No Argument Here

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 12:04 PM

Speaking in front of a crowd of people can be frightening but speaking in front of the best speech and debate coach in the state could be terrifying. According to J. Patrick Moss, who was recently named 2013 Mildred Hussey Coach of the Year, his students say that speaking in front of him is the worst.

“I can’t help it that I look like I could eat chairs,” Moss said. “I have 14 and 15-year-olds that walk into my class and are petrified. I do try to make them uncomfortable. I put them on stage, I turn the lights down and I sit there in front of them. But once they realize that nothing bad is going to happen, they see that they can do this.”

Moss is the coach of the Chase and East Rutherford high schools speech and debate programs.

“I have wanted to win (2013 Mildred Hussey Coach of the Year) for so many years. I have been nominated for the last seven years and I finally won this year. It is good to

be recognized, especially with running two programs,” Moss said. “I’m not the only one in the state that runs two programs but I do believe I am the only one in the state that runs two programs that are on separate locations.”

According to Moss, the award represents all of the forensic, speech and debate programs in the state of North Carolina and winning this amounts to being named the coach of the year for the state. The award is given based on nominations made by coaches. He was presented a plaque for the honor during the Tarheel Forensic League’s North Carolina State Tournament hosted by North Mecklenburg High School March 22-23.

Moss began coaching speech and debate at Chase High School in 2000.

“That first tournament we went to, I didn’t know what I was doing,” Moss said. “The first debate kids I had, I just told them to go in there and argue and it would be fine.”

Moss said it is only because he is competitive that he became the coach that he is today. He learned the ropes by attending other tournaments and judging. He began coaching at East Rutherford High School last year when a student requested that the school start a speech and debate program.

“Because the East program is so much smaller than the Chase program and the Chase program is so much more experienced, it’s not a case of like on Friday night where you go and it is all Trojans versus Cavaliers,” Moss said. “With us, it’s more like everybody realizes that we are the small schools versus the big schools and academies.”

Each school offers a speech and debate class as an elective and that is when the teams practice. Moss coaches them in a variety of categories including debate, interpretation and public speaking.

“People don’t understand just how broad it is. You have debaters and then you have different levels of those, so you have to teach novice, intermediate and advanced. Then you have the interpretation, which is basically acting, and in that there is duo, humorous and dramatic and there are different levels of that. Then there is public speaking which is the radio announcing and the original oratories that are done,” Moss said. “It’s like having three classes with three preps. But because it’s an elective, the kids want to be there. I am very strict and I demand a lot out of them. We work hard and play hard.”

Moss said one of his favorite parts about coaching is seeing his students’ progress.

“I like seeing when they start and they are not confident but I see that grain,” Moss said. “I see that potential to not necessarily become great performers, and many of them do become great performers, but just to become great students and great leaders. I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that my kids are pleased and seeing their faces when they are happy.”

For Moss, winning this award was humbling because of other events in his life.

“Scott Bennett of Northwest Guilford High School won last year but I was not able to be at last year’s tournament because my dad passed the day of. That was tough. Winning was nice especially coming in on the tournament after my dad,” Moss said. “It was humbling in a big way because I know there are a lot of coaches that have a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for them. It goes beyond the competition, you make friends. I’m also glad I could bring it home to Rutherford County.”