WHO IS AT THE HELM?

The Founders of the Helmsmen Institute are all champions in Stoa, with outstanding achievements in high school. The Coaching Staff is handpicked to include the most elite and grounded individuals in Stoa, and are selected based on success, integrity, and their continued involvement with speech and debate. Every Helmsmen representative is among the nationally recognized for speech and debate skills, knowledge, coaching, and competition.

We are especially blessed to have experts in the field coaching at our camp! Below each individuals' name, you'll see their position at camp. 

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DENISE SPRIMONT

Camp Director, Resident Director, and Speech and Debate Coach.

Denise Sprimont competed in both speech and debate for 7 years in Stoa and is now the debate coach of Voyagers. Throughout her high school career, Denise was blessed to compete in 9 speech events, Lincoln Douglas, and Parliamentary debate, and finished the season 10th in the nation in Lincoln Douglas. She went on to Concordia University Irvine, where she received a B.A. in History/Political Thought. Throughout college, she competed in Parliamentary Debate, where she won many tournaments, received first place Parliamentary Debate speaker numerous times, and finished her senior year ranked first in the nation. In addition, she has worked for the Borgen Project and the Institute for the Study of War. She was an honor student at the American Enterprise Institute and the Hertog Foundation, where she studied under Dr. Fred and Kim Kagan, Retired Lieutenant-General Dubik, General Petraeus, General Allen, General McChrystal, and several other high ranking military officials. She is now pursuing her master's degree at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago.

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DAVID VASQUEZ

Policy analyst for the Center for American Prosperity, the Center for Energy Independence, and the Center for the Environment at AFPI.

David Vasquez competed in Stoa for seven years, where he competed primarily in Team Policy debate, Parliamentary debate, and Extemporaneous speaking. David won numerous 1st places in team policy debate, ranking within the top 5 nationally ranked Team Policy competitors in his Junior and Senior year of Stoa. In Extemp, David also advanced to finals multiple times in his senior year, including at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions. At the collegiate level, David competed in Parliamentary Debate. He won many tournaments, finished his senior year ranked first in the nation, was awarded the Carl Bovero Forensics Award of distinction, and was elected as the National Parliamentary Debate Association Student Representative. David graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Thought and a Minor in Law and Policy-making from Concordia University Irvine in 2020. Throughout his undergraduate career, David has worked actively with organizations and individuals such as The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and former Senator John Moorlach throughout his time at the Charles Koch Institute and The California Policy Center. Currently, David coaches Voyagers Speech and Debate in Stoa, is the Assistant Director of Debate at Concordia University Irvine, and is the founding Director of Forensics at Concordia University Chicago.

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AMANDA LAUGHON

Expert Lecturer in Debate

Amanda is the Director of Debate at Concordia University Irvine and has a cumulative 13 years of experience competing in and coaching debate. She graduated from Concordia University Irvine in 2015, and debated on CUI's debate team for four years, during which time they won the 2013 and 2015 NPDA National Championship awards. During her time as Director of Debate, Amanda has been awarded Coach of the Year by Washburn University and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence, and Assistant Coach of the Year by the NPTE. Under her direction as Director of Forensics, the Concordia debate team won it's third national title. In addition to coaching collegiate debate, Amanda was the assistant and head coach at the Apollos Debate Club from 2014-2015, during which time an Apollos team won the NITOC championship in Team Policy.

Joe Laughon

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JOSEPH LAUGHON

Expert Lecturer in Debate

Joe Laughon is the assistant director of debate at Concordia University, Irvine. Under his guidance as director of Lincoln Douglas Debate, Concordia won a national championship in LD. He has been competing or coaching debate for 14 years. He competed in parliamentary and Lincoln-Douglas debate on a collegiate level, first for Moorpark College, then Concordia University. At Moorpark he won the Bovero-Tabor Top Competitor Award in 2010. At Concordia he placed 10th at NPDA/NPTR and 7th place speaker. He competed in and coached Lincoln-Douglas debate in STOA/NCFCA. 

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DEETTE SPRIMONT

Education Director and Director of Parent Track

DeEtte Sprimont has been involved in Stoa since 2010, as a parent, coach, club camp director, and co-director of a debate tournament. Prior to homeschooling her three children, she was a public school teacher for 14 years, where she was also a director of student activities, a yearbook advisor, and a marathon running coach. As the West Coast Director of a mentoring program for three years, her work included customizing the mentoring programs and training manuals, recruiting and training the mentors for each school, and serving as a consultant once the programs were launched.

