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! If you have a nomination you'd like to make please email it to email@example.com.
Dr. Gabe Adkins - Arkansas Tech University From Self-Nomination: Dr. Gabriel L. Adkins is a member of the IPDA Governing Board (2015-2018), Member of the IPDA Journal Editorial Board (2015- Present), Member of the Governing Board for the Southern Forensics Championship (2015-2017; 2017-2019). Has co-authored articles (2) in the IPDA journal in recent years, has co-lead panel presentations (2) at the national IPDA conferences, has been a panelist on representing IPDA in a panel concerning the value of debate at NCA (2016). Leads a very active IPDA team at ATU, which has participated in over 7 tournaments this year. Under Dr. Adkins’ leadership, ATU has been selected as the host school for the 2017 IPDA National Tournament and Convention and also as hosts for the 2018 Southern Forensics Championship tournaments.
Dr. Cody Smith - College of the Mainland Nominated by Harry Hathaway: As Team Captain and President of College of the Mainland's debate team, I'd like to endorse our Coach, Dr. Cody H. Smith, for coach of the year. We're a small school and what he has accomplished with little to no funding and support is fantastic. He's put our small community college on the map!
Dr. Pat Richey - Middle Tennessee State University Nominated by Trey Gibson, Bob Alexander, and Web Drake: Dr. Bennett Strange established a model that impactful coaches not only train quality debaters, but serve as leaders within the field, and it’s appropriate that our organization’s coach of the year award is named in his honor. Having been molded in part by Bennett, Pat Richey has taken this example and put it into practice, and it is our honor to nominate Dr. Pat Richey of Middle Tennessee State University for the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award.
The ethics and competitive success of the debaters Pat has trained speaks for themselves, and Pat has also been a valued member of the IPDA community. Pat has been a long-term member of the IPDA Governing Board, including serving as Chair. Early in the organization’s history, Pat directed the International Email Debate Tournament prior to being called up to serve his country in Iraq. The quality, and indeed the existence of, the IPDA Journal is due to Pat who singlehandedly at times kept the journal alive and worked to establish peer review for the publication. Pat has worked tirelessly to expand the reach of IPDA throughout the southeast. Finally, Pat and his team served the organization by hosting the 2014 IPDA National Championship Tournament and Convention.
The Bennett Strange Coach of the Year award represents more than just competitive success; it is about the development of students, commitment to the organization and to the activity, and we believe that Pat Richey is a tremendous representation of each of these. We are proud to know Pat, proud of his accomplishments and thank him for his service to students, the organization and our country.
Nominated by Michaela Edwards: I would like to nominate Dr. Patrick Richey, director of Forensics at Middle Tennessee State University, for the IPDA Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award. Dr. Richey has revived the MTSU Debate team over the past 6 years growing national competitors and a family atmosphere on the team.
Candidate Statement by Pat Richey: First and foremost, Thank You to those who nominated me. I know that I can write a “pitch.” However, I believe this is the perfect platform instead write about who the award honors. It is hard to believe that the last generation of students that Buford “Bennett” Strange coached and judged are now coaches (and there are many of us!!!). Bennett was the kind of person who truly cared about his students and debate. After a long and successful career in the radio broadcasting business, Bennett chose not to retire but to coach at his alma mater, Louisiana College.
I was beyond fortunate to have Bennett as not only a coach but also a mentor at Louisiana College. I was your typical snotty high school policy debater and was burned out by my senior year. I joined the Army reserves to pay for college and gave collegiate debate a shot at Longview Community College a year later. I was not completely sold after my policy days but there were two new formats of debate available; IPDA and NPDA. I was hooked again and ready to graduate. It was a chance meeting at tournament in Kansas City where I met the coach from unheard of (to me) Louisiana College. The coach was an older frumpy man with a deep southern drawl. He was intimidating yet there was aura of confidence and worldly wisdom about him. It was beyond competitive and academic, it was what I have learned to recognize as true leadership. I took him up on his offer to move and compete at Louisiana College. I passed up better scholarships closer to home but something told me that I needed the move and needed to grow. And that I did! Bennett was tough, sarcastic, hard (ask anyone who was ever unfortunate enough to take his classes), and sometimes just a real pain in the ass. But behind that was a true leader who deeply cared for his students and debaters. He pushed me further and harder than anyone else had ever in school/debate. He know when I had more to give and that I was not reaching my potential. He would quickly call out my lazy canned arguments and ask for more impact. Often, I was annoyed by the person whom no one seemed to please. Yet, I was getting better, much better, even if I did not notice.
