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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Speech and debate faces more changes

After eight years of coaching speech and debate, English teacher Erick Rector has stepped down. The program will now be led by Chris Harris, an off-campus coach who previously worked as an assistant coach.

“I think the changes in speech and debate are going to be a little difficult at first,” said Rector. “But I think at the same time, the coaches that Harris picks up will be talented coaches that will lead the program in a positive direction.”

Rector cited fatigue and burnout as the main reasons for stepping down.

“I think that when I had more energy and more free time on my hands, it was a little easier to balance out my life with speech and debate,” Rector said. “But in the past couple years, I’ve seen that long weekend tournaments, practices throughout the week, and especially traveling with the team that I’ve gotten into [were] taking a toll on me in the classroom and personally.”

He leaves the program in good condition, after building it back up for eight years. When he came to the school, the program was going to get kicked out of the Coast Forensic League, and had no leadership. Rector turned the program around, reestablishing it in the League. He said that if the team continues to follow the tone that has since been set, the team will last long.

Harris has extensive experience, having coached at Santa Clara University for two years and Fresno State for six years. He is also a seasoned participant of speech and debate himself, having competed in the LD, policy, extemp, impromptu, and oratory events in high school and college.

Over the summer, Harris organized an event at Santa Clara University for SHS public forum and parliamentary students in order to prepare them for the season.

Harris’ efforts have impressed the team. Senior Agastya Gupta is optimistic for the coming season.

“[Rector’s] loss will definitely be felt in the individual events team, but [Harris] has been a great guide for the [extemporaneous] team this past year, showing much initiative in creating a more rigorous training schedule and taking the team to even greater heights,” he said.

In addition to organizing the camp, Harris is already making further changes, which are expected to have positive effects, according to senior Rohith Krishna.

One change is that the number of tournaments entered by a student will be dependant on the amount of practices attended. This “creates a better atmosphere for learning” and enforces attendance, fixing a major problem from last year.

“Last year, attendance was sporadic, leading to a lack of preparedness and polish on tournament day,” Gupta said. “I want to focus on building team unity and motivation to foster a better work ethic and lead Saratoga to victory.”

The team also plans to incorporate more league and out-of-state tournaments into their schedule this year, such as the St. Marks Invitational in Texas and the Glenbrooks Invitational in Illinois.

But despite the positive changes that have already been put in place, some people still remain skeptical about the team’s future.

“I'm sure [Harris] will do a good job being our coach, but I'm worried that it'll be a little hard since he is not a part of the Saratoga High staff,” said sophomore Raina Kolluri.

Overall, Harris’s addition as head coach has been taken well by the team. Senior Anjali Manghnani said she “still [sees] the program as being as successful as we have always been. Obviously there will be some changes, but [Harris] has some great ideas for the program and I'm just excited for this season to begin.”

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