Roseville Area HS Sweeps Our Coach of the Year Awards!

In A Year Like No Other, They’re Making a Difference.

Gregg Martinson and Elise Shih

At our City Championship, we recognized 2020’s Teacher Coach of the Year and Community Coach of the Year. Both were from our newest area partner, Roseville Area High School!

We are extraordinarily grateful to all of our coaches for making the 2020 virtual season possible. The MNUDL community voted to recognize these coaches for their creativity and commitment during this year like no other. Let’s give it up for these coaches who have gone above and beyond: Gregg Martinson and Elise Shih, coaches at Roseville Area High School!

Teacher Coach of the Year: Gregg Martinson

Gregg Martinson poses with former students and current MNUDL community members, Raymond Zhang and Alix DeMarre.

Gregg Martinson poses with former students and current MNUDL community members, Raymond Zhang and Alix DeMarre.

15 Years of Debate Mentorship


Gregg Martinson has coached at Roseville for 15 years, and spent 8 years as a speech coach before that. In his final year of coaching, we want to thank him for all he’s contributed to Minnesota debate! Here are his insights on coaching in 2020:

What have you learned from coaching in this unusual year? 


I have been reminded that debate is a communications process. Its harder to have debate when there is only one channel of communications–often we get wrapped up in evidence exchange as the primary type of communication that s happening in round, but eye contact, gesture, nuances of voice and presentation all are much harder to judge, to coach, and to be part of an online presentation. debate is best learned, had and evaluated in a room with other people.

I’ve also learned that kids are really resourceful and, given the opportunity, can rise to a challenge but we ALL need special attention to our social emotional life in order to do so. Its not a great experience coaching to black screens, but when a student gets on their camera after you have made a joke or tells a personal story, there is a huge payoff to me as a person and hopefully to the students. Debate is an exercise in resiliency, but this year we are adding a lot of requirements on that resiliency.


What’s your favorite memory from this year?


When I asked my students to talk about the season and what they’ve learned in their debate experience, my entire team turned on their cameras talked about it. Many who I hadn’t heard much from told me how much they appreciated it, grew from it, and learned. That’s a great feeling.

What motivates you to coach?


I am motivated because I think debate can help EVERY kid become more successful regardless of how they do in debate. The portable skills of the activity always transfer to personal growth. In fact, the kids that have been the least successful in this activity often walk away with the biggest improvement in their academic and life skills.

This is my last year coaching debate. I will miss it but moving on is the right thing to do for me. I think coaching will always be a personal career highlight. I have made so many friendships, watched so many young quiet kids come into the activity, become activated and leave to pursue their future empowered by this activity that I feel especially privileged to have been witness to so many success stories. Very few of those success stories were about competition. Roseville graduates have coached debate all over the Metro and that is something I am really happy to see as well.


Elise Shih

Elise Shih is our Community Coach of the Year for 2020!

Previously a familiar face from judging at tournaments and coaching at Humboldt High School, Elise joined the Roseville Area High School coaching squad this year!

Elise says:

“This year, I’ve learned from the unexpected resiliency of the younger generation. I would’ve expected many to have struggled during this time period, while this is not wholly untrue, the ones who have been able to manage this turbulent time have really inspired me to do better… I like to teach and I like to debate, and I’ve never underestimated the power that a good coach can be to kiddos.The money is nice but it’s not really what drives me to be the best coach I can be. I’d really like to thank the community for treating me so well, and hope that we can continue to spread the tradition of MN debate further!’

Want to get involved with supporting Minnesota debaters like Gregg and Elise do? Sign up to judge at our middle school tournaments this spring! (No debate experience is required!)