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Canfield speech earns national recognition

October 7, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
The Canfield speech and debate team has been recognized as one of the top 100 schools in speech and debate activities by the National Forensic League. Canfield actually ranks number 78 out of more than 3,000 schools across the nation.

The recognition is based on student participation and achievement in speech and debate activities. Recipient schools are published in “Rostrum” a national high school speech magazine and on the NFL web site at

“It was impressive,” said Canfield speech head coach Jeremy Hamilton. “I knew we had a good team last year. We’ve really worked hard.”

Hamilton, a CHS math teacher, is in his seventh year as a CHS speech coach and his fifth year as head coach. He said the program has always had good student representation.

“We had 36 compete in the state tournament last year,” he said. “This year many have returned and we have 95 who joined the team.”

To assist Hamilton, five assistant coaches work with team members after school. They include Susan Schiraldi, Janet Vagas, Paul Sauline, Sami Nesnidol, and Travis Watson. Each coach takes on two of the 12 categories the team members compete in.

The practice can be five days a week for a couple hours after school each night. Team members begin by putting their speech together, then are stuck with that speech for the entire season.

“They can’t change any words once they start,” said Schiraldi. “The only thing they can change is the way they present it.”

She said by simply changing facial expressions or tone of voice, their presentation can be made better.

The team’s season will open on Oct. 29 at the South Range tournament. From that date, the team will compete in meets every Saturday, except holidays, through January. The state tournament will be in March and anyone who qualifies can attend the nationals in June.

“Last year we had five students at nationals,” Hamilton said.

Of the five was the duo team of Nathan Pecchia and Rosie Jo Neddy, both juniors this year. Pecchia said friends can form a duo, but first have to submit their names and have a coach approve them. The combination of Pecchia and Neddy was obviously a good choice.

“We’ve been best friends since the first grade,” Pecchia said. “So we wanted to work together and the coaches approved.”

Neddy said she enjoys teaming with Pecchia because he is a good person to work off of in competition.

“Nate convinced me to do it,” Neddy said. “He begged me and I was skeptical at first. Now I love it.”

Another national qualifier from last year is senior Jordan Teutsch, who is serving as the team's president this year. The president is selected each year by the team members and the title doesn’t come without a lot of responsibility.

“I work on goals for the team, on uniforms and try to keep up team morale,” Teutsch said. “I try to make speech a fun experience.”

While most team members agree that Canfield’s team is a great one to be part of, there is also the competitive edge that Hamilton said has been a constant road to improvement.

“In my first year as head coach, we ended up 12th in the state,” he said. “The second year we were fifth. The third year we ended up third and in the fourth year we were second. We are all aiming for first place this year. It’s our goal to win state.”

While that goal is still months away, the team can hold their heads high to know they are among the best the nation has. That pride in accomplishment spreads throughout the district.

Superintendent Dante Zambrini said, “We are very proud of our speech and debate students and their coaches.”

Article Photos

Ready to take it all this season is the Canfield speech team duo of juniors Nathan Pecchia and Rosie Jo Neddy, who incorporate the right facial expressions and movements into their routine. The couple placed second in Ohio last year.



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