Minutes: Spring 2017 Coaches Meeting

Lewiston High School, 156 East Avenue, Lewiston
May 12, 2017

Attendees: Kris Deveau (Brunswick High School), David Arenstam (Thornton Academy), Amy Trunnell (Maranacook Community High School), Jason Curry (Greely High School), Ellen Parent (at large), Michelle Adams (York High School), Veronica Foster (Biddeford High School), Pat Spilecki (Lewiston High School), Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth High School), Dan Haskell (Cheverus High School), Matt Leland (Lincoln Academy), Brian Dodge (Deering High School), D’Arcy Robinson (Poland Regional High School), Kelli Antonson (Richmond High School)

Summary of key decisions and action items

Key decisions we made:

  • New treasurer: Ellen Parent (at large)
  • New LD moderator: Matt Leland (Lincoln Academy)
  • State Tournament will now include two auditors to verify results before awards.
  • State Tournament will no longer have entry caps (i.e. will be pay to play).
  • Honorary names for State Tournament awards:
    • Kathleen Schulz Excellence in Coaching Award
    • Richard Mullen Excellence in Speech Scholarship Award
    • Robert Hoy Excellence in Congressional Debate Scholarship Award
    • Jane Laughlin Excellence in Debate Scholarship Award

Action items from discussions:

  • States honorary awards: Need volunteers to draft blurbs gather photos for web site and States announcements.
  • Executive committee devise grant application process/form/guidance for new schools to request supporting funds out of the Big Ideas fundraising.
  • Debate moderators (Matt Leland and Joe Pelletier) review and update documentation. Draft a decision tree for judges to advise on more common questions/issues. Secretary (Lyndsy Denk) support publishing.
  • Spontaneous by-laws review committee (Lyndsy Denk, Ellen Parent, Jason Curry, Matt Leland) meet over the summer to fine-tooth review by-laws for some little clean-up items that people keep finding.
  • All: Consider ways to manage administrations that consistently fail to pay invoices.
  • All: Consider your position on including button poetry as acceptable sourcing for Speech.

Breakfast and General Talking

Welcome and introductions

Vote on Parliamentarian for the meeting

  • Motion, seconded, unanmous: Parliamentarian: Jason Curry (Greely)

Around the horn introductions

  • Kris seeking coaching position at Mount Desert Island High School. Davonne Pappas leaving and Kris has found work on MDI.
  • Ellen Parent now working in August and no longer able to help with Biddeford. Seeking new team in Augusta area.
  • Mike Kneeland no longer with Greely, so Jason Curry is back to maintain the team.

Officers’ Reports

Secretary Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth)

Last Fall’s minutes are posted to the web site. The agenda and minutes for this meeting will be posted ot the web site.

As always, I’m responsive to whatever people send me.

Motion: Approve Fall meeting minutes (Curry moved, Robinson second). Unanimous.

Treasurer Kris Deveau (Brunswick)


  • 31 schools in 2016-2017 increased membership fees
  • Tournament fees up
  • Big Questions Debate grant distributed back to schools who participated
  • Spear Speaking Fund: $300-$500/year. Consider increasing scholarship award.


  • States expenses on par/little low because we didn’t have a performer
  • Some other expenses

Expected to draw down, but increased balance by about $1600

  • Operating budget $4500

Motion: Accept Treasurer’s report (Trunnell, Curry). Unanimous.

Thanks to Kris for serving (outgoing)

Vice President D’Arcy Robinson (Poland)

Council of Nine

  • Discussions of decorum that we addressed
  • Students worked hard to find the right way to address. Made a statement based on comments from kids.
  • Feel free to talk to D’Arcy more


  • Jerry Durgin, associate at MPA, leaving
  • Wants MFA students to attend fall MPA meeting
  • Committee to oversee Speech and Debate defunct and Durgin is sad to leave
  • Durgin’s observation of road blocks: budgets, tournament length

Motion: Accept Vice President’s report (Curry, Adams). Unanimous.

President Matt Leland (Lincoln)

Who lotta new teams join. Known intent: Hebron. D’Arcy is near and willing to mentor.

Made a lot of changes to the State Tournament rule book.

  • Still opportunity to improve process, procedure

Motion: Accept President’s report (Curry, Adams. Unanimous.

