Donus D. Roberts, First Ten-Diamond NFL Coach

Donus D. Roberts, First Ten-Diamond NFL Coach

I'm in Watertown judging Northern Quals, the toughest speech and debate tournament kids from Madison and other South Dakota towns north of I-90 ever compete in. Watching great debate in Watertown reminds me of the speech legend who roams freely among the Arrows here.

Donus D. Roberts, longtime Watertown debate coach and giant of the National Forensic League, has earned an unprecedented national honor. This year, Roberts---ddr, as he signs his ballots and is known throughout the speech world---earned his tenth Diamond award for coaching speech and debate.

"Tenth Diamond" likely means nothing to folks not at this weekend's tournament. Let me put that in perspective. Speech coaches earn points based on student performance. For every speech a student makes in competition or in community service projects, a coach may earn some fraction of a point. In eight years of coaching interp and debate, my students earned me 2284.2 points and my first coaching diamond. (Thanks, kids!)

Donus D. Roberts has been involved as a coach and judge in South Dakota debate for over fifty years. Three generations of Watertown debaters and extempers and orators and interpers have earned him 30,596.4 points. Assume average student performance (though ddr has rarely coached students to merely average performance), and it would take over 80,000 student speeches to rack up that many points. On top of that, Roberts has earned those points in a district where he has shared points with six or seven assistant coaches at a time.

Roberts is an icon of excellence in speech education in South Dakota and across the nation. At this summer's national tournament in Dallas (where he will be joined by the talented South Dakota kids who today will win the right to travel and compete at that august contest), Roberts will receive formal recognition of his unparalleled achievement. If you bump into Donus, feel free to say, "Wow!"... and definitely say, "Thank you for your service to South Dakota."