Speech team ready for another round
Following a successful season in 2017, the Minneota Speech Team is excited for what's in store for 2018. “Last year was a great year,” said Coach Kim Gades.
“Our team consistently placed in the top five at the varsity speech meets.” “I think we are always desiring more for the team. The kids have goals and aspirations to achieve more and more each year.”
There are seven varsity and five junior high meets scheduled this season, which includes some overlapping of competitors.
“The only students who are restricted are the sixth-graders, which is nice,” Gades explained.
“They can start out competing against their peers and people with roughly the same amount of experience before they start going to the bigger meets.”
A small group of competitors participated in the Marshall Speech Spectacular this past weekend, although the Section 3A meets begin Feb. 3 in Worthington and Feb. 10 in Pipestone.
“Then we will hold our third annual junior high meet Feb. 13 in Minneota,” said Gades. Gades feels by going to the bigger meets, those in grades seven through nine gain valuable experience.
“They are able to perform in front of more people and get more feedback to refine their presentations,” she said. “It's great motivation to rise to the competition.”
Gades, also a first-grade teacher at Minneota, and assistant coach Amanda Engels are in their sixth year coaching the speech teams together.
“I couldn't do this without her,” said Gades. “I feel very fortunate to have her as my coaching partner these past six years.”
There are 25 students signed up for speech in grades 7-12 this season. The team also has three new sixth-graders. Among those are three seniors, Sarah Engels, Cole Bot and Cora Engels. “Sarah Engels has been on the speech team since she was in seventh grade,” said Gades.
“She's been on the team as long as Amanda and I have been coaching. She's the last team member left from that original team we started with, so it's crazy to think this is her senior year.” Cora Engels has been in speech for six years, too, although she started out at Lincoln HI and joined Minneota her freshman year.
Cole Bot participated in a few junior high speech meets as an eighth-grader in Storytelling. He returned to the team as a sophomore and made it to state as a junior last year in Duo with Nick Bot.
“We are very grateful to have these seniors on our team,” Gades remarked.
“Last year, we had strong showings from our upperclassmen all year. Through their top-notch work ethic, they were able to keep improving over the course of the year.” In last year's sub-section meet, 17 of 19 Minneota entries advanced to the final round.
Of those 17, a school-record 13 entries placed in the top four and advanced to the sectional meet. At sections, nine of the 13 entries made it into the final round. And four entries advanced to the state tournament; the most in the program's history.
One of those, Sean Dilley, became a section champion for Minneota. Dilley, a sophomore, is back with the team this year. “That was really exciting,” said Gades.
“None of the kids quite made it to finals at state, but we had a great time and got to see new competitors and new ideas.” And with that success, the coaches and students are expecting even more this season.
“They always want to improve each season,” said Gades. “They have the drive and work ethic to push further and further.”
“Some of the kids have shared their goals of making it to state, placing at each varsity meet as a team, etc. They are a very driven group. It's always our goal to improve upon the performances we had last year as a team and individuals.”
And like other coaches, Gades gets a lot of satisfaction by watching her students improve and gain confidence.
“For me, one of the best things about coaching is building lasting relationships with students,” she said. “I find it very rewarding to coach students.”
“It's rewarding to see the expressions on their faces when they give their best performance, or hear their name announced at a tournament, or get a medal placed around their necks. That is a great feeling. And I feel so grateful to be able to watch and help them to celebrate each achievement.”
Feb. 3, varsity at Worthington
Feb. 10, varsity at Pipestone
Feb. 13, junior high at Minneota
Feb. 15, junior high at Luverne
Feb. 17, varsity at Redwood Falls
Feb. 22, junior high at Tracy
Feb. 24, varsity at Adrian
March 3, varsity at Luverne
March 5, junior high at Dawson-Boyd/LPQV or Adrian
March 10, junior high at Montevideo
March 17, varsity at Montevideo
March 24, varsity at SMSU
April 7, sub-sections at Minneota
April 14, sections at SMSU
April 21, state meet at Apple Valley