The Salem High School Forensics Team won its 7th straight Virginia High School League state title on March 24 in Harrisonburg at the 97th annual VHSL championships. Salem captured its latest Group AA crown by beating more than 30 other high schools, including second place Sherando.
The team’s 33-26 win over the Warriors wasn’t as lopsided of a victory as the team has experienced in past years, but in many ways it was just as satisfying. The Spartans have 11 state finalists and won three individual state titles to fuel the team championship. In addition, they accomplished the feat with two rookie coaches in Kendall Livick and Brent Via.
“The expression Brent and I have said throughout the year, is – ‘Everything comes full circle,’” says Livick. “Back when we were on the forensics team in high school, we used to joke that we would one day coach the team, though we never anticipated this actually happening. Fast forward a few years – and here we are.”
Livick and Via, who were captains of the Salem Spartans squad in 2006, took over the team when highly successful and ultra-popular coach Mark Ingerson decided to step down and devote more time to his family.
“It was very gratifying to see former captains of the Salem Forensics team lead the team to another state championship,” says Ingerson. “Brent and Kendall were members of our first state championship team and they joked they would come back and coach the team someday. Well, they got their opportunity, and they really stepped up and kept the championship tradition alive.”
“Having the opportunity to participate in forensics again as a coach has been wonderful and made me appreciate the role of a coach and the hard work that comes along with it so much more than I did as a performer,” says Via. “Moreover, since it is my alma mater, I’ve been able to come full circle from being a captain during the team’s first state championship to a coach during our seventh , and it’s something that I would not have predicted even a year ago, but certainly an experience that I’ll never forget.”
The two used many of the techniques they learned from Ingerson, but from the start, they put their own stamp on the 2012 champions. Unlike past years when the team used tryouts to determine the final make-up of the roster, Livick and Via kept every student who auditioned on the squad.
“We did receive some concern and criticism for accepting so many new people, but in the end, it worked out beautifully,” says Livick. “Five out of 11 state finalists were brand new first year competitors and seeing how far these newbies have come, has been the most inspiring part of coaching, and we don’t regret anything about that decision to accept everyone.”
THE THREE INDIVIDUAL STATE CHAMPS:
Austin Peters, Impromptu
Kat Zamorski, Humorous Dramatic Interpretation
Dylan Wade, Prose Interpretation
OTHER FINALISTS SCORING POINTS:
2nd place Katelyn Barker, Poetry Interpretation
3rd place Mary Cameron Brooks and Savannah Stevens, Humorous Duo Interpretation
4th place Michael Lefew, Poetry Interpretation
5th place Ryan Nolen and Elly Goldstein, Serious Duo Interpretation
5th place Zach Staton, Original Oratory
6th place Emily Brown, Humorous Dramatic Interpretation