Below are Coaches that have been nominated for the award this year and any information available from their nominations. PLEASE NOTE:There will be a write-in option on the ballot made available at the Tournament!
Web Drake - Union University From Nomination: He does a great job with his team and I've enjoyed seeing them at nationals. Candidate Statement:It’s an incredible honor to be nominated for an award named after a man I respect so much by an organization that I admire so much for doing a job that I love so much with kids that I care so much about. We have been blessed of late to field excellent teams, winning team and individual season-long, championship tournament, and regional tournament awards. Thank you for the privilege of coaching alongside of you all and for the honor of this nomination.
Cole Franklin - East Texas Baptist University From Nomination:In the Fall 2001 semester, Bennett Strange took a short break (sabbatical) from coaching Louisiana College’s debate team in order to travel to China. Mr. Strange had to make a decision as this meant he would miss over half of the debate season for that year; he had to decide whom he trusted enough to serve as coach in his absence, so he did. While we have unfortunately been without Bennett, one of the most beloved debate coaches anyone has ever known for several years now, he has left us with the knowledge of who he believes is the most worthy choice to serve in his absence as coach and mentor – Dr. Cole Franklin.
It would be easy highlight how Dr. Franklin is the coach of a program that is consistently in the top 10% in the nation year after year in spite of coming from a small higher education institution. It would be easy to brag about Dr. Franklin accomplishes this by leading by example, by competing while also prepping his students. It would be easy to share how he continually mentors motivated pupils and ensures he is available to cultivate and maintain a relationship with debaters fortunate enough to learn this tremendously great skill from one of the few on the circuit who learned from Mr. Bennett Strange himself, but instead, the fact that Bennett chose Dr. Cole Franklin as the person to lead, to mentor, to coach his own team in his absence speaks volumes.
I know my endorsement pales in comparison to the endorsement Bennett provided well over a decade ago. I only see it befitting that Dr. Cole Franklin is honored as the IPDA Bennett Strange Coach of the Year for this season! Having known Bennett personally and knowing Cole personally, I feel that Bennett would absolutely agree.
Candidate Statement:Words cannot express how humbled I am to be nominated for an award named for a man I had such respect for. Bennett Strange was my teacher, coach, mentor, colleague, and friend. I cannot imagine a greater honor than to receive an award in his name.
East Texas Baptist University fielded its first IPDA debate team in 2007. Within three years, we had won the school's first national tournament championship and two additional national tournament speaker championships three years later. Despite being one of the very smallest, if not the smallest university represented in IPDA, we have consistently ranked in the top 7-8 schools in the nation at the end of the season.
We have embraced IPDA and IPDA has embraced us. I am touched by the relationships, collegiality, and friendly competition that is epitomized in this association. My life, and the lives of my students are enhanced by IPDA.
Again, I am honored to be nominated for the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award. To be mentioned in the same sentence as that of my teacher, coach, mentor, colleague , and friend is truly an honor and I would be humbled beyond measure to receive this award created in his name.
Joe Ganakos - Lee College From Nomination: Since restarting the program in the fall of 2013, the competitive success of Joe’s teams at Lee College speaks for itself – including the first and second place season long competitors in the novice division last season and five students (as of this writing) ranked in the top ten of season long amongst the novice and varsity divisions.However, the honor of the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year represents more than just competitive success; from my perspective, it is about the development of students, commitment to the organization and to the activity, and I believe Joe represents each of these.
I’ve seen Joe work tirelessly on behalf of his students, helping them to achieve their potential not only in debate but in their roles as students and future leaders.For example, just last year Joe helped one of his debaters, Zach Martin, in earning a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship to be able to pursue his goals.Joe’s also in touch with many of his former competitors back to the teams he coached from 1998-2002 at the University of West Florida, serving as a mentor in their professional lives.
