Speech and Debate adjusts to loss of coach

The Speech and Debate Club has experienced some changes now that they are without a coach. Hoon Ko, who had been the club’s coach for six years, left last month.

By: Lydia Zhang

The Speech and Debate Club has experienced some changes now that they are without a coach.  Hoon Ko, who had been the club’s coach for six years, left last month. “His outside work gave him an ultimatum,” senior Speech and Debate Club President Sian Ye said. “Especially this year, he has to do a lot more travelling for his job.”

As a volunteer, Ko received no pay from the school for helping Speech and Debate.  His work with the team, however, was very time-consuming. According to Ye, the team misses his presence and the work he did.  “It’s been pretty stressful,” she said.  “There are a lot of rules and regulations we have to work around and follow.  Ko took care of everything that happened behind the scenes.  Everything in terms of dealing with the league, dealing with the administration, chaperoning every single meeting and every single tournament we went, he was there.”

Because of Ko’s departure, the club officers have had to pick up all of the work that was previously delegated to him.  “There is a lot more responsibility given to the officers at the club,” sophomore Policy Debate Captain David Patou said.  “We have to make sure all the forms get turned in and make sure that we have teachers chaperoning for each tournament, whereas before, Hoon took care of all of it.”

Junior James Perng has also seen the changes, but believes that the club has been adapting to the change.  “Everyone on the team has equally taken on a little bit more of the weight after Ko has left,” he wrote in an email.  “The main problem that we’re still struggling with is how we no longer have a chaperone. I never thought that was that big of a deal, but as a team we’ve discovered that chaperones are very hard to come by.”

Ye says that, though they have an advisor—Opportunities teacher Ken Plough—the club is trying to take most of Ko’s responsibilities. “We know that it’s a lot to ask for a teacher to agree to be an advisor, so we’re trying to make his job as easy as possible by doing every bit of paperwork that we can,” she said.
According to Ye, however, the first meeting they held without Ko still went well. “At the actual meetings, Ko would maybe say something in the beginning if there were any announcements to be made that day, but otherwise, our officers run the meetings themselves,” Ye said. “Whatever officer is in charge of the speech meetings has an agenda and a plan for what he or she is going to do with his or her hour.”  Ye believes that the club will attend the tournaments they would usually attend.

According to Ye, Ko had a distinctive coaching method that makes including a new coach difficult for the club.  “It would be great if we could get another coach, but we would have to find one that could fit in with the way we do things,” she said.  “Some coaches might get too competitive and be too focused on winning.”
Perng agrees that Hoon will be difficult to replace. “Hoon has an extremely loose and unorthodox coaching style,” he wrote. “We were mostly in charge of how good we wanted to be, and he would help us as long as he knew it would make us happy. No one on the team wants a change from the status-quo.”

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