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TOM SPRIMONT

Expert in Tournament Directing and Technology

Mr. Sprimont’s career spans thirty-seven years with positions in Fortune 1000 companies such as Boeing, HP, General Motors, and Gould, and with SMBs as Haskell, Rogerson Aircraft, and CMD Technology. He held executive leadership roles with startups. He has consulted on large scale systems engineering projects for the Air Force, DARPA, the Navy, EDS, BDM, and Bechtel. His expertise includes building IT and software development organizations, the application of technology to business, strategic planning, and innovation through Six Sigma principles. Mr. Sprimont has taught classes at UCLA and delivered keynote speeches and technical papers on topics such as integrated databases, computer-aided engineering and design, and the application of technology. He has judged Stoa speech and debate events for six years, and is the Tournament Director for The Big Whig, and advises Stoa leadership on updating software requirements to include the evolving needs of competition.

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KONRAD HACK

Coach at Speech and Debate Camp, Director of Forensics at Concordia University Irvine

Konrad Hack is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University Irvine. For 10 years, Konrad served as the founding director of Concordia's forensics team. During his tenure, the squad captured the 2013 and 2015 NPDA National tournament sweepstakes championship, and placed second in 2014, 2016, and 2017. A member of the Board of Elders at his church, Light of Christ Lutheran, Konrad is the proud father of two adorable boys.

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ELISE SPRIMONT

Recreation Director, Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Elise has competed in Stoa since 2014, and has enjoyed the growth and challenges she experienced each year! During her time in the league she has developed and refined her skills and it has shown through her successes, trophies, and medals. A highlight of the 2020-2021 season for Elise was when she and her partner won 1st Place in Parliamentary Debate at a large tournament. At her final NITOC in 2021, she was awarded 16th place in Mars Hill Impromptu. She has thoroughly enjoyed the rigor of research, writing and revising cases and briefs, writing and cutting speeches, and practicing Parliamentary Debate, Lincoln Douglas debate, and all of the platform, interpretive and  limited preparation speeches, so she could better craft her skill as a speaker and a light for Christ. Elise has either competed in or coached nearly every event in Stoa. She enjoys leading, mentoring, and helping others to gain skills, understanding, and most importantly more knowledge of Christ and the Bible. As a coach, she enjoys seeing her younger students not only refine their skills but also become better ambassadors for Christ. As she coaches and mentors older students, she enjoys leading them to the deeper significance in their Stoa careers as they give all glory to God! Elise hopes to become a youth pastor and summer camp director to work with today’s youth to make a better tomorrow for the world!

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LOGAN WHITCHER

Coach at Debate Camp

Logan has been competing in Stoa since his freshman year in high school and has competed in
virtually every event including all limited preps, platforms, interps, and all three debate events.
This past year at nationals, Logan won Tournament Champion and Mars Hill, placed second in
Original Oratory, and 4th in Parliamentary Debate. In his junior year, Logan won the National
Championship title in Lincoln Douglas, Apologetics, and Mars Hill, and placed second in
Persuasive and Extemporaneous. Logan plans to attend Baylor University this fall year and plans
to double major in entrepreneurship and finance. Logan truly believes that Stoa creates a
platform in which students can bring glory to God, and praise Him through their talents. His
experience in speech and debate has not only equipped him to face the challenges of the real
world but also to defend his faith and share the gospel with others.

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NATHANAEL MORGAN

Coach at Debate Camp

Nathanael is a debate coach and researcher who specializes in Team Policy and Parliamentary debate. Over his three years of competition, he achieved numerous successes, including winning 6 tournaments and placing 4th at NITOC in Parli. His coaching has helped his students achieve monumental improvements, both statistically and personally, in their critical thinking, researching, and argument presentation. He writes for the sourcebooks put out by Ethos Debate, where his research has been widely praised and utilized at the highest stages of national competition. Nathanael is an incoming sophomore at the Saint Constantine College in Houston, and is currently pursuing a career in cybersecurity.

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CLARA HARNEY

Coach at Speech Camp

Clara was blessed to compete in Stoa for 4 years, beginning with her freshman year of high school. Throughout her final year in Stoa, Clara placed first at multiple debate tournaments and won two Tournament Championships. Clara concluded her senior year ranked second in the Nation overall on Speechranks, as well as second in Parliamentary Debate, Extemporaneous, and Apologetics. She ranked first in the Nation in Original Oratory and Dramatic Interpretation. She is passionate about coaching students to improve their abilities and communicate at an advanced and effective level, for the glory of God. As a student at Patrick Henry College, she made nationals with her Mock Trial team and won an All-American Witness Award, which she knows would not have been possible without the skills she started developing in Stoa.

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JAMES VASQUEZ

Coach at Debate Camp

James Competed in Team Policy, Extemp and Parliamentary Debate from 2015-2020. He enjoys the refutation side of debates that focus on the statistical and logical based arguments. He is immensely thankful for the experience and gifts that Stoa has blessed him with like critical thinking, presentation and communication skills. Most of all he is grateful for the amazing community and how welcoming and loving they were and wishes to share that experience for any new or current stoa family. During his last 2 years he would regularly have an advancing record at tournaments, for his last accomplishment in stoa he placed 6th place in Team Policy and 6th place Team Policy speaker. James currently works as a assembly technician for Wasco Manufacturing in Idaho.