct community theater.

A small school in a small town in the “Little Egypt” section of Southern Illinois, whose speech coach also coached football, compiled the greatest record in national speech competition of the pre-war era.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Albert E. James
Albert E. James

Inducted 1978
Colorado

Hall of Fame members Frank Sferra and Lowell Sharp tell the same story, so we know it is true: One of the most respected coaches in the NFL walks onstage to present awards at his tournament, and to present a large silver bowl to the winning team. He begins the assembly but is interrupted as coaches rush the stage to complain about ballot errors. During a lengthy delay, the host and the complaining coaches attempt to resolve the errors. Suddenly, the host goes to the microphone and requests ALL ballots be brought to the stage. He collects all ballots and puts them in the silver bowl. He then lights the ballots with a match and watches them burn. He then goes to the mic and says, “We will now present the awards!”

Only one man could have been powerful enough to do this. Albert James, longtime chair of the Rocky Mountain (Colorado and Wyoming) District and later the Colorado District. Albert James, coach at Longmont High School (CO), was a legend in the NFL. For almost a quarter of a century, he presided over the geographically largest district in the NFL. Two huge Western states with rough winter weather, before interstate highways, made running the district tournament a challenge.

But he did it, year after year. Bruno E. Jacob awarded Albert five Gold Awards, a record which stood for decades. Mr. James also earned three diamonds and the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque – Third Honors.

The Longmont chapter was three times the largest in the district and won two Leading Chapter Awards. In five different years they led the district in new members. Albert coached the district student point leader five times. Even in a huge bi-state district, against powerful Denver schools, tiny Longmont won 11 district first places and the District Tournament Trophy.

In 1949, Albert hosted the National Tournament in Longmont. A total of 104 contestants and their coaches were treated to a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Albert James was a man of the West. Resolute and respected.

— Compiled by James Copeland

J. Edmund Mayer
J. Edmund Mayer

Inducted 1978
California

At the 1950 banquet which celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the founding of the National Forensic League, NFL Vice President J. Edmund Mayer gave the keynote address. Fourteen years later, he sat in an Omaha hotel room, with tears in his eyes, “After every tournament I always called my principal to tell him the results. This year my principal told me, ‘Mr. Mayer, do not call me with the results of your debate team.’” After 30 years of great success, the end was cruel.

J. Edmund coached first at Topeka High School (KS) where his chapter won two Leading Chapter Awards. Mayer served four terms as district chair (the district was Kansas and Nebraska!). He was host chair at the 1934 Topeka Nationals, and earned the Distinguished Service Key. At Nationals, Mayer coached a runner-up debate team and another to third place. His speech entries placed first in Dramatic, second in Oratorical Declamation and third in Humorous. Topeka High won the National Trophy (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy) in 1936.

In 1939, he was appointed Speaker of the House (in the early years of Congress, a notable adult served as Speaker). Mayer moved to California around 1940, probably as a result of attending the 1939 Beverly Hills Nationals. He served as California chair during the war years, and received a Gold Award. In 1944, he was first elected to the NFL Executive Council. In 1945, J. Edmund Mayer was presented Diamond Key number seven. He chaired the 25th Anniversary Committee, and was elected NFL vice president in 1950, serving five terms. His Alhambra chapter received two Leading Chapter Awards. Mayer coached six district point leading students. In 1944, his student Stanley Freberg, later a nationally famous comedian, won the district tournament in Humorous, but Nationals was not held during WWII. Mayer coached a Girls’ Extemp champion in 1954 and a Boys’ Extemp champion in 1961.

J. Edmund Mayer was a builder: he built programs, he built districts, he helped Bruno Jacob build the National Forensic League. He deserves to be remembered.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Vernon W. Metz
Vernon W. Metz

Inducted 1978
Pennsylvania

Vernon Metz was a complex man. He rendered great service to the NFL early on and rose to the vice presidency of the League. Mr. Metz was the long serving district chair in Pittsburgh from 1957 to 1975. He won three Gold Awards, the highest honor for a district chair. He was elected to the NFL Executive Council in 1962 and became vice president of the NFL in 1973. In those times the highest vote getter each two years became president of the NFL, second highest, vice president. Years later, the Council election was changed to staggered four year terms, with the Council itself electing the officers.

Vernon coached at North Hills High School and his chapter was one of the most successful in the nation. His chapter was the largest in Pittsburgh 16 times, they led the district in new members 14 times, and they placed in a National top ten category ten times. North Hills received four Leading Chapter Awards and won the District Tournament Trophy four times. Thirty students qualified to the National Tournament and six to the National Congress.

But his friend Bro. René Sterner noted, “Vernon could be very Machiavellian.” Metz aspired to be NFL president, with his former student, Ken Werner, NFL secretary. In 1975, Vernon moved to have Secretary Tucker replaced with Mr. Werner. The motion failed. The election of Dennis Winfield as NFL president in 1976, and Mr. Metz’ defeat in the Council election in 1980, ended his presidential hopes. Metz became a high school administrator and later taught at Pennsylvania State University.

— Compiled by James Copeland

H. B. Mitchell
H. B. Mitchell

Inducted 1978
Oklahoma

We all called him “Coach”—and what a coach he was. H. B. coached three national debate champions and three runners-up. Always competitive, Mitchell complained for years about the final round losses. He also coached a Boys’ Extemp champion, and his squad won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy.

“Coach” would have won more; but tournaments were not held during WWII and a post-war National Principals Contest Committee banned debate as being “too competitive” until 1950. Mitchell’s prime coaching years were lost.

Harland B. Mitchell was born the son of an Oklahoma state senator. He learned early about the power of persuasion, sound argument, and clear speaking. He won the Oklahoma State High School Debate Championship and an interstate contest in Alabama. Awarded a debate scholarship and chosen “Outstanding Debater” on his college team, Mitchell was offered a position as debate coach at Seminole High School and Junior College. He taught there for 39 years, rising to the position of superintendent.

During his career, his teams won more than 50 Oklahoma state speech and debate championships. Mr. Mitchell served on the NFL Executive Council from 1964 until his death in 1990. He earned the Distinguished Service Key and two diamonds. In 1960, H. B. was named the “foremost debate coach in America” by the National Forensic League. In 1978, the NFL Championship Debate Trophy was named in his honor, and Mr. Jacob named him to the founding class of the NFL Hall of Fame.

Students described Mr. Mitchell as an imposing figure who demanded attention and respect. His coaching method was to critique his students thoroughly after a win, but only praise them after a loss. He took genuine interest, staying up late to welcome back students from tournaments and coaching debaters at his home.

In his book, Here’s the Question, he wrote, “It is only the coach who has the desire…who will succeed. Successful debaters…are the product of an expert and interested craftsman.” Mr. Mitchell was such a craftsman. That is why we all called him “Coach.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Karl E. Mundt
Karl E. Mundt

Inducted 1978
South Dakota

Student debater and orator at Madison High School (SD); Member of Pi Kappa Delta and Tau Kappa Alpha at Carleton College (MN); teacher of Speech and coach of Debate, Oratory, and Extemporaneous Speaking at Bryant High School (SD); Superintendent of Schools in Bryant (SD), and member number one of the newly formed National Forensic League—Karl Earl Mundt was a devoted advocate of, active participant in, and committed coach of speech and debate!

In 1925, Bruno Jacob took a survey of schools to discern if interest in a high school society of speakers was strong enough to found such an organization. Superintendent Karl Mundt was most interested and pursued an active correspondence with Bruno who later wrote, “…his letters revealed an insight into the potentialities of such an organization, which made his appointment as vice president a logical one.” Bryant High School (SD) became chapter number five in the NFL. Ray Cecil Carter yielded the NFL presidency in 1933. Mundt became president and served until 1971. He also was editor of Rostrum from 1931 to 1940.

Mundt was elected to Congress in 1939. After five terms in the House, he was elected to the Senate in 1948, and served until 1973. But Mundt never lost interest in speech activities and was an active NFL president. Senator Mundt was the primary sponsor of a bill establishing the Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Convention. In the summer of 1957, 48 state champions and seven territorial champions competed for a week in Congress Hall, near Independence Hall, Philadelphia, in a student Constitutional Convention. One student delegate was future Hall of Fame Coach James Copeland. Mundt also arranged an honorary NFL membership for former Texas debate coach Lyndon Johnson at the White House. And Karl Mundt authored the “Voice of America Act” to broadcast news to communist countries. Mundt was a powerful man, a powerful speaker, and an active supporter of speech and debate all his life. The NSDA Congressional Debate Trophy is named in his honor.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2010s

2017 Inductees

Dr. Paulette "Polly" Reikowski
Dr. Paulette "Polly" Reikowski

Inducted 2017
Minnesota

Bio coming soon!

James W. "Jay" Rye, III
James W. "Jay" Rye, III

Inducted 2017
Alabama

Bio coming soon!

Julie Sheinman
Julie Sheinman

Inducted 2017
New York

Bio coming soon!

Jimmy L. Smith
Jimmy L. Smith

Inducted 2017
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Jacquelyn "Jacci" Young
Jacquelyn "Jacci" Young

Inducted 2017
Missouri

Bio coming soon!

2016 Inductees

Byron Arthur
Byron Arthur

Inducted 2016
Louisiana

Bio coming soon!

Eloise Weisinger Blair
Eloise Weisinger Blair

Inducted 2016
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Mark Ferguson
Mark Ferguson

Inducted 2016
Illinois

Everyone loves a show! Ed Sullivan’s “Really Great Shew” dominated television; Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” entertained radio listeners for 40 years. But no one is better at producing a show than Mark Ferguson, retired Director of Television and Film at Glenbrook South High School (IL). He transformed the National Tournament Awards Assembly into a multimedia extravaganza!

Mark’s story begins as a student NFL competitor for Perry High School in Ohio. Future Hall of Fame coach “Louie” Mattachione coached Mark, who won the 1973 NFL National Tournament in Dramatic Interpretation. For more than ten years, Mark served as speech coach at GBS and coached his own national champion in 1993, future screen star and cabaret performer Emily Bergl, in Poetry.

Mark also developed a new Television and Film program at GBS. He had access to modern equipment, rare for a high school, and was able to teach all aspects of professional video and film production. In 1991, NFL Councilor Ted Belch, host of the Glenbrook Nationals, wanted to create a unique event. Mark Ferguson suggested interactive video interviews, a daily news show, and a video history of the tournament. The tournament was a huge hit, and Mark’s work was widely praised. The NFL then requested Mark to make the National Awards Assembly a celebration of achievement, like the Academy Awards, and Mark brought professional direction to the project. But always the educator, he used his students and alumni as crew. Audiences were entranced, but rarely realized that 16-hour days and immaculate planning were necessary to create this ultimate reality show.

The NFL also had another project in mind: “The humblest student in the land, should be taught by the greatest teacher in the land.” How? Video! Using a grant from the Bradley Foundation, Mark Ferguson directed a series of videos featuring great NFL coaches, each teaching their specialty.

Champion student, champion coach, director of professionally staged award shows and important educational videos: the NSDA applauds the compelling work of Hall of Fame Coach Mark Ferguson.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Robert Shepard
Robert Shepard

Inducted 2016
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Dr. Alfred "Tuna" Snider
Dr. Alfred "Tuna" Snider

Inducted 2016
Vermont

Bio coming soon!

2015 Inductees

Dr. Elizabeth Ballard
Dr. Elizabeth Ballard

Inducted 2015
Oklahoma

The doctor is in…the NSDA. Dr. Betsy Ballard, coach at Norman High School (OK), is one of the very few NSDA coaches to earn a Ph.D. Academics always support their discipline, and Dr. Ballard has performed continuous service to the speech community: as host chair of the superior 1998 Oklahoma Nationals, at the University of Oklahoma; and ten terms as district chair of the Western Oklahoma District.

Dr. Betsy has earned many honors for her teaching and coaching skills: the H.B. Mitchell Award for Outstanding Coaching, twice; the Charline Burton Speech Educator Award in the Western Oklahoma District; and the 2001 Speech Educator of the Year award from the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. She was awarded both Silver and Gold Awards by the NSDA. Dr. Ballard was awarded the Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service by the NSDA in 2012. She earned five coaching diamonds.

Ballard is also play director, and her students excelled by winning several state team speech championships and One Act Play Awards. In the NSDA finals she coached two national runner-ups: LD Debate and Congressional Debate–Senate.

Under the tutelage of Dr. Ballard, her chapter led the district in new members nine years; and was the largest chapter three times. The Norman High School squad won the Leading Chapter Award four times!

The doctor’s philosophy is academically sound. “You have to be both a good winner and good loser in life,” instructs Betsy. “Speech competitions are a good place to work on both.” Ballard insists, “Always have a plan for success. If you don’t, you have by default, a plan for failure.” She deals with negative situations by turning them into learning situations, asking her students, “What are you going to do to solve this problem you have created for yourselves?”

Dr. Elizabeth Ballard: Ph.D. in English, coach of champions, national host, state leader, district chair, honored colleague. When the doctor was in, speech activities in Oklahoma were indeed, OK!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Jane Boyd
Jane Boyd

Inducted 2015
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Kim Jones
Kim Jones

Inducted 2015
California

Bio coming soon!

Dr. Peter Pober
Dr. Peter Pober

Inducted 2015
Virginia

Bio coming soon!

Fred Robertson
Fred Robertson

Inducted 2015
Nebraska

Several teachers have coached debate at two schools simultaneously, but none with more success than Fred Robertson. At both Fremont and Millard West high schools (NE), Fred has compiled an enviable record of debate success.

The Fremont Policy team won the Nebraska state tournament in 2004, while the Millard West squad won the state debate sweepstakes four years in a row and counting. The West debaters also won a School of Excellence trophy at the 2011 National Tournament. At the highly competitive Blake School Invitational in Minneapolis, Robertson’s students in Policy and Lincoln-Douglas Debate make a strong showing every year.

Coach Robertson has always been on the cutting edge of argumentation. He and his students enjoy working on creative cases and arguments. One example occurred during the 2011 season when Fred’s team interfaced with renown philosopher William V. Spanos, a Heideggerian literary critic and Distinguished Professor of English at Binghamton University (NY). Interested in “pushing the envelope” on arguments, the debaters, an assistant coach, and Robertson developed a critical narrative case (Kritik) based upon some of Professor Spanos’ work. The case was sent to Spanos, who responded with a kind note, complimenting the students’ work and suggesting the case might be published in his literary journal, Boundary 2.

Fred has great empathy with his debaters. He relates, “…what is most difficult about coaching debate…is trying to reduce the pain young people feel when they put so much into an endeavor, but do not reach their goals. That happens a lot, of course, because debate is so tough.” Robertson’s philosophy is simple and correct: “Coach with love and a sense of humor and fun while at the same time having high expectations for students.”

Robertson works tab rooms, prepares judge assignments, and serves on committees, as he supports his profession. His expertise was most helpful as a member of the NSDA LD Wording Committee for several years. “Dad” Robertson had the fun of coaching two daughters to success in NFL and NCFL tournaments.

Fred cites the quality work of the many assistant coaches he worked with over the years, and thanks many giants of the debate community, like Hall of Fame brother J. W. Patterson, who helped him develop a sterling career. Two jobs at two winning programs and two great daughters who competed for his team. Double the work; double the joy!

— Compiled by James Copeland

2014 Inductees

Darrel Harbaugh
Darrel Harbaugh

Inducted 2014
Kansas

Bio coming soon!

Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr.
Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr.

Inducted 2014
California

Bio coming soon!

Lisa Miller
Lisa Miller

Inducted 2014
Florida

Bio coming soon!

Dr. Randy Patterson
Dr. Randy Patterson

Inducted 2014
Mississippi

For more than 20 years, Randy Patterson, Ph.D., has been teaching, coaching, administering, and promoting speech and debate activities. Randy served as Mississippi High School Activities Association Coordinator for Speech and Debate, where he worked with coaches to build growth and developed qualifying requirements for the state tournament. He served as chair of the NSDA Mississippi District, winning two awards. Dr. Patterson was also the National Federation Southeastern Representative on the Speech and Debate Advisory Committee.

Before teaching, Randy taught at two universities, worked for the governor, and was executive director of a political party. In 1995, he began the speech and debate team at St. Andrews Episcopal School, earning two Leading Chapter Awards and qualifying 77 students to Nationals.

“I stressed each student doing his or her best,” relates Randy. “I emphasized that if the student saw to that, the…championships would take care of themselves.” Indeed they did! Mississippi state tournament entries won Policy, LD, PF, Congressional Debate, DI, OO, Extemp, Impromptu, and TV Commentary. At Emory’s Barkley Forum, Key Coach Randy celebrated three finalists in Dramatic Interpretation, including the 2003 runner-up. In the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Tournament, his student achieved second place in Dramatic. At the 2009 Nationals, Patterson’s team scored a second place in Public Forum Debate; his squad won a School of Excellence Award.

Randy, a two-diamond coach, counts that tournament success as his most exhilarating moment. Awards are fun, but Dr. Patterson is proud of “one student’s discovery, through grappling with complex issues in Policy Debate, his life passion for civil rights…; another student finding, through speech and debate, her unique voice…; and yet another student finding, on the speech and debate team, his niche for cooperative effort… None of those three students was a rock star member of our team… On my ballot those three all get a first place rank.” The doctor also deserves a first!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Jay Stubbs
Jay Stubbs

Inducted 2014
Texas

Jay Stubbs has many passions: the Kansas City Chiefs (he holds season tickets); conducting tournaments (he directs the largest hosted by a high school); National tab rooms (he often chairs an event); directing one of the nation’s largest programs (Bellaire High School in Houston); and “Paying it Forward” (formerly a high school competitor, he has coached more than 32 years in Missouri, Kansas, and Texas).

Coach Stubbs’ rules for coaching success are most useful: 1) Be prepared… learning the benefits of preparation is a lifetime skill. 2) Success is a moment for the student… the student is the one who competed. 3) Challenge students… there is no ceiling, when it comes to debate. 4) Maximize participation… Every student who participates in debate is better off for the experience.

The Bellaire squad, previously coached by other Hall of Famers, is in good hands with Hall of Fame coach Jay. His program qualified more than 200 students to TFA State and is regularly among the top ten schools. At national circuit invitationals like the Barkley Forum, the Tournament of Champions (TOC), and the Laird Lewis Invitational, Jay’s debaters advance to elimination rounds.

Bellaire dominates the South Texas District, winning six District Sweepstakes Plaques and two District Trophies. The school, usually the largest chapter and usually in the U.S. top ten, has earned four Leading Chapter Awards. Jay has qualified 83 contestants to the National Tournament and 22 to the National Congress, including a 2010 champion in Congressional Debate. Jay Stubbs’ service to his profession includes more than ten terms as South Texas district chair, winning Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards. He has received a Distinguished Service Key for his work in Nationals tab, and on the Public Forum Wording Committee. Jay has earned five diamonds for his key.

Jay’s new passion is Congressional Debate. He worked to persuade The University Interscholastic League (UIL) to establish Congressional Debate as a main event at the UIL State Tournament.

Every day, even though the bill has long since been paid, Jay Stubbs continues to “Pay it Forward.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

2013 Inductees

Michael Burton
Michael Burton

Inducted 2013
Washington

Our Hall of Fame has many members who are expert judges, but only one expert referee! Mike Burton, former coach at Auburn High School, then at Eastside Catholic in Bellevue, WA mixes a career of speech and debate coaching and athletic officiating. This unusual combination has won top honors in both fields: Washington State Teacher of the Year, 1994; Washington Interscholastic Activities Hall of Fame; Washington Forensics Hall of Fame; Washington Officials Hall of Fame; National Federation of High Schools Hall of Fame; and Tournament of Champions Hall of Fame.

Mike served seven terms as district chair, winning the Distinguished Service Plaque – Sixth Honors, and as National Council alternate. He earned five diamonds. Burton also served a term as president of the National Federation of Officials, a group aiding scholastic sports officials.

Coach Burton has produced winners at the state level (36 state championships) and on the national circuit. The year 2000 was particularly gratifying, when Mike’s student Andy O’Connell was a multiple winner of national Lincoln-Douglas invitationals: Glenbrooks; Berkley; Barkley Forum; Minneapple; and Tournament of Champions (TOC). Mike’s greatest regret is not coaching a National Tournament winner. But he officiated a national championship college game!

Like the great athletic coaches, Burton stresses the team concept. “We are a team, and a win by an individual is a win for the team,” explains Burton. “Cooperation within the team is mandated and required.” Another athletic principle demanded is fair play. Burton’s rule: “Ethics are the most important thing for an individual.” A final team precept required is respect for all people.

Mike the coach and Mike the referee are also Mike the mentor. During his outstanding 39-year career, he has again and again stepped forward to help others. In the classroom, at the tournament, on the court, or on the field, Mike Burton has promoted excellence and ethics. A teacher, a coach, a referee would never settle for less.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Vickie Fellers
Vickie Fellers

Inducted 2013
Kansas

Bio coming soon!

Dr. Robert Littlefield
Dr. Robert Littlefield

Inducted 2013
North Dakota

When asked by her coach, the great Glenn Pelham, “What is the goal of life?” Melissa Maxcy Wade answered, “To be happy?” “No,” intoned Pelham, “to serve!” Quite an altruistic goal, but one which has been successfully pursued by Dr. Robert Littlefield.

An academic of renown, Robert is a Professor of Communication and co-author of Forensics in America: A History. He was host chair of the wonderful 1992 North Dakota State University Nationals. And he served as a volunteer forensic coach at Fargo Shanley High School (ND), where his children, Brady and Lindsay, achieved national honors as NFL point leaders. Lindsay Littlefield led all students in 1999, the first female in NFL history to win that honor; her brother, Brady was the leader in 2003.

During Robert’s coaching tenure, Shanley’s team excelled: eight consecutive district sweepstakes plaques; 66 national entries, covering every main event; 14 NFL All Americans, including seven in the top ten; and a 2003 School of Excellence Award in Debate.

At the 2013 International Public Policy Forum at NYU, Robert’s team won the IPPF world title! Robert states, “My philosophy is simple: consistency + heart = success. I encourage students to practice in order to be consistent… One of the hardest lessons to learn for students with talent is they need to develop a consistent performance… In addition, students need to have heart, they need to care, in order to reach their goals.”

As a tenured professor, Robert carried a full teaching load, conducted research projects, published articles and a book, served as department chair, and yet made time to serve the NFL and high school students—not just his own children, but all students.

Competition is fun; winning is admirable; but it is service to others that truly satisfies!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Robert “Bob” Marks
Robert “Bob” Marks

Inducted 2013
Florida

Bio coming soon!

David McKenzie
David McKenzie

Inducted 2013
Indiana

Bio coming soon!

2012 Inductees

David Huston
David Huston

Inducted 2012
Texas

Only a great coach could move from a state where debate competition is intense to a larger state where debate competition is even fiercer, and still experience local and national success.

