When I worked in the National Office, I had the privilege of listening to coaches from around the country -- whether over the phone, at state conferences, or at various contests throughout the year.
I learned coaches face many of the same challenges wherever they are, yet there are some who face additional barriers based on geographic placement, school type, school setting, demographics, and other socioeconomic factors.
Based on what I learned, I understand the following priorities are critical:
- Embrace inclusion in all its forms: thought, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic, geography, school composition, etc.
- Provide transparency in decision-making, and to empower coach feedback in that process
- Increase visibility of and parity between all competition events
- Develop opportunities for more recognition locally and nationally, for both students and coaches
- Increase collaboration between NSDA and state associations
- Advocate for rank and file coaches, particularly those who feel disconnected or frustrated
- Advance discussion of coach mental health and physical wellness
- Promote further research on the impact and benefits of speech and debate
- Further bolster middle school programming to sow seeds for sustained participation in high school and beyond
- Continue supporting coaches: with resources, training, and on-demand answers to questions