New Forensics Coach Sparks Debate On Team

Hallie Darmante, reporter

Rockbridge County Wildcats Forensics team has been an organization for many years at RCHS. They are a speech and debate team that practices all year to perform their individual pieces to different audiences through various rounds of competition. Last year, RCHS was the proud home of two state title winners and was coached by Mrs. Amanda Burks. Burks coached the team for many years before passing the torch to Ms. Diette, the new sponsor of this school club. 

Diette touches on how she discovered the sport and the nostalgia she faces as her daughter used to be on the team before her graduation. 

I became interested in Forensics when my daughter, Caroline, was a sophomore at RCHS.  She decided that she wanted to get involved in the team and came to me for help in selecting the poetry that she would use for competition. I enjoyed watching her prepare her piece and learning about the competition process through her experience. I think that, after that experience, we were both hooked,” said Diette.

Diette continued to talk about how this is what sparked the initial love for the sport.

 “We started looking for new poetry that summer, and during her junior year, I watched as the sport evolved so that students could compete virtually. Finally, during her senior year, I was able to attend a live tournament with her and really got caught up in the fun and excitement of watching the hard work and dedication of so many amazing students pay off,” said Diette. 

She went on to discuss how thrilled she was to coach former students and expand the team to the middle school this coming season. 

I think that I’m most excited to have a chance to work with some of my former students again. I’ve been teaching at Maury River Middle for five years now, so many of the current team members are former students of mine. I hope that one of the most exciting changes to the team this year will be the addition of 8th grade students. As a VHSL ‘sport,’ Forensics is open to students in grades 8-12. My goal is to encourage 8th graders at both of our local middle schools to join our team,” said Diette. 

Diette goes on to talk of her experience in public speech and debate. 

“While I am an English teacher, I do not have any personal experience in competitive public speaking. I have spent most of my life performing in some capacity, as I have been a dancer and a musician since I was young. I would argue that the best preparation I have for this job is my role as a classroom teacher. I think that if you ask any teacher, they would tell you that every day is a new, unscripted performance in front of a pretty demanding audience. I have always loved the presentation part of my job. It is important to me that I present information in an exciting and engaging way for my students, and I hope that I will be able to share those skills with our team members this year,” said Diette. 

Finally she concludes by speaking of how excited she is for this coming season.

“I know that this will be a transitional year for many of us, with a new coach and younger team members. My goals for this year are to grow the team, so that we have students across all grade levels participating, and to work with team members to help them find their voice and share it with the world,” said Diette. 

Senior Andrew Brannon touched on how excited he is for the coming season. 

“I think this season will be great. A new coach and team will keep things fresh. I think we need that. I’m also so thankful Ms. Diette stepped up. Our team misses Caroline a lot so it feels like we’ve come full circle with her mom coming onto the team,” said Brannon. 

The RCHS cats are thrilled to watch as the new team develops and we wish them the best of luck as they begin to compete this season. Further, we wish Ms. Diette the best of luck as she has some big shoes to fill.