After coaching the Iowa (IHSFA) Policy champions in 1999, Dave Huston accepted a job in Texas, which has two state leagues, and he coached the debate champions in each: UIL in 2001 and TFA in 2004.

But Mr. Huston is not just successful coaching Policy Debate, as proven by his 1999 Lincoln-Douglas national champion from Iowa. His national Policy champion team from Texas would win in 2008. That team had bittersweet success. Earlier that year, they lost the final rounds at the Tournament of Champions and at the National Debate Coaches Association Tournament. Reaching the final round is sweet; not winning the championship is bitter. To ensure his team would win Nationals and the Unger Cup, Dave reminded his team that the horse Alydar had been runner-up in each of the three triple crown races—and they did not want to be remembered like Alydar! The team won the National final round and escaped Alydar’s fate.

Mr. Huston has been a most effective member of the National Speech & Debate Association Board of Directors. Deeply committed to fairness and inclusion in debate, he has had great influence on debate rules in states and organizations where he competed, including service as chair of the committee re­writing the rules governing the use of evidence in speech and debate competitions.

“Debate and speech should teach an ethic,” believes Huston. Dave says his job as coach is to facilitate students and provide them tools necessary to achieve success. But he quickly points out that their success is dependent on their effort. He believes the best coaching may be with students who have good, not great, talent, but who know how to work hard.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Gail M. Naylor
Gail M. Naylor

Inducted 2012
Kansas

Small is beautiful, and Gail Naylor, coach at tiny Silver Lake High School (KS), makes small successful, in the intensely competitive Kansas Flint-Hills District. Gail, and her school of 250 students, have enjoyed tremendous success in Kansas and nationally. Coach Naylor created the team in 1981. Since that beginning, she has qualified more than 80 students to the NDSA National Tournament; almost half reached elimination rounds! Silver Lake has won seven Kansas state speech championships; 46 students won individual state titles; 14 LD debaters were state champions, as were seven Policy teams. Silver Lake debaters also placed in the quarterfinals of the prestigious International Public Policy Forum (IPPF), the only event that requires written and oral debate. At the NCFL Grand Tournament, 170 of Gail’s speakers have qualified; many have placed.

This success is generated by Gail and her philosophy. The talented Ms. Naylor has been Speech Teacher of the Year and Speech Coach of the Year in Kansas; selected by all three Kansas Halls of Fame: State High School Activities Association; Speech Communication Association; and Debate Coaches Association; and Gail has been three times nominated for Kansas Master Teacher of the Year.

Gail’s philosophy is well reasoned: “I believe in critical thinking and the practice of reflection… [T]hese two elements are…important for students to master… Students require tools to articulate, resolve, act, trust, and to believe in themselves. The job of a good educator is to provide them these tools… The ability to problem solve, resolve conflict, develop goals, and execute objectives are formidable qualities… As a teacher, I am charged with the most important task: to compose the society of the future… It is my desire to help students meet their full potential by providing an atmosphere that supports the growth of mind and self. I have a stake in seeing pupils soar beyond what they may deem capable. They are my peers, colleagues, and friends in the next generation and beyond.”

Gail Naylor proves with every student, every year, small can lead to grand.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Cynthia Timmons
Cynthia Timmons

Inducted 2012
Texas

Cynthia Timmons is not just a nationally successful coach; and not just a superbly organized National Tournament host. Cindi is also the most effective advocate for women in our debate community. Attracting young women to participate in debate; attracting women to become coaches; breaking down barriers and ending stereotypes, which hamper women from becoming full partners in the debate activity: these are Mrs. Timmons’ goals. They need to be addressed.

In its first 86 years, the National Debate Tournament celebrated only one female Policy team champion; two ladies teams placed second; 17 young women won with a male partner.

Cindi has coached more than 20 speech and debate state champions in America’s most competitive state, TEXAS! A three-diamond coach of multiple championships in national circuit events, her most memorable were an LD championship at St. Marks, against the reigning national champion; and two top Policy Debate speakers at the TOC, brothers in successive years.

At NFL Nationals, Cindi’s students from San Antonio-Lee swept Extemp, winning first in one event and first and second in the other, while Cindi, herself, was six months pregnant.

At Colleyville-Heritage High School, Mrs. Timmons coached a national semifinalist Policy team. Only a questionable decision kept her team from debating her husband’s team in the final round. Her Chapter was twice the district’s largest and won the District Tournament Sweepstakes Plaque. Cindi believes, “Pushing a student to reach their potential is what coaching is all about.”

She served five terms (and counting) as district chair and thrice as host chair to the 2006, 2011, and 2015 Nationals. Hosting three in ten years is unprecedented and she says there may yet be a fourth! Her honors include a Glenn Pelham award for “devotion to the forensic arts.”

Cynthia’s life: family, coaching, tournaments, advocating, and service. She lives her motto: “We should live each moment to its fullest, taking care to remember, the best is yet to come.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Steven Wood
Steven Wood

Inducted 2012
Kansas

NFL founder Bruno Jacob told Albert Odom, “Debate is King…” Bruno, a college debater and author of one of the first debate handbooks, Suggestions for the Debater, knew debate participation offered superior training. He also believed the most important goal in NFL was not winning a national championship, it was becoming an NFL member. Participation was most important. Many Hall of Fame coaches followed this truth: Donus Roberts, Frank Sferra, Pauline Carochi, Natalie Weber, Richard Sodikow, and others never cut a student, but offered debate to all newcomers!

Steven Wood, retired coach at Blue Valley North High School (KS), coached with the same philosophy. “Debate is good for all the kids in your school. I always wanted to have everyone involved.” What Steve would like remembered about his career is “I got lots of kids involved with speech and debate over 32 years. I’m proud that not very many people got more students involved.”

Steve became an NFL student member in 1974. He stated his coaching career in 1981 at Parsons High School. In 1984, he moved to Emporia High School. Two years later he moved to Lawrence, where he coached first at Lawrence High School, then moved to Lawrence Free State High School in 1997. Steve came to Blue Valley North in 2005. He was presented the rare sixth diamond in 2011.

Steve always served his debate community. He was district chair in both the Flint-Hills and the Three Trails Districts, winning several Gold Awards. Mr. Wood was president of the Kansas Speech Communication Association and organizer of the Kansas Debate Coaches Invitational Tournament. Blue Valley North was the Largest Chapter in the Three Trails District during his reign, finishing six times in the national Top Ten and second in 2012. Steve coached seven Academic All Americans and qualified scores of students to the NFL National Tournament. Many of Steve’s debaters also competed in college debate—especially noteworthy was a two-time NDT Champion. But of all Steve’s achievements, the greatest was marrying Hall of Fame coach Cathy (McNamara) Wood.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2011 Inductees

Joni Anker
Joni Anker

Inducted 2011
Minnesota

Joni Anker will tell you that there is no “I” in Eagan and there is no “I” in team. “My philosophy is defined by the team approach,” emphasizes Joni, founder of the Eagan program in 1989. “As coaches, we work as a team… The emphasis is on ‘we’ not ‘I.’” But Joni knows there is an “I” in family. “As a speech team, we almost become a family,” she says. “We are all together in our quest to become more polished and effective speakers.”

The Eagan family of coaches and students have achieved a remarkable record: Coach Anker has directed her team to more than 60 Minnesota state championships and a record “Most Medals Won by a Single School at State.” In national circuit invitational meets, Eagan won first place at the Glenbrooks and broke three speakers to finals at Harvard.

At the NSDA National Tournament, the Eagan team has qualified 38 students to finals, winning 13 championships, seven seconds, and five thirds, including the aptly named John Eagan who won Drama and Humor and placed third in Oratory. Most years, Team Eagan wins a School of Excellence Award. In 2005, they took home the Bruno E. Jacob Trophy; Joni Anker received the Odom Commendation.

Eagan has been the largest Chapter in Southern Minnesota for 25 years consecutively and won five Leading Chapter Awards. They have won five District Sweepstakes Trophies and 16 Plaques.

Joni Anker, elected to the MSHSL Hall of Fame, was also presented the Outstanding Individual in Speech and Theater Award by the Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota. She has earned five diamonds; her co-coaches also have diamond awards.

According to Joni, “My most memorable events in coaching have involved witnessing a student fall in love with performing and competing, no matter whether they win an award or not. The greatest gift I have been given from this amazing activity is to see a student discover they can do something they never thought they could.” Joni leads the team that makes that discovery possible!

— Compiled by James Copeland

James Harville
James Harville

Inducted 2011
California

Bio coming soon!

Meg Howell-Haymaker
Meg Howell-Haymaker

Inducted 2011
Arizona

Bio coming soon!

Judy Kroll
Judy Kroll

Inducted 2011
South Dakota

Bio coming soon!

James Menchinger
James Menchinger

Inducted 2011
Michigan

It is unusual when one coach at one program dominates a state decade after decade. In Michigan, that program was Portage Northern High School, and that coach was James Menchinger.

James, also known as “Mench,” coached 16 Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association (MIFA) team sweepstakes champions, including ten years in succession, as well as three Michigan State Novice Debate champions. His remarkable coaching record is based upon four simple but effective principles: first, communication is the foundation of life; both the cause of problems and the creator of solutions; second, forensic participation will absolutely change a person’s life; third, every person deserves the chance to be a member of a speech team; and finally, awards are nice, but being a great communicator for life is the greatest reward.

Jim has qualified 70 students to the National finals, where his entrants were named second in Prose and Senate and a finalist in Duo. His son qualified in Humorous Interpretation. Under Jim’s leadership, Portage Northern has won the District Sweepstakes Plaque 13 times, the District Trophy 7 times, and the Leading Chapter Award five times. He coached the high point student in the Michigan District for 15 years.

Menchinger served ten years as Michigan district chair, winning a Bronze Award. He was instrumental in rebuilding the Michigan District. Jim earned five NFL diamonds for his key. Among many honors, Jim has been named “Coach of the Year” by the National Federation [NF] and the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association; and is a founding member of the MIFA Hall of Fame. He is co-author of Successful Speech and author of Beginning, Building and Bettering Your Forensic Program.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2010 Inductees

Rosella "Rosie" Blunk
Rosella "Rosie" Blunk

Inducted 2010
South Dakota

To use a Hollywood metaphor, Rosella Blunk has been an “A-list director” all of her long and successful career. Like all top directors, Rosie assisted students to develop their own performances by helping them make choices: choices selecting and cutting pieces; choices analyzing each selection and finding sub­text; choices developing their selections emotionally, vocally and bodily.

“It was important for the student to take ownership of the selection, rather than being a puppet manipulated by the coach,” Rosella says. “I always stressed that doing their best and feeling satisfied with their performance was ‘winning.'”

Rosie is prominent in a vibrant interpretation community. She was NFL Coach of the Year in 1981 as the squad from Sioux Falls­Lincoln (SD) won both the Sweepstakes and the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy. She coached the Dramatic champion in 1980. Not able to attend the tournament, Rosie coached her student by telephone after each round. Ms. Blunk coached the Poetry winner in 1985, using an unusual strategy. She and the student agreed the student would have a greater chance to win Poetry than her qualifying event. So teacher and coach concentrated their preparation on Poetry and won the championship!

Now living in Iowa to be close to family, 2016 was the first year she did not coach a team. Her many friends miss her, and hope she returns soon to her two great loves, literature and students.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Pauline Carochi
Pauline Carochi

Inducted 2010
Colorado

If one word could sum up a person’s life and work, the word for longtime coach at Canon City High School, Pauline Carochi, would be “caring.” She genuinely cares about every student, each one of her colleagues, especially the new coaches, and anyone else who needs a kind word or a listening ear.

Pauline began as a 14-year-old Oratory contestant, who broke into tears at the end of her first round. Forty-five years later, she is one of the most honored women in her profession. Mrs. Carochi is only the third speech coach in history to be inducted into the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame. Pauline also was presented the Sharon Wilch Lifetime Achievement Award by CHSAA. For her work as a national tab chair and co-host of the 1989 Colorado Nationals, she was awarded the NFL Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Third Honors). District chair of the Colorado Grande District for 20 years, Pauline earned two Gold Awards and was chosen District Chair of the Year in 2001. In 2002, Pauline was presented the Ralph E. Carey Award for Distinguished Career Service. As a coach, she has earned six diamonds.

Mrs. Carochi coaches in a small town where she teaches a full class load, coaches with limited help, and raises funds for her program. Yet her Canon City Chapter was six times the district’s largest and has won three Leading Chapter Awards. More than 50 students qualified for the National Tournament; more than 20 for the National Congress. Pauline coached two national champions in Commentary. “We are not training students to win trophies, but to win the game of life,” says Pauline. “I believe every student benefits from a competitive speech experience. Therefore, I refuse to make cuts, and I welcome every student who wishes to compete… At the end of each meet, I ask two important questions: ‘What did you learn?’ and ‘Did you have fun?’”

Pauline began as a tearful competitor. As she reviews her career, she recalls mentors who helped her, graduates who thanked her, and colleagues who loved her. Any tears now will be tears of joy.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Dale Deletis
Dale Deletis

Inducted 2010
Massachusetts

Bio coming soon!

Cat Horner-Bennett
Cat Horner-Bennett

Inducted 2010
New Mexico

Bio coming soon!

Cathy Wood
Cathy Wood

Inducted 2010
Kansas

An elegant and respected woman is Cathy Wood, retired coach at Shawnee Mission-South (KS). An actress and play director, she softly commands any situation, whether a tab room protest or a contentious coach controversy. Beloved by students and respected by peers, her teaching, coaching, directing, and serving her profession has established a reputation for competence far beyond Kansas.

For almost 30 years she taught, coached, and directed at South with great success: more than 70 qualifiers to the National Tournament, including the 1987 Dramatic Interpretation champion, and two semifinalist Policy Debate teams. In 1986, the South squad was second in National Sweepstakes. Cathy also coached more than 30 Individual Events champions at the Kansas state tournament. Her service to the NFL/NSDA includes ten terms as district chair. Her excellent work earned her a Silver Award and three Gold Awards, as well as the Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service. In 2006, she was presented a Distinguished Service Key and in 2009, the Distinguished Service Plaque. Cathy’s Chapter at South won four Leading Chapter Awards; Cathy earned four diamonds for her key. She coached three district point leading students and three Academic All Americans. The NSDA also applauds the many fine theatrical performances she has directed. Mrs. Wood is a member of the Kansas Thespian Hall of Fame, as well as the Kansas Speech Coaches Hall of Fame.

Her most exciting career moment was hosting the 2014 National Tournament. In other years, she has co-chaired the speech tabulation room, and served as a final auditor to confirm the accuracy of all results. The competence and fairness of Cathy Wood has been widely praised. NSDA Board Member Pam McComas testifies, “Her fairness and honesty are always at the forefront.” Hall of Fame Coach Roger Brannan relates, “She has served as an effective, proven co-director of speech events.”

In retirement, Cathy wishes to act, direct, read, and spend quality time with her husband, the great debate coach and fellow Hall of Fame member, Steve Wood. Her career was great; now life is good.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2000s

2009 Inductees

Michele Coody
Michelle Coody

Inducted 2009
Alabama

Bio coming soon!

Eric DiMichele
Eric DiMichele

Inducted 2009
New York

Bio coming soon!

Jan Heiteen
Jan Heiteen

Inducted 2009
Illinois

Bio coming soon!

J. E. Masters
J. E. Masters

Inducted 2009
Texas

Bio coming soon!

2008 Inductees

Chuck Ballingall
Chuck Ballingall

Inducted 2008
California

A well-worn path has been trod from high school debate to college debate to high school debate coach; debate holds on to its true devotees. Chuck Ballingall is an excellent example. As a high school debater, coached by Jim Caforio, a former NDT second speaker, Chuck qualified for the 1978 Chicago NFL Nationals in debate.

Chuck debated his college sophomore and junior years for Bill Southworth at the University of Redlands. Junior year, he and his partner were ranked 12th nationally, receiving a bid to the NDT, where Chuck was 10th speaker. Senior year, debater Ballinghall became coach Ballinghall at Yucaipa High School (CA), assisting Tom Roper, a California Hall of Fame coach. Upon graduation, Chuck became debate coach at Damien High School (CA), a private Catholic boys school.

Damien competes in California; more than 100 teams have qualified for state, and they won in 1993. They also compete on the national circuit; reaching the TOC semifinals three times in four years. Damien has qualified almost 50 teams to the National tournament and five times finished in the top six: 1st in 2009; 2nd in 2015; 3rd in 1990; 5th in 2011; and 6th in 2008. Chuck once said, humorously, that he hoped for a fourth place.

His coaching was student centered: “I try to motivate students to work to their potential…and I try to make sure that students have the resources needed commensurate with those efforts.” A five-diamond coach, who once coached the Water Polo team at Damien, he later coached at summer debate institutes, where he enjoyed the interaction with current and former NDT champions on staff.

Ballingall served on the Debate Topic Wording Committee, as NDCA vice president, and as secretary on the California High School Speech Association Executive Council. He was inducted to the CHSSA Hall of Fame in 1993.

In 1978, student debater Chuck Ballingall attended the NFL National Tournament banquet, where the initial NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held. Thirty years later, he became a member of that Hall of Fame. Debate never lets go of one of its own.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Elly Kantorowicz
Elly Kantorowicz

Inducted 2008
National Office, Wisconsin

An important employee of the National Forensic League is the official calligrapher. Bruno Jacob’s vision for the National Forensic League was influenced by the collegiate debating societies of the 1920s, like Pi Kappa Delta. These societies, like the adult lodges and literary societies which they emulated, were very much devoted to ceremony: a badge or pin signifying membership; an ornate, sometimes framed, certificate or diploma; the ritual of induction.

The fledgling NFL had all of these honorifics, especially the diploma of membership. Each new member’s name was hand drawn in calligraphy on white vellum stock, with space for colored foil seals in bas-relief, representing advanced degrees, to be affixed. The term calligraphy comes from the Greek “kallos” (beauty) and “graphein” (to write). Bruno Jacob insisted that calligraphy gave the NFL diploma the weight of importance and the elegance of style.

Several artists lettered names over the years. In 1958, local Ripon artist Elly Kantorowicz was hired to be the NFL calligrapher. Elly drew free hand and her beautiful rendering of names was of the highest quality. Her workload consisted of engrossing names on student membership diplomas, names on certificates earned by National Tournament qualifiers, names on first diamond coach certificates, and names of founding members on school Charters. Elly worked in her home with her husband Carl, who affixed the initial seal on every diploma.

In 1985, NFL Secretary Dennis Winfield decided to computer print student diplomas. Costs would be less without a calligrapher. Money was saved, but a valued tradition was lost. In 1986, a new Secretary reinstated the historic diplomas and reinstated Elly. Over the years, Elly lettered almost one million (927,926 to be exact) certificates and 1,154 Charters.

Elly says she is grateful for having the opportunity to share her God-given talent with so many appreciative people. Because of severe osteoarthritis, Elly retired in 2008. Her art lives on.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Robert Kelly
Robert Kelly

Inducted 2008
Indiana

“There is no ‘I’ in team,” says every coach of every activity on the first day of practice! Perhaps there is no better example of this ideal than the forensic squad at Indiana’s Chesterton High School. Over the years the coaching staff worked as a team; the students also accept the team concept. The amazing results: the number of National Sweepstakes won (five, in consecutive order); three Bruno E. Jacob Trophies won (demonstrating excellence over two decades); many School of Excellence awards won (at the National Tournament); and the number of Indiana State Sweepstakes won (18, including 11 in a row).

The Chesterton NSDA Chapter has also succeeded: largest chapter in the district almost every year, more than 20 times among the nation’s top ten chapters; six Leading Chapter Awards. But every winning team must have a brilliant director—a conductor, who can meld the disparate elements into a successful unit. At Chesterton, that man was and is Robert J. Kelly.

After a brief hiatus, Bob returned to again direct the team. Challenging his sophomores to win the Indiana State Sweepstakes, after a dry spell of 12 years, they responded with wins in 2005 and 2007!

Bob Kelly’s philosophy of coaching is concise and compelling, “Watch and listen; you’re never that good, and there is always something to learn. It’s not about ribbons and trophies; it’s about learning and relationships.” Coach Kelly believes his most exhilarating and disappointing moments occur at the same time, at the postings. “All is right when their number is there,” he says.

Kelly is a three-diamond coach and a member of the Indiana High School Forensic Association Hall of Fame. He is proud that he and his colleague, coach James Cavallo, were inducted together.

Bob Kelly will always be remembered by his students as a man who truly cared about them; he cherishes the moments they spent together. A music hall song from the early part of the last century asked, “Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?” He is at the postings… full of hope for his team.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Kandi King
Kandi King

Inducted 2008
Texas

Good things always come from small packages. Kandi King, retired coach in San-Antonio, TX is one of the Hall of Fame’s most petite members, but her entire life has produced plus-size results for her students and rendered extra-large service to her profession.

Kandi began her career at Houston Cypress Creek (TX), where she coached a TFA Extemp champion, who finished third at Nationals. She taught next at San Antonio Madison. One of her students won the NFL Congress Championship. Moving to Clark High School, she coached a sixth place Policy Debate team and a runner-up Top Speaker. Her debaters won a Phillips Performance Award. Kandi also coached a National third place student in Congress and a sixth place student in International Extemp.

In 1998, she joined the Churchill faculty. During her career, more than 80 students qualified for the National Tournament, many advancing to elimination and final rounds. She coached two Top Speakers in Policy Debate. Her squad won the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy in 2004; Kandi received the Albert Odom Commendation as coach. Her Churchill squad won the Leading Chapter Award twice.

Coach King earned five diamonds. She always asked contestants, “Did you learn something?” She knew that “even if a student suffers a loss or low rank, there is still the real possibly of growth.” Kandi insisted students “compete with grace and respect, for their peers and the activity.”

Ms. King’s service to her profession includes: charter member and president of the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA); seven terms as chair of the Central Texas District, winning a Gold Award and the Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service; president of both TFA and TSCA; and service as an NFL/NDSA Executive Councilor for 18 years.

Kandi’s honors include: a Barkley Forum Gold Key; selection as Texas Speech Teacher of the Year; recipient of the UIL Denius Award; and election to the Texas Forensic Association Hall of Fame.

Beloved by her students, elected by her peers, honored by her colleagues: small lady, big career!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Ronald Krikac
Ronald Krikac

Inducted 2008
Minnesota; South Dakota; Florida; Wisconsin; Texas; Wyoming

In retirement Ron collects grand pianos: he owns one for each day of the week. During his career, he probably coached more national champion teams and speakers than anyone else. “I coached as a part of a team of coaches,” Ron says, “I don’t like the idea that a single coach ‘claims’ credit; coaching is a collaborative effort… no one coach is responsible…” He is correct. Many schools have multiple coaches, and summer institutes offer instruction, as do internet webinars and videos.