Bennett was more than just a coach and professor though. I met my wife, Rebecca (Becky) Teater, at Louisiana College. She was on the team because Bennett bribed her with an A in his Public Speaking course if she would join. I asked Bennett’s advice about marrying Becky at my young age, without a degree, and in a post 9/11 climate. He told me to follow my heart and that age was of little importance since there was never a “right” time in life (though he did try to talk Becky out of it, making sure I was a good enough suitor =) ). I proposed to her at the Worlds Debate Championship in Toronto over the 2002 New Year. I told Bennett I was going to propose to her there. He thought it would be at Niagara Falls but I could not find a quiet place. He later told me that he thought I had a case of cold feet. I did find a quiet place at a swanky restaurant and after making my awkward pitch, probably the worst 1AC in history, Becky accepted. The next year I was activated and sent to Iraq. Leaving my war bride behind, I participated in the invasion of Iraq and a year combat tour as a Noncommissioned Officer. I attribute many of my leadership and perseverance skills to Bennett. In combat, there is no second best, another try, or even a tomorrow. There is only the “here and now” and mistakes cost lives. Bennett taught me to fight hard and to be fair. To lead by example. Be stoic yet empathetic. To do more than is expected and to earn your keep. And to never give up, never, always push forward. Bennett went beyond pushing. The worldliness was always there. When I returned, I finished my year at Louisiana College. On a very cold day, standing outside the hotel early in the morning waiting for debaters to come down we chatted. We were at Cameron’s (Lawton, OK) Christmas tournament and in the distance; you could hear the artillery school at Fort Sill. Bennett brought up his high school buddy who was drafted and sent to Korea to fight in 1951. How the cold of Korea and war had haunted his buddy and he was never the same again. It was there that Bennett said I should not pursue a law degree but coach and teach. I had been flirting with the idea and testing the waters before but Bennett made it simple as he always did. He told me that I had the talent and drive but I needed to commit and not waiver. A few weeks later, I received a very early morning phone call from Bennett to tell me that my friend Rob (a fellow Louisiana College student) was killed in Iraq. Bennett was sorry for the loss of a young and talented life and thankful that I had made it home. I committed to teach and coach. To lead as best as I could from the example provided by Bennett. He was right; it is not an easy or glorious road. Little pay, rough hours, hard hotel beds, greasy fast food, pain in the ass debaters, judges, and coaches, and always a step behind mediocre athletics. Yet, the ability to help shape the minds of the young and often most gifted and talented students to excel. To push beyond the simplistic and easy road and truly find who they are easily overcomes the sacrifices and inconveniences. Bennett understood this and led by example. As noted earlier, those of us from his era are all around and successful. There was no other option. His presence still is deep and an impacting influence. His body may be gone but his spirit lives strong in IPDA.
I am not asking, nor will I ever ask to win this award. I am asking that as you make your decision for who shall be presented the award this year or any year into the distant future; please do so with Bennett in mind. Make sure the person lives up to the selfless (though sometimes grumpy) example that Bennett espoused. As long as there are Bennetts willing to give of themselves selflessly to better students at the pinnacle of academic and intellectual prowess, debate will live on!
2017 Governing Board Nominees
Below are nominations that have been received and any information available provided by them and/or their nominations. If you have a nomination you'd like to make please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Paul Strait - University of Southern Mississippi From Self-Nomination
Candiate Statement: As a rhetorician and argument studies scholar, I love the way that IPDA keeps debate grounded in speech communication and the academic literature on persuasion and argumentation. I've been involved in the debate community for more than 20 years and no other format accomplishes this better. My experience on the Southern Forensics Championship governing board and as an IPDA tournament director has given me a sense for the practical impact of the policies, rules, and procedures of the IPDA over which the governing board deliberates. As our format continues to grow and flourish, technological developments, regional variations in norms of practice, and the needs of new programs may generate issues that the governing board will face, and it will be important to for our leadership to be open to new ideas while being faithful to the core values of appropriate and effective oral advocacy in real-world persuasive contexts. I know I am up to the task and would be honored to serve the community in this capacity.
Dr. Davina McClain - Northwestern State University Nominated by Hannah Morris: She has a fire for IPDA, a need to learn, and a passion to help the students around her. Dr. McClain would be a different voice, having a doctorate in classical studies (meaning she's been arguing with people from ancient to modern times) and is fluent in Greek and Latin. I believe she'd make a truly wonderful addition to the governing board.
Dr. Cole Franklin - East Texas Baptist University Nominated by Chris Brown: It is my great honor to nominate Dr. Cole Franklin for the governing board of IPDA. I have known Dr. Franklin for more than 8 years. In my experience, Dr. Franklin is a shining example of what a professional debater, coach, and governing board member should be. Dr. Franklin has won numerous awards in IPDA including 1st place Speaker in the Professional Division at the National Tournament (2012-2013), has been published in the IPDA journal, and has participated in a roundtable discussion at the National Tournament and Convention on IPDA’s Past, Present, and Future (2015). Dr. Franklin has also served on the governing board of IPDA from 2014-2017. More importantly than any of these accomplishments, Dr. Franklin always keeps the betterment of IPDA as a premium priority. I know that by reelecting Dr. Franklin to the governing board, IPDA gains an advocate that has a proven record of making responsible, ethical, and sound decisions.
Joe Ganakos - Lee College Nominated by Bob Alexander