Below are Coaches that have been nominated for the award for 2021/2022: AJ Edwards (LSU-Shreveport)- Nominated by Sheila Ritchie (Abilene Christian University) I am proud and honored to nominate AJ Edwards for the Bennett Strange Coach of the Year Award. Bennett’s idea of a coach who would train “ethical advocates that would impact the activity and the world around them for the long term, would selflessly aid students from other teams, and would lead the organization toward an end of inclusivity and benefit of all” is truly embodied in AJ. He brings a positive and passionate welcome to this activity and creates a space for all to join. He is a dear friend and respected colleague to many I can’t think of a better person to receive this honor.
Brett Harvey (Mississippi State)- Nominated by Paul Strait (University of Southern Mississippi) In 2015, Brett helped Cheryl Chambers start the team at MSU as a volunteer, building it up to a 25-person powerhouse. Brett is perhaps the winningest coach of the last few years. In the 2020s alone, his students have won nine national championships. He supports high school debate and runs a YouTube channel called Hail State Debate. Brett is passionate about debate and argumentation and committed to the principles IPDA. He inculcates in his students the values of competitiveness, professionalism, ethical evidence usage, and logical rigor. In short, he’s exactly the kind of person this award was designed to recognize.
Hannah Morris (University of Arkansas)- Nominated by Megan Smith (Louisiana Tech University) It’s my honor to nominate Hannah Morris for Coach of the Year. Her dedication to coaching and IPDA this year is evident. Whether it is building a new debate program, fighting for funding to travel the UA team, prepping, and hosting SFC, Hannah shines as a coach and IPDA advocate. She is one of the hardest-working coaches I have ever known. I am so proud to see her coaching her team to a top-10 program in such a short time on the circuit.
Paul Strait (University of Southern Mississippi)- Nominated by Abbey Barnes (University of Southern Mississippi)
Rebekah Whitaker (Union University)- Nominated by Joseph Mego (Middle Tennessee State University) Coach Whitaker embodies what it means to be a coach in the IPDA circuit. She first and foremost strives for excellence in building its community: she purposely reaches out to construct strong relationships with other teams and creates a clear focus on building the character and communication skills of her own students. Her coaching philosophy emphasizes education and ethics above all else, preparing her students for success in both real world and debate scenarios. Her coaching choices translate directly into meaningful competitive success, as she has achieved multiple season long and national championship titles in her short four-year tenure.