A student national qualifier from South Dakota, Ron coached at Minnesota High School (MN); Yankton High School (SD), Pine Crest School (FL), Marquette University High School (WI), Churchill High School (TX), and Sheridan High School (WY).

In the summer, he taught at speech institutes. Ron also taught Interpretation on NFL instructional videos and co-authored the book Getting Started in Oral Interpretation with L. D. Naegelin.

Four-time Coach of the Year, his teams won two Bruno E. Jacob Trophies and four NFL Sweepstakes. His NCFL Grand squads won three Sweepstakes, and he coached five Grand speech champions. NFL speech champions included a double winner in Dramatic and Humorous in 1978; an Extemp Champion in1984; and a student who won DI in 1985 and HI in 1986. Ron coached 23 students to the final round. The list of his national circuit invitational champions is extensive.

Krikac recalls memorable achievements: a South Dakota girl who still holds the record for most “Superior” ratings at state; a Florida boy who won three NFL championships in one year (DI, HI, and Sweepstakes); a Wisconsin team that won the NFL Sweepstakes by the largest point total in history; a Texas team that won the Sweepstakes at every tournament they attended one year, including invitationals and Nationals; and coaching Emmy winning actor, Kelsey Grammer.

What was Ron’s secret? Hard work mixed with love! His students were given a rigorous practice schedule. Adolescent students will work hard and succeed, if they are treated with respect and love.

At any one of his grand pianos, Ron is merely grand; but at coaching speech, Ron is the maestro!

— Compiled by James Copeland

2007 Inductees

Lydia Esslinger
Lydia Esslinger

Inducted 2007
New York

Bio coming soon!

Tony Figliola
Tony Figliola

Inducted 2007
Pennsylvania

A nationally recognized expert in Oral Interpretation of Literature of all genres, and a speech coach of national renown, is Tony Figliola, coach at Holy Ghost Prep (PA). He advocated that the National Catholic Forensic League adopt Duo Interpretation at NCFL Tournaments. He wrote the guidelines and developed the event ballot. Tony also urged the NFL to adopt the event in a Rostrum article. Coach Figliola has written detailed handbooks on the Interpretation events and Oratory for several summer speech institutes, where he has been a marquee coach for many years.

Oral Interpretation has not always had the respect it deserved. The NFL was mainly a debate league, mirroring its collegiate progenitor Pi Kappa Delta. Founder Bruno Jacob always said, “Debate is King; Oratory is its Queen.” Dramatic and Humorous contests were held at the first Nationals, but in the form of memorized Declamation. Only years later were scripted events added: Poetry and Prose as supplemental events. Points awarded for Interpretation events were less than in original contests. Not until the 21st century were scripted events given trials and adopted and credit points equalized. Tony and his colleagues finally prevailed.

Mr. Figliola led the Holy Ghost squad to 17 Pennsylvania state team titles and coached individuals to win more than 100 state championships! At the NCFL Grand Tournament, Tony and co-coach, John Buettler, placed 65 finalists. Champions numbered two in Oratory; seven in Oral Interp; and seven in Duo. In the NFL/NSDA Nationals, more than 20 students reached the final round; nine placed in the top three, including a championship in Duo Interpretation. Holy Ghost earned four Leading Chapter Awards and won ten District Tournament Plaques and five Trophies. Tony, a member of the Pennsylvania Speech Hall of Fame, earned four diamonds.

Literature holds up a mirror to life; Oral Interpretation is its voice; Tony Figliola is its advocate.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Mel Olson
Mel Olson

Inducted 2007
Minnesota

Bio coming soon!

Betty Whitlock
Betty Whitlock

Inducted 2007
Georgia

In 2007, Bertha (Betty) Whitlock was awarded the Thomas Glenn Pelham Commendation, an elegant obelisk inscribed: “In recognition of devotion to the forensic arts.” Devotion!

Betty taught the forensic arts for 42 years. Her philosophy in her own words: “I have stressed the growth of learning over winning. I want my students to…build skills that will allow them to communicate effectively in their adult lives… Speech and debate makes a life difference. I, of course, was excited about the national champions, but the most exciting was when a student who had worked with me for four years…won fourth place…at a local tournament, earning his first award.” And Betty did coach national champions—a Senate champion in 1998, and two Top Presiding Officers, 1997 in the Senate and 2000 in the House.

Ms. Whitlock’s devotion to Mississippi forensics is legendary. An expert coach of Congressional Debate, Betty directed the Mississippi Youth Congress for two decades. In addition, she was instrumental in the development of the Stennis Novice Speech and Debate Tournament at Mississippi State University. Betty, sponsor Rex Buffington, Director of Stennis Center for Public Leadership, and NSDA President and friend Billy Tate, created an opportunity for Deep South novices to participate in a variety of events to jump start their new forensic careers.

Betty served her state organization, the Mississippi High School Activities Association, and was a member of the National Federation Speech and Debate Committee. She was chosen to the Fine Arts Section of the NFHS Hall of Fame.

Betty believes, “Coaching contributed so much to me as an individual. I am more knowledgeable in so many different areas…” A humble statement from someone who spent a lifetime teaching thousands of students “the forensic arts.” Devotion!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Pam Cady Wycoff
Pam Cady Wycoff

Inducted 2007
Minnesota

The pillar of this exceptional woman’s career is a quotation from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world.” Pam believes in the importance of team: “Students joined together achieve a level of excellence…that no one could achieve alone.” Her coaching philosophy: “It’s not about winning. Excellence is the goal—winning is a bonus.”

Pam’s Cady’s first team was at Mankato Loyola (MN), a tiny school of 200, where a quarter of the students were on the team. During her tenure, Loyola established a record, cumulative total of Class A medalists at the Minnesota state finals. Notably, her student won the first state LD festival.

Pam’s second team, Apple Valley High School (MN), became a state and national power. She introduced LD Debate and coached two debaters to close out the state LD final round! Nationally, she coached champions in International Extemp, Oratory (first and second in 1995), Prose Reading, and Expository Speaking. In 1998, the team won the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy.

Pam Cady’s third team was formed when she married Joe Wycoff in 1999. Together, they coached 73 state champions, five national champions in Oratory, and one in Dramatic Interpretation.

Pam’s career totals: more than 40 national finalists, ten champions, and 18 runners-up. The Apple Valley team won School of Excellence Awards or Sweepstakes Trophies in 24 different years.

A six-diamond coach, Pam was named “Coach of the Year” in 2009. Other honors include a Pelham Commendation from Emory University; the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque – Eleventh Honors from the NSDA; and membership in the MSHSL Hall of Fame. Elected four times to the NSDA Council, she now serves as vice president.

In 2016, the NSDA named Oratory “Joe and Pam Wycoff Original Oratory” after the couple. Pam responded, “To share this honor together is the highlight of our career, and one we will always cherish.”

Pam Cady Wycoff and her students, working together as a team, changed their world.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2006 Inductees

Gay Brasher
Gay Brasher

Inducted 2006
California

To Gay Brasher, it’s is all about opportunity. That is why Gay established a speech team in each of the six high schools in the San Jose Unified School District. During the early years, she coached at every school and the students traveled together. Although representing their own school, they formed close friendships, supported each other, and learned the true meaning of “team.”

Opportunity is why her school, Leland, serves more than 300 students annually and is always one of the nation’s largest teams, the largest NFL team in the United States more times than any other school. Providing opportunity for students is why Gay Brasher won the NSDA James M. Copeland Coach of the Year award in 2001 and earned her seventh diamond in 2017.

Gay Brasher is proud that Leland speakers won the California state tournament twice, and proud of several National finalists, including a runner-up in DI. The size of the team prevents national travel, but students regularly enjoy superior competition at tournaments sponsored by California colleges and universities, which draw top teams from all over the country. More than 100 Leland students compete each year; many have won awards and all have received great learning experiences and the opportunity to test their skills against the nation’s best.

Coach Brasher believes speech and debate life skills should be available to, and attainable by, any student who has the desire to learn and is willing to work. Gay Brasher was teacher of the year in Louisiana in 1968. In 1970, she came to California, and feared she might not be successful. But three future Hall of Fame sisters—Carmendale Fernandes, Natalie Weber, and Shirley Keller-Firestone—supported her and provided both advice and inspiration.

Gay wishes to “thank all of the great coaches who have taught and continue to invigorate me; and to emphasize that even after 49 years as a teacher, I truly believe that I am still learning so much every day.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Sister Mary Patricia Plumb
Sister Mary Patricia Plumb

Inducted 2006
Florida

Many members in the Hall of Fame have rendered great service to their students, their school, the NDSA, and their profession. But one among us may have provided perfect service: Sister Mary Patricia Plumb, coach at Academy of Holy Names (FL). A Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, she serves as teacher, coach, administrator, and campus minister.

Sister Mary Patricia has worked for many years as a state league (FFP) councilor, a member of the NFL/NDSA Florida Sunshine District Committee, and as “perpetual” president of the Florida Gulf Coast Catholic Forensic League. She humorously asks, “Are these ‘accomplishments’ or just ‘proof of insanity’…not sure which? We all did our parts and made it work for students.” For years, Sister Mary worked to insure a smooth check out procedure at the National Tournament.

She believes “students need to be motivated, supported, and instructed properly; however, they must have the ‘inner fire’ for this activity. The work, and hence the honors, must come from them.” Sister Mary reports that she is exhilarated that former students still stay in touch with her. Two students in particular are remembered by Sister Mary as possessing that “inner fire”: Laura Ann Fernandez and Megan O’ Conner. Laura qualified for both NFL and NCFL Nationals every year except freshman year, when she was ill. She excelled in Congress, LD, and Extemp, and was recognized nationally on the NFL high point student list. Megan performed in the final round of Drama at both NFL and NCFL Nationals.

In 2007, Sister Mary celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years as a Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. In 2016, she received her seventh diamond, marking an incredible 35 years of coaching. It is clear that Sister Mary holds an inner fire for the activity herself.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Michael Starks
Michael Starks

Inducted 2006
Wyoming

Bio coming soon!

Aaron Timmons
Aaron Timmons

Inducted 2006
Texas

H. B. Mitchell was the best Policy Debate coach of his time. Ted Belch was the best Policy Debate coach of all time. But recognize that only Aaron Timmons of Greenhill School (TX) has coached multiple champions in two debate divisions. Aaron, a shy but intense man, has coached Lincoln-Douglas debaters and Policy Debate teams to achieve consistently superior results in every forum.

His success at the NSDA finals is nonpareil: Policy champions in 1996 (including top speaker) and 1998; Policy runners-up in 2001, 2005, and 2011 (losing two decisions by a single vote); Lincoln Douglas champions in 1990, 1997, and 2016; LD runner-up in 1993; and the National Tournament high point student in 1990. Teams coached by Aaron and his wife Cindi (then coach at Colleyville Heritage High School) almost debated in the 1998 Policy finals. A questionable decision in semis prevented a marital match-up. Aaron coached Cindi’s team during their 2002 tournament run to finals. She was home with newborn son, Joshua.

Mr. Timmons has coached 24 TFA state champions in Policy and LD; five champions and three finalists at the TOC, as well as top speakers, in both policy and LD; achieved NDCA champions and finalists in both; and won every major national circuit invitational at least once. The Barkley Forum honored Aaron with the Glenn Pelham Commendation, and the NDCA presented him with the David Baker Award. He was selected coach of the 2016 USA Debate Team, which competes in World Schools Debate. Aaron has earned four coaching diamonds. Greenhill, named one of the top programs of the 20th century by the NSDA, won two Leading Chapter Awards. Aaron, member of the TOC and the TFA Halls of Fame, is a leader in promoting more diversity of both coaches and students in all forms of debate.

Mr. Timmons’ coaching stresses strong research, recognizes technology, and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion. His three core principles are commitment, teamwork, and hard work. Aaron is interested in brain research to learn how students learn, and the science of persuasion to help students construct better arguments. To Aaron, debate is not just about winning contests; it is about teaching students to leave “no stone unturned” to achieve their very best.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2005 Inductees

Timothy C. Averill
Timothy C. Averill

Inducted 2005
Massachusetts

Coaching at Manchester, Manchester-Essex, and Waring School, Tim Averill has compiled an outstanding record in all three forms of competitive debate: Policy, Lincoln-Douglas, and Public Forum. In 1987, his Policy team won the both the TOC and NFL Nationals. They defeated a fine St. Mark’s team from Texas in the NFL final round, after splitting decisions with them in two earlier rounds—the only time two teams have met three times in the same National Tournament!

Tim’s deep interest and métier for many years was Lincoln-Douglas, but he proved both his skill and versatility by also successfully coaching Public Forum. When his team closed out the 2006 final round; he joined Hall of Fame colleagues Catherine Bennett and William Woods Tate, Jr., as coaches whose teams closed out an NFL National Tournament debate final round!

Mr. Averill has been honored as NFL Coach of the Year in 2005, as a Barkley Forum Key Coach, a recipient of the Pelham Award, and as a member of the Massachusetts Speech and Debate Hall of Fame. His service to his profession includes working with his state league to build Public Forum and his support of the Boston Debate League, one of the most active Urban Debate Leagues in the country.

An ally and supporter of his students, Tim is proud he does not do the student’s work, but trains them to present their work publicly to be judged. About 25% of the student body each year participates in his program. He enjoys coaching novices, and says his most thrilling moment each year occurs when, after their initial tournament, the novices realize that they are indeed debaters.

Tim’s profession is teaching, but his hobby is the great Italian game, Bocce. He built a bocce court in his backyard, where Tim and his debaters had many a game, while discussing winning arguments.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Dr. Kenny Barfield
Dr. Kenny Barfield

Inducted 2005
Alabama

In the president’s office at Mars Hill Bible School hangs a chart from a past debate tournament, announcing the quarter final pairings. Such a chart is posted at every tournament, except this chart is unique. Every quarterfinal team listed is from one school: Mars Hill closed out the quarterfinal round!

President, pastor, teacher, and coach, Dr. Kenny Barfield is a renowned figure in American forensics. His Mars Hill students compete nationally and succeed nationally at all levels, from novice (winner of the Midwest Novice Championship) to national circuit varsity (TOC semifinalist). Kenny’s team record includes more than 50 state championships, and qualification for elimination rounds and speaker awards at major invitational tournaments: Harvard, Princeton, Emory, Duke, Berkeley, Wake Forest, USC, and the Glenbrooks! Mars Hill thrice qualified to represent Alabama at the Bicentennial Youth Debates, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Selected to the Alabama Speech and Debate Hall of Fame, and chosen a Barkley Forum Key Coach, Dr. Barfield was a founding member of both the NFL Deep South District and the Alabama Speech and Debate Association. As Mars Hill president, Dr. Barfield arranged a large donation to ensure the school’s mission would continue. Pastor Barfield’s coaching philosophy is Christian based. He recognizes and builds upon the talent of each individual and recognizes that each student learns differently. He offers each student the same opportunity for success.

Debate at Mars Hill teaches life skills. “As a debate coach,” Kenny says,” I need to teach my debaters the importance of being a good listener, and the importance of evaluating all the information they have at their disposal.” What is key for Pastor Barfield is that he imitates the love and philosophy of Jesus Christ. What is important to Coach Barfield is that he treat every student with dignity and respect. Dr. Barfield’s hope is that, in some way, every student is better off having known him.

Dr. Kenny Barfield’s expertise may be represented by awards; Mars Hill’s accomplishments may be proclaimed by charts. But their entwined legacy is the hundreds of students made better by the respect and teaching offered to each and every one.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Glenda Ferguson
Glenda Ferguson

Inducted 2005
Oklahoma; Texas

Jeffrey Wortman, the only person to win NFL Policy Debate as a student, and win again as a coach, described Glenda Ferguson as “a nice lady who will do anything she can to support debate.” True. As a coach of debaters, as tournament director, as NDCA co­founder, and as NFL Executive Councilor, Glenda was a major force in national Policy Debate and competitive forensics for decades. Glenda’s teams appeared regularly in elimination rounds at major national circuit tournaments. Her students won Top Speaker and runner­up in Policy Debate at NFL Nationals, and International Extemporaneous Speaking at state. Glenda herself won major honors including the Pelham Award, NDCA Educator of the Year, and initiation into the Texas Forensic Hall of Fame.

Glenda was at her very best conducting tournaments! As host director of the fine 2001 Oklahoma Nationals, she worked tirelessly to make sure every item was perfect on the beautiful University of Oklahoma campus. Council liaison to the National LD tab room during the years when LD was the largest event, Glenda supervised the event flawlessly, year after year. Her most challenging tournament was 2003 in Atlanta. There were never enough rooms. Glenda placed debates in restrooms and hallways. She ran rounds from early morning to late evening. Tournament Director Jim Copeland remarked, “If it were not for Glenda, the Atlanta tournament would have never ended!”

Students loved Glenda. She knew, “teenagers are people…they need to be treated with respect. If they believe you care, they will work harder… Find someplace where each kid can find success.” Ms. Ferguson has a wonderful family: husband Don and daughters Kelli and Lesli. The support of the family was essential so Glenda could accomplish all of her demanding jobs. Glenda realized, “Speech and debate has provided the opportunity for wonderful people to come into my life. It is with a sense of satisfaction to realize that God put me right where I was supposed to be.” Everybody in the debate community agrees; God put Glenda with all of us!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Gloria Robinson
Gloria Robinson

Inducted 2005
Texas

Bio coming soon!

2004 Inductees

Marilee Dukes
Marilee Dukes

Inducted 2004
Alabama

Bio coming soon!

Pamela K. McComas
Pamela K. McComas

Inducted 2004
Kansas

Her nickname is “The Bulldog”! Hardly a proper moniker for such an intelligent and caring lady. But apt, if one considers the description of that breed by the announcer at the famous Westminster Dog Show: “The bulldog’s traits of courage and tenacity are a symbol of determination.” And a most determined lady is Pam. She is determined that students define and reach their goals, determined that tournaments be run fairly and competently, and determined that the Board of Directors provide exceptional leadership and ethical governance to the National Speech & Debate Association.

Coach McComas has compiled a record of excellence in one of the nation’s most competitive states, Kansas. Thirteen years her squad won the State 6A Speech Sweepstakes, eight consecutively. Pam coached more than 30 individual speech and four debate state champions. Her Topeka High School Chapter won three Leading Chapter Awards, and produced 19 district point leading students, including three, first in the nation.

Ms. McComas qualified more than 180 students to the National Tournament, accruing five champions, a runner-up debate team, finalists in all but three events, and the 1999 Bruno E. Jacob Trophy. Pam’s philosophy of coaching is “every student can be successful—it does not matter how many medals/trophies you win; it is about ‘life skills’ you take away from the activity.” Her professional service includes nine years as district chair, winning three Gold Awards; election to the NSDA Board of Directors; chair of the NFHS Debate Topic Selection Committee; and president of the Kansas Speech Communication Association. Pam’s awards include Kansas High School Teacher of the Year; the NSDA Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Third Honors), and seven coaching diamonds.

Who has the dedication to make every student successful? Who has the tenacity to make every tournament perfect? Who is committed to listening to all concerns? Who let the “Bulldog” out!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Ronald Steinhorst
Ronald Steinhorst

Inducted 2004
Wisconsin

In every state, there is one coach who is so competent and so willing to serve others that he is consistently called upon to accept positions of leadership and the work required by those jobs. In Wisconsin, that trusted man is Ron Steinhorst.

A member of the Wisconsin Forensic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Ron was twice elected as the President of the WFCA. Moreover, he served as tournament director of their state tournament for 16 years. He was invaluable, during the early years of the WFCA, in representing the benefits of WFCA membership to the Northern Wisconsin coaches, and thereby insuring that the organization would be state wide.

He has served at the NFL/NSDA National Tournament for three decades as an important member of the judging committee, working long hours resolving judge conflicts and making substitutions.

Ron is the quintessential small town coach: “As a single coach working with as many as 45 students in an extracurricular program,” he relates, “one can spend only so much time with each. I like to think of…moving them forward through experience, hoping they will absorb some of the techniques employed by their competitors. When ranks of 5 become 4’s and 3’s, there is time for celebration. Unfortunately, too much emphasis is placed on the trophies and medals…” Ron continues, “Most disappointing moments occur when talented students choose to drop their speech/debate career for jobs and other activities that are not lifelong benefits.”

But Coach Steinhorst has had exhilarating moments: coaching a two-time NCFL Oratory national champion; qualifying students for break rounds at every NCFL Nationals since 1981; helping students with very little skill, become polished, confident speakers, who use their new skills for life.

Ronald Steinhorst was presented the initial William Hintz Award for coaching excellence. “Forensics has been my family,” says Ron. “I feel so proud being in the Hall of Fame.”

The NSDA is very proud of five-diamond, hard working coach, Ron Steinhorst!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Anne M. Sullivan
Anne M. Sullivan

Inducted 2004
Montana

Bio coming soon!

2003 Inductees

David Baker
David Baker

Inducted 2003
Texas

David, “we hardly knew ye.” After a brief, meteoric career, one of the finest young debate coaches in America suddenly abandoned Policy Debate coaching and became an administrator. Formerly student teacher for Hall of Fame coach Glenda Ferguson, and Policy Debate coach at the elite St. Mark’s School of Texas, David is now Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at that school.

The pressure of coaching Policy Debate teams on the national circuit prepared David for the difficult job of making life altering decisions about which students will be selected by St. Mark’s. And David’s honest and empathetic personality is helpful in softening parental disappointments.

During Mr. Baker’s brief coaching years, his Policy Debate team won a national championship in 1990. He coached two national runner-ups: 1987, the only Policy Debate tournament in history where the finalist teams met three times; and 1992, a disappointment, where David blames himself “because of bad advice I gave the team.” In 2002, a St. Mark’s team won again with a different coach, but with students coached by David in their younger years on the team. David’s teams also won two Barkley Forum debate championships and a TFA state championship.

David believed, “Debaters should learn debate as a process of logic, rather than a set of rules. Teams who understand principles of logic and reasoning are much…more likely to succeed…” A two-diamond coach, Mr. Baker served his profession as a founder of the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA); NFL district chair; and president of the Texas Forensic Association (TFA).

His honors include the TFA Hall of Fame and a Thomas Glenn Pelham Obelisk from the Barkley Forum for “devotion to the forensic arts, which teaches motivation, integrity, and character.”

David has a commitment to students: once a heavy cigarette smoker, he quit, and encouraged young debaters who smoked to re-examine their decision to smoke.