Moderator’s reports

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

New ballots were developed and implemented.  Feedback has been mostly positive.

New categories this year:  Program Oral Interpretation and Informative Speaking.  Some growing pains were noted.  As the season progressed  coaches and judges asked clarifying questions during the morning pre-tournament briefings which improved both understanding the categories and the judging of the nuances of each category.

Categories voted to be eliminated  were:  Ensemble, Prose and Poetry as separate entities beyond the Novice level.  Prose and Poetry were combined to become OIL (Oral Interpretation of Language) to align with CFL guidelines. Oratorical Declamation was restricted to grades 9 and 10 as was deemed a Novice category similar to CFL guidelines.

Changes to the Maine State Championship Handbook were made.

These changes will need to be carried over to the Speech Handbook as well as the Speech Pre-tournament brief in the online resources.

Continuing  issues are the quality of the judge pool as well as the availability of unaffiliated or non-biased judges from schools.  Challenge protocol has been addressed in the Maine State Championship handbook.  These changes should carry over to the Speech Handbook as well as the Speech Pre-tournament brief in the online resources.

1. 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.

2. 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.

Safety concerns regarding furniture use in story telling needs to be addressed and expectations clarified.

New business item suggestions:  Final judgment on the use of Button Poetry as a source for competition material.  Of concern, the presence/lack of an ISBN number as it is not published in print, but has judged of merit and it is widely available which are the main intentions of published work.

Motion: Accept Speech Moderator’s report. Unanimous.

Congressional Debate: Paul Bibeau (Kennebunk)

Bibeau unable to attend.

Curry on his behalf: Largest ever. Strong judge pool

Leland: Request for Congress moderator to verify changes with Tab as soon as you know. If affects the flow and accounting of tournament.

Deveau: Docket publish is still slow/late. My concern is that coaches are not submitting bills on time, and he therefore can’t get a docket out timely.  The schedule used to be that bills were due 2 weeks in advance and the moderator would reject any that were not in correct format and publish the rest so that schools would have the docket 2 weeks in advance.

Motion: Accept Congressional Debate moderator’s report. Unanimous.

Lincoln Douglas: Dan Haskell (Cheverus)

High participation at States, especially JV (largest division). Coaches had clearly moved novices up.

States: As smooth as memory right up until audit. Will strive to get more acquainted with Tabroom.com.

Motion: Accept Lincoln-Douglas moderator’s report (Curry, Spilecki). Unanimous.

Public Forum: Joe Pelletier (Bangor)

PF did well for numbers this year.  There always is some confusion about what to do with a pf team when one member has some debate experience (novice or VARSITY) – but final placement can be handled by the coach contacting the tournament host.  For states, we seemed to have settled any issue by placing them in Varsity)

New evidence rules are in effect for the NSDA – we’ve pretty much followed them this year.  We had one post round challenge to evidence which was handled by the moderator involving both coaches and the challenged side producing the evidence in question – it was a matter of a source misinterpreting some data – not a team falsifying or misinterpreting information.

Motion: Accept Public Forum moderator’s report (Curry, Dodge). Unanimous.

Technology committee report

Kris Deveau (Brunswick), Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth)

Things going very well. Hardware works, no surprise expenses or failures.

Culture change to have judges sign up to be hired on Tabroom.com. One snag: hosts have to accept the judge before a school can see the judge available for hire.

Q from Robinson: Any thought into digital adjudication? Yes. Would be another cultural shift; not sure we’re there yet.

  • Trunnell:  Bring Chris Palmer up?
  • Denk: Pay for his travel and stay.
  • Deveau: Would need to book him now because he’s busy.

Motion: Accept Technology committee’s report (Curry, Parent). Unanimous.

Motion: Break. (Denk, everyone else). Unanimous.



Brian Dodge is currently President-elect and doesn’t have to be president, so we’re calling for nominations.

Call for nominations: Dodge (Curry, Adams). 13 yea, 1 abstention.

PASS Leland officially passing baton to Dodge.


Kris Deveau is stepping down due to workload.


  • Matt Leland (Curry, Trunnell)
  • Ellen Parent (Denk, Curry)

Leland declines nomination because Parent expressed any inkling of interest.

One ballot cast: PASS Ellen Parent: Treasurer

All moderators

Speech: Pat Spilecki (Adams, Denk). One ballot cast: PASS Pat Spilecki Speech moderator.

