Through the Years “[Don] qualified more than 70 students to the National Tournament and coached a national champion in Dramatic Interpretation.” — Jim Copeland
was vice president. Billy believed the mark of a great leader is that they are present,” Scott says. “Don is so present. He’s present on social media, during committee meetings, at Board meetings, and at tournaments. He is always engaged. To be a true leader, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and do the hard work that is demanded of you. You must have the ability to see the differences in personality, character, and motivation of all people, and he’s able to do that. He understands that the world has a lot of different faces but that every one of them has something to contribute. He disregards no voice.” Don’s approachable nature and friendly smile are known well both on and offline. “He’ll be remembered for having the most friends on Facebook,” Pam jokes. At the time of publication, Don has an astonishing 4,245 friends on Facebook. “I get razzed a lot about this,” Don laughs. “I was so against it when it came out. I wanted no part in it. But then, in 2008, the economy was tanking, and we were trying to get ready to host the 2010 National Tournament. I wanted to get in touch with alumni, and it seemed like a good way to do that.” Things grew from there. Don began getting requests from students he worked with at camps, national finalists, coaches, and on and on. Now he finds himself connected with a vast number of our community members, and frequently provides support, advice, and mentorship to coaches via the social media platform. Much like he was mentored by Mrs. Jackson, Don has been there to lend a hand to hundreds of new coaches over the years.
ROSTRUM | APRIL/MAY 2018
Below, left, with daughter Alicia and “Mr. Congress,” Iowa coach Harold Keller, attending the 2010 Hall of Fame dinner.
Don earned his second coaching diamond in 1982 (above, left) and was awarded a fifth diamond for his key in 1997 (above, right). Most recently, he was named a nine-diamond coach in 2017. At right with fellow host committee members Kyle Howe, Tyler Unsell (seated), Arianne Fortune, and Jennifer Holden during the “Jazzin’ It Up in KC” 2010 Nationals.
“I think Don will be best remembered for his time as a bud—for being the person who deals gracefully with protests and problems and for doing so with kindness and a smile.” — Tyler Unsell
Seizing the Chance for Service In the spring of 1997, Jennifer Holden was going through a divorce. As a single mother of three children under the age of seven, she needed a job that would work with their schedules. She took a job at the newly created Park Hill South High School as an English teacher/Debate coach. At the time, her only experience with debate was judging a few poetry rounds as a student teacher. Her
instructions? Call the coach at Park Hill High School. “The nervousness I felt as I made the call immediately dissipated when I heard that voice and that laugh,” Jennifer remembers. “One of Don’s gifts has always been making those with whom he speaks feel as though they are the most important person in the room—or in this case, on the phone. When I met him in person a few days later, it was as though we had already known one another forever, and I trusted him when he told me that I would be fine and he would get
Volume 92 Issue 4