David “we hardly knew ye,” but we knew enough; we knew you belonged in the Hall of Fame!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Tom Montgomery
Tom Montgomery

Inducted 2003
California

A tragedy. A caring husband, father, teacher, coach, and valued colleague died far too soon. Tom Montgomery was teacher and coach at Lodi High School (CA). For 15 years, he supervised the speech tab room at the National Tournament, many of those years with his great friend and Hall of Fame colleague Donovan Cummings. Tom and Donovan invented the California Plan of elimination which reformed the earlier Up/Down system of ranking, always complex and often unfair.

Thomas Montgomery was a high school debater and Extemporaneous speaker at small Ripon High School (CA) where he qualified twice for the state tournament. Tom received a debate scholarship to The University of the Pacific where he had an 80% win rate as a freshman, and often debated against future Redlands College debate coach, Bill Southworth.

Coach Montgomery began his teaching career at Lodi High School in 1977. He coached four students to championships at the nation’s largest state tournament. He served as co-chair of the Individual Events tab room for 19 years and was elected by his colleagues to the CHSSA Hall of Fame. His Lodi NFL Chapter earned four Leading Chapter Awards. At the Big Valley district tournament, Lodi won the District Tournament Sweepstakes Plaque and Cumulative Sweepstakes Trophy. Tom qualified 53 students to the National Tournament, including a champion in Expository Speaking and finalists in Dramatic and United State Extemp. He qualified three to the National Congress.

Tom was a five-diamond key coach. He served two years as district chair and was honored with the NFL Distinguished Service Key and Plaque for his service at the National Tournament.

Tom Montgomery died suddenly in 2004, found in his car, dead of a heart attack. Every person who knew him was shocked and saddened. In the novel Life of Pi, Yann Martel writes one of the saddest lines in fiction: “…in the end the whole of life is an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

John E. Sexton
John E. Sexton

Inducted 2003
New York

One of the great high school debate coaches of all time, John Sexton compiled a brilliant record during the few years he coached. As a college student and walk-on coach, he founded a debate program at St. Brendan’s, a small Catholic girls’ high school in Brooklyn. During John’s brief tenure (1961-1975), the St. Brendan’s girls won a record five National Catholic Forensic League debate championships. Moreover, they won every national invitational debate tournament at least once and several multiple times. John ran the team as a family with the motto, “work hard and care for each other.” A large family indeed, the Chapter was three times the largest in the New York City District, as well as perennial New York state debate champions.

In NFL competition, John’s team dominated the district, qualifying for seven National Tournaments, finishing fifth in 1965, and reaching the final round in 1967. Since the first National Tournament in 1931, no female team had ever won NFL Policy Debate.

Hopes were high that the Brendan’s girls would be the first. But the ladies lost a close 3-2 decision to a South Carolina team coached by Jimmie Mann. It would be 1995 until a female team would win NFL debate; as late as 2017, it remained the only one.

St. Brendan’s closed in 1975, but the success of its debate program lives on. John Sexton graduated with honors from Harvard Law and later became Dean of the Law School at New York University. John now serves as President of NYU. His debaters also succeeded.

John proudly says, “These remarkable women lead some of our nation’s colleges, law firms, medical practices, businesses, and classrooms. It is remarkably fulfilling to hear from them the role that their time in debate still plays, decades later, in the wonderful lives they live.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Deborah E. Simon
Deborah E. Simon

Inducted 2003
Massachusetts

Bio coming soon!

Daniel Tyree
Daniel Tyree

Inducted 2003
Indiana

Bio coming soon!

2002 Inductees

Francine Berger
Francine Berger

Inducted 2002
Florida

Bio coming soon!

Gary Harmon
Gary Harmon

Inducted 2002
Kansas

Bio coming soon!

Randy Pierce
Randy Pierce

Inducted 2002
Missouri

Judy Garland sang it; Randy Pierce did it. “Meet me in St. Louis… Meet me at the fair…” In 1998, Randy, coach at Pattonville High School, his wife, fellow coach Rebecca, and the Eastern Missouri coaches created an event to rival the fair: the St. Louis Nationals. NBC star Stone Phillips delivered the opening speech; James Unger spoke, honoring deceased NFL president Lanny Naegelin; and Mark Ferguson produced an awards gala that Ed Sullivan would have called “a really great shew”! Randy’s meticulous planning and flawless execution made “meeting in St. Louis” memorable indeed.

Eight-diamond coach Randy Pierce is no stranger to awards. He was recipient of every award bestowed by the Speech and Theater Association of Missouri (STAM): Outstanding Teacher, the Loren Reid Service Award, and the Emeritus Award. The NSDA has presented Randy with the Distinguished Service Key and the Distinguished Service Plaque – Fourth Honors.

Mr. Pierce coached six state champion mock trial teams and state champions in Debate, Extemp and Oratory. Randy has qualified more than 125 students to Nationals, many in Congress. His team won a Karl E. Mundt Congressional Debate Trophy and a third place in Public Forum Debate.

For more than 20 years, Pattonville was the largest Chapter in the Eastern Missouri District, placing nationally 13 times in chapter size or new members, and earning six Leading Chapter Awards.

Pierce proudly coached two NFL All Americans and seven Academic All Americans. Randy’s philosophy: “Expose as many students as possible, of all ability levels, to the benefits of speech and debate.” Randy’s bliss: “Hearing students, formerly full of self-doubt, return from their first tournament bubbling with enthusiasm…”

Randy’s satisfaction: having his African American debate team win an overwhelmingly White debate tournament. Randy’s sorrow: cuts to the speech program and speech staff after his retirement. Missouri is the “Show Me” state, and for 39 great years, Randy demonstrated excellence!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Sr. Mary Raimonde, FDC
Sr. Mary Raimonde, FDC

Inducted 2002
New York

Bio coming soon!

Margaret Riley
Margaret Riley

Inducted 2002
New York

Longtime coach at the Academy of Holy Names (NY), where she began teaching in 1934, Margaret initially coached students to perform in inter-city tournaments and American Legion contests. After her husband died in 1968, she began coaching several afternoons a week of NFL speech contest events, including her favorite, Dramatic Interpretation. Margaret often recruited students from the Drama Club for her team.
When asked if great New York coaches, like Lucille Stevens or NCFL President Maryann Addy, were her role models, Margaret demurred. Her models were “the Sisters at Holy Names, whom I always felt led and taught more by example… I always admired John Murphy and Brother Anthony Cavet…who never hid their faith, but set a high standard for others to follow.” Faith always played the central role in Margaret’s teaching and coaching.

Academy of the Holy Names students participated in the New York State League, The National Catholic Forensic League, and the NFL (now NSDA). Margaret’s school received its Charter in 1969. She qualified 12 young ladies to NFL Nationals and more to the NCFL Grand Tournament. Margaret was a master coach. “I never wanted a student to rise too quickly,” recalls Mrs. Riley, “as I felt too much ego built from early success, led to a flawed self-vison. I always admired the less talented student, whose success was built on…hard work and careful nurturing… Public speech and team debate builds strength of character, discipline, and self-assurance—in other words, life skills.”

Her advice rings true: “Recruit not only the talented, but those reticent to step forward. Seek them out, for they won’t come to you… but the effort will be gratifying both for you and them.” Margaret’s disappointment was that her son John never participated; she wanted to coach the boy. But her daughters and John’s son had success on her team.

Margaret Riley lived more than 100 years. She lived and taught as a woman of faith.

— Compiled by James Copeland

2001 Inductees

Ron Carr
Ron Carr

Inducted 2001
Florida

Bio coming soon!

Randall McCutcheon
Randall McCutcheon

Inducted 2001
Massachusetts; New Mexico

Randy McCutcheon is an author. But more than just an author, Mr. McCutcheon is an authority! He is a nationally known expert on communication and thinking. His 11 titles include the widely adopted textbooks Communication Matters (with Hall of Fame coach Joe Wycoff) and Journalism Matters. His award-winning books include Get off my Brain, New York Public Library Book of the Year; and Can You Find It, Ben Franklin National Book of the Year. Randy also joined with Hall of Fame coach Dr. Tommie Lindsey, Jr., to write It Doesn’t Take a Genius. His first book was the best-selling Glencoe Speech (also with Wycoff). Randy’s SAT and ACT preparation guides reached number one in their category on Amazon. Nearly 500,000 copies of McCutcheon’s trade and textbooks have been sold.

Reviewers have raved over Randy’s teaching style:

“Randy has figured out how to teach someone else… he is one of the greats…” (Eric Liu, speechwriter for President Clinton)

“A lively style that can take care of itself.” (John Updike, Pulitzer Prize winning author)

Those who can’t do, teach. NOT! Four-diamond coach Randy led teams in four different states to 25 state championships and national team championships in the NFL and NCFL. More than 200 of Randy’s students qualified for Nationals, more than 20 reached finals, and seven were crowned champions.

In 1987, his Milton Academy (MA) team won the NFL National Sweepstakes and Randy was named Coach of the Year. His student won International Extemp. His Albuquerque Academy students won Oratory, Drama, and Duo. He also coached five National History Day students to win a paid trip to Greece. They performed Randy’s play, Agora-met’s Delight.

Teacher McCutcheon learned his philosophy from Thoreau, “Be not simply good. Be good for something.” Randy in retirement continues his life of teaching by tutoring needy kids.

— Compiled by James Copeland

B. J. Naegelin
B. J. Naegelin

Inducted 2001
Texas

Betty Jean Naegelin was always elegantly dressed and coiffed: the perfect first lady. But she was also a Texas woman: plain spoken, sometimes sharp, and fiercely loyal to her students and her friends.

At the Tulsa Nationals, a rival coach was critiquing one of her students. Politely, B. J. thanked the coach and tried to shepherd her student away. But the coach would not take the hint. She wished to impart more of her opinions to the trapped student. “Back off, Missy,” stated B. J. “This is our kid!”

B. J. also believed a wife should “stand by your man.” At the Glenbrook Nationals, a coach standing near B. J. declared there had been a tabulation error. “That is terrible,” B. J. blurted. “Yes,” said the coach, “it was in supplemental tab” (the event B. J.’s husband Lanny Naegelin was tabbing). “Well, mistakes do happen,” was Mrs. Naegelin’s response. There was no error, and to B. J., Lanny could do no wrong.

Years later, aging and ill, B. J. flew to Washington to attend the funeral of James Unger. Her family warned against such a difficult trip, but B. J.’s response was firm: “I’m going! He was our friend.”

B. J. remained active in forensics after Lanny’s death, often attending tournaments. She was honored at President Billy Tate’s Southern Bell Forum and at Nationals. At institutes and tournaments, she often hosted a forensic salon for coaches. New plays were critiqued, Oratory topics were discussed, and new coaching methods analyzed. Fine dining and good conversation were always present. B. J. was deeply respected by her peers, who elected her to the Hall of Fame in 2001.

B. J. Naegelin’s passion was the theater. She was an ardent playgoer and often saw two shows a day on trips to New York. When Lanny directed a show, B. J. was the influential yet uncredited co-director. Lanny trusted her opinions. Few coaches had her extensive knowledge of Broadway plays.

The co-captain of Team Naegelin died in 2012. The Gentle Giant and his Lady were reunited: Team Naegelin, together, at last and forever.

To read more about L. D. Naegelin, click here.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Bro. George Zehnle, SM
Bro. George Zehnle, SM

Inducted 2001
New York

Bio coming soon!

2000 Inductees

Robert Brittain
Robert Brittain

Inducted 2000
Indiana

Bob Brittain was a true gentleman, a fine teacher, and a tireless servant of his profession. While coaching at Columbia City High School, he served 24 consecutive terms as chair of the Northwest Indiana District. During those years, he was presented both a Silver Award and three Gold Awards for his service as chair; the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque for his service to the League on committees and in tab rooms; and as a final accolade, the Ralph E. Carey Award for Distinguished Career Service in 2009!

Bob was an excellent coach and conducted a quality program for more than 30 years. Columbia City High School won three Leading Chapter Awards, was twice the largest Chapter in Indiana, and twice celebrated the NFL leading point student in the state. Coach Brittain earned four diamonds. At the district tournament, Bob’s squad won the Sweepstakes Plaque once and the Trophy four times. Mr. Brittain qualified 49 students to the National Speech & Debate Tournament, including 13 debate teams and nine National Congress delegates. Bob coached a double qualifier, Dave Richison, to the National semifinals in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and a second place in Boys’ Extemporaneous Speaking. Columbia City won the National Student Congress Trophy in 1975. Robert Brittain was elected to the Indiana Speech Coaches Hall of Fame as well as the NFL Hall.

Bob earned many honors during his lengthy career, but his greatest honor was the trust of his colleagues to conduct the district and its tournament with fairness and competence year after year. No greater honor could have been earned. In 2016, the citizens of Columbia City voted to build a new high school. The school that Bob attended as a student, and later coached and taught in for more than 30 years, had been obsolete for years and finally was being replaced. At the ceremony celebrating the new high school, the Director of the Community Foundation, September McConnell, said, “Somewhere, Bob Brittain is smiling.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Maybelle Conger
Maybelle Conger

Inducted 2000
Oklahoma

I did not know Ms. Conger, but Hall of Fame coach David Johnson did and recalls: “Maybelle Conger taught in the basement of Central [Oklahoma City Central High School] for 44 years. Most people found that appropriate, assuming the school was built around her… I mean nothing negative about the term ‘warhorse.’ A fight with Maybelle was a fight to the death. Central was a powerful school, and Maybelle was a legend.” Oklahoma debate in those years was a man’s game. H. B. Mitchell and “Pop” Grady each coached multiple national champions, but Ms. Conger more than held her own.

Her record at Nationals was stunning: a national debate champion in 1932; a national Oratorical Declamation champion in 1935; a national Oratory champion in 1936; a national Humorous Declamation champion in 1940; a national Dramatic declamation champion in 1941; the National Trophy (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy) in 1949; a national debate semifinalist in 1955; and eight other finalists. She also taught and mentored Hall of Fame coach Charline Burton, who would mirror Maybelle’s record with a semifinalist debate team, a champion in Extemporaneous speaking, and a National Trophy. Maybelle’s students endowed a scholarship in her name at Oklahoma City University.

One could only imagine how difficult it must have been for a woman to be a debate and speech coach in 1930s and 1940s Oklahoma. It was a hotbed of forensic activity and the most successful state at the National Tournament. High school education was male- dominated and so was competitive speech. Yet Maybelle set the competitive standard for success at Nationals.

According to the Winter 1966-1967 Oklahoma Today, Ms. Conger also had a hobby. She collected more than 200 hundred toy skunks. One wonders if she named any after her competitor coaches!

— Compiled by James Copeland

John Hires
John Hires

Inducted 2000
Illinois

Founder Bruno Jacob believed that the most important honor to be earned in the NFL was not a national championship, but membership. Bruno’s words were put into action by John Hires, coach at Downers Grove South High School. With his Hall of Fame coaching partner Jan Heiteen, their Chapter was famous for getting young people involved in speech activities—lots of young people. Downers Grove South led Illinois as Largest Chapter in Enrollments (most new members) and as a National Top Ten School. Downers Grove South was the Largest Chapter in Illinois during 29 years; for 31 years, the school led the state in new members; and the Chapter placed on the National Top Ten lists 21 times: largest chapter, new member enrollment, or both (nine times in first place). Individual students also achieved honors—six times leading the district in NFL points, two in the National Top Ten, including one in second place. The program won four Leading Chapter Awards.

Large participation programs usually have less competitive success than star system programs. John’s wife Diana said, “He was not interested in the star, he was interested in the student.” But Hires’ program enjoyed great success. At the district tournament the squad won 14 Sweepstakes Plaques and four District Trophies. John Hires qualified 108 students to the National Tournament and placed 12 finalists, including a second in Prose and two runners-up in LD (Andrew Jacobs in back-to-back years).

John directed more than 200 shows in his career. He preferred comedies, but directed dramas and musicals as well. His squad dominated the Illinois state speech tournament, winning seven times and always finishing in one of the top three places. It was sad that John did not live to see his daughter Kelly make the semifinals in Dramatic Interpretation at the 2004 National finals. She was coached by John’s co-coach, Jan Heiteen, who continued the great Downers Grove South traditions.

— Compiled by James Copeland

William "Billy" Woods Tate, Jr.
William "Billy" Woods Tate, Jr.

Inducted 2000
Tennessee

William Woods Tate, Jr., was a Southern gentleman: impressive in size, courtly in manner and whip smart. He played tournament bridge and could visualize the place of every card; he was politically savvy and held high office at his college, in his fraternity, and in the NFL/NSDA; he could call from memory the name of every person he met; and details of every Alabama football game he had seen.

Billy was large and he lived large. His delight was food. Many thought he was a gourmand. Not so! Billy was a gourmet in the classic sense. Whether enjoying fried vegetables at a tiny restaurant in Alabama, or tucking in at a five-star restaurant, Billy knew great taste! His hobby was antiques, especially brilliantine glass from the turn of the last century. His collection was one of America’s finest.

Billy’s sport was Alabama football. He intensely followed every game: exultant in victory;
depressed in defeat. Coach Tate’s passion was winning: in football, in politics, in debate.

On the national circuit, his team won the Glenbrooks and made late rounds at the TOC and the Barkley Forum. Tate hosted the Southern Bell Forum, a circuit event of unequaled hospitality.

At Nationals, his Montgomery Bell Academy Policy Debate team finished second in 1999. In 2005, MBA was the first team in history to close out the NFL Policy Debate final round!

The MBA program was hugely successful: the largest Chapter in Tennessee eight times and three-time winner of the Leading Chapter Award. Tate was honored with five diamonds, the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Third Honors), a Barkley Forum Key, a TOC Hall of Fame Induction, and the Pelham commendation.

Billy Tate and the Tennessee District hosted the elegant Nashville National Tournament in 1988. As NFL president, Billy served longer than any other president except Senator Karl Mundt. His presidential initiatives included the formation of the National Junior Forensic League, recruitment of new sponsors, and selection of National Tournament sites. He was immensely popular with students and coaches alike.

Hosting a District Congress in 2013, Billy’s great heart stopped. The NSDA will never again meet such a man.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Kenneth Thames
Kenneth Thames

Inducted 2000
Wisconsin

Bio coming soon!

1990s

1999 Inductees

Lawrence "Larry" Brown
Lawrence "Larry" Brown

Inducted 1999
Kansas

Bio coming soon!

Glenn Cavanaugh
Glenn Cavanaugh

Inducted 1999
Pennsylvania

Glenn R. Cavanaugh, coach at Derry Area High School, was a small man with a wry sense of humor. Well-liked by all his friends and colleagues, Glenn was elected Pennsylvania District Chair for 29 consecutive terms, a modern record. He was awarded the NFL Gold Award three times. Glenn also earned the NFL Distinguished Service Key and Plaque, and three diamonds. Glenn’s squad was thrice the largest chapter and four times celebrated the District High Point Student. Derry Area High School won three Leading Chapter Awards. At the district tournament, Coach Cavanaugh’s teams won the Sweepstakes Plaque twice and the Tournament Trophy twice. Derry Area qualified 21 students to the National Tournament and 11 to the National Congress, including a President of the Senate.

Glenn also provided competitive opportunities for his students to place in the PHSSL State Tournament. Glenn had a way of making gentle, humorous comments. He renamed Hugh Ringer’s aged mother Roberta, “Bobette,” because of her endless energy. He often joked that the name of his school, Derry Area, was close in pronunciation to the French word, “derriere,” and the school cheer should be “rump, rump, rump!” Glenn, his wife, and Pittsburgh Chairperson, Peggy Madden, were devotees of local art shows and mavens of weekend garage sales. Glenn’s comments about the art and the rummage were humorously apt.

For years, the Pennsylvania crew ran the largest event at the National Tournament, consolation Impromptu Speaking. Peggy, Glenn, Hugh, “Bobette,” Alice Ursin, Ed Kelly, and others did the impossible with elan and without error. They ran seven rounds of competition for 500 plus students in a single day. And at every National Tournament opening party, they danced and sang “The Pennsylvania Polka.” Glenn Cavanaugh is also a member of the Pennsylvania Speech Coaches Hall of Fame. Of course!

Compiled by James Copeland

Steven Davis
Steven Davis

Inducted 1999
Kansas

Bio coming soon!

Mildred Peveto
Mildred Peveto

Inducted 1999
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Mary Ritter
Mary Ritter

Inducted 1999
California

Bio coming soon!

Carol Zanto
Carol Zanto

Inducted 1999
National Office, Wisconsin

There isn’t a thing Carol Zanto does to which she is not dedicated. It is not a quality that describes her approach to any one thing. It is just her. Her dedication is transcendent.

Carol worked for the national office for 47 years and shares how her story with the organization started in 1970: “Lester Tucker (the second Executive Secretary of the National Forensic League) hired me, and for the first six months I recorded student points.” By that November, Carol was offered the finance position when the prior employee left. From that point on, she was primarily responsible for keeping up the journal books they used to track the money, but she continued to play a role in other organizational projects. “I have done all jobs except compile Rostrum,” Carol notes.

There is a time in the organization’s history, in the mid 80s, known internally as the “lean times.” According to current NSDA Board President Don Crabtree, who was first elected to the Board in the 1987-1988 school year, the organization was in dire financial condition in 1986. The accountant revealed there to be less than $800 left in the entire NFL account. President Crabtree recalls: “The attorney recommended we close the organization down and move on. It was disheartening, disturbing news.”

“Staff weathered that—the uncertainty of their jobs,” President Crabtree continues. “We wanted to do more for young people and take care of the great staff, but it was a year before we were back on track. Marilyn [Hageman], Carol, and that group kept things going.” Committing to one organization is often not the easy route. Seeing it through the good times and the bad, and taking on just about everything to carry the organization on your back, is a rougher road. Carol’s recollection of the time is not one of complaint, or self-pity—it is a sense of pride and duty that prevails.

“No single person in our organization has dealt with more change than Carol Zanto,” [Executive Director] Scott Wunn adds. “Her career started at a time when the organization was making a historic change from its founder to new leadership. Since that point, Carol has been present for every major milestone, pitfall, and success. She has literally lived through the digitization of the Association.” He points to the advent of the online points system, the development of a resource driven website, and the creation of an online store and finance system as examples that created massive changes in the finance department both in size and scope. “The requirements of the organization’s finance department are five times what they were in the 70s.”

Scott concludes, “Carol retires having led the organization from a multi-thousand dollar non-profit to one of multi-millions, all with a finance staff of no more than three.”

— Compiled by Amy Seidelman. Read the complete article published in the Spring 2017 issue of Rostrum magazine.

1998 Inductees

Patricia Bailey
Patricia Bailey

Inducted 1998
Alabama

Bio coming soon!

Don Crabtree
Don Crabtree

Inducted 1998
Missouri

The eleventh President of the NFL/NSDA, and one of our best, Don Crabtree has used his calm manner and consensus building skills to guide his fellow councilors and NSDA members through a time of change and expansion. Earlier Don demonstrated his considerable talent by hosting three National Tournaments, in three different decades, and two different centuries: 1983, 1994, and 2010. Each Kansas City tournament was meticulously planned, beautifully conducted, and FUN!

