I want to thank everyone very, very much for your remarkably warm welcome to Kentucky this past year. I am grateful both for the opportunity to serve you, and even more for the opportunity to work with you for the benefit of all our students, from the Cline Cemetery on Tug Fork to Lake Number 9 within a stone’s throw of the Mississippi. That benefit will always be my goal.
Many reflections seem always to fall into three parts, like Gaul or many prix fixe dinners. This note will not be an exception. As with all organizations, KHSSL has a past, a present, and a future, and each is worth a pause for reflection.
We have a strong and distinguished past, with many individuals and many schools providing those “points of light” which enrich every institution, every state, and every culture. Two of those people, Mrs. Bruce Florence and Jill Shoulta, we have recognized by membership in the KHSSL Hall of Fame. Others we heard from at Awards at both Junior and Senior State this year. When our past provides hope and encouragement, we will continue to celebrate it. When it comes to previous concerns, my approach will be to let the dead bury their dead. We are moving into a present and future which is so bright that we no longer need to dwell on that which is gone.
This past year I thought was a really terrific year. I sensed our students’ enthusiasm at each of the invitationals I attended; but at State I was, frankly, overwhelmed by the spirit I felt from students, coaches, parents and judges. Everyone seemed to keep good cheer, even given the scheduling constraints we labored under this year. Between the season, the UK Tournament of Champions (at which several of our excellent IE competitors competed), CFLs and NFLs, I know we have a League blessed by many fine competitors and coaches and which can benefit every single student who participates in our program–no matter their ranks, ratings, or win/loss ratios. That is a testimony to all the people of good will who spend their time in this league. And I thank you for that.
As we look to 2012-13 and beyond, I’m hoping we can make a number of special things happen. They include
- Hosting our first ever Joint Senior-Junior State Tournament in mid-March. I am fully aware of the challenges of this undertaking, and will be working on it from the moment of my return to the Commonwealth from the Adirondacks in August. I do plan on a joint awards ceremony in the Singletary Center, and hope we can have some final rounds in that space as well.
- Providing new coach training/coaching sessions around Kentucky, especially in August – November. This area was one I found myself unable to follow through on last year, but I plan to make these happen. I’m open to both weekday and weekend sessions, but the key to making these work is to have students present and available to be coached as we train new coaches. I will be reaching out to folks in various parts of the Commonwealth to act as hosts for these sessions, and I’m hoping they will both strengthen and grow our League.
- Taking advantage of the Modest Novice Lincoln-Douglas Debate topic. Many of you know that while my coaching career was in both Speech and Debate, I’m identified more, perhaps, on the debate side. I sincerely would love to grow LD (and PF and Policy) around Kentucky, and part of that growth can happen with the Modest Novice topic. I have seen it work successfully in both New Jersey and Massachusetts–the biggest gains from it will come in two/three years as students trained in LD become Juniors and Seniors, thus able to train the new novices–but it’s also a way for coaches who are both attracted to but a bit gun-shy of debate to get into debate. “Civil disobedience” is a topic which is accessible and familiar, and that will help us all get into it further. Novice LD will be the subject of some of the training sessions we run.
- Expanding the “Kentucky on the Road” program. We have many fine students competing in our league who can make a splash on the National stage, and I would like to help them get there, especially for the programs which cannot travel far and wide. I have made arrangements with many National tournament directors in both Speech and Debate to combine our judging obligations and possibly reduce/waive entry fees for students coming, as it were, under the auspices of KHSSL. Obviously, some logistics need to be worked out, but it’s my hope that we can have KHSSL members representing at many tournaments we can expect to do very well at.
- Strengthening our finances without burdening our member Teams financially. It is my goal to keep membership dues and Regional/State entry fees where they are for several years. I also want us to find a way to ensure that we (a) fund the Blyton Scholarships, (b) award scholarships at State, (c) cover the costs of the local training sessions, and (d) support the “Kentucky on the Road” program. I will be reaching out to folks for information to help support these activities–possible donors, possible honorees, possible sources of additional revenue. By doing so, we will be able to benefit our students and League even more.
We will be working to develop a variety of donors to support our League’s activities. We will be looking to both business and individual supporters to make sure that we can do all we can do to ensure the success of both the League as well as, most importantly, our students. These students, after all, are the reason we’re here. We want to make sure that what we have to offer them gives them what they need and want.
I told the Board of Directors last weekend that, assuming UK and the League continues to want my services, I intend to remain here for you for the balance of my career (in about 15 years or so). You have made me feel at home, and I thank you for that. I hope that my joy in finding you all can only be matched by the success and greatness we all can find in the years to come.
Croft Alden, Hague, NY, 6 July 2012