Congress: Paul Bibeau (Curry, Adams). One ballot cast: PASS Paul Bibeau Congressional Debate moderator.


  • Dan Haskell (Adams, Curry)
  • Leland (Denk, Haskell)
  • Haskell withdraws because Leland accepts.
  • One ballot cast: PASS Matt Leland Lincoln-Douglas moderator.

Public Forum: Joe Pelletier (Curry, Denk). One ballot cast: PASS Joe Pelletier Public Forum moderator.

2017-2018 Calendar

Below is the tentative calendar for the 2017-2018 school year.

Sept 8 Coaches Meeting, Lewiston High School

Oct 14 Lincoln Academy (novice)
21 Biddeford?
28 Bangor

Nov 11 Medomak
18 Falmouth (Speech)?, Deering (Debate, Congress)

Dec 9 Poland
16 Maranacook

Jan 6 Thornton
13 York (Debate, Congress), Lewiston (Speech)
20 Finals NSDA Congress qualifiers @ Greely?
27 States @ Bangor

Feb 3 NCFL qualifiers @ Poland
10 NSDA Speech and Debate qualifiers @ ??
17 Snow date

Mar 3 Snow date

May 18 Spring meeting

What PF resolution are we using for States, January or February? By-laws say we must follow “NFL” and “monthly.”

  • Denk: While we’ve already done a lot of work on the by-laws and other documentation, it’ll still benefit us to review again.
  • Curry: We can’t just skirt the by-laws.
  • Denk: Propose a committee to review the by-laws (again) over the summer.
    • Volunteers: Curry, Denk, Parent, Leland

Dodge put a call out for hosts for:

  • Nov 4
  • Dec 16
  • Jan 27
  • Feb 10

Motion: Accept draft calendar (Curry, Robinson). Unanimous.

Old Business

Establish a school assistance fund from Big Ideas fundraising

Or how to distribute fundraiser money (Leland).

Idea: Currently new schools pay half dues, half entries. Could distribute funds to defray costs more.

  • Q: Just States dues or regular season? Up for discussion.
  • Deveau: With so much money, support using for tournament fees.
  • Antonson: My biggest struggles are bus and judges. Foster concur.
  • Parent: Still new even after a first year. Suggest half off for a second year.
  • Robinson: Offer seed money for new school to host a tournament, which serves as a fundraiser for the team.
    • Parent: Encouraging community involvement, promoting team.
    • Biddeford is big enough to host, but expenses are tough.

Idea 2: Offer to pay national membership for a year.

  • Adams: Give the new school an option to host or pay judges. School can choose by need.
    • Leland: Set dollar amount for entry fees, judge fees, hosting. How much? Currently have $550. Schools apply for $150.
    • Denk: We also have money in the bank if this program is successful.
  • Trunnell: These funds are from NSDA; do recipients need to be NSDA members?
    • Leland: No. Also don’t need to be an NSDA to host the Big Ideas tournament.
  • Denk: Suggest application criteria and process. Keep it super simple.
    • Leland: How old is new?
    • Two years.
    • Executive board come up with application process/form.
  • Motion: Executive board be charged to come up with grant application process for Big Ideas (Denk, Trunnell). Unanimous.

11:00 Lunch

12:00 New Business

Lisa Melanson (Cape Elizabeth High School) joined us on the phone.

Add role for State Tournament: Tab auditors (Dodge)

At States 2017 we had some results snafus that were embarrassing to the MFA, so suggesting audit structure. NSDA’s audit structure: Two individuals review ballots and compare against computer entry.

  • Leland: The only downside: Pulling two individuals from judge pool.
  • Motion: MFA State Tournament involves an audit process modeled after the NSDA. (Leland, Denk) 14 yea, 1 abstention PASS

Proposal to remove school and event cap for states (Deveau)

This proposal is to remove the following from Article IV in the State Championship Handbook: Section B 1 “with a cap of $21 per event” and all of Section B 2.

Current handbook language:

Section B. Tournament Registration fees for Speech and Debate

  • All student events will be $7 with a cap of $21 per event.
  • Beginning in 2008-2009 fees will be a maximum of $7 per student with a cap of $140 per school per tournament event and a cap of $210 per two or more events (Events being defined as Speech, Debate, and Student Congress).