Crabtree began his four-decade career at Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph, MO and later taught at Park Hill, where he coached a large squad. His chapter was regularly the largest in the district and often among the nation’s top ten, twice second. He qualified more than 70 students to the National Tournament. Coaching the national champion in Dramatic Interpretation in 1986 is one of Don’s most exhilarating memories. Another great memory was achieving the Eighth Diamond key. This honor confirmed Mr. Crabtree’s excellence and commitment to coaching and teaching.

In 2007, Don was presented the rare Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service. In Missouri, Don was named Outstanding Teacher by the Speech and Theater Association and presented the Distinguished Service Award by the High School Activities Association. Nationally, he received the National Federation Award for Career Service and from the NSDA, his 15th Distinguished Service Key—a record! Earlier his work as district chair earned the gold award.

Don Crabtree is an expert teacher of interpretation and has written articles on selection of material and the cutting of texts. He strongly believes that cutting an author’s text is like cutting human tissue and must be done with precision and care, always honoring the author’s intent. The Crabtree coaching style is: “Love the activity… Love the kids… Have fun….” The Crabtree Presidential style is: Appreciate the wonderful honor of being chosen to serve!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Mary Donna Ross
Mary Donna Ross

Inducted 1998
Missouri

Known nationwide for her large collection of elegant hats, the remarkable talents of this woman spring from the mind under the hat. According to Donna, “The most valuable thing I’ve learned in life is that one must use one’s brain in order to follow one’s heart.”

Mary Donna Ross is an exceptional teacher, successful coach, polished platform performer, and published author. She co­hosted the wonderful 1998 Gateway Nationals in St. Louis, as well as co-founded both the Ozark and Eastern Missouri NFL Districts. A member of the Speech and Theater Association of Missouri Hall of Fame, STAM also honored her as Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Her coaching philosophy was simple and effective: coax the best out of everyone. Her mantra for students was work hard, overcome fear, and communicate well. The students responded: four times in ten years, the team was Missouri Mock Trial Champion and placed third in the NFL National Congress Sweepstakes.

She loved individual winners, but her main focus was always the team. Mary Donna and the team starred in her most unusual memory. On a bus to a tournament, the driver pulled to the side of the road, called a wrecker, and then departed with the disabled bus. Coach and kids were abandoned; no tournament clothes, no debate evidence, and no transport! But troopers all, they arrived late, performed from the heart, and even won a few trophies.

Mary Donna is very literary. She has appeared on stage, in full period costume, to interpret words written by female authors. Her recent endeavor is as an author of historical whodunits! Jack the Ripper in St. Louis appeared in 2014, followed in 2016 by Mayhem at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. The second book celebrates the real 1898 performance of the biggest show ever staged.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Greg Varley
Greg Varley

Inducted 1998
New York

Bio coming soon!

1997 Inductees

Ted W. Belch
Ted W. Belch

Inducted 1997
Illinois

Ted W. Belch is the most successful high school Policy Debate coach of all time. His teams have eclipsed records that had survived for decades: a record five NCFL debate championships won by teams coached by the charismatic John Sexton; a record six NFL debate finalists (three winners and three runners-up) coached by the legendary H. B. Mitchell; and a record three NFL debate champion teams in five years, coached by the competitive C. E. “Pop” Grady.

Ted’s teams have won the “Double Header” (NFL and NCFL the same year) and the “Triple Crown” (NFL, NCFL, and TOC the same year). He has coached six Tournament of Champions (TOC) winners from three different schools, and his teams have won every major invitational at least once.

An outstanding tournament director and thoughtful NFL Councilor, Ted’s forte was always coaching. He coached debate at four schools: High Point Andrews, NC, the first public school to win NCFL (1972); Walter Panas, NY, 1978 NCFL winner; Glenbrook South, IL, second at NFL in 1996, winner in 1981; and Glenbrook North, IL, five NFL debate champions, including the 1999, 2000, 2001 three-peat and NCFL winners five times, including the 2002 final round close-out. Add to all that, three NFL top speakers and eight state champions in his final nine years as coach.

Other Hall of Fame coaches have achieved notable debate success. “Billy” Tate (TN) coached the only teams to close out the NFL Policy final round; a Cat Bennett (NM) team closed out Lincoln-Douglas; Tim Averill’s Manchester (MA) squad closed out Public Forum in 2006 after winning Policy in 1987. Aaron Timmons has coached multiple champions in Policy and Lincoln-Douglas Debate. But as we approach our centennial, there can be no doubt that Ted Belch set a standard for Policy Debate coaching at multiple schools, in multiple decades, and in multiple tournaments. Shakespeare said it best, “When comes such another?”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Sr. Isabella Glenn
Sr. Isabella Glenn

Inducted 1997
Colorado

Bio coming soon!

Richard Rice
Richard Rice

Inducted 1997
Missouri

Bio coming soon!

Emerson Turner
Emerson Turner

Inducted 1997
Texas

Few successful, competitive coaches are beloved by students and colleagues alike. Emerson Turner, coach at several Houston schools, was one. A short man with a high chirpy voice and a wide smile, Emerson was a University of Houston debater. At that time, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) was offering a competitive debate program in the junior high schools. Emerson took one of these coaching jobs upon graduation. Soon Emerson moved up to Jesse Jones High School. Then he moved to Lamar High School, the most elite high school in Texas, where in 1973 he coached the first debate champion team in the new Texas Forensic Association (TFA). He would also coach a UIL Debate Champion.

At the 1969 Nationals, he coached a semifinal debate team, and his squad won both the Tau Kappa Alpha (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy and the Congress Sweepstakes (now the Karl E. Mundt) Trophy.

Lamar should have been National Sweepstakes Champion, and Emerson would have been Coach of the Year, but for a protest over the selection of the Lamar entry in Drama. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds was judged unpublished, despite the fact the play had been performed as early as 1964 and copies of the play were distributed to Houston coaches. The NFL Council failed to discern that legally “published” means “available to the public,” not printed.

Mr. Turner served NFL as district chair, National tab room director, and National Tournament assistant director. He was a founding member of TFA. He earned two diamonds.

Emerson was kidded that small men loved large cars. Although he owned a Corvette, his favorite was the Oldsmobile ’98. At his last teaching job, Clear Lake High School, he drove the bus to tournaments. With a wide grin, he would jump from the bus and proclaim the bus was “better than an Olds ’98!”

Emerson also loved boats and loved to chase waterspouts on Galveston Bay, where he lived in a large house. His friend, David Johnson relates, “He approached chasing the water borne tornadoes as he approached his life: full speed ahead!” His ashes are scattered on his beloved Galveston Bay.

— Compiled by James Copeland

1996 Inductees

C. E. “Pop” Grady
C. E. "Pop" Grady

Inducted 1996
Oklahoma

C. E. “Pop” Grady, coach at Oklahoma City-Classen High School, was described as a wiry little man. Some might call him a martinet; he brooked no argument over his decisions. Grady told one reporter, “I can’t recall a time I regretted my decision, when I took a stand.” His students respected and liked him.

He first taught at two small town Texas schools, then moved to Classen. He started an NFL Chapter in 1934. Between then and 1947, Grady produced outstanding results at Nationals: three champions in Debate; three champions and two seconds in Extemporaneous Speaking; two runners-up in Original Oratory; two champions in Oratorical Declamation; a champion and a second in Dramatic; a champion in Humorous; a champion and runner-up in Poetry; nine other finalists and the National Trophy (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy). The Classen Chapter was eight times largest in the State and earned a Leading Chapter Award.

Grady asked Bruno Jacob if he could host the 1936 Nationals. That Nationals featured a long-forgotten controversy: a single African American student, Caleb Thompson of Peekskill High School (NY), qualified in Dramatic. At that time, education was segregated in Oklahoma and “separate but equal” was the law. Grady decreed that Thompson’s speeches would be delivered and judged at Douglas, the African American high school, and not at Classen. Grady told reporters, “I was born in Indiana and don’t believe in the way things are done down South… I am afraid something awful will happen, if this colored boy speaks with white students… I am trying to protect him.” A local African American editor appealed to the tournament committee, stating the student would withdraw rather than be segregated. The “committee,” probably Grady and Bruno Jacob, relented. Thompson spoke at Classen and won Dramatic Declamation!

“Pop” retired in 1947. A popular figure, he was elected County School Superintendent. Grady, the most successful coach of his time, is now forgotten. His Hall of Fame plaque resides alone in the national office. No relative could be found to claim it.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Shirley Keller-Firestone
Shirley Keller-Firestone

Inducted 1996
California

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Aretha Franklin demanded it in her famous song; Shirley Keller-Firestone earned it during her stellar career, coaching students at Lynbrook High School, service to the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA); and work at the National Tournament.

Ms. Keller founded the Lynbrook speech program in 1966 and established their NFL Chapter in 1967. She, her loving husband Jerry, and the kids were like a family. Their proudest moment was in 1995 when one student won first place at state and another was outstanding representative in the National Student Congress! In other years, Shirley’s squad also posted a fine record: 14 qualifiers to the National Student Congress, including a third place in the Senate and three presiding officers; 33 students to the National Tournament, including 14 extempers, four orators, two LD debaters, three Policy teams, and four Public Forum teams, one placing third in 2003.

One disappointing year, Lynbrook placed first alternate in every event, but sent no one to Nationals. Lynbrook won six Leading Chapter Awards, was their district’s Largest Chapter three years, and six years placed in the nation’s Top Ten Chapters.

Shirley’s philosophy of coaching? “I always asked my students to do the best they could and when they did, I was happy. I tried to get students to do their own research and help them achieve their dreams of success. My most exhilarating moments have been when students come back and say I made a difference in their lives. Some have given me credit for their success.”

Ms. Keller-Firestone served 20 years as NFL district chair, winning four Gold Awards. She and her husband Jerry rendered tireless volunteer service each year at the National Tournament.

Now retired, Shirley volunteers as an assistant coach. Even though she no longer is a full time head coach, her reputation for fairness and competence is so well established, she was chosen as CHSSA Area I chair by her fellow coaches. That is R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Karen Miyakado
Karen Miyakado

Inducted 1996
Hawaii

In the Hawaiian language, “Aloha” may mean “affection.” Every year at the National Tournament, Hawaii’s district chair Karen Miyakado and the coaches from Hawaii continue to bring affection from their islands, beautiful and fragrant leis, to bestow upon winners of each tournament event. The lei is a garland, usually of flowers, which according to Hawaii custom, is presented as a gift celebrating honor and friendship. Presentation of these leis at Nationals is a tradition dating back to Bruno Jacob’s time, and is a popular feature at the awards assembly.

Karen Miyakado has served 27 terms and counting as Hawaii chair, winning three Gold and two Silver Awards. For decades, she served as a speech event tabulator at the National Tournament. Ms. Miyakado was awarded the Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service in 2008.

Coaching at Honolulu Radford High School, Karen compiled a superior coaching record, winning three Leading Chapter Awards and three District Trophies. She earned two diamonds. As coach at Radford, Karen first brought students to the National Tournament in 1979, and qualified students every year until her retirement in 2001. Thirty-four Radford students qualified for Nationals. She also coached many Hawaii state champion speakers.

Karen resumed coaching at Iolani School in 2008 with her friend Joey Miyamoto and with Michael Tanoue, a Baldwin debater she took to Nationals on her first trip in 1979. The three coach a powerhouse team, qualifying 45 students to Nationals from 2008 to 2016 and winning three sweepstakes plaques and one District Trophy.

Even in retirement, Karen still likes being part of forensics. “I guess you enjoy the little things, seeing them compete and the excitement, seeing them work so hard. It’s the spirit of competition.” Since Karen lives on O’ahu, we see her only once a year. But at Nationals, we express our affection for Karen and the Hawaiians with joyful “Alohas”!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Lowell Sharp
Lowell Sharp

Inducted 1996
Colorado

Board President Frank Sferra often called him the “Grandfather of Debate,” but Lowell Sharp meant much more than that to NFL. Perhaps he was the “Godfather of Debate”; he used his persuasive skills to host the outstanding 1989 Colorado School of Mines Nationals. Certainly, he is the “Dutch Uncle of LD Debate”; as LD topic wording committee chair, his organizational skills created transparency and participation. Absolutely “Father” of Rocky Mountain NFL; Lowell served an amazing 35 years as district chair, and oversaw the splitting of the Rocky Mountain District.

As chair of Rocky Mountain and later Rocky Mountain South, he earned four Gold Awards. In 1995, he was presented the Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service. In 40 years of teaching and coaching at Golden High School, his program was the district’s Largest Chapter 15 times, and in 14 different years led the district in new members. Golden received five Leading Chapter Awards. Lowell’s teams compiled a fine district tournament record winning four cumulative Sweepstakes Trophies and two yearly Sweepstakes Plaques. Forty-one students qualified for the National Tournament and 25 were elected to the National Student Congress.

The Sharp family share nine NFL diamonds. Lowell has five, three for daughter Tammi Peters, one for wife Becky, a tireless worker at the National Tournament for many years. Lowell Sharp is one of the most powerful speakers in the Hall of Fame. His speech at his induction to the Colorado Activities Association Hall of Fame was brimming with emotion. His eulogy at the funeral of his great friend, Frank Sferra, was deeply moving. After serious illness, Lowell returned to the 2016 Utah Nationals, helping the Golden debaters between rounds of the new Extemporaneous Debate event. From Policy to Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, and now Extemporaneous Debate. The “Grandfather of Debate” has coached them all!

— Compiled by Jim Copeland

Larry L. Smith
Larry L. Smith

Inducted 1996
California

Question: Which Hall of Fame Coach was an Eagle Scout, an accomplished balloonist, a union stagehand, and the coach of a national champion orator? Answer: Larry Smith of Fresno-Hoover High School.

A teacher of the year in the Fresno District, Larry claims he enjoyed 28 years of coaching forensics—and suffered 28 years of people who misunderstood our definition of “forensics” and “NFL”!

Mr. Smith served as area chairman, vice president for activities, president and treasurer of the California High School Speech Association, and is a member of the CHSSA Hall of Fame.

Larry conducted a small but successful team. For 28 years, Hoover qualified for the California state tournament every year and the National Tournament 17 times. Several students made semifinal or final rounds and one, Lawrence Artenian, won first place, with perhaps the most iconic oration in NFL history, “Red, White, and Blue, Number Two.” Larry also coached a California Lincoln-Douglas champion.

His greatest disappointment occurred when Hoover placed second in Debate, Boys’ Extemp, Girls’ Extemp, and Oratory at the 1976 District Qualifier; NFL rules allowed only the winners to qualify!

Coach Smith says,” I was a teacher first and a coach second. I firmly believed that forensic competition was the best experience students could have… to prepare them for college and life… Winning plastic trophies was just a secondary pleasure.”

District chair 15 years, Larry won two Gold Awards. He earned three diamonds. Hoover won two Leading Chapter Awards, four District Sweepstakes Plaques, and three District Trophies. Larry’s critique of each of 40 NFL instructional videos was a great service to coaches nationwide.

For many years Larry and his fellow coach, Bob Jones, were balloonists. Bob floated the balloon and Larry was the chaser, tracking the balloon to its destination. Upon landing in a farm field, Smith and Jones would offer a glass of champagne to the startled farmer and toast the trip.

Larry, now retired, is living the sweet life in the beautiful California fig country. Good show!

— Compiled by James Copeland

1995 Inductees

Helen Engstrom
Helen Engstrom

Inducted 1995
Indiana
What creates successful speakers? A large, well-run program! What creates competitive teams? A rivalry with other successful teams! Helen Engstrom, coach at Munster High School, built a large program and winning teams by competing against Indiana’s outstanding teams.

Helen began in 1965 with 13 students and herself. Munster now involves more than 200 students and a staff of excellent coaches. Coach Engstrom’s philosophy: “I wanted to give the most students the opportunity to benefit from the experience of being part of a successful speech and debate program. This afforded them the opportunity to develop marketable communication skills that would serve in their lifetimes.”

Helen’s motto: “You win with class, you lose with class.” Munster twice won the premier honor at the National Tournament, the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy, emblematic of National Tournament success over decades of competition. Helen’s squad placed four times in the top ten schools for the yearly Sweepstakes Award, and won several School of Excellence Awards.

Munster also won Indiana state team championships and dominated the Northwest Indiana district tournament each year, often qualifying ten or more contestants. Helen coached 27 students to the National Congress and 306 to the National Tournament, including 15 finalists and a champion in Poetry Reading.

Helen’s program led their district ten years in new members and was five times the Largest Chapter. Munster won six Leading Chapter Awards. Helen was awarded five diamonds.

Ms. Engstrom was elected to the Indiana Coaches Hall of Fame and won an Outstanding Coaching Award from the National Federation. Who would have predicted that a small program of just 13 students would grow into one of the largest and most successful squads in the nation? Helen did, and she knew how to build it.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Dr. Richard Hunsaker
Dr. Richard Hunsaker

Inducted 1995
Illinois

Bio coming soon!

Edwin Kelly
Edwin Kelly

Inducted 1995
Pennsylvania

Bio coming soon!

Richard B. Sodikow
Richard B. Sodikow

Inducted 1995
New York

Often called “Mr. Debate,” Richard Sodikow was a Shakespearean scholar who spoke several languages. His many accomplishments include a Barkley Forum Key; a rare seventh NFL diamond; two district chair Gold Awards; head of delegation at the World Debate Tournament; election to the NFL Executive Council; and the NDCA Lifetime Achievement Award.

“All the world’s a stage,” wrote The Oxford Man, “and all the men and women merely players…” Richard stood center stage in his life, surrounded by a loving supporting cast: Robert Levinson, his “aide de camp”; Ann Shapiro, his companion; Kirby Chin, his adviser; and Brother John McGrory, who chronicled Richard’s life in double dactyl verse. The chorus was a group of friends and foils who kept Richard aggravated and amused. To the entire cast, he dispensed wit and wisdom.

Mr. Sodikow was trained as a scientist, but his passion was the English language, so he became its teacher at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. As a debate coach, Richard found his true metier. Bronx Science debaters reached the national final Policy round in 1983. A Lincoln-Douglas debater won in 1991. The Bronx Science squad won the Bruno E. Jacob Trophy in 1992.

His teams won most major national circuit invitationals, some multiple times, including one notable achievement: four teams in the quarterfinals of the Barkley Forum. Richard coached the largest debate program in America. His Chapter usually placed in the nation’s Top Ten. They won four Leading Chapter Awards. Each week multiple teams debated at two or three different tournaments. Richard cared about every one of them. He believed everything was debatable and every student had a right to debate. He lived to see the national final round of Policy Debate named in his honor. Richard acted as the National Tournament results auditor, and never erred. At his death, he provided a large bequest for continued support of NSDA debate.

Shakespeare’s words sum the life and works of “Mr. Debate”: “He was a man, take him for all in all. I shall not look upon his like again.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

1994 Inductees

Wayne Brown
Wayne Brown

Inducted 1994
Missouri

Wayne and Karla Brown made a huge contribution to debate and speech education by bringing video to the National Forensic League. Although audio tapes of final rounds of the National Tournament were offered as early as 1964, the first videotaped final rounds were recorded on reel-to-reel equipment at the 1973 Pittsburgh Nationals by local coach Gil Stoerer. At Huntsville in 1979, videos again were recorded, but not any interpretation events for fear of violating copyright laws. Dale Publishing, a debate handbook company owned by Wayne and Karla Brown, contracted to record the final rounds, market the tapes, and pay NFL a royalty. Dale Publishing was known for many years for their quality debate and speech publications and video productions.

Wayne coached at Center High School in the suburbs of Kansas City, MO. He was a kindly, well-liked man, who served as Missouri chair when the state of Missouri was one NFL district. Contentious Missouri coaches were calmed by Wayne’s competence and integrity as he conducted the large district debate event, which at that time would qualify only a single team to Nationals.

Wayne’s team at Center won the Leading Chapter Award and three different years produced the district high point student. The Center squad twice won the Tournament Sweepstakes Plaque and the District Trophy three times. Mr. Brown earned four diamonds. Wayne coached three state champion debate teams. Center qualified 11 Policy Debate teams to Nationals, as well as eight individual speakers and six delegates to the National Congress.

After Wayne’s tragic death, his wife Karla, a former middle school language teacher and administrator, continued Dale Publishing and the videotaping of final rounds and the awards assembly. Later, Hall of Fame member Mark Ferguson would expand the use of video in the NSDA. But it was Karla and Wayne who had the vision to combine debate, speech, and video when the technology was new.

— Compiled by James Copeland

A. C. Eley
A. C. Eley

Inducted 1994
Kansas

Kansas has always been a hotbed of Policy Debate, even though the State Activities Association allows debate only in the Fall semester. The Kansas 6A tournament in Policy is arguably the toughest in the nation. One of the most successful and beloved coaches in the Kansas Hall of Fame and NFL Hall of Fame was A. C. “Ace” Eley, six-diamond coach at Shawnee Mission-North High School. Eley became head debate coach in 1972. His debate team won the Kansas state debate tournament twice and he coached three state champions in Extemporaneous speaking. A. C. qualified five Policy teams and one Lincoln-Douglas debater to the National Tournament. He qualified 20 individual speakers, including John Culver, 1983 national champion in Boys’ Extemp. Mr. Eley also coached a National runner-up in Impromptu Speaking and a third place in Student Congress (now Congressional Debate).

A. C.’s Shawnee Mission-North Chapter was always one of the largest in Kansas, winning the Leading Chapter Award thrice, and featuring the student NFL district point leader three times. Mr. Eley was known for his service. Ace chaired the Lincoln-Douglas Debate tabulation room at the National Tournament. He won the Gold Award for his three years of service as East Kansas district chair. A. C. was named Outstanding Teacher by the Kansas Speech Communication Association.

Eley was also celebrated for his generous philanthropy. He bequeathed funds to the Shawnee Mission Educational Foundation for the A. C. Eley Scholarship, awarded to a student who competed for three years in Debate and Extemporaneous Speaking. Mr. Eley also gifted $50,000 to the NFL to sponsor International Extemporaneous Speaking at the National Tournament. Mr. Eley, great coach and a great supporter, was our “Ace.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

William Hicks
William Hicks

Inducted 1994
Indiana

“Sagamore of the Wabash” is a coveted award presented by the Governor of Indiana to those “who rendered great service to the state…” Hall of Fame members James Hawker and Larry “Papa H” Highbaugh are Sagamores. Bill Hicks also deserves this honor! Hicks served for more than 30 years as Executive Secretary of the Indiana High School Forensic Association. He was elected to the IHSFA Hall of Fame in 1983 and was named IHSFA Coach of the Year in 1993.

