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Staff Reflection: Amy Doherty

Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2023 - 6:25 PM

Amy Doherty

Assistant Director Amy Doherty shares insights and praise to the multitude of individuals that are so instrumental to the success of the League's Speech State Tournament.

The League’s 2023 Speech State Tournament was held at Eastview High School on April 28 and April 29. The event features 672 very talented students – half in Class A and the other in AA – speaking in 13 categories. Each of the 13 categories is divided into four sections/rooms, with six students each (12 in Duo), repeated for three rounds prior to finals. That means there is action in more than 50 classrooms at any given time.

If you have more of an athletics background than the Fine Arts, picture a track and field meet: Thirteen events are happening in a school at the exact same time and each event occurs three times before the finals!

Each room needs a judge and a room manager. To avoid conflicts for people who both judge and coach, and to prevent a judge from adjudicating the same student twice, the League hires more than 100 judges and room managers for each day of the tournament. The League also hires four “readers” (who follow along in a book for students competing in a reading category), six “proctors” (who escort students to their competition room after their prep time for three events), and three “draw managers” (who assist students in the three “draw categories,” which involve students drawing a topic or cutting from a book and having 30 minutes to prepare).

As you can imagine, filling all of these roles is quite complicated. Often a person is hired in one position, and they are asked to switch to another position after some others have declined a contract, which happens when individuals are needed to coach. The puzzle takes place over multiple weeks, and there are always moving parts.

While completing the puzzle is not easy, the adults who serve in the various roles make it much easier and quite fun. Many of the adults hired to work are as thrilled to be at the Speech State Tournament as the qualifying students, and are truly willing to work in any role in order to serve the 672 qualifying students.

Here are some highlights from emails I received this year, while filling roles for the Speech State Tournament.

“Do you need any room managers or timers at all? Both of us have participated in the activity for a long time, and are certified judges, so we know the procedures; we were simply wondering if you needed any other helping hands.”


“I’m available if you need me!” 

      K.K., last-minute need for Reader in final rounds

“I am so honored and pleased to be participating as a judge this year. Thank you for trusting me with such a sacred tournament.” 


“I could also be a greeter, if needed.”

       T.M., a judge who could not be used one round because of conflicts, but offered services elsewhere

“I am interested in room managing Saturday and will also be there on Friday if you need me on short notice. Thank you!”


“I would be thrilled to do so. Thank you!”

         J.S., response to an email asking if they would serve as a Room Manager

“I am still free, and I'd love to work state speech.”

          P.M., response to an email asking if they would serve as a Room Manager

“I'm willing to do J/RM (judge/room manager) to fill the need. Basically, I'm happy to do anything!”


“That works for me! Thank you!”

        C.D., email response after I switched their position

“And I am available on Friday if you need additional help.” 


“Thank you for the invitation to judge the state tournament!  It is an honor to be selected.”


“Thanks so much for putting together all of the judges, readers, and room managers for State. I know that it's a huge Tetris puzzle, trying to fit everything together. Feel free to move me from Judge/Room Manager to just Judge if needed, and to put me anywhere needed on Saturday - Judge, Room Manager, or Reader.”


“I want to be a State Judge SO BAD! It’s been a dream of mine since 2006 so, yes, please!”

        C.S., response to question asking if they will switch from Room Manager to Judge

“Yes, absolutely, happy to help where I'm needed - up to and including if you need another emergency replacement for Discussion finals!”

        A.H., response after I switched their position, and referencing a 2022 scramble

“As you well know, I will do anything you ask of me, Judge, Room Manage or any combination of that.  You do not need to contact me prior if you need to change my assignments.”


“It is always a great couple of days to be with talented students showing us their finely honed skills. Thanks!!”


“No have enough to deal with so put me where you need me!”

     J.W, in response to an email telling them their position was switched

“Hi, Amy. I have accepted my contracts for both days of State Speech 2023. I am emailing to let you know that I will do whatever is needed of me for state. I have worked as a Draw Manager, Room Manager and Judge for both A and AA throughout the years - use me wherever you most need me - anything for speech!”


Having more than 100 very experienced and enthusiastic individuals willing to lend a hand in any capacity to run a successful Speech State Tournament makes my job much easier. Beyond that, however, the Speech participants in Minnesota – not just at the State Tournament, but throughout the year – are fortunate to be surrounded by so many caring adults.

Even though they are simply happy to be there, we owe our event workers in all League activities a great deal of thanks. “We couldn’t do it without you” seems to be overused, but is truly perfect for our event workers – judges, referees, ticket-takers, timers, event hosts, concession stand workers, custodial staff, and many, many more.

We appreciate the enthusiasm and willingness you bring to all activities in all roles. Thank you!


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