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Minutes for Fall 2016 Coaching Meeting

Debate and Speech

Lewiston High School, 156 East Avenue, Lewiston
September 9, 2016

8:30 Breakfast and general talking

8:55 Welcome and introductions


Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth), Brian Dodge (Deering), Matt Leland (Lincoln Academy), Kris Deveau (Brunswick), Tom Sheehy (Brunswick), D’Arcy Robinson (Poland), Pat Spilecki (Lewiston), Michelle Adams (York), Dick Mullen (Cape Elizabeth), Dan Haskell (Chevrus), Veronica Foster (Biddeford), Jacob Newcomb (Medomak Valley), Mike Kneeland (Greely)

Vote on Parliamentarian for the meeting

Request for volunteers: none.

Nominations: Dan Haskell (by Lyndsy Denk, seconded: D’Arcy)

Dan: Do we really need one? Motion to not have a parliamentarian.

  • Approval (unanimous)

9:00 Officers’ reports

Secretary Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth)

Minutes from the Spring meeting are posted on the web site. For today, we’re carrying over some business; Matt already did a good job capturing in the agenda.

If anyone has resources to post to or feedback for the web site, please send to me.

If anyone needs to update their contact information, please complete the Google Form. I’ll resend the link to the MFA list serv.

Approval of secretary’s report (unanimous)

Treasurer Kris Deveau (Brunswick)

Change: Using a PO box for MFA and NSDA correspondence. Will update everyone with that address soon. It will be on the new MFA membership form.

Financial report includes three years of history; very predictable. Last year had 25 paying schools. Didn’t spend as much as anticipated, so we have about $3000 in the bank for this year. We were expecting a smaller reserve. Our student scholarship predictably brings us down. We can think about how much we want to spend on the scholarship this year.

For this year, we’re proposing the same budget minus a line for a new computer since we have two functioning machines.

Re: ordering binders in bulk for distribution to all who want them. Kris will repeat that activity.

Q from D’Arcy: When are membership forms going out? Our budget is closing soon so we need to submit.

  • A from Kris: Will email and then Lyndsy will post on web site.

Approval of Treasurer’s Report (unanimous)

Vice President D’Arcy Robinson (Poland)

Willing to sit at the MPA meeting. They’re obligated to hold two meetings; still waiting on dates, times.

Spear Contest: Will bring up with the MPA about reviving the activity.

  • Kris was contacted by the Maine Revenue Service who wants to restart distributing the money for the scholarship. Will follow up.
  • Q from Dick: How much is in the Spear bank?
    • A from Kris: Unknown. Kris will ask.
    • A from D’arcy: One of the reasons the contest faded was because there was no money left.

Council of Nine: Will hold elections early in season.

Approval of vice president’s report (unanimous)

President Matt Leland (Lincoln)

Strength of the league looks good, especially in Congress.

New schools coming in (Biddeford in attendance today). New schools increases competition—great opportunity.

Encourage all coaches to reach out to others. If you need support, reach out to Matt who will enact or find someone else.

Reminder: Please be civil in emails. It’s hard to interpret in writing, which cascades reactions.

Approval or president’s report (unanimous)

9:30 Moderator’s reports

Speech: Pat Spelecki (Lewiston) and Tory Gram (Orono)

In Spring proposed training sessions, but haven’t had much discussion with Tory. If someone needs support with training reach out to moderators.

We encourage you to train your own people.

Lyndsy reporting on speech ballots: Kris, Sam Rouse, and I had intentions to meet; date fell through. Probably no new speech ballots this year.

Matt: Looking ahead in agenda for thought, three things to vote:

  • Clear judge requirements (especially Speech)
  • Clarified process for challenges (especially in Speech)
  • Consider change of events offered in Maine

Approval of speed moderator’s report (yea: 11, nay: 0, abstain: 1)

Congressional Debate: Paul Bibeau (Kennebunk)

No report received.

Matt: Congress is awesome. Not sure how to make it more awesome because they’re already filling multiple rooms and competing on the national level.