Bill served more than 30 years on the National Debate Topic Committee and was on the National Federation Speech Advisory Committee. His 1993-1994 report was selected as the debate topic area. In 2012, the NDSA awarded him the Brother Gregory “René” Sterner Lifetime Service Award.

Mr. Hicks began his teaching career at Howe Military Academy and later taught at Brebeuf, a Jesuit Prep School. He co-hosted two Indiana Nationals with his Hall of Fame brother Larry Highbaugh at Ben Davis High School. Since 1995, Bill has been National Tournament photographer.

His fine NFL/NSDA record includes 21 terms as district chair, three Gold Awards, one Silver Award, and the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Tenth Honors). Bill coached large programs at small schools. Howe was Largest Chapter in the district four times, winning the Leading Chapter Award twice. Brebeuf was the Largest Chapter in the district seven times, winning the Leading Chapter Award thrice. Ten times Hicks’ students led their district as high point leaders.

Brebeuf won the Indiana team speech championship in 2000 and in 2005 they won an NSDA School of Excellence Award. Bill coached a national champion in the Senate (1992) and a top presiding officer in the Senate (1998). Brebeuf won the Mundt Congress Sweepstakes in 2003. Coach Hicks’ book, Basic Debate, is in its fourth printing. He is our “Sagamore.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Louie Mattachione
Louie Mattachione

Inducted 1994
Ohio

“All the world’s a stage,” saith the Bard of Avon, “And all the men and women are merely players”—except Mr. Mattachione, who is a director. And a fabulous director is he. The Perry High School Board of Education rededicated the auditorium as the Louie Mattachione Theater in honor of decades of superior dramatic and musical productions directed by Louie. Mr. Mattachione also has been honored as a Charter Member of the Ohio High School Speech League Coaches Hall of Fame and named Outstanding Teacher by the OHSSL.

“Speak the speech, I pray you… trippingly on the tongue,” teaches The Oxford Man, and so does Louie! In 1973, at Louie’s first National Tournament, his student Mark Ferguson won the Dramatic Interpretation championship. (Mark later coached a national champion and, like his coach Louie, Mark is a member of the NDSA Hall of Fame.) Louie also coached four semifinalists in Humorous Interpretation and a seventh place in Duo Interpretation, and qualified more than 25 of his drama students to the National Tournament.

A five-diamond coach, Mr. Mattachione served many years as an OHSSL district chair, mentoring new coaches with this philosophy: “Demonstrate the need for communication in all walks of life; create an all-encompassing team for superstars and those who wait their turn; support your winners…love the also rans; teach respect for the audience, fellow team members, and competitors.”

Louie was a popular teacher and a great director and coach because of his happy outlook on life: “Always allow time to laugh…at yourself and with others. Remember…love conquers all. In the words of Monty Python, ‘Always look at the bright side of life.’”

Louie was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1993, but presented the honor a year later! He was directing a community theater production and could not attend Nationals the year of his election. The Hall of Fame honor had to wait because Louie agreed with Shakespeare, “The play’s the thing.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Sandra Silvers
Sandra Silvers

Inducted 1994
Georgia

Sandra Worthington Silvers was always introduced as “the Queen of the South.” She had a white grand piano in her Georgia home and played beautifully. She was the Grande Dame of the Gold Key Coaches at the Barkley Forum. Her career was noted by many honors: the Thomas Glenn Pelham obelisk, for “devotion to the forensic arts”; the Ralph E. Carey Award for Distinguished Career Service (she was the founding and only NFL chair to lead the Georgia District); and election to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Silvers spent her entire career teaching, counseling, and coaching at Calhoun High School, a town made famous by President Jimmy Carter’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Bert Lance. In fact, President Carter was an Honorary member of the Calhoun Chapter. Sandra and Calhoun joined NFL in 1970 and had a fine record until she retired for health reasons. Her Calhoun Chapter won two leading Chapter Awards, a District Sweepstakes Plaque and three District Tournament Trophies. Four Calhoun students were Georgia NFL point leaders in different years. Although the small Calhoun High School had to compete with the large Atlanta high schools, they more than held their own, winning the Barkley Forum Debate Contest twice, the Georgia state debate tournament, and the NFL district debate tournament. Sandra Silvers served 16 years as district chair winning the NFL Gold Award. She earned two coaching diamonds.

After it became known that Sandra’s illness was terminal, her friends in Calhoun and the Georgia forensic community held a celebration of life ceremony. Sandra sat in a large chair and welcomed them all: family, friends, former students, current debaters, coach colleagues. NFL President Tate lauded her career. NFL Secretary Copeland presented her the Ralph E, Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service. Barkley Forum officials led by Michael Jablonski paid their respects. Sandra Worthington Silvers, “Queen of the South”—a life well-lived.

— Compiled by James Copeland

1993 Inductees

Ray Cecil Carter
Ray Cecil Carter

Inducted 1993
New York

One person asks a question, another gives an answer, and that colloquy triggers an idea that creates something of value that lasts for years and makes life better. This is the path of invention.

In 1924, Ray Cecil Carter, speech coach at Albany High School (NY), wrote a letter to Bruno E. Jacob, manager of the Ripon College Chapter of Pi Kappa Delta (the collegiate forensic honorary society), which asked the question, “…do you know of any association of debaters’ membership in which high school students are welcome?” The answer Bruno wrote was, “As far as we know there is at present no organization for high school debaters.” But the question had given Bruno an idea. He continued, “If we felt that there was a real and sufficient interest among high school students and coaches we would, I am sure, be willing to go to considerable effort to sponsor such an enterprise.” A survey showed that other high schools were interested. A constitution was written, a name was selected, and Carter telegraphed the Albany High School ratification to become NFL Chapter #1.

Ray Cecil Carter was appointed the first NFL President, and served from 1925 to 1933. Mr. Carter had written a series of texts entitled, “Your English,” so he was selected the first editor of The Bulletin (later called Rostrum). He was awarded the NFL Distinguished Service Key in 1932.

The first National Tournament was held in 1931, at the nadir of the Great Depression. Carter qualified an Extempore speaker to the first Nationals, who did not attend. Six students did attend in the mid 1930s—three in Humorous Declamation, two in Oratory, and one in Dramatic Interpretation.

Apparently, Carter left coaching after 1937. The Albany High School NFL Charter expired in1942. Carter was appointed Supervisor of English for the Albany Schools and later Principal of Albany High School, where Hall of Fame coach Albert Odom would resurrect Chapter #1 in the 1960s.

Ray Cecil Carter, our first Board President, should be honored and remembered, because he asked the right question. Its answer began the chain of causality that led to the invention of our National Speech & Debate Association.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Peggy Ann Madden
Peggy Ann Madden

Inducted 1993
Pennsylvania

A great Lady of Forensics! For more than 30 years, Peggy Madden and her colleagues, Royce Rice and Vernon Metz, ran the largest Chapter in Pittsburgh and one of the nation’s largest at North Hills High School (PA). Peggy served as district chair for 24 years, winning three Gold Awards. North Hills was ten times the Largest Chapter in Pittsburgh, eight times led the district in new members, featured three students as district point leaders, and won three Leading Chapter Awards. Mrs. Madden earned three NFL diamonds for her key during years when rounds were limited and point totals were capped.

At the Pittsburgh District Tournament, the North Hills squad won a Sweepstakes Plaque and two District Trophies. Nine debate teams, a Lincoln-Douglas debater, a Duo Interpretation team, and six speakers qualified to the National Tournament. Eighteen delegates were chosen to attend the National Congress. When asked why Pittsburgh students did not place at Nationals, Vernon Metz blamed their unusual accents.

Peggy was an outstanding tournament director. The North Hills Invitational was the largest in Western Pennsylvania. The district tournament was conducted flawlessly without protest. Peggy also administered the largest category at the National Tournament, consolation Impromptu Speaking. Coach Madden and her Pennsylvania crew managed every year to run a tournament for as many 500 entries in a single day!

Mrs. Madden was widely respected by her colleagues. When the NFL was seeking a new Executive Secretary, President Frank Sferra appointed Peggy, Donovan Cummings, and Darryl Fisher to screen the candidates, and recommend three finalists to the Executive Council.

Peggy believed that forensics should be fun: fun for the students and fun for the coaches. At every National Tournament coaches’ party, Peggy demanded the Pennsylvania Polka be played and everyone dance. It was always the high point of the festivities. Peggy loved life; we all loved Peggy.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Dale McCall
Dale McCall

Inducted 1993
Florida

Bio coming soon!

Donald Lee Smith
Donald Lee Smith

Inducted 1993
Utah

Bio coming soon!

Virginia Sutherland
Virginia Sutherland

Inducted 1993
North Carolina

Bio coming soon!

1992 Inductees

David Johnson
David Johnson

Inducted 1992
Texas
Perhaps the only NDT college debate finalist to choose a career as a high school debate coach, David Johnson established a stellar record at Houston Bellaire High School. In 1965 Mr. Johnson, debating for Northeastern College (OK), entered the NDT semifinal round against the powerful Georgetown team anchored by Bob Shrum, that year’s NDT top speaker. David and his partner won the decision, 3-2, and were in the finals. “Debate was the most important vehicle for personal growth I ever experienced,” remembers Johnson. “In a Northeast Oklahoma mining town…debate was a ticket out.”

Bellaire had a long history of success. The glass case in the school’s outer lobby was filled with many trophies, all from the National Tournament! But David coached no star system. More than 100 students competed each year. Bellaire was the South Texas District’s Largest Chapter 18 times. David worked hard for his students and is revered by his alums. He claims to be “the only living person to travel in a school bus with 44 ninth grade debaters.” Such sacrifice guarantees success. He coached more than 25 debate teams to first, second, or third place at TFA or at UIL State. One remarkable year, 18 different Bellaire debate teams qualified for the TFA state tournament.

At the 1979 Nationals, Bellaire won Policy Debate; in 1984, they placed second. Johnson’s squad won the National Sweepstakes twice and placed second thrice. They twice won the Bruno E. Jacob Trophy. Johnson served nine terms as district chair, winning the Gold Award. He also served a term as National Councilor and was instrumental in promoting Houston Urban Debate activities. He earned seven diamonds for his NFL key, during an outstanding career spanning more than 35 years.

David Johnson was a debater! There was no argument he would not contest; there was no controversy he would not join. Debate gave him a life, and he gave his life to debate—a circumstance which benefited thousands of his students and confounded all of his opponents. Fair Dinkum!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Ron Underwood
Ron Underwood

Inducted 1992
California

Bio coming soon!

Joseph Wycoff
Joseph Wycoff

Inducted 1992
Indiana; Minnesota

Bruno E. Jacob once said that Debate was the King of speech activities and Oratory was the Queen. No coach has had more impact on and more success in coaching students to excel in the Queen of speech events than Joe Wycoff at Chesterton High School (IN) and Apple Valley High School (MN).

Joe’s parade of Chesterton national champions began with Drama in 1982; Oratory followed in 1986. In 1987, son Joseph Wycoff, Jr., won both Oratory and Humorous. Joe then coached a third Oratory winner in 1989. Team Chesterton won five consecutive Sweepstakes titles and two Bruno E. Jacob Trophies at Nationals; and 15 champion sweepstakes trophies at Indiana State!

His record at Apple Valley High School is also stellar: five Oratory national champions, and one in Dramatic, with his Hall of Fame wife Pam. The Apple Valley team also won several yearly School of Excellence Awards.

Coach Wycoff’s concept of a speech squad is that it is a competitive team. In Joe’s words, “This is not a club, it’s a team. We compete… Speech and debate trains you, conditions you, to get ready to play in the real world—where the real final rounds take place.” Joe Wycoff’s belief is, “A winner makes ’em take it.” Joe insists, “If the competition beats your best, that’s okay; you are a winner.” Once Joe showed disappointment to a contestant who finished second. “To this day, I think my non-verbals in the ‘heat of competition’ ruined her high school memories of speech and debate,” Joe recalls. “After that, I made a conscious effort to change… I made a commitment to not just competitively ‘take and win’ but to instead ‘give and sacrifice.’”

Who is Joe Wycoff? Good guy, excellent teacher, great coach, tough guy with a soft heart, who loves Pam and his children and deeply appreciates the work of his colleagues. He has been honored by his high school (Arsenal Tech) and college (Indiana Central) and is a co-founding member of the Indiana Speech Coaches Hall of Fame. Joe is a fine coach of all speech events, but his specialty is coaching Original Oratory. Coach of 11 National winners, eight in Oratory, Joe Wycoff is the King of our Queen.

— Compiled by James Copeland

1991 Inductees

David Dansky
David Dansky

Inducted 1991
California

Often a person may be defined by a single word. The defining word for David Dansky is “mensch.” This remarkable man established a speech and debate program in a most unlikely place and produced the most amazing results. Richmond Kennedy is an urban high school with a diverse population of students, which competed successfully against some of the most elite public and private schools in California. Kennedy was the largest NFL chapter in the nation in 1973, the second largest chapter twice, and among the top five schools in seven other years. According to David, “No student was ever turned away from the program.”

Kennedy led the San Francisco District in new members for 19 years. For 18 years, they were the district’s Largest Chapter, and four times they won the Leading Chapter Award! Coach Dansky stressed participation, and his students achieved excellence! As David recalls, “We demonstrated that a very diverse student body could compete against the great programs in America.” Kennedy won the California state sweepstakes three times. At NFL Nationals, a champion Impromptu speaker, a runner-up orator, and two other finalists were honored.

The year Dansky retired, the team was within one point of winning the Bruno E. Jacob cumulative sweepstakes trophy. Although the trophies were exciting, Dansky always felt, “You learn by competing; the real winning happens when, as an adult, you realize the value of forensics.” David Dansky served 14 years as district chair, won two Gold Awards, and earned six diamonds. He chaired a national committee to revise debate evidence rules. Each year, he donates a cake to the judges’ lounge at Nationals to honor his colleagues.

“Mensch” in Yiddish means “a person of integrity and honor.” David’s students and colleagues may not know that ancient word, but if they did, they would certainly agree it suits David Dansky.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Larry Highbaugh
Larry Highbaugh

Inducted 1991
Indiana

His students all called him “Papa H.” He was Dad and Grandpa to generations of students. In his classroom, where all the NFL certificates were on display, his actually bore the name “Papa H.” Larry Highbaugh, coach at Ben Davis High School was an important figure in the NFL and Indiana forensics. He hosted Nationals twice (1975 and 1993), and he was an essential official at Nationals as Extemp prep room proctor. Larry also hosted regional, state, and invitational competitions. Larry’s life was one of service for others. Mr. Highbaugh was chair of the Speech Department at Ben Davis, and “Papa H” coached speech and debate: NFL categories and Indiana state categories, different in rules and greater in number. He also was sponsor of the Mask and Gavel Society, which performed two plays and a musical each year.

Larry’s teams, also coached by six-diamond coach Max McQueen, were always huge: 16 years the Largest Chapter in their district; 19 years in the national Top Ten, including two firsts and two seconds. Ben Davis also led the district 17 years in new members; 14 years on the national Top Ten list, including three firsts and three seconds. Larry’s squad won five Leading Chapter Awards, and multiple District Sweepstakes Plaques and Trophies.

Mr. Highbaugh served six terms as district chair, winning a Bronze Award and four Gold Awards. Larry earned five diamonds for his key and was awarded the NFL Distinguished Service Key and Plaque. Highbaugh and his staff qualified 51 entrants to the National Tournament: 29 speakers and 11 debate teams. Five students appeared in the final round, including two runners-up in Commentary. Twenty-three delegates qualified for the National Congress.

Larry suffered from diabetes and his final years were painful, but he continued to serve. The Governor of Indiana named Mr. Highbaugh a Sagamore of the Wabash, Indiana’s highest honor! Halls of Fame in both Indiana and the NSDA also honored this able and selfless man.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Misao Kubota
Misao Kubota

Inducted 1991
Hawaii

Hall of Fame coach Albert Odom often said, “Hawaiians are gentle people.” None was more gentle or more generous than Misao Kubota! In Hawaii, a wreath, usually of flowers, is called a lei. In days past, Hawaiians wore them as a sign of rank or royalty. Now, they are given as a sign of honor and friendship. According to Odom, Mrs. Kubota initiated the presentation of leis to each national champion as a sign of honor, friendship, and congratulations from the state of Hawaii. This half-century old tradition is the most colorful part of the awards assembly. May 1 is lei day on Hawaii; but Friday is lei day at Nationals, when the contestants from Hawaii present the coveted wreaths to the champions.

At Baldwin High School, Misao qualified 25 students to NFL Nationals, including five debate teams; four in Dramatic; one in Humorous; two in Oratory, and eight in Extemp. Many of these students were Hawaii state champions.

Misao’s coaching at Baldwin, along with the coaches on Maui, were honored by the Maui Council: “Be it resolved by the county of Maui that it hereby recognizes the exceptional performances and achievements of the Maui district finalists…and extends its congratulations to finalists and coaches for a job well done.”

Mrs. Kubota also loved to bring gifts from the islands to her friends at Nationals: Macadamia nuts, plain and chocolate covered, and Hawaiian potato chips were given each year to Bruno Jacob, Lester Tucker, Albert Odom, members of the Council, and special friend Carmendale Fernandes. Misao, known for kindness and generosity, was adamant about only one thing. She and husband Toshio owned a special Mango tree, a Haden Mango, which many say yields the best tasting fruit. Often, people attempted to filch this fine fruit, and the gentle Misao had to shoo them from her yard!

In October of 2003, we lost our dear and true friend, Misao. But she will be remembered on the final day of each National Tournament, when the contestants from Hawaii present the beautiful and fragrant leis to each national champion. A grand tradition from a gentle people.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Tedd D. Woods
Tedd D. Woods

Inducted 1991
California

Bio coming soon!

1990 Inductees

Roger Brannan
Roger Brannan

Inducted 1990
Kansas

Many years ago, a young man in a small Kansas high school was challenged by a new teacher to join the fledgling speech team. That teacher was future Hall of Fame coach Ronald Schafer; that student was future Hall of Fame coach Roger Brannan. As Roger remembers, “He drew me into the program and awakened an interest in what speech activities could accomplish. This eventually led me into an exciting career that kept me learning.”

Honored as the “Mahatma from Manhattan,” Roger’s teams were always successful in a very competitive state. He coached five Kansas state champion debate teams and eight individual state speech winners. He qualified 66 students to Nationals, 17 to the National Congress, and coached three National champions: Girls’ Extemp (1979); Senate (1983); and Poetry (1986). In 1983, Manhattan won the Congress Sweepstakes Trophy.

Brannan always coached large squads with this philosophy: “I was determined to make as many opportunities for thinking and speaking as I could for each student. My goal was to get students as many competition rounds as possible, in a variety of events.” Roger served his profession as president of the Kansas State Communication Association; chair of the East, West, and Flint-Hills NFL Districts; National Forensic League Councilor; and with years of work with his wife Doris in Kansas and National Tournament tab rooms.

His many honors include the KSCA Hall of Fame; the Kansas Debate Coaches Hall of Fame; the National Federation Outstanding Speech Educator Award; several NFL Gold Awards, the NFL Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Third Honors); and most importantly, eight diamonds for his NFL key. An enduring record of service and competitive success writ large by the “Mahatma from Manhattan.” “Mahatma” in Sanskrit means “great soul” or “great spirit.” That is Roger Brannan!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Opal Hall
Opal Hall

Inducted 1990
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Harold Carl Keller
Harold Carl Keller

Inducted 1990
Iowa

“They call me Mr. Congress, but I’m really more than that,” Harold Keller wrote in a campaign column, when he was running for a seat on the Executive Council. Indeed, he was! A teacher at Davenport West High School (IA), he coached debate and all individual speech events in a small city public school, to average students, with no assistants, and ran an excellent program on a small budget.

The Davenport West squad won three Leading Chapter Awards; was four times the Largest Chapter; and won the District Sweepstakes Trophy three times. Keller was district chair four terms, receiving the Gold Award and the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Sixth Honors).

Yet he was “Mr. Congress” because he was Director of the National Student Congress; because he codified the rules for the National Congress; because he prepared the packet of Bills and Resolutions sent to every Congress qualifier; because he was instrumental in obtaining a sponsor for the National Congress; because his expertise was tapped by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) to teach Congress skills to students in Eastern Europe!

The initial National Student Congress in 1938 was roundly acclaimed. Congress was the only NFL National event conducted during the WWII years. But by the middle 1960s it reached its nadir, when it had become “the back door to Nationals” for losing debaters who qualified in Congress—not to compete, but to watch debate rounds! Some districts did not even hold a Congress.

In 1988, H. K. was elected to the Council and proclaimed that Congress should be a main event and treated as such: equal awards and scholarships for the newly named “Legislative Debate”!

Harold Keller served 11 terms on the Executive Council and was Congress Director for more than 20 years. He coached 18 Congress national qualifiers, five top presiding officers, two finalists, and a national champion Representative in 1977.

Robert Caro called LBJ, “Master of the Senate.” The NFL called Harold Keller, “Mr. Congress.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Grace Walsh
Grace Walsh

Inducted 1990
Wisconsin

Bio coming soon!

1980s

1989 Inductees

Ralph Bender
Ralph Bender

Inducted 1989
Ohio

Bio coming soon!

Bob Bilyeu
Bob Bilyeu

Inducted 1989
Missouri

Bio coming soon!

Rex Fleming
Rex Fleming

Inducted 1989
Texas

The 1960s were a competitive debate cauldron in the City of Houston. Three future Hall of Fame members were coaching there, with a fourth, David Johnson, due to arrive soon. Every weekend the teams of Bill Henderson (Bellaire), Emerson Turner (Lamar), and Rex Fleming (Spring Branch, then Memorial) clashed, all in the single NFL district of South Texas.

Rex was a tall, courtly gentleman. His students called him “Papa Flem.” His favorite teaching method was the practice debate. His favorite critique was a long, “Whaaaaaat?” Texas used lay debate judges; Rex knew clarity was the key to winning ballots. His student and future coach Jim Hull remembers, “If you could explain it to Rex…anyone could understand you.” Rex had a self-deprecating sense of humor. At the 1967 Nashville Nationals, when he was told that results were posted, he said, “It’s better to remain in suspense than to be deflated.”

But his coaching record at the National Tournament was far from deflating. As coach at Spring Branch, his student was Outstanding Representative in 1959. In 1961, his entrants won Original Oratory and were second in Policy Debate. As coach at Memorial, his team members won Outstanding Senator (1964); Girls’ Extemp (1964 and 1965); Impromptu Speaking and Boys’ Extemp (1967); the National Sweepstakes (1967 and 1968), with Rex as Coach of the Year; and the TKA (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy in 1970.