While for many, Joe may be a relatively new face to the IPDA organization (with the Lee College program just returning to competition last year), he has been active in the organization for some time.Dating back to those UWF teams beginning in the late 90’s, Joe developed an appreciation for the IPDA format; and, while IPDA wasn’t offered much in the West Florida region, annually he would enter competitors in IPDA whenever attending the LSU-Shreveport tournament.Even while the Lee College program was dormant, Joe served as an IPDA Governing Board member (and he is currently serving a second non-consecutive term), was instrumental in the development of the current IPDA website, and has been an ambassador for the organization helping to recruit new programs to the activity.
Finally, it’s Joe’s commitment to the activity that may serve as inspiration for us all.In the fall of 2006, Joe left the private sector to re-enter the academic world with a goal of re-establishing a debate program that had been shuttered at Lee College.Having not received administrative support yet, Joe decided to demonstrate “proof of concept” to the administration during the 2007-2008 season and began traveling a small group of students and covering travel expenses from his own pocket.As the 2008 season drew to a close, it appeared that the Lee College administration was ready to fully fund the program & Lee served as host for the 2008 IPDA National Championship Tournament.Unfortunately, there was some damage that was done in one of the preparation rooms during the 2008 tournament and when this was reported to Joe’s administration, they decided not to fund the team for the following year.For many, this would be the last straw in a disheartening run of budget anticipation; however, Joe believed in the activity too much to give up.Instead, he continued to work with students, teaching them the IPDA format even though they were unable to travel; meanwhile, he continued to attend tournaments whenever he could, to help in tab, help as judge, or just help in any way that he could be of assistance.After administrative changes, in 2012-2013, Joe again began traveling a few students in a self-funded attempt to demonstrate proof of concept to his administration.With Lee College now being headed by their fourth president to preside over the college since Joe’s first season in attempting to start the program, the administration saw the value in what Joe and the Lee students were doing and chose to fully fund the program beginning with the 2013-2014 season.It’s this unwavering commitment to the activity that makes Joe worthy of the honor of this award.
The competitive success that Joe’s teams have had over the last two years, not to mention the fact that these students are representing a community college, is nothing short of amazing.His commitment to the development of students and unwavering commitment to the organization and activity – spanning back to the early days of this organization – illustrates his dedication.And it is for these reasons that I humbly submit Joe Ganakos for the honor of the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year and urge you to consider voting for Joe.
Mike Ingram - Whitworth University From Nomination: Mike is the driving force behind the growth of IPDA in the Northwest. His team and individual competitors won several tournaments this year and are competitive for multiple season-long awards. They will only become better as the organization grows in his region of the country. His teams are always well-prepared and, more importantly, understand the spirit of IPDA and compete accordingly. His appointment to the IPDA Governing Board attests to his reputation within the organization. He would be a worthy standard-bearer to carry on the legacy of Dr. Strange! Candidate Statement: It is a privilege to coach wonderful students and be part of this amazing organization.Whitworth won eight of the nine tournaments attended this year, and in varsity division closed out quarterfinals at Lower Columbia and at Western States, had seven of the eight quarterfinalists at Western Washington, six of the eight quarterfinalists at Oregon State and closed out semifinals at Linfield, the largest IPDA tournament in our region. Whitworth had the top debate speaker eight times, had novice, junior and varsity students win tournaments, and the Northwest Forensics Conference recognized Whitworth as the top IPDA program in the region for the second consecutive year.It is an honor to serve in tab rooms, help generate topics and promote the important values of IPDA.I am humbled by this nomination and am grateful to be considered.
2015 Governing Board Nominees
Below are nominations that have been received and any information available provided by them and/or their nominations.
