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

Camp Co- Director, Coach, Resident Co-Director

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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SEAN OTTO

Coach, Resident Assistant, C.R.E.W. Leader at Debate Camp

Sean competed in both Team Policy and Parliamentary debate for 6 years, and he loved every second of it. He had the honor of becoming the 2019 Parliamentary Debate Champion. Sean was also very competitive in Team Policy, winning multiple tournaments, speaking awards, and finishing second in team rankings. Sean is pursuing a Business Management degree as a sophomore at Union University.

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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.

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. She is now a student with Patrick Henry College, planning to study journalism and compete in mock trial and moot court in the coming fall season.

JOSHUA JACKSON

Coach, Resident Assistant, C.R.E.W. Leader at Debate Camp

Joshua competed in STOA for 6 years. He placed 3rd in both Team Policy and Parliamentary debate for 2018 nationals and was blessed to be the 1st place Parliamentary Debate Champion at nationals 2019.  He excels in theory, strategies, and affirmative preparation. If you are looking for a coach to advance your strategies, affirmative strength, and speaking Joshua is the coach for you. Joshua is always seeking to pursue excellence without sacrificing people. Since graduating he has coached TP and Parliamentary debate. He is currently pursuing a Business Management degree at Union University.

KYLE LEE

Coach, Resident Assistant, C.R.E.W. Leader at Speech and Debate Camp

Kyle Lee has competed in both Stoa and NCFCA. His accomplishments include over one hundred top-three finishes, first place on Stoa speech ranks for the 2020-2021 season, and the record for the most first places won at a single NCFCA tournament (seven firsts in one go at the 2020 Bothell WA, NCFCA Qualifier). He coaches actively through his organization Conclusive Edge. Outside of speech and debate, Kyle is an avid rock climber, holds a second-degree black belt in Karate, and enjoys writing music in his free time.

KONRAD HACK

Coach at Speech and Debate Camp, Forensics Expert

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.

JAMES VASQUEZ

Coach at Debate Camp

ELISE SPRIMONT

Coach at Speech Camp

ZACHARY KOS

Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Zachary Kos competed in Stoa speech and debate for four years. Some of his favorite events include Apologetics, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and Parliamentary Debate. His senior year, Zak found success in limited-prep events with multiple wins in Apologetics and Mars Hill Impromptu, finishing top ten nationwide overall on Speechranks. Throughout his time in Stoa, he learned essential communication, critical thinking, and time management skills. With a passion for investing in the next generation of competitors, Zak aspires to help each competitor's unique and personal style shine in competition. An entrepreneur at heart, Zak has published various games including three card games and a board game. In the Fall of 2021, Zak will attend Dallas Baptist University pursuing a degree in Business as Mission. "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” - 1 Corinthians 10:31