The Texas 4A UIL state debate tournament was divided into a boys’ division and a girls’ division. Policy Debate teams coached by Rex won Boys’ Debate twice and Girls’ Debate once. Memorial was a large NFL Chapter, twice largest in Texas. Eight students were national Top Ten NFL point leaders, two in first place. Memorial won the District Sweepstakes Trophy.

By 1970, Rex moved to Houston Baptist University; Bill Henderson to Northern Iowa University. Houston debate in the 60s is a memory. But as Edith and Archie once sang, “Those Were the Days.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Natalie Weber
Natalie Weber

Inducted 1989
California

Please, do not refer to her as Coach. “I am a teacher first and a coach second,” says Natalie “Nan” Weber of Homestead High School (CA). Nan was always committed to her educational philosophy: “High school was a time for ‘generalists’—not ‘specialists.’ In my classes, everyone participated in all types of communication, so in competition I had double qualifiers in Drama and Debate and in LD and Thematic… I firmly believe that speaking skills are necessary for all educated students, and the teaching of them should be a fundamental part of any high school program. I have had as many as 50 novice teams at one time debating the national topic, most of whom never went to a tournament, but who had all the experience and benefits that come with the development of debating skills. I have always considered competitive speech to be an excellent laboratory to allow the best to excel… The incentive is incredible…the opportunities far beyond the classroom.”

But Nan realized the classroom was very important. As a member of the Task Force for the K-12 California Course of Study and speech adviser to the California State Curriculum Framework Committee, she worked tirelessly for the inclusion of speech throughout the curriculum.

A founding member of the California High School Speech Association (CHSSA) Hall of Fame, Natalie’s service to the NFL is also notable: six terms as district chair, three Gold Awards, and a Distinguished Service Plaque. Natalie earned three NFL coaching diamonds. Her Homestead Chapter won a Leading Chapter Award and two District Tournament Sweepstakes Trophies.

Nan’s team excelled at the state tournament. Unfortunately, driving to one state tournament, a car went off the road, rolled over three times, and three female competitors were thrown from the car. Miraculously, no one was injured, and the following year these students won the state sweepstakes!

Natalie recalls the time a graduate came by to thank her. She thought he was thanking her for all the trips and trophies he had enjoyed. But no, he quietly explained, “You taught me to think.”

—Compiled by James Copeland

1988 Inductees

Donovan Cummings
Donovan Cummings

Inducted 1988
California

Donovan Cummings was a man of achievement. Coached by Hall of Fame coach John Davies, he was the first student to qualify to Nationals in three events: Oratory, Extemp, and Debate, where he reached the semifinals. Donovan would later receive a letter from Bruno Jacob saying that no student in the future would be allowed to qualify in three events.

In his junior year, Nationals had been held at Donovan’s school, Kenosha High School (WI). Donovan was eighth in Dramatic, and he and his partner were allowed to enter Debate as the host team.

Donovan loved debate and he loved performing, so he attended Northwestern University, the best Speech Department in the country at that time, and earned his B.S. in Speech Education.

He began coaching at Edison High School in Stockton, CA. Later, he would coach at both Edison High School and Stagg High School. His record was outstanding: two national champions in Dramatic; one in Expository; two finalists in Oratory. His schools won four District Trophies and three Leading Chapter Awards.

Donovan served 13 terms as district chair, earned two Gold Awards, and five diamonds. The white farm boy from rural Wisconsin loved the diverse population of students in Stockton. “…the Afro-Americans, Asian, Latino, and white students and parents enriched my life more than anything I could have done for them,” Donovan often said.

Cummings was active in CHASSA, serving two terms as president and being chosen a founding member of their Hall of Fame. He also aided the NFL by inventing the “California Plan,” the method used to conduct National speech events. For many years he served as tab room director, often with his close friend, Hall of Fame member Tom Montgomery.

Donovan Cummings was known for his great humanity. He was loved by his students and colleagues. When asked about his long career, he answered, “I cannot conceive of any profession more rewarding.” Our reward was knowing Donovan.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Dr. Jane Eldridge
Dr. Jane Eldridge

Inducted 1988
Tennessee

Bio coming soon!

Marilyn Hageman
Marilyn Hageman

Inducted 1988
National Office, Wisconsin

Bio coming soon!

Art McMillion
Art McMillion

Inducted 1988
Wisconsin

Wisconsin has provided 12 members for the Hall of Fame. One of Wisconsin’s best, a master of coaching debate and Oratory, is Art McMillion. Art began his career at West Bend. That chapter was seven years the district’s largest, one year eighth largest in the nation. His squad won both the Leading Chapter Award and the District Tournament Trophy. Art qualified two debate teams to Nationals by winning the state tournament.

Art then crossed the state to coach at Eau Claire Memorial High School. Hobbled by travel restrictions and being only an extracurricular program, Art’s well-trained students never had the opportunity to compete on the national circuit; but in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and at Nationals, they were great! So was McMillion, who served 13 terms as district chair of the Wisconsin and Northern Wisconsin NFL Districts, winning the Gold Award and three coaching diamonds.

In 1985, Art hosted of one of the finest and most popular National Tournaments, as the city of Eau Claire and the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire rolled out the red carpet for coaches and competitors. At the district tournament, Art’s squad won the Sweepstakes Plaque five times and the Cumulative Trophy twice. At Nationals, seven students reached the final round; three were champions. Coach McMillion’s most exhilarating moment occurred at the 1985 Nationals, when two of his speakers were crowned champions, one in Oratory and one in Drama.

In other years, Memorial won the Bruno E. Jacob Trophy and placed second in Sweepstakes. Although widely known for his excellence as a teacher and debate coach, Oratory was his passion. He coached six orators to the final round, three of them champions. His 1975 champion, Ned Wahl, was one of the finest in NFL history. McMillion was well-liked by his coach colleagues. One voluble coach complained that Art’s teams won, week after week, yet Art remained popular! Intensely competitive, very successful, and always a gentleman; that was the art of being Art.

— Compiled by James Copeland

L. D. Naegelin
L. D. Naegelin

Inducted 1988
Texas

On a hot St. Louis June night in 1998, one of the most powerful speakers in the speech and debate community, James J. Unger, delivered a ringing funeral eulogy to the assembled National Tournament in tribute to the late NFL President, Lanny Dean Naegelin. In his speech, Unger introduced “the Co-Captain of Team Naegelin, Betty Jean Naegelin.” In fact, Mrs. Naegelin disliked her name and wished to be called B. J. And so it was: L. D. and B. J. Perfectly matched they were: he, a gentle giant, warm and expansive; she, a perfect lady, protective and supportive.

The San Antonio minister who preached Lanny’s funeral was wrong when he said, “Lanny married an older woman, so there would be no children.” Every one of their students was their child.

Hall of Fame coach Ron Krikac believed this was what created their success. Every contestant felt their support and love. Before an important round, either L. D. or B. J. would meet their contestant outside the contest room for a hug or handshake and a pep talk. Once this strategy backfired. Lanny had coached a Milton Academy (MA) student, Austan Goolsbee, at a summer institute, and they became friends. At the 1987 Nationals, Austan had received a rank of first in all earlier rounds. Before semifinals, Lanny met Austan outside a room, wished him good luck, and closed the door. Oops! The two semifinal rooms were side by side; Lanny had guided Austan into the wrong room! Fortunately, despite Austan’s seventh place for competing in the wrong room, he earned unanimous first place ranks in the final round, and won.

Lanny began his career at San Antonio-Jefferson High School, where B. J. also taught. One Texas coach called him “Mr. UIL” because he concentrated his program on the state league. But in 1979, his team won the NFL Sweepstakes. At Jefferson, Lanny taught B. J.’s daughter, married her mother, and Team Naegelin was formed.

Lanny and B. J. moved to Churchill High School in the fall of 1979. Results were immediate and impressive: a Lincoln-Douglas Champion (1981); Boys’ Extemp Champions (1981, 1982, and 1984); Dramatic (1985), Humorous (1986), and a runner-up debate team (1988). Four students placed second; 22 reached the final round.

Team Naegelin coached the National Sweepstakes winning team three times (1980, 1983, and 1985) and won the Bruno E. Jacob Trophy in 1986. But the win they wanted most, got away. “Lanny always wanted to win Oratory,” said Jim Unger.
Team Naegelin dominated Central Texas NFL. They coached squads which won six District Sweepstakes Plaques and three District Sweepstakes Trophies. They taught six district point leading students, two of whom who were first in the nation. Churchill won two Leading Chapter Awards.

The Naegelins always encouraged students to enter several events—which was “very common in Texas forensics,” relates Ron Krikac. “Most of the top Churchill students did four different events in each Texas tournament.” At Nationals, L. D. often double qualified students; two of these students reached double final rounds the same year.

Mr. Naegelin was founding chair of the Central Texas District and earlier chair of West Texas NFL, earning two Gold Awards. Lanny was elected to the NFL Executive Council in 1987. He chaired the committee who developed the “Bradley Videos,” a series that allowed “the humblest student in the land to learn from the greatest teachers in the land.” He was elected NFL President in 1996.

Lanny was a first-rate tournament director, and he worked national and state tab rooms with accuracy and fairness. B. J. and L. D. were nationally known as excellent teachers and were marquee attractions every summer at the Georgetown and later American University Institutes. They were proud that their summer coaching had produced national champions from schools other than Churchill and who had occasionally beaten Churchill entries!

Lanny’s many honors include President of the Texas Speech Communication Association and the Texas Forensic Association; TSCA Teacher of the Year; Trinity University Award for Teacher Excellence; a Barkley Forum Gold Key and later the Glenn Pelham Award from Emory University; the TFA Distinguished Service Award; and selection as an Associated Press Presidential Debate Evaluator.

L. D. wanted to coach forever, but in 1987 he left coaching and accepted a position as Fine Arts Coordinator for the North East Independent School District (NEISD). He felt the endless bus rides all over Texas and the National Circuit grind were a chore for B. J. But according to Hall of Fame coach Kandi King, “He never quit coaching kids at Churchill or at any other NEISD school.” And in 1992, he finally coached an Oratory national champion!

B. J. felt Lanny was trying to do too much: coaching long hours, hosting and running UIL and NFL district events; being NFL President; and directing plays and musicals. Too much work and too little sleep caused Lanny to pass out at a rehearsal. One morning Lanny awoke with a blinding headache. B. J. called 911. Lanny had suffered a stroke. After almost a year of treatment and therapy, he died in February of 1998. Team Naegelin had been cruelly torn apart. The San Antonio Light published a moving obituary: “Naegelin’s record of achievement is best measured in the lives he touched… He taught not only the art of speech and the beauty of words, but how to speak the language of life articulately and passionately…” The fine words could not bring him back. Co-Captain B. J. was alone.

To read more about B. J. Naegelin, click here.

— Compiled by James Copeland

1987 Inductees

Arlene Akerman
Arlene Akerman

Inducted 1987
Ohio

Several members of the Hall of Fame have become school administrators, but only one a state league administrator. After a long and successful career as a teacher and speech coach, Arlene Akerman was asked to direct the large and competitive Ohio High School Speech League.

For many years her fairness and expertise ruled. Tournaments were conducted professionally and smoothly; protests were handled judiciously. Arlene’s hard work, and the fine support of a volunteer staff, produced memorable tournaments for the students and coaches of Ohio.

Arlene was no newcomer to leadership. She was selected by NFL founder Bruno Jacob to hold the proxies of absent members at NFL Executive Council meetings. Her participation was always constructive and helpful. In later years, when changes in NFL management were advocated by her friend Phyllis Barton, Arlene’s advice was invaluable. Her five years as NFL chair in the large Western Ohio District earned her the Gold Award.

Mrs. Akerman’s career began at Fairmont-East High School in the Dayton, OH suburb of Kettering. Hall of Fame member Leah Funck, coach at Fairmont-West High School, was her mentor. Leah and Arlene worked closely for years, and the schools were combined in 1985. Arlene produced stellar results at East. A national champion in Dramatic Interpretation in 1971, was presaged by a third place in 1965. The golden year was 1973: second in debate, second in sweepstakes, and fourth in Extemporaneous.

At the highly competitive district tournament, East won a district trophy and a yearly plaque. East was five times Leading Chapter in Western Ohio; once in the national Top Ten. These results led to a Leading Chapter Award. In 1985, Arlene accepted the National Student Congress Trophy as coach at Fairmont High School and was awarded her fourth diamond.

At every National Tournament after her election to the Hall in 1987, Arlene judged a final round. She was always introduced on stage as “The Queen of Ohio.” She was right to reign!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Phyllis Flory Barton
Phyllis Flory Barton

Inducted 1987
Ohio

One of the finest and most successful debate coaches in NFL history—one of very few to win the national debate championship in both the NFL National Tournament and the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Tournament—is Phyllis Barton, coach at Princeton High School (OH) Another of her teams placed second at NCFL, while several others placed at national invitationals including the Barkley Forum, the Churchillian, and the TOC. Twice her team was named Ohio state debate champion.

Mrs. Barton was widely praised for her untiring service to the high school debate community. She served her profession as NFL councilor and vice president; National Tournament host in 1978 and 1987; and NCFL Grand host in 1984. The yearly Princeton Debate Invitational attracted top teams.

As past president of the Ohio High School Speech League, and a member of the its Hall of Fame, she often hosted the OHSSL State Tournament. Phyllis Barton received every major forensic award: a two-diamond key from the NFL; a Barkley Forum Key from Emory University; the Coach of the Year silver plate from the Churchillian Debate Society; the Outstanding Teacher of Speech Award from the Ohio Speech Communication Association; and election to the Tournament of Champions Hall of Fame.

When Phyllis Barton discovered dishonorable conduct in NFL administration, she demanded a change. She and Donus Roberts saved your League, by re-instituting transparency and integrity.

For the last ten years of her life, Phyllis battled cancer while refusing to slow down her pace. Her commitment to coaching her students and serving her profession was unflagging. She often quoted a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

“My candle burns at both ends;
It shall not last the night;
But ah! my foes and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.”

Phyllis Barton died in 1990, but the light she left behind will never be extinguished!

— Compiled by James Copeland

David Kanellis
David Kanellis

Inducted 1987
Iowa

Bio coming soon!

Glenn Pelham
Glenn Pelham

Inducted 1987
Georgia

Bio coming soon!

Donus D. Roberts
Donus D. Roberts

Inducted 1987
South Dakota

Every organization’s most important person is its founder, whose vision gave birth to the group. The second most important is the person who, generations later, saves the organization from its excesses. Bruno Jacob is the former; the latter is Donus Roberts of Watertown High School, SD. Donus is a man of ideas. His proposal for an ombudsperson at the National Tournament established perfect transparency and fair dispute resolution. His creation of a Public Forum Debate event returned communication to the debate process. His intervention, with the help of Phyllis Barton, brought about a change in NFL leadership during a time of financial and ethical crisis.

A forensic coach decides between a large program (more students) and a small program (more success). Donus believed both size and quality could be achieved. For 35 consecutive years, Watertown was one of the nation’s five Largest Chapters. Roberts’ goal was, “…a broad-based forensic education program, that emphasizes equality first and stars second.” Yet his squad won 14 state debate championships; usually placed top three and 65% first in sweepstakes at state and interstate invitationals; frequently debated late rounds of Policy Debate at Nationals; won the Karl Mundt Congress Trophy and the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob Trophy; and claimed a national speech champion.

Roberts earned 11 diamonds, yet always shared points with assistants for their diamonds. He was awarded the NFL Distinguished Service Plaque for his work on the Executive Council and as NFL president, and he was the initial recipient of the Brother Gregory “René” Sterner Lifetime Service Award following the award’s namesake. “Whatever contributions I have made to forensics and the NFL,” Donus wrote “…would have been seriously diminished without my wife Lovila, who has served as coach, cheerleader, and leader for our teams.”

Donus D. Roberts: outstanding speaker; principled advocate; creative thinker; one of the greatest coaches of all time. The NDSA you enjoy today would not have been possible without the courage and expertise of Mr. Roberts.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Frank Sferra
Frank Sferra

Inducted 1987
Colorado

“I wanna debate,” said freshman Frankie Sferra. “Frankie, you aren’t smart enough to debate,” answered the priest. “We want you in Humorous Reading.” This cruel colloquy marked the beginning of a journey which would culminate at the presidency of the National Forensic League.

Young Frankie Sferra was a boy who hated school. Regis was the best high school in Denver, but shy Frankie was lost. A kindly priest persuaded him to join the speech team. There, young Frankie found friends and an activity he liked. He was fascinated by debate, and finally got his chance, but the results were disappointing: one win and five losses. But Frank was not done with debate and debate was not done with him. After college, he founded a debate program at Bishop Machebeuf High School.

Later, Frank would begin a coaching career at Mullen High School (CO), which would span half a century! Not smart enough? Frank would qualify 75 students to the National Tournament and 30 to the National Congress. Not smart enough to debate? Frank coached two Mullen debate teams to the national final round in back to back years, and the squad that won the Senator Karl Mundt Legislative Debate Trophy. Not smart enough? Frank also coached a national champion Orator.

Frank Sferra became one of the most honored high school speech coaches: the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame (the first debate coach so honored); the National High School Hall of Fame (the first debate coach so honored); the Emory University Barkley Forum Glenn Pelham obelisk for “devotion to the forensic arts.” Frank earned seven NFL coaching diamonds; the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque; and the Ralph E. Carey Trophy for Distinguished Career Service as district chair. His squad won four Leading Chapter Awards.

The popular Frank served five years as NFL president, before voluntarily relinquishing the office to a friend. He could have remained as president, but Frank was not concerned with high office or awards. His often-quoted reason for his service was, “I’m in this for the kids.” Very smart choice, indeed!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Bro. Gregory "René" Sterner, FSC
Bro. Gregory "René" Sterner, FSC

Inducted 1987
Maryland

As Past President and Permanent Grand Tournament Director of the National Catholic League (NCFL) and Administrative Representative and Councilor of the National Forensic League (NFL), no person had more influence and impact on national high school speech competition than did Brother René.

For more than four decades, he taught top level teams and individuals: as coach and assistant principal at Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School (PA); as coach and president at Calvert Hall College High School (MD); and as coach and president at La Salle College High School (PA).

The many national honors earned by his squads include an NCFL Grand sweepstakes championship; an NFL Policy Debate championship; a Barkley Forum Policy Debate championship; an NFL champion Extemporaneous Speaker; back-to-back American Legion champion orators; and a DSR/TKA Bruno E. Jacob Trophy.

His service to his profession was extensive: Diocesan Director of NCFL Leagues in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Philadelphia; NFL chair of the Pittsburgh and Valley Forge Districts. He hosted NCFL Grand Tournaments in Pittsburgh and Baltimore and NFL Nationals in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

His greatest service saved NFL Nationals. In the mid 1990s, the chair of the NASSP Contest Committee persuaded the committee to no longer sanction Nationals, because it picked one school as national champion. Brother Rene and NFL Secretary Copeland personally met with the committee and were able to work out a compromise, which allowed the National Tournament to continue.

Six-diamond coach Brother René Sterner was presented the “Pro Pontifice Et Ecclesia” Medal from Pope John Paul II, and was commended by the Legislatures of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The NSDA presented him the initial “Lifetime Service Award” and named the award in his honor.

Those people who knew him best, his students, “were in awe of him,” says his colleague Gene Kail. Brother Gregory “René” Sterner, FSC devoted his life to the Catholic Church, the Christian Brothers, and their schools, his students, and speech education. This was a man! When comes such another?

— Compiled by James Copeland

1986 Inductees

Karl Boyle
Karl Boyle

Inducted 1986
Ohio

Bio coming soon!

Ralph E. Carey
Ralph E. Carey

Inducted 1986
Florida

Perhaps the most charismatic of all Hall of Fame members, Ralph wanted to be a movie star. Not unreasonable. NFL members like Academy Award winning actress Patricia Neal and Tony Award winning actor Josh Gad have starred on screen and stage. But Ralph also loved debate and coaching, and chose to became debate coach at Hialeah High School (FL) and later at Miami Beach High School.

In those years, Florida was one single NFL district of highly competitive schools and very good coaches. And only a single qualifier in each event was invited to Nationals. Ralph often said, “If you can win in Florida, you can win at Nationals.” And win he did: a finalist and a semifinalist in debate; a National Champion orator; two second place sweepstakes teams, and the Tau Kappa Alpha (now the Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy. Carey coached 60 students to Nationals, including 11 debate teams.

A Barkley Forum Key Coach, Ralph’s debaters won two championships and a second at Emory. Carey’s squads dominated Florida: ten times winner of the District Sweepstakes Plaque; thrice recipient of the District Trophy. Ralph’s school was twice Leading Chapter; three times Largest Chapter; with state student point leader nine times (five times in the national top ten).

Ralph was a popular district chair, elected to 19 terms. He was awarded two Gold Awards and a Distinguished Service Key and Plaque. The top NSDA district chair award for Distinguished Career Service is named in his honor. Ralph earned three diamonds for his NFL Key. He ran for Council three times but unfortunately was never elected. His platform was, “As an advocate of the ‘Big Umbrella’ organization, with room for kids of varying abilities, I believe that forensic programs…must offer opportunities to less able students to improve their communication skills.”

Ralph was very outspoken. He had good ideas and wanted to share them. Carmendale Fernandes, NFL coaches meeting chair, dubbed Ralph, “the guest speaker.” But many of his ideas were adopted!

Ralph E. Carey was loved by his students and colleagues alike. All grieved when he died young.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Ronald Last
Ronald Last

Inducted 1986
Utah

Bio coming soon!

Cecil J. Pickett
Cecil J. Pickett

Inducted 1986
Texas

Bio coming soon!

1985 Inductees

Frances F. Ferris
Frances F. Ferris

Inducted 1985
Wyoming

Bio coming soon!

Lois Sackman
Lois Sackman

Inducted 1985
Wyoming

Bio coming soon!

Ronald Shafer
Ronald Shafer

Inducted 1985
Missouri

Bio coming soon!

1984 Inductees

Mabel Hale
Mabel Hale

Inducted 1984
Missouri

By 1947, WWII was over, speech and debate contests were again held, and North Kansas City High School regained its NFL Charter, which expired in 1940. The woman chosen to rebuild the program was Mabel Hale. The state of Missouri was a single NFL district in the years after the war. The largest Chapter by far was Sikeston High School, a school which attended neither the District or National Tournaments. The bulk of NFL Chapters were in the St. Louis area or the Kansas City area—on opposite sides of the state. Mabel Hale served as Missouri district chair from 1955 through 1957.

Mabel was an excellent coach and competed against other future Missouri Hall of Fame coaches like her Kansas City rival, Margaret Meredith. Mabel coached two Missouri state champion debate teams, but was bested by Margaret Merideth’s seven champions. Miss Hale’s teams won the District Sweepstakes Plaque once and the District Tournament Trophy twice. Mabel coached three national finalists, including third places in Radio Speaking and Boys’ Extemporaneous Speaking. The extemper, James Kinkaid, would become a great trial lawyer and father of Jimmy Kinkaid, who would win Lincoln-Douglas Debate at the 1983 Nationals. Mabel qualified 23 students to the National Tournament, including three debate teams.

