New coaches to lead speech team in new direction

The new speech team season brings new coaches, an unusual number of freshmen recruits, former N.U. speech team members and many more changes, and says goodbye to one Alaska-bound coach.

Coach Karen Franke’s husband was offered a good opportunity to work in Anchorage, Alaska. “After discussing the pros and cons, we decided that we should go for it. Life is an adventure, right?  I am very excited but, at the same time, very sad. I will miss coaching Speech so much and will especially miss all the very talented students on the team. The new coaches, as well as the veteran coaches, are so lucky to get to work with them all,” Franke said.

Head coach Rebecca Kauten will also not coach large group speech team this year, but will return for Individual Events in January. “Starting next semester I am taking classes at the University of Iowa for my doctoral degree in geography – environmental science. I wanted to ease into the speech team season and make sure my work load, homework, home-time and speech could balance out,” Kauten said.

“My thoughts for individual events are constantly evolving. I like to find things that are a little ‘off the wall’ and things that kids and adults both enjoy. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, so we’ll see what comes together in January,” Kauten said.

This could be coach Nick Chizek’s last year coaching, due to the possibility of him moving next May. This year, Chizek will coach the One Act Play and Reader’s Theatre. “For the One Act, I am directing a hilarious comedy ‘A Night in the Ukraine’ based on Chekov’s The Bear. It involves the Marx Brothers so the challenge I have for the cast is to bring in these well known characters through their own performance. Furthermore, the other actors will have the fun task of improving with these outlandish personas. In the Readers we will be looking into a Latin American short called ‘The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’ which explores how we create conspiracies and how we act when they do not appear as we want them to. It’s a powerful piece and will be very fun to work with,” Chizek said.

Large group speech team, however, will not have a shortage of coaches this year. CFHS alumni Heather Kelly and Scott Sesterhenn will join Chizek in his fourth year of coaching the speech team as well as Allissa Unertl.

Kelly and Sesterhenn were both successful in the CFHS speech team. They now attend UNI.

Kelly competes on UNI’s speech team and Sesterhenn is part of Half-Masted, UNI’s improv troupe. Unertl used to coach the Maquoketa Valley Speech team and currently teaches art at Holmes.

The speech  team met for the first time this year in the CFHS library last thursday at 3:30 p.m. and have started practicing for contest. “As always, it will be a new energy the entire team has when we work on pieces and perform at competitions. It will be fun to meet the new students in each category and learn about their own strengths to add to the team. As well, each new coach will add a new perspective to the whole “speech” thing,” Chizek said.

Despite the changes, speech team still offers a unique experience to old and new members. “Most importantly, I want everyone to have a great time. Speech is such a unique thing for kids in Iowa to do. No other state in the U.S. has a program like we do. Years from now, when speech team members look back on their high school experiences, performance with the CFHS speech team should be one of their fondest memories. Plus, when they’re getting up to give that big presentation for work, or for a group they represent as a grown-up, hopefully their time with us in speech team will have prepared them well,” Kauten said.

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