Lincoln Douglas: Dan Haskell (Chevrus)

As we move most of the event-specific rules out of the by-laws, we have more flexibility. If others have suggestions on adjustments, let Dan know.

Need to discuss digital cases and come up with more structure on how we manage.

  • Michelle: At NCFLs competition was mixed with digital or paper. Kids were reading from the screen. Some have their sources saved online.
  • Dan: Want to have a clear process in the event something comes up, even if it’s rare.
  • Brian: At nationals, 80%-plus on laptops. Plenty of judges were flowing on laptops, too.

Tom: Are there any national guidelines around digital, judging? A from Matt: State-level.

  • Tom: I’m struggling with judge guidance and rules.
  • Lyndsy: After being thrown into LD judging at nationals, strategies vary widely despite the rigid structure. How do we communicate the different strategies? Maybe record a podcast with Maine experts (Dan, Matt)?
  • Dan: Looking online, NSDA has a lot of resources (some locked unless a member).
  • Matt: The point of cross-examination is to trap the opponent.
  • Brian: Disturbing trend at nationals: Debaters pushing solvency arguments, which is more a Policy approach. LD is not about arguing how to implement solutions.
  • Dan: Recommendation if you have judging questions: If something comes up, talk to some of the experts.

Lyndsy: For LD or in general, if anyone has resources to share, send them to me to post on the web site.

Q from Kris: Will MFA adopt the NSDA novice resolution for September-October (see link for current resolutions)?

Lincoln-Douglas Debate – 2016 Sept/Oct
Resolved: Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.

Novice Topic
Resolved: Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.

  • Michelle: My students practice together, so I’d like one resolution for both divisions.
  • Matt: Motion to maintain status quo of one topic for both divisions.

Approval of LD moderator’s report (yea: 11, nay: 0, abstain: 1)

Public Forum: Joe Pelletier (Bangor)

No report.

Add to old business: Allowing mavericks at the State tournament.

  • Nothing stated in by-laws, rules.
  • Lyndsy: Confirmed that the by-laws do not define what PF is or how many students should be on a team.
  • Matt: We seem to be leaning toward not allowing.

10:00 Technology committee report: Kris Deveau (Brunswick), Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth)

Not a lot of changes. Would like to spread out tournament setup tasks across people. Lyndsy and David Arenstam (Thornton) have volunteered to help. We’ll notify hosts who their tournament setup contact is.

  • Q from Dan: Why wouldn’t setup be a tournament host responsibility?
    • A from Kris: The technology learning curve is fairly steep.

Want to test new (two years old) feature in Tabroom.com that allows judges to offer themselves as judges for hire. We’ve done a little experimenting; needs more promotion for adoption. We’ll create a tutorial.

  • Q: Do coaches sign up the judges for the pool?
    • A: Judges create profiles on Tabroom.com and sign themselves up for the pool.

Want to run a tournament with debate decisions online. Judges would submit decision electronically. Looking for host to try. Phase 1: Submit decisions only. Phase 2: Decisions and comments.

There has been talk of Tabroom falling under NSDA membership paywall. It was supposed to happen this year, but didn’t. For this year, it’s still free and open.

Approval of technology report (unanimous)

2016-2017 Calendar finalization

All tournaments are all events unless otherwise specified.

Sept. 9 Coaches meeting
Oct. 15 Lincoln Academy (novice PF, novice LD, limited Speech, novice and varsity Congress)
Oct. 29 Bangor
Nov. 5 (SATs): Maranacook
Nov. 12 Lewiston
Nov. 19 Deering (debate, Congress), Falmouth (speech)
Dec. 10 Poland
Dec. 17 Lewiston
Jan. 7 Thornton
Jan. 14 York (debate, Congress)
Jan. 21 Cape Elizabeth
Jan. 28 States @ Brunswick
Feb. 4 NCFL national qualifiers @ Poland, States snow date (Poland)
Feb. 11 NSDA national qualifiers @ Lincoln Academy, NCFL qualifiers snow date
March 11 (SATs) NSDA national qualifiers snow date
May 12 Spring Coaches meeting

Approval of 2016-2017 tournament calendar (unanimous)

11:40 Lunch

12:20 Old Business

Challenges to Speech pieces at States (setting up a more transparent process)

Matt: Experience from States says Speech piece challenges happen, they’re necessary, but we don’t have much of a process behind them. We need to clarify how an individual/team makes a challenge and how officials rule and follow-up on them.