Gabriel Adkins - Arkansas Tech University
Jeremy Coffman - Prairie View A&M From Nomination: It is with great pride that I nominate Jeremy Coffman, ADF at Prairie View A&M, for the open position on the Governing Board. I have known Jeremy for six years, during which time we have coached together at both Sam Houston State University and Tennessee State University, and can speak better than anyone as to his impressive qualifications. Jeremy began as one of my students and immediately set himself apart as a leader and a competitor. In one of our first conversations, he told me he wanted to learn how to coach. At the end of the year, I promoted him to Assistant Coach and eventually to Co-Coach by his final year in the program.
During his tenure as a competitor, he earned three national championships in the Varsity, Team, and Professional divisions. He has been instrumental in the planning and administration of the five tournaments we have hosted together, including the national tournament. In addition, he has helped to start successful debate programs at three universities: Sam Houston, Tennessee State, and now Prairie View A&M where he moved an existing NPDA program into IPDA. When the organization honored me with the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award in 2012, I can attest that the level of success I achieved that year would not have been possible without his support.
As a former Chair of the Governing Board, I am aware of the qualities it takes to successfully participate. Jeremy has proven himself repeatedly to be a selfless advocate for the betterment of the organization. As a decorated former competitor, he can offer unique insights as the Board deliberates concerning issues pertitnent to IPDA's future. Further, his election would be the first time in the history of the organization that a HBCU would be represented. As you consider which candidate to support as we head into the National Tournament and Convention, I sincerely hope that you will choose Jeremy.
Preston Langley Candidate Statement: As many of you may or may not know, I've been part of the IPDA organization in some capacity for over ten years. I've seen this organization grow and change dramatically—both in size, and shape. I was part of IPDA back when we outwardly identified ourselves as being the only organization "Open" to all competitors from all walks of life, naming a division after the spirit behind that. I've seen this organization go through ebbs and flows, with the addition of programs and competitors, and even its share of growing pains, as we strived to share our values of real-world debate, and accessible argumentation with programs across the nation. I would not be the man I am today without this organization, and the valuable lifelong lessons it has taught me. I believe in its ability to foster not only a true spirit of critical thinking and adaptability to people from all walks of life, but also its ability to train students and professors alike to engage in rational discourse, supported by ordered support.
This is why, throughout my tenure as a member of the IPDA circuit, I have dedicated myself to the growth and further advancement of this organization. I have welcomed new programs, spent countless hours with coaches and competitors alike, all to help acclimate them to the IPDA format; including Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas, Texas A&M International in Laredo Texas, as well as Lee College in Baytown, Texas. I have also dedicated myself to the advancement of the Professional Division by founding the Independent Debate Coalition- a group of post-academic debaters who have united to not only continue participating in debate, but to also see this organization continue to affirm its values by welcoming everyone with an interest in debate to our activity. I have served as a volunteer debate coach for the past five years for several different programs, tirelessly devoting my efforts to providing students the same opportunities this organization has provided me.
After careful consideration, I have decided to pursue the open position on the Governing Board. I believe my unique perspective as a product of this organization will enable me to continue steering this organization in a direction toward positive growth, while keeping intact our unique identity in the world of competitive forensics. I hope I will have your support in this endeavor. I will continue striving for the highest levels of integrity in my own actions, while seeking to promote the sustainable growth in directions that align with our goals, and mission statement. I look forward to hopefully representing each of you as the newest member of the Governing Board for the International Public Debate Association.
Pat Richey - Middle Tennessee State University: From Nomination: Pat Richey's dedication to the International Public Debate Association is without question and he is the very model of "servant leadership". Pat, the Head Coach of the Middle Tennessee State University Debate Team and outgoing IPDA Governing Board Chair, was one of the driving forces behind the amazing hosting effort at the 2014 IPDA National Championship Tournament in Murfreesboro, TN. Pat's exemplary service on the Governing Board and his longtime role as Historian of the IPDA is proof positive of his unflagging commitment to helping the IPDA continue to grow. Having had the pleasure of working alongside Pat, I can say without hesitation that his continued presence on the Governing Board will benefit the organization as a whole and provide us a valuable advocate for continued expansion east of the Mississippi River.