Proposed new language:

Section B. Tournament Registration fees for Speech and Debate

  • All student events will be $7.

Deveau: Cap $140/event and $210 across more than one event. Analysis shows three schools benefited from this cap (2 in southern Maine with higher socioeconomics, 1 in northern with lower). MFA loses $400-$500. One school wasn’t paying for half of their entry fees. The cap no longer has the effect intended (to enable schools to participate).

  • Adams: Is the fee for missing/purchased judges included in the cap? No. That’s in addition.
  • Robinson: Concur. The financial burden of hosting a tournament demand schools pay full fees. Wear and tear, custodial staffing (usually overtime pay), risk for vandalism. Personally been earning less and less for hosting these days.

Leland: Point of information: This just applies to the State Tournament. Regular season tournaments are not obligated to remove cap. Similarly tournament hosts don’t have to apply a cap.

Leland: At the State Tournament, the entry cap encourages entry flooding.

  • Trunnell: I thought there were entry limits? True.
  • Leland: Still can flood compared to small teams.

Melanson: Elim event cap, then discuss elim school cap. Consider a cap for Congress. Consider increasing school cap rather than eliminating. This would force Cape into single entry. Large schools contribute to the reliability of the activity, increase competition.

  • Adams: Support raising the cap because next year’s budgets are already in place.
  • Trunnell: Maybe roll out in a two-year process.
  • Robinson: In the grand scheme, this is not a lot of money at stake. So you have to make some decisions? I don’t see how larger schools are helping increase the level of competition.
  • Melanson: Larger schools mean you have the entries to run the event.
  • Spilecki: I support eliminating. I represent a large school, but have a small team. Sometimes you have to limit your team. This might be a way to send the best of their best. If we’re looking at hosting a tournament to raise money for a small team, then we’re seeking the money.
  • Trunnell: But would a large team bring the students? Would you actually reap the money from the large team? Sounds like there would be some offset.
  • Leland: But there’s expense.
  • Robinson: The custodial overtime wage goes up when the school stays open longer, which happens when I have large tournaments. The repercussions of fewer entries from a large school might mean higher level of competition because the coach is sending better competitors.
  • Deveau: Staying within the context of the State Tournament, it hasn’t benefited 90% of the district. Why should we as an organization disproportionately benefit so few schools?
  • Curry: This is limited to States. We can put out a reminder to hosts that they can institute their own cap.
  • Melanson: Traditionally Bangor has been in the large school mix?
    • Deveau: This last year Bangor did not hit the cap.
    • Melanson: This cap is why our program grew.
    • Robinson: Teams ebb and flow. Poland once used to hit the cap, but I’m in favor of abolishing the cap. This is the fair thing to do.

Motion: Amend motion to clarify item 1 clarify that it’s all student entries will be $7 (Curry, Leland). 14 yea, 1 abstention

Section B. Tournament Registration fees for Speech and Debate

  • All student entries will be $7.

Motion: Vote for new language:

  • Remove from item 1 “entry cap 21”; (friendly amendment) clarify that $7 per student per entry.
  • Remove all of item 2 (event cap)
  • 12 yea, 2 opposed, 1 abstention PASS

Make a standardized debate judge briefing (Trunnell)

Need something short, sweet, and consistent from tournament to tournament. Sometimes we’re running a little late, but it’d be nice to hand anyone a document. Ideally someone informed would be there to answer questions.

  • Haskell: Doesn’t the NSDA have one?
    • Deveau: Can dig out the old one.
  • Deveau: Speech needs an update.
    • Denk: Spilecki started.
  • Leland: Like standardized, but not the short and sweet. We get new people every week with different results.
    • Denk: Manuals need updating.
    • Parent: PF The Maine Way needs significant updating.
    • Haskell: Disagree. Nothing at 8:30 in the morning is going to change the weirdness we get from judges. Shouldn’t be teaching people how to judge the event by the time they’re at the tournament. The longer you brief, the less people will pick up.
    • Curry: When you enforce brevity, you lose accuracy. Suggest a visual flow chart.
    • Leland: Yes, judges should be aware of the event before they arrive. That’s the “ought” world. Reality doesn’t bring judges to us knowing the event.
  • Adams: Can we separate PF and LD judges?
    • Denk: At first I thought it was a bad idea, but then I remembered that Tab usually doesn’t swap judges between events unless the judge is definitely qualified both both.
  • Trunnell: I hear something different at every tournament, which is why I’m asking for standardization. I don’t want a lesson in what the topic is, but what makes for good judging.
  • Kelli: When I came in a new judge, the verbal instructions made no sense to me. Shadowing made a huge difference for me. I like the idea of a flow chart. I like the idea of a standardized briefing I can read.

