Douglas speech and debate headed to nationals

There's no other way to describe the Douglas High School speech and debate team's performance this past year: they kicked some major butt.

Second team overall in Nevada. Five state champs. Policy debate, Lincoln-Douglas, dramatic interpretation - you name it, and the list goes on.

"It feels really good, but it's overwhelming," said coach Paul Mileo. "I really can't say enough."

To put things in perspective, fellow coach Brian McNulty said Douglas was a mere six points behind state team champion Palo Verde High School out of Las Vegas.

"They had three times the number of competitors we had," he said.

But top team in Northern Nevada still has a pretty good ring to it.

On Thursday, more than a dozen team members met in the portable by the soccer field where they practice. Displayed on a table were nearly 40 trophies, plaques and other accolades students have garnered over the last two tournaments alone.

On April 15-17, the team competed in the district tournament in Reno which was the qualifying competition for the national tournament. Last year, seven students from Douglas qualified for nationals. This time around, a record 10 students will be traveling to Kansas City, Mo., June 12-19.

"It's a lot of fun. I'm really excited," said Mileo, who's seen three of his seniors come up through the program.

"Hard work really does pay off," McNulty added.

Kevin Kendrick, 17, is one of the seniors who's spent his high school career in speech and debate. He said he has about 40 trophies from over the years, including this year's District Student Excellence Award.

"It's really sad to leave everything," he said. "It's changed my life. There's so much I've gotten from it: things I do in school differently. I'm more into philosophy and government. All my friends, I made in speech and debate."

Planning to attend the University of Washington this fall to study philosophy and political science, Kendrick will have one last adventure with his buds at the national tournament.

"I'm really excited. This is my third year going," he said. "Hopefully, I'll do really well."

Junior Megan Frost, 16, is in a different position heading into the summer. The Lincoln-Douglas state champion and recent recipient of the Marty Cronin District Excellence Award has never been to nationals.

"I'm a little nervous," she said. "It's a hard event. It's different out-of-state."

Frost said her experience on the team has helped her think differently, to tackle issues theoretically.

"I love speech and debate," she said. "It's better than anything else."

Both Mileo and McNulty expressed pride in taking so many students to the national stage.

"It's not an easy thing to do: to become experienced in nationals," Mileo said.

But the team needs helps getting there. The coaches estimated they'll need about $10,000 for the trip, including airfare, rental cars, entry fees and hotel costs.

Students have already organized weekend car washes to take place in the parking lot in front of Carson Valley Middle School. They're also hosting a Cake N' Debate event 6 p.m. May 27 in the Douglas High commons. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. Students will be showcasing their talents while serving dessert. There will be a raffle and silent auction as well.

Businesses and community members interested in making donations should contact Mileo at (775) 220-9539,, or McNulty at (775) 230-9113 or

Donations may also be made at the front desk of the high school.

The following students are traveling to nationals this year: Amelia Ritger, dramatic interpretation, Will Dornbrook, domestic extemporaneous, Evan Kleiner, Congressional debate, Roy Dornbrook, Congressional debate, Kevin Kendrick, Congressional debate, Megan Frost, Lincoln-Douglas debate, Noah O'Connor and Kaitlyn Barger, public forum debate, and Molly Ellery and Abby Chitwood, public forum debate.


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