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Speech and Debate Team Takes a New Direction

A look at the team's progress under new leadership

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Speech and Debate Team Takes a New Direction

Coach Christian Schaeffer applies his English skills to his new role  as head coach of Speech and Debate

Coach Christian Schaeffer applies his English skills to his new role as head coach of Speech and Debate

Coach Christian Schaeffer applies his English skills to his new role as head coach of Speech and Debate

Coach Christian Schaeffer applies his English skills to his new role as head coach of Speech and Debate

Shoshana Weinstein, Staff Writer

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Last year, beloved Parkway Central Speech and Debate coach Rob Proffitt retired from coaching. While competitive debaters may lament the loss of their coach, English teacher Christian Schaeffer is bringing a renewed focus on rhetoric and language to the team.

“I was interested because I saw a real nice corollary between what I teach as a writing and rhetoric teacher to the skills that are necessary to be successful at Speech and Debate. And it really emphasizes both halves of my English-teacher brain,” Schaeffer said. “Literature is meant to be interpreted and performed to some degree, and our speech students do really well at that. […] As a writer and rhetorical strategies teacher, that’s a lot of  logic, and a lot of the argument making that happens with our debate students, so I’m seeing a real clear carry-over.”

Schaeffer has also brought on an assistant coach, Mattie Rudolph. Like Schaeffer, Rudolph brings an English teacher’s passion for language to the team. Most of all, she says, her bond with her students motivates her to come to practice every day.

“I get to work with my former students and I get to see them. And I usually never get to see them after they leave my classroom, and honestly that’s what I look forward to,” Rudolph said.

Recruiting new participants has been central to the new coaches’ strategy.

“I guess my way of contributing is trying to invite my own students to join Speech and Debate,” Rudolph said. “Some of our novices are students of mine. Promoting this organizational community and trying to add new faces to the group has been, I think, my biggest contribution so far.”

Students agree that the team’s new leadership has been successful on this front.

“Schaeffer has been restructuring the team with the goal of opening Speech and Debate to more people,” senior Abhi Jain said. “He’s been really positive and willing to learn. I think he’s handled this transition well.”

 

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Speech and Debate Team Takes a New Direction