Kris: Researched NSDA regulations. The most concise language is in the District Tournament Manual (p 75 of the 2015-2016 edition):

The members of the District Committee present shall have full power to adjudicate any protest, dispute, or interpretation of the rules. Protests must be filed in writing and must include:

  • Name of coach filing protest (a coach of record must file the protest) and school, city, state.
  • Code of person/team being protested.
  • Round being protested.
  • Section/room and speaker number of person/team being protested.
  • Specific infraction being protested described with supporting detail.
  • Signature of protesting coach.

After the infraction has been observed/discovered, the protest must be filed in a timely manner. A timely manner is defined as within one hour of the end of the round in which the infraction occurred, unless a specific rule specifies otherwise.

Matt: Need a list of infractions.

  • Kris: Not necessary. It’s about any rules violation.
  • Lyndsy: Where are the rules, just by-laws or also the event manuals?
  • General agreement: Rules are located both in the by-laws and State event manuals (State Tournament Manual, Speech, LD, PF, Congress), State Tournament invitation (much of which could be lifted over to the State Tournament Manual)
    • When all else failed, NSDA handbook.
  • This is enough to draft some language to add to the State Tournament Manual.

Proposed language:

The members of the MFA committee of officers and moderators present shall have full power to adjudicate any protest, dispute, or interpretation of the rules. Protests must be filed in writing and must include:

  • Name of coach filing protest (a coach of record must file the protest) and school, city, state.
  • Code of person/team being protested.
  • Round being protested.
  • Section/room and speaker number of person/team being protested.
  • Specific infraction being protested described with supporting detail.
  • Signature of protesting coach.

After the infraction has been observed/discovered, the protest must be filed in a timely manner. A timely manner is defined as within one hour of the end of the round in which the infraction occurred, unless a specific rule specifies otherwise.

Rules are located in the by-laws, State Tournament Manual, State Tournament invitation, and individual event manuals when not stipulated by the State Tournament Manual.

Matt: Do we need to put this out for discussion and vote? Or are we comfortable enough to vote now?

  • D’arcy: Due diligence says we email out for vote.
  • Matt: What happens if this resolution is voted down?
    • Dan: We revisit in Spring.
    • Matt: I won’t run another State tournament without a process in place.
    • Kris: If it’s voted down and we have nothing to replace it, don’t we just end up back in this position and, by default, use the resources we have anyway?
    • Dan: Let’s not worry about the worst-case

Approval of voting via email (yea: 9, nay: 2, abstain: 1)

Matt: Request to coaches to have cell phones on them so Tabulation can call coaches to find missing judges.

Judging Requirements at States

Historical context: Debate and Congress both have clear judge requirements; Speech doesn’t. Matt lifted Debate language and adapted quickly for Speech. Discussion at the Spring 2016 meeting wasn’t quite satisfied with the language.

Proposed language:

  1. Each participating school at a speech event shall be responsible to provide one judge for every five speech entries.
  2. Every third, fifth, and seventh judge shall be unaffiliated with any participating school.
  3. Judges shall be qualified having completed judge training in an MFA instructional event or other training provided by a local MFA speech coach AND fall into one of the following categories:
    1. Judges who have at least two tournaments of speech judging experience at MFA tournament events may participate in any speech event.
    2. Post-secondary students from any district or state with high school and/or collegiate speech experience.
  4. Judges shall be limited in judging per the qualifications below:
    1. MFA alumni students judge Novice events only until their second year post high school graduation.
    2. Judges shall not judge speech rounds that include a competitor to whom they are affiliated. Affiliation includes:
      1. Coaches, school staff, and parents/guardians are affiliated with the team’s school.
      2. Alumni who graduated from the school within the last three years are affiliated with the school.
      3. Parents/guardians and other close relatives are affiliated with the individual competitor and shall not judge speech events in which their relations participate.
        1. At the coach’s discretion relatives who do not live or actively participate in their students community may not necessarily be affiliated with the whole school.
    3. Judges shall not judge any speech participant in the same Speech event more than once at the State Tournament.
  5. It shall be the participating school responsibility to identify speech judge qualifications.
    1. Judge qualifications shall be submitted with tournament event entry registration.
    2. Any judging conflicts shall be identified with the event tournament entry registration.
  6. In order to count towards a school’s judge burden, a judge must be eligible to judge at least two rounds of competition.

