New coaches bring change to the debate team


Anna McCloskey

Coach Barnett listens and critiques two students at a team practice as they present their research and practice her new techniques.

It can be argued that the key to a successful team is a great coach. A good debate team needs to have speaking and persuasion skills and the ability to properly research topics in order to develop award winning talents, and it’s the coaches who must properly teach these skills, developing the team.

After the departure of Ms. Kathy Fuelling, Kristy Barnett stepped up from her position as last year’s assistant coach to this year’s head coach of the Benilde-St. Margaret’s debate team. In addition, theology teacher Ms. Claire Shea joined the debate family as an assistant coach. Both newcoaches and the returning assistant Heather Dierson plan on leading the team to success in the current season by teaching good speaking, persuasion and researching skills.

The debate team, who had a wildly successful 2012-2013 season, hopes to improve even further this year. At the state competition last year, current juniors Parker Breza and Sarah Karels won the junior varsity division, current sophomore Sarah Letscher and junior Patrick Hunter placed third in the novice division, and the team won second place overall. “I think other schools are kind of scared of us,” sophomore Peter McCague said.

But with great success, comes great preparation, and Barnett hopes to improve on this and make it even more successful than the last. “I am excited to continue to work with the JV and Varsity to build on their success from last year,” Barnett said.

So far, Barnett has changed practices by making them more team oriented, as they have more full team practices where debaters help each other with research and give speaking pointers. “We are working on the topic of affirmative actions in college acceptance, and debating that race and ethnicity should not be factors in college acceptance,” Barnett said.

Ms. Shea, who returned to the BSM community this year as a theology teacher, stepped in as a new coach in early September. As a student at BSM, she participated in debate and was coached by current English teacher Ms. Kari Koshiol. “My older brother was always involved in debate, so me and my dad would help judge his tournaments. I’ve always been involved in debate,” Ms. Shea said.

She is very excited about coaching the students she also has in her religion classes. “I get to see them in a totally different light than in the classroom, and the vigor and dedication of the team has really impressed me and made me excited to coach the rest of the season, and hopefully seasons to come,” Ms. Shea said.

The new staff has already brought changes to the team. The team has focused on the importance of practice and research. They’ve worked together to built up a strong team mentality that has brought them together as a team.