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Coach Recognition

Donus D. Roberts Coaching Excellence

Coaches receive one point for every merit point earned by their students through competition, service, and leadership activities. Each point represents dedicated coaching and hours of practice, revision, and growth for students. Coaches earn Association membership and advanced standing at the same milestones as students, until they earn 10,000 points and the Donus D. Roberts Coaching Excellence Award.

Diamond Awards

Diamond coach awards reflect excellence and longevity in the activity. A coach’s first Diamond is earned when they receive 15,000 points and have been coaching in the Association for at least five years since achieving the degree of merit (25 points). Five years must pass between each new diamond award, and 15,000 points must be earned to receive a second diamond. An additional 30,000 points must be earned and five years must pass for each additional diamond.
 
Coaches who have received diamond awards during the current academic year are recognized during the Donus D. Roberts Diamond Assembly at that year’s National Tournament.

Hall of Fame

The highest honor for any high school speech and debate coach is election to the National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame. Each year, nominations are sought from member coaches. In the month of April, current Hall of Fame members and coaches with at least three diamonds vote to determine which nominees will be elected members of this most distinguished body.

District Leader Commendations

Recipients are nominated annually by their peers for going above and beyond in the areas of leadership and service, which may include excellence in district communications or publicity, developing district programs and resources, and/or district membership and engagement support. Chairs may nominate up to two individuals for this commendation. The awards are presented at the National Tournament during the District Leadership Luncheon in June. In addition to District Committee members, other coaches, administrators, parents, or volunteers in the district may be considered for this award.

Don Crabtree Distinguished Service

Coaches who perform service for the Association, such as hosting tournaments, writing or presenting about the Association, recruiting a new chapter school, or writing an article for Rostrum, earn service citations. Those who earn 20 citations are given a special gold key. Those who receive 50 citations are presented with a bronze plaque. In 2018, the awards were named in honor of Don Crabtree, former NSDA Board of Directors president, nine-diamond coach, Hall of Fame member, and service citation record holder.

Coach Emeritus

A Coach Emeritus is a former coach, advisor, or assistant who is no longer active in a speech and debate program who would like to continue their service and involvement in NSDA activities to serve the local and/or national community. A Coach Emeritus must have at least five years of coaching experience along with an active teaching certificate, fingerprint clearance card, or other background check verification.

Frank Sferra Directors Commendation

The Director’s Commendation is awarded annually for outstanding contributions by a coach.

James M. Copeland H.S. Coach of the Year

The 2020 James M. Copeland High School Coach of the Year is Irene Gardea from Americas High School in Texas. Irene is a two-diamond coach and goes above and beyond to serve her local speech and debate community as a district chair.

New Coach of the Year

The National Speech & Debate Association’s New Coach of the Year award recognizes an exemplary high school coach who is in their first year of NSDA membership.

Assistant Coach of the Year

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Assistant Coach of the Year award recognizes an exemplary high school assistant coach serving at an NSDA member school. 

M.S. Coach of the Year

The National Speech & Debate Association’s Middle School Coach of the Year award recognizes an outstanding middle school speech and debate coach serving at an NSDA member school. 

National Educator of the Year

The National Speech & Debate Association’s National Educator of the Year award annually honors an individual who has enhanced the quality of education in the field of speech and debate. This award is distinct from our Coach of the Year award as it is focused on the impact that is created in classrooms. For more information, visit our FAQs.

There are a wide variety of awards coaches and teachers may earn as members of the NSDA.

To review those awards, check out our Coach Recognition page at staging.speechanddebate.org/coach-recognition.