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NEW COACH 411 with Rick Dorn: Planning for Next Year

New Coach 411 is a monthly column designed to give new Speech and Debate Coaches the lowdown on the world of coaching. In column #21, Coach Rick Dorn discusses ways for coaches to plan for the upcoming Speech and Debate year.

New Coach 411 - Column #21

Planning for Next Year

Welcome back everybody! I hope your season went well, and if you have national qualifiers, I hope Nats goes as well as you hope! As you reach the end of your school year, it is time to think about plans for next year. Some of these ideas should be done earlier in the year, so if it’s too late for next year, try to remember for next year.

First, let’s assume you are coming back. You now have a year under your belt. It’s a good time to think about the season and to decide what worked best for you, and what didn’t do so well. I frequently decide that something I do at practice did not work so it’s something I’ll try to change for next season. Maybe you had issues with transportation or hotels. Now is the best time to make a change for next year. I keep a school calendar handy, whether on the cell phone or on a paper copy, and I will write in dates I need to get stuff done by. For example, I always have deadlines written in there so I don’t miss out on getting required paperwork turned in. I also put in September or so my hotels and transportation to request.

Now that you are more seasoned, did you host a meet? Did you want to host a meet for the first time? Now is the time to get next year’s on the district calendar, and to get it approved by administration. Tentatively recruiting tab room staff is also possible now. If your meet will involve any kind of changes to the school schedule, you definitely need to start early with approval.

Did you get your points put in at Are you submitting kids for Academic All-American or any other honors? The AAA looks really good to school boards, so if anyone qualifies, it is worth the extra time and effort. Honestly, it takes about 20 minutes, and I think kids should be honored for their work. Please submit kids who qualify. While you are at it, put in your own service. District administrators don’t understand it, but they will still be pleased to hear of you getting a service award from the NSDA.

Supplies should be ordered early if possible. You can do it in the fall, but if your season starts early or if you’re just too busy in the early part of the year, this is a good time to do it. Check paper, highlighters, timers, notebooks, etc. If you like to read in the summer, order some plays that sound enticing and see if you can find a suitable DI, Duo or HI piece. You are more likely to have time to read in the summer than during the beginning of school. Ditto for new fiction books that might have sections worthy of using.

It’s a little late, but don’t underestimate the value of speech camps in the summer. I have a few who have gone, and they will be your best leaders on the team. It is amazing for their confidence, and it helps your students make connections with college programs.

Speaking of college, if you have students competing in college next year, do a signing picture just like the sports do. Point out where they are going, and brag on it. The best thing speech and debate has over any other activity is the amount of our kids who are recruited and receive college scholarships from it. Parents especially love to hear about that. It helps you to make connections with those college coaches too. You help them fill their team, and they can help with a variety of expertise you may need.

I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I will see you next month!

If you have any questions or topics you would like explored, please email me at

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Rick Dorn

Worland High School

Biography: Rick Dorn is a two diamond coach who has been teaching some kind of speech or theatre since 1992. He has been named Wyoming 3A Coach of the Year twice and has coached numerous students to national competition. He was recently honored as the 2022-2023 Communicator of the Year by the Wind River District.


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