Polson Speech & Debate prepares for divisionals in Ronan

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THE POLSON Speech & debate team pose for a picture after their meet at Columbia Falls. The Pirates, Lady Pirates’ speech & debate team will be participating in the Divisional Tournament at Ronan Events Center. (photo by Bob DiGiallonardo/Special to the Lake County Leader)

Polson speech & debate coach Bob DiGiallonardo likes to use football analogies when teaching his team how to properly prepare for a competition.

DiGiallonardo wants his team to peak during competition and not during practice.

“I like taking the football analogy because there is no sense of peaking on Tuesday,” DiGiallonardo said. “Let’s not do our best on Tuesday when we have a meet on Friday.”

This year, DiGiallonardo is preparing to take his younger Polson team to the Divisional Tournament that will be held Jan. 20 at the Ronan Events Center.

“Our numbers have doubled or closer to tripled from last season,” DiGiallonardo said.

DiGiallonardo said he attributes the numbers to the amount of recruiting several of his students have done to try to bolster interest in what has traditionally been a strong program.

“These kids on my team are recruiting people just like them,” DiGiallonardo said. “Taylor Bloomfield recruited Julia Reiners and Nathan Depoe was recruiting speech & debate people. That has made the biggest difference on our team this year. Last year, we had four or five debaters and maybe six this year. 15 members of our team are mostly underclassmen. Our lineup is dominated by sophomores and freshmen.”

DiGiallonardo, who speaks highly of his assistant coaches Kyle Dunn and Adam Burke, said because of several younger participants he is highly optimistic about the future of his team’s program.

“We are coming in with a fresh set of eyes and ears and some have acting backgrounds and some have local theater backgrounds,” DiGiallonardo said. “Some of the members of our team offer insights from the judges on voice control, punching certain words and what the judges are looking for. We aren’t going to reinvent the wheel. We talk to the coaches at Ronan, Columbia Falls, and Whitefish on how they run their practices and we just get a great flow of ideas from various coaches.”

DiGiallonardo said he enjoys the competitive nature but also enjoys the camaraderie the coaches have with each other as hee and his team prepare to go head-to-head with some of the regions best teams in Divisionals.

“I can’t think of a speech & debate coach I would say anything bad about,” DiGiallonardo said. “It’s just a natural camaraderie. It’s like in football or basketball where you are competing with another coach and they pretend to help you when inside they hope you fall flat on your back. If I need help, I can call any one of the coaches in the district. I’ve already hit up half a dozen judges for the Divisionals.”

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