Approval to send language out for vote online (yea: 11, nay: 0, abstain: 1)

Judge Training Proposal by Moderators

There was discussion about extending debate briefing/training since it ends earlier in the day. There was not a lot of favorable response. Historically we’ve had the most success/retention with judge training by holding workshops.

Dan: A lot of the onus is on coaches to properly train. We should continue to work together to provide resources to support the training. The LD audio training Larry Bartlett (Morse) published is strong.

D’Arcy: Agreed that onus is on the coach. The online resources are abundant.

Michelle: One judge challenge is what to put on the ballot.

  • Dan and Lyndsy: We have an LD example. We need examples across the events.

Tom: Let’s call out the repeat issues. Do we already do that?

  • Dan: Often, yes. It’s also important to take problem ballots back to the coach who hired the judge.

Pat: As a moderator, I actively converse with judges to talk through commenting and the rules versus guidelines.

D’Arcy: The fact is, you’re going to have a variety of opinions about how the round went. You aren’t in the room to see how it really happened.

Tom: Is there any precedent or process for managing a consistently difficult judge.

  • A from Matt: We’ve never gone back on a debate decision.
  • A from Dan: After tournaments, we sometimes will go back to judges to provide feedback. Usually it’s a dialogue with the kids to say, “Sometimes life doesn’t pan out the way we want it to.”

Kris: NSDA web site includes a whole sections on judge training for almost all the events.

Suggestions to support coaches in the judge training effort:

  • Moderators continue to actively check in with judges in the lounge.
  • Moderators continue to be available to answer questions and provide guidance.
  • Offer an early morning pre-briefing clinic.
  • Offer a judge questions station.

(Ultimately no official proposal presented.)

Not allowing mavericks at State

General agreement is that we don’t allow mavericks (single member PF teams) at the State Tournament. Proposed language to add to the State Tournament Manual:

An entry in Public Forum Debate is defined as a two-person team whose members are from the same school.

Approval vote to add language to the State Tournament Manual (unanimous)

Vote on adding new events to States / compressing prose and poetry into one event (see Spring minutes for details on this).


  • Combine Novice Prose and Novice Poetry into Oral Interpretation of Literature in alignment with CFL events.
  • Combine Prose and Poetry into Oral Interpretation of Literature in alignment with CFL events.
  • Limit Oratorical Declamation to freshmen and sophomore standing competitors (thereby creating almost another novice event).
  • Add Informative Speaking.
  • Add Program Oral Interpretation.
  • Remove Ensemble.

Dick: Wouldn’t this make the opportunity to place more of a challenge?

D’Arcy: Economically it could save some schools money. Many kids compete in both Prose and Poetry, so this means one entry instead of two. It then encourages them to another event because they’re doing Prose and Poetry all at once.

Matt: In terms of eliminating an event, we could alternately propose the least enrolled event: Ensemble.

  • Kris: Agreed. Ensemble doesn’t get many entries so that it’s not a challenge. The approach is across the board. Plus the event doesn’t go further than this state.
  • Pat: The logistics of aggregating a whole Ensemble team can also hold up a tournament.

Matt: Point of order: Coaches who do not coach Speech do not have to vote on this. A pass is qualified by a majority of all who do vote.

D’Arcy: Point of clarification: Any adoption of the proposals is for the State Tournament only. Other tournament hosts have the discretion to run any events they please.

Kris: Request to include the NSDA rules and event description in PDF for information.