The difficulty of qualifying students to Nationals during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s cannot be overemphasized! Only a first place at the district or state tournament in only five events (Debate, Boys’ and Girls’ Extemp, Original Oratory, and Dramatic Interpretation) qualified. Equally difficult was earning coaching points. With few events, a cap on the number of rounds of competition for each student (40), and far fewer tournaments, it is no wonder that the first four-diamond coach was not crowned until 1966. Mabel Hale earned two diamonds. To some people, Mabel appeared to be sharp-tongued. She was not. But she was very competitive in a very competitive state. She had to be.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Albert S. Odom
Albert S. Odom

Inducted 1984
Wisconsin

“National Forensic League, Albert Odom Speaking.” For more than 30 years, the dulcet tones and courtly manners of Albert Odom represented the NFL on the telephone and in person as associate secretary. He was very popular: the Tennesseans invited him to judge at their district; the Louisianans fed him Cajun food; the Hawaiians brought him macadamia nuts from the islands every year at Nationals.

Hall of Fame coach Greg Varley referred to him as “a very intelligent man.” For 30years and more, Albert served one passion: “the League.” Born into a working class Texas family, Albert won his college education when he won an automobile in a raffle at the state fair. He sold the car and entered the University of Houston and earned his B.A. degree.

After serving stateside in WWII, he used the G.I. Bill and received his M.A. in English from Columbia University. Albert’s first and last teaching job was at Albany High School (NY). He was hired to reinvigorate NFL Chapter #1. His principal was Ray Cecil Carter, who wrote to Bruno Jacob in 1925, asking if high school debaters could join Pi Kappa Delta. That letter gave Bruno the idea to form the National Forensic League.

Albert coached 15 years and qualified nine students to Nationals. He coached a classic form of debate, solid argument and clear communication. Albany did not win every tournament, but as Albert explained, “If you wanted to win, you had to beat ‘The High School.’” He served two terms as chair of the New York State District. Albany was three times the district’s Largest Chapter. Albert’s squad won two District Sweepstakes Plaques, two District Trophies, and the Leading Chapter Award.

In 1969, Albert joined the NFL staff. He served as editor of Rostrum, auditor of District Tournament results, tabulator of election ballots, and Director of the National Student Congress.

Albert died of cancer in 2003. When Secretary James Copeland asked Albert what he could do for him, Albert responded, “Protect the League.”

— Compiled by James Copeland

Anne D. White
Anne D. White

Inducted 1984
Tennessee

Bio coming soon!

1983 Inductees

Louis Banker
Louis Banker

Inducted 1983
Missouri

Louie Banker was the gadfly of high school debate coaches. He knew everybody and everybody had their favorite story about Louie. Louis H. Banker founded the Ft. Osage High School NFL Chapter in 1960. He called his debate room “the Waldorf room,” because it was the room used to store Waldorf toilet tissue. He called his aged van “Gloria” when she ran well, and “Sic transit” when she did not. He smoked incessantly and suffered a heart attack at a debate tournament, but he did not quit either smoking or debate.

Louie was well-liked and quite competent in coaching debate and running tournaments. He was twice elected chair of the Missouri District, when the entire state was only one NFL district. Louie earned three diamonds when points were scarce, and R. J. Happe (MN) was the only fourth-diamond coach. In the 1960s, Louie attended his first National Tournament as an observer. He offered his services to Bruno Jacob, and Bruno put him in the tab room, a great honor. At that time, only Kansans were allowed to tab, since Kansas students were not allowed by their state to attend Nationals. Mr. Banker never coached a high school national champion, but his student David Jeans won the college National Debate Tournament (NDT). Louie ran a large program. Ft. Osage was eight times the Largest Chapter in their district (twice in the national Top Ten). Banker qualified 17 students to Nationals (three debate teams) and four students to the National Congress. He coached the Missouri state debate champions in 1977.

One infamous Louie story occurred at a tournament run by his rival Margaret Meredith. Her tab room was closed to coaches (especially Louie), but he desperately wanted to know the results and the next day’s pairings, written on the tab room blackboard. After dark, Louie climbed up to the windowsill of the tab room with a flashlight to see the results. Alas, he was spotted by police and arrested!

Nevertheless, Louie worked tirelessly to help his students. After each practice debate and his long critique, he would grin and say, “Let’s debate it again.” He will be missed.

— Compiled by James Copeland

Jean Boles
Jean Boles

Inducted 1983
Texas

It is almost always true. Some person has a great idea (the NFL should have a Hall of Fame). Other people create a structure (the NFL Council establishes a Hall of Fame). Then one person does all the work (Jean Boles). From the time of her induction until her death, Ms. Boles served as the unofficial and unelected, but absolutely necessary, Hall of Fame Secretary. She coordinated the scholarship grants; she corresponded with members; she spent two years getting tax exempt status for the Hall, so members contributions would be tax-deductible. Jean’s work was essential and perfect.

Jean Boles was one of the few women on the debate team of the legendary H. B. Mitchell. She began her coaching career at Sam Houston High School, a struggling inner city school in Texas. With her coaching and hard work, Jean qualified entries to Nationals. She transferred to Houston-Memorial (TX), an affluent program in disarray. Jean turned it around: six times the Largest Chapter in East Texas and three times led the district in new NFL members. Jean’s Chapter won the Leading Chapter Award in 1977. At the tough East Texas District Tournament, the Memorial squad won the District Plaque thrice and the District Trophy twice. Four times a student at Memorial led the district in NFL points.

At Nationals, the Memorial squad won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy in 1970. A three-diamond coach during a time when points were hard to earn, Mrs. Boles served three terms as district chair, winning two Silver Awards.

Harold Keller visited Jean shortly before her death. She was happily surrounded by her extended family watching movies. After years of service, Jean left a sizable bequest to the NFL.

Hall of Fame colleague David Johnson recalls, “Jean was really regarded as an elder stateswoman… Very respected in any situation… Jean had a long-range historical vision of debate, but she always had a clear vision of what could be done to improve things.” And she did the work!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Bill Henderson
Dr. Bill Henderson

Inducted 1983
Oklahoma; Texas

One of the most competitive NFL coaches and one of the most successful was Bill Henderson, who taught and coached at Sand Springs High School in Oklahoma and Jesse Jones High School and Bellaire High School in Texas.

At the National Tournament, Bill’s Sand Springs debate team was second in 1958, and his Bellaire team won the 1968 championship. Henderson also was an expert individual events coach. David Zarefsky won Oratory in 1964; his brother, Paul, was runner-up in Boys’ Extemp in 1969. Debate Ccampion Lane Heard scored a second victory in the same year by winning Boys’ Extemp. Bill also coached third place winners in Boys’ and Girls’ Extemp and a champion NFL Congress Senator. His Bellaire squad won the coveted Tau Kappa Alpha (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy in 1967. As coach, Bill was awarded the Bruno Jacob Commendation.

Winning Nationals was not as difficult as qualifying for Nationals from the South Texas NFL district, according to Henderson. Indeed, Spring Branch High School, coached by Bill’s friend and Hall of Fame coach, Rex Fleming, and Memorial High School won national championships during Henderson’s tenure at Bellaire.

Each year, Bill directed the largest high school speech tournament in America at Bellaire. Dr. Henderson received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1975. After leaving Bellaire in 1970, he taught at the University of Houston and Macalester College.

In 1978, Bill was named Director of Forensics at the University of Northern Iowa. His commitment to forensics continued: he coached debaters and speakers; hosted the UNI college and high school tournaments as well as the UNI high school institute. He also coached at other summer forensic institutes.

Dr. Henderson performed other academic duties, including chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Senate; UNI faculty senator; and author of multiple academic publications. Bill was Associate Professor of Communication Studies at his retirement in 2001, and an Emeritus Professor until his death in 2016.

— Compiled by James Copeland

J. W. Patterson
J. W. Patterson

Inducted 1983
Kentucky

Bio coming soon!

Maurice Swanson
Maurice Swanson

Inducted 1983
Kansas

Bio coming soon!

1982 Inductees

Mary Blackburn
Mary Blackburn

Inducted 1982
Illinois

Bio coming soon!

C. Edwin Brower
C. Edwin Brower

Inducted 1982
Texas

Bio coming soon!

Leah Funck
Leah Funck

Inducted 1982
Ohio

Whether you define her as the doyenne (the most knowledgeable member of a group) or the Grand Dame (the most respected member of a group), or both—Leah Funck, coach at Fairmont-East in Ohio, was the most successful coach of Interpretation in her day. Leah placed five Dramatic students in the national final round, including a champion, a runner-up, and a third place.

Judging in Interpretation contests is very subjective. Some judges follow the teaching of Charlotte Lee: the interpreter must be an unobtrusive window between the text and the audience. Other judges treat the contest as solo acting, broad pantomime and a lot of movement. Students and coaches in Interpretation events face variety in judging and volatility of results. Events where standards are less disputed, yield more predictable results. In Oratory, for example, Joe Wycoff coached eight winners. Placing five finalists in Dramatic (no Humorous contest existed in Leah’s day) is remarkable!

Leah Funck ran a superb NFL Chapter: eight times the Largest Chapter in the district; 12 years the leader in new members (many years in the nation’s Top Ten, including two third places); and Leading Chapter Awards in 1956 and 1971. At the tough Western Ohio district tournament, the Fairmont-West squad won five District Plaques and the Cumulative Sweepstakes Trophy.

Miss Funck served six terms as district chair, winning the Gold Award. At the 1966 Nationals, Leah remarked that her contestant in Congress, a debater defeated at districts, had entered “the back door to Nationals.” That image helped persuade the NFL to upgrade Student Congress to Legislative Debate.

Leah’s friend and Hall of Fame sister, Arlene Akerman, relates, “Her wonderful sense of humor, dry and smug, set her apart from other people… To achieve her respect, you had to be patient, sincere, and limited with your words.” After East and West were combined into a single school, the two friends worked together.

Doyenne or Grand Dame? The lady had talent and shared it. Her results prove that!

— Compiled by James Copeland

1981 Inductees

Novalyn P. Ellis
Novalyn P. Ellis

Inducted 1981
Louisiana

Bio coming soon!

Lenabell Sloan Martin
Lenabell Sloan Martin

Inducted 1981
Colorado

Bio coming soon!

Lester M. Tucker
Lester M. Tucker

Inducted 1981
Indian; Wisconsin

One of the hardest things in the world of work is to follow a legend! Lester Tucker tried his best. For many years he was speech coach at Howe Military School in Indiana, and one of the nation’s finest teachers of Oral Interpretation. Then he was selected as NFL Assistant Secretary. In 1969, NFL Founder Bruno Jacob retired and Lester Tucker became Secretary of the National Forensic League.

Lester’s teaching and coaching at Howe was exemplary. The Howe Chapter, under Lester’s leadership, was seven times the largest in the state of Indiana and five times in the nation’s Top Ten, including a second and third place. Howe won three Leading Chapter Awards. At the district tournament, Lester’s squad won the District Trophy and qualified 16 students to Nationals (only first place qualified in those years). Four Howe students reached the final round: three in Dramatic Declamation and one in Oratorical Declamation. Another student was president of the Senate.

Lester Tucker rendered great service to the NFL. For three years, he was editor of the NFL magazine, Rostrum. He served as Indiana district chair twice. He earned a Distinguished Service Key and Plaque, and two diamonds.

As NFL Secretary, it was difficult to escape the long shadow of the great Bruno Jacob. Lester had to work with a divided Executive Council and demands from coaches who would call him at night to complain. Very sensitive, he often took personally arguments about League policies.

But Lester was pleased when Humorous returned as a National event. He was very well-liked by the older coaches. He was an original member of the Wood Rats, a coaches’ social club. Lester enjoyed cooking and inviting his friends over for a meal. He loved antiquing with his friend Albert Odom, and was an expert on antique furniture.

In 1975, Vice-President Vernon Metz moved to have him replaced. The Council rejected Vernon’s move. Lester retired three years later. Say what you will; he did his best.

— Compiled by James Copeland

1980 Inductees

Esther Kalmbach
Esther Kalmbach

Inducted 1980
Ohio

NFL debate was dominated by great male coaches: Grady, Mitchell, Sexton, Belch, Sferra. But Esther Kalmbach challenged their domain. She established the Whitmer NFL Chapter in Ohio in 1960. By 1965, it was the district’s Largest Chapter and would be for a decade, each year in the nation’s Top Ten. Esther explained, “I was interested in helping all students. The four best would be my top team, but I hope I never failed in helping all students.” One coach recalls that during the Whitmer Tournament, Esther took time to persuade a sophomore girl to join her team. Greg Rosenbaum said, “She is always recruiting new kids.” Her large squads won two Leading Chapter Awards.

Esther qualified her first debate team in 1962 and would qualify nine more before leaving Whitmer. In 1966, her team debated the national final round, but lost. At the 1969 Ohio state debate tournament, Esther was simultaneously exhilarated and disappointed when Whitmer defeated her daughter Carolyn (debating for another school) in the final round. In 1970, Esther qualified two teams. Whitmer debaters won back to back national championships in 1971 and 1972, only the second team to do so. The 1971 squad was third in Sweepstakes. In 1974, a Witmer debater won Radio Speaking.

Esther believed in preparation: answers to opponents’ arguments must be researched; every aspect of delivery must be perfected; there must be lots of practice. Her debaters were trained to exude confidence, even if they were panicking. Debaters were never allowed to see ballots, until Esther used scissors to cut out every comment that might cause a student to become discouraged or cocky. The best arguments were kept secret until the time was right. One year, Whitmer lost several times to a rival school, but used the best arguments to beat them at districts and qualify for Nationals.

Esther says, “I always enjoyed my life. My hard work was because I loved what I was doing.” The most successful female debate coach in the Hall of Fame should not be remembered as only a “female” coach. Esther Kalmbach was a COACH, as the all-male coaches she beat remember well!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Helen Malseed
Helen Malseed

Inducted 1980
Pennsylvania

Bio coming soon!

Margaret L. Meredith
Margaret L. Meredith

Inducted 1980
Missouri

She was the Grande Dame (please pronounce each “a” as “ah”) of Missouri. A Grande Dame is a woman of “accomplishment and prestige; admired, and respected.” Margaret Meredith, longtime coach at Independence-Chrisman High School, was all of these. She knew Harry and Bess Truman, of course, and had been invited to their home. Harry was an honorary member of Margaret’s NFL Chapter.

Many recall she ran Missouri NFL with a velvet glove. Her teams and individual speakers were successful, and at least one or more qualified for Nationals almost every year.

During most of her long tenure, Missouri NFL was the entire state. What a tough district! Hall of Fame colleague Louie Banker said, “If you qualified two students every five years, you were a good coach.” With one winner in each event at state, and one winner in each event from districts, only five NFL events meant only two debate teams and ten speakers qualified. Louie remembered Miss Meredith quietly put pressure on her students. At the start of each season, she would remind the team that at least one Chrisman student always qualified for Nationals. Margaret would ask, “Will you be the one to let Chrisman down this year?” And they rarely did.

Miss Meredith coached the NFL point leading student in Missouri four different years. Her team won four Leading Chapter Awards, 16 District Sweepstakes Plaques, and a District Trophy.

At the National Tournament, Chrisman won the TKA (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy in 1956 and the National Sweepstakes in 1957! Margaret coached a Poetry champion, a runner-up debate team, and second places in Drama, Extempore (mixed), and Girls’ Extemp twice (the same student in succeeding years), among 24 students who made the final round.

Margaret Meredith served five terms as Missouri district chair. She earned three diamonds during years when coaching points were scarce. For 30 years of teaching and coaching, she never let Chrisman or its students down. The Grande Dame of Missouri was indeed grand!

— Compiled by James Copeland

Rev. John J. Miday
Rev. John J. Miday

Inducted 1980
Ohio

Bio coming soon!

Dennis Winfield
Dennis Winfield

Inducted 1980
Oklahoma; Iowa; Wisconsin

“He brought a new energy to NFL,” remembered Bro. René Sterner. Indeed he did. A little-known coach, Dennis Winfield was first elected to the NFL Council, then to the NFL presidency, and finally as Executive Secretary, in less than a decade. Dennis was a master of politics, who campaigned against the aging administration in Ripon, Wisconsin, and an entrenched National Council. A clever campaigner, he used his school’s 800 number to call coaches, and persuade them he would make needed changes, if elected.

Winfield began as a college orator and student of legendary coach of Dr. Valgene Littlefield at Oklahoma Northeastern University. Dennis taught at several Oklahoma schools, including OKC Northeast High School. He moved to Iowa in 1968 and taught first at Davenport Central and later at Waterloo East, where he also served as publicity director. Dennis married Collette Mikesell, forensic coach at Cedar Rapids High School, in 1970.

Winfield was elected NFL Councilor in 1975, defeating James Copeland, who disputed the election. The Council had a rule against campaigning, except for one column in Rostrum. Winfield had used the aforementioned 800 number to call coaches nationwide. The council refused Copeland’s appeal, but later expanded the Council by two seats. Dennis was elected president in 1977, defeating James Hawker. In 1978, NFL Secretary Lester Tucker retired, and urged the Council to select his assistant, Albert Odom. But Dennis lobbied the Council that change was needed, and he was elected Executive Secretary. The key moment: Frank Sferra, assumed to favor Odom, nominated Winfield.

The first years of Winfield’s administration were quite energetic. He traveled widely to district and invitational tournaments to meet members and hear their concerns. League membership grew. In later years, his personal problems affected the League and its members. In 1986, Donus Roberts and Phyllis Barton demanded a special Council meeting to counsel Winfield. He protested the meeting and denied the intervention; then resigned.

— Compiled by James Copeland

1970s

1979 Inductees

Charline Burton
Charline Burton

Inducted 1979
Oklahoma

Dr. Charline Burton (her dissertation examined “the rich history of Oklahoma forensics”) was the protégé of Hall of Fame coach Maybelle Conger at Oklahoma City Central High School. Central was a powerful school in forensics, and coach Maybelle was a legend. Charline followed in her footsteps.

Charline began her career at Northwest Classen High School, Oklahoma City’s premier public high school, and immediately enlarged the program to more than 100 students. A colleague described her as “the ultimate manager. If you were a student of hers, you got all the assistance you could justify.” Her first national qualifying debate team included Liz Herring, now Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Northwest Classen won the 1969 National Sweepstakes and Charline was Coach of the Year. She also coached two national semifinal debate teams. Northwest Classen won the Tau Kappa Alpha (now Pi Kappa Delta/Bruno E. Jacob) Trophy.

Later as coach at Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City, she would coach Mindy Snodgress, sister of actress Carrie Snodgress. Mindy won the national Girls’ Extemp championship and finished fourth in Original Oratory. At Heritage Hall, Charline also coached runners-up in Oratory and Girls’ Extemp. She was an excellent coach, especially in developing correct speech delivery. Student Charles Pierce recalls how she directed him to practice speaking into a lit candle to cure a sibilant “s.” Eleven of Charline’s students were state NFL point leaders, including first and second nationally. Dr. Burton was always active in the forensic community. She served on of the Hall of Fame Committee, which drafted the election procedures for the NFL Hall of Fame. She also served as Oklahoma district chair. Charline was a two-diamond coach and a Barkley Forum Key Coach. Like her mentor Maybelle Conger, Dr. Charline Burton was very competitive and very successful.

— Compiled by James Copeland

ZaZelle Gifford
ZaZelle Gifford

Inducted 1979
Oklahoma

The great debater and Hall of Fame Coach David Johnson relates: “ZaZelle Gifford was born when Bryan was still orating. Women of her time had names like ZaZelle or Zora Zong, a Texas coach. She was of another era. When you talked with her, you knew that. She gave her life to education with substance, style, and energy.” Johnson continues, “When a federal court ordered integration of Oklahoma City schools, including Northeast Classen High School, where ZaZelle had built her career, she showed that an African American male, her student Hubert Farbes, could win Oratory at NFL Nationals.”

ZaZelle began teaching at Harding High School and later moved to Heritage Hall, where she and Charline Burton developed a championship program. There, Johnson says, “She continually showed that Interp was best when served up subtly. Her intellectual approach to Interp or Oratory made her a formidable coach. She was not the first to pick up a trend…even a good one…but she was never the last. Her survival in the competitive world (Oklahoma City was a center in forensics in her era) was due to her formidable intellect, far reaching appeal to high school kids, and an unquestioned work ethic. ZaZelle always had high quality kids. They might not have started the year that way, but they evolved.”

Her Nationals record featured two champions in Oratory, one champion in Radio, and a third place in Dramatic. ZaZelle was extremely ethical. As Johnson puts it, “Throughout her career, she was a successful coach of what she continued to call ORIGINAL Oratory. The quickest way to earn her ire was to cross that delicate line of coach written versus student written orations. Very famous figures of forensics crossed that line and found ZaZelle on the other side.”

– Compiled by James Copeland

Ruby Krider
Ruby Krider

Inducted 1979
Tennessee

From the tiny Tennessee town of Paris, population 10,000, came award winning actresses and NFL speech champions coached by Miss Ruby. She was at her best when coaching the physicality of an interpretation selection. Unlike Charlotte Lee, Ruby believed that pantomime, subtle movement, was an integral part of interpretation of any literature. She rejected the idea that movement must be restricted or prohibited in contests. She often said, “I had a little dog and his name was Rover; when he moved he moved all over.” One famous coach, well aware of movement restrictions in most state league interpretation contests, riposted, “I had a little dog and his name was Spot; when he moved, the judges said, “NOT!”

Miss Ruby coached national champions in Drama and Prose/Poetry, runners-up in Drama and Oratory (including future Tony and Emmy winner Cherry Jones). The Paris squad won the Leading Chapter Award, three District Tournament Trophies, and one District Sweepstakes Plaque. Two students were Tennessee NFL point leaders and both placed in the USA top ten. Ruby Krider was twice Tennessee NFL district chair and earned two coaching diamonds. She taught three summers at the NFL Speech Institute and authored the book Creative Drama.

Ruby and her husband, Clem, designed the NFL Hall of Fame pin: a beautiful gold octagon. The NFL key was on the escutcheon; the words Hall of Fame on the verge. Ruby’s contribution to speech education was memorialized with the Krider Performing Arts Center in Paris, TN. This resource is used for touring shows, local performances, classes, and Children’s Theater. Miss Ruby loved words and teaching the skills to bring words to life. “Just pick a good poem you like, and read it…” she told beginners. When they did, she taught them how to bring it alive.

– Compiled by James Copeland

Etta Scarborough
Etta Scarborough

Inducted 1979
Florida

Bio coming soon!

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