Speech and Debate Introduction

  • Welcome to Hellgate's Speech & Debate Team!

    Competitive High School Speech and Debate is based in competitive speaking around the state and nation. At Hellgate we participate in seven meets around the state including a national qualifying tournament where those who place high enough are granted a spot at the National Forensics League tournament each June.
    Our season begins the last week of September each year and ends the second week of February. This is a competitive event, so each member is expected to attend practices regularly and travel to meets hosted throughout the state. There are 12 events in total: 8 individual speech events and 4 debate events. Information on each event can be found by visiting the MHSA website and the "Speech, Debate, Drama" tab.  Our current coach is Sammy Thomas.
    Head Coach: Sammy Thomas - sammythomas13@gmail.com
    Assistant Coach: Dave Stalling - stallingd@gmail.com
    Parent Meeting
    Thursday, November 8, 5:30pm, Hellgate High School - Lower Commons
    Practice Schedule
    M-F, 3-6pm, Debate - I Lab, Speech - Commons

    Meet Schedule

    • November 9-10 - Missoula
    • December 1 - TBD
    • December 7-8 - Bozeman
    • December 14-15 - Helena
    • January 4-5 - Corvallis
    • January 11-12 - Great Falls
    • January 25-26 - Kalispell - AA State Meet
    • February 8-9 - Billings - National Qualifier

    Welcome Letter

    Hello Parents,

    I'm Sammy Thomas the new head coach for speech and debate here at Hellgate High School. A little bit about me, I did speech and debate through high school at Helena High, starting with speech events my first year then the following three years in debate. My senior year my partner and I qualified for nationals in Public Forum debate. Following high school, I moved here to Missoula and attended the university. During my senior year at UM (2016-2017) I became the assistant speech and debate coach at Hellgate under Aly Nordwall. During my time as an assistant coach, I had a state champion in Lincoln-Douglass Debate and a team in Public Forum qualify for nationals. After I graduated, I moved to North Dakota for a year and worked as a preschool teacher assistant. I now work full time as MontPIRGs Campus Organizer over on the university on campus.

    I realize that there are a lot of questions surrounding this season and what travel and everything looks like and we will make sure that some of this will get cleaned up.

    Right now practices have officially begun, David Stalling is our assistant coach has been at Hellgate at 3 to begin practice. I will not be able to be at practice until 4 due to my own work schedule, because of this practice goes from 3-6pm Monday through Thursday. I say through Thursday because once December and January start we have tournaments most Fridays and I think it's important to give them that free Friday without a tournament to be able to take that small break from doing speech and debate for, potentially, 6 days a week.

    The requirement is that students come to practice for 4 hours a week. Typically I suggest to students to do 2 hours twice a week. This allows us to do practice rounds or see their pieces multiple times, give feedback, and let them try it out so that if they run through it at home they did it in practice and they can run through it with that in mind. Most students do the full week of practice but I know IB, All-State, and theater doesn't always make that possible.

    We will be having a parent meeting on Thursday, November 8th at 5:30 at Hellgate High School in the new commons area.

    For those of you who are new to the activity, all of these tournaments are 2 days and overnight (except for Stevensville). Typically the kids get out during first or second period on Friday, depending on where we are going, and we return Saturday night usually around midnight.

    I know this season is off to a kind of bumpy start but I know we will pull it together and that we will go and do some great things this season.

    Thank you and see you next week,

    Sammy Thomas