Denk: I think we land on action items: (1) moderators review their documentation and (2) send me a decision tree that I’ll lay out.

Name scholarship awards (Robinson)

In memoriam of Kathy Schulz and in honor of Dick Mullen, let’s consider naming States awards.

  • Kathy Schulz
    • Leland: Someone called her a coach’s coach, right? I propose naming the Coach of the Year award.
    • General consensus
  • Dick Mullen
    • Robinson: Propose naming the Speech scholarship awards
    • Deveau: Thinking how to integrate the Spear award. Ex. Dick Mullen Award, sponsored by the Spear Fund.
  • Motion (Robinson, Denk, unanimous) to add to the State handbook Article 1 Section B:
    • Item 5: Kathleen Schulz Excellence in Coaching Award
    • Item 6, subitem A Richard Mullen Excellence in Speech Scholarship Award
    • Item 6, subitem B Robert Hoy Excellence in Congressional Debate Scholarship Award
    • Item 6, subitem C Jane Laughlin Excellence in Debate Scholarship Award
  • Haskell: If funded by Spear, do we need to make that part of the motion?
    • Curry: Anything funded by Spear should be advertised.
    • General consensus
  • Leland procedure question: Where does this get documented?
    • Denk: States handbook
    • Robinson: Let the minutes serve as the documentation
    • Deveau: Prefer States handbook because we generally don’t refer back to minutes.
  • Robinson: What about Bob Hoy? What about Jane Laughlin? Would Jane be an NSDA award?
    • Deveau: Jane also contributed to the state.
    • Robinson: Bob did everything, but definitely contributed to Congress.
  • Robinson: That leaves judge of the year.
    • Denk: John Blanchette Judge of the Year Award. Make sure it’s illegible.
    • Robinson: Also thinking Candy Gleason.
    • Parent: Obviously we’ll be missing someone considering it would be great to have the Rouse State Champion in Extemporaneous Speaking award.
  • Parent: Need to write summary and photo for each.
  • Robinson: Would be nice to send notice to all namesakes or families that we are issuing these.

How to get schools/administrations to pay fees (Robinson)

It’s been a bear to get some administrations to pay. Most coaches are horrified to hear that I haven’t received payment. It’s not the coaches; it’s the schools.

  • Robinson: As a coach, it’s our responsibility to submit payment immediately. I like to pay at the tournament, but my admin won’t let me anymore.
  • Trunnell: I used to pay and wait for reimbursement, but then I was waiting for my school to pay me and sometimes out the money.
  • Parent: Sometimes new school invoices are weird, so ask for support from Tabroom.com.
  • Parent: Do I recall that at one point there was a penalty for unpaid bills in that you can’t compete at States?
    • Dodge: It’s relevant only to last year’s State tournament fees; not applicable to regional tournaments.
  • Antonson: Can I see on Tabroom if my invoice has been paid?
  • Deveau: Only if the host updates when they receive payment.
  • Dodge: Deering’s tournament broke even. There are few options for collecting. Public shaming. Other than that, I don’t know what to do.
  • Leland: Sure, the MFA can step in, but then we end up serving as mediators, which gets messy.
  • Trunnell: It’s helpful to get a reminder 30 days later from the host. I think the onus is on the tournament director. Mail a paper invoice directly to the office with a big ol’ PAST DUE written on the invoice.
  • Action item: Brainstorm ideas. Add to old business for Fall.

Use of button poetry in competition events (Spilecki)

Look at button poetry as an acceptable source.

Spilecki suggestion for Fall new business

1:45 Adjournment

Brian: Thank you for participating and voting me in.

Spilecki: Confirmed that fall meeting will be here.

Post Meeting

CFL Report: D’Arcy Robinson

NSDA Report: Kris Deveau

Orono is seeking a judge for NSDA tournament. Contact Tory Gram.

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