Approval to send out for vote (unanimous)

New Business

Congress concern

Jacob: Experience last season of heavy team coordination. The specific case was a strong Congressional debater who wrote cases for the rest of the team.

Kris: Isn’t it not allowed to use the same case?

  • Dan: There are no rules against it. It’s not good form, but not against the rules.
  • Matt: Isn’t that plagiarism?
  • Dan: You can’t take a case posted online, but there’s nothing against one competitor giving their case to another on their team.
  • Kris: In Congress, there are rules/guidelines saying the student shouldn’t necessarily be reading a fully prepared statement.

Matt: Summary of thoughts: We think it’s plagiarism, but we need to look at documentation. It’s something we need to be vigilant to. Also should talk to the moderator (Paul Bibeau, Kennebunk).

Kris: Part of what’s being judged is the student’s research and argumentation. I’ll reach out to NSDA for their stance to inform ours.

Matt: When we have a response from NSDA, we’ll email it out and open for discussion.

Possible fundraiser tournament

Matt: Big Ideas grant that earns money from the NSDA.

Proposal: We hold a tournament. It could be an after school, round robin, scheduled appointments. The debate held is one-to-one PF-like using a year-long resolution. Kids can be from any of the fields. Each round is 60 minutes. No need for tabulation. We can earn $300-$1700.

  • $300 just for hosting minimum 15 kids. Any school can do this, not restricted to any membership.
  • Hosting up to 45 kids earns us most money ($1700).

Tournament host still needs funds to run the tournament. Proposing $5 entries. Requires at least three rounds.

Competitors will earn NFL points.

Funds issued by the NSDA on a first come, first serve basis per application receipt.

Money options:

  • Each team who brings a minimum number of students can be reimbursed for MFA dues.
  • Reimburse on a first come, first server national dues (NSDA or NCFL).
  • Deposit to the scholarship fund to maintain the program.
  • Grant equally divided across participating schools.
  • Part to scholarship fund, the rest equally divided across participating schools.
  • Part to new school support fund, the rest equally divided across participating schools.

Matt: If we agree to this today, I’ll apply ASAP.

  • Location ideas: Chevrus and Erskine/Maranacook.
  • After school Thursday.
  • December?
  • 20% to new school support fund, 80% equally divided across participating schools.

Approval to submit application (unanimous).

Contact new schools

Matt: If you know of any new schools you can contact. English, History, Drama, principals.

Lyndsy: Ellen Parent looking to support a team for a year.

  • Veronica: Interested!

Kris: Melissa St. Peter alumna from Orono is at Maine College of Art and looking to support a team.

  • Lyndsy: Brian, aren’t you potentially interested in starting up some Speech?

Kris: Hebron Academy joined NSDA. They need a mentor; D’Arcy, Brad Conant (Dirigo)?

North Yarmouth Academy reached out. Mike Kneeland mentor?

Michelle: Need to follow up with Marshwood.

After school tournaments

Rod Robilliard (Erskine) long has pushed for after school tournaments.

Matt: Biggest hangup I see is that we need regionalization. These tournaments might not be strong enough to qualify for NFL tournaments.

Lyndsy: You might need to limit to one event.

Matt: The best way to make this happen: add more schools.

2:30 Adjournment

Thanks to Pat Spilecki for hosting today’s meeting.

Motion to adjourn (unanimous).

Summary of action items

  • Kris and technology committee to build tutorial for judges to add themselves to the Tabroom hire pool
  • Lyndsy post to web site:
    • Meeting minutes
    • Final season calendar
  • Matt and Lyndsy: Build voting form and call for votes for:
    • Adding language to State Tournament Manual to define a process for Speech challenges and adjudication.
    • Adding language to State Tournament Manual to define Speech judge requirements.
    • Adding language to State Tournament Manual to define Public Forum Debate team.
    • Amending, adding, subtracting Speech events.
  • Kris: Email NSDA for official regulations concerning team’s sharing speeches/cases in Congress and debate. Share response with MFA.
  • Matt Leland: Submit application to NSDA to earn grant for two Big Ideas tournaments.
  • All: Recruit more schools to the MFA.