top of page


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. 

denise headshot.jpg


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 earned her Master's Degree at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago. She currently works as an Analyst on the Conflict Affected States Program for C4ADS.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Joel Almer competed in Stoa for six years in a variety of events in all categories of speech as well as debate. He was a member of the club Epic², where coaches and alumni invested in him throughout his Stoa career. Finishing 8th in LD his senior year, he was also a recipient of the Founders award in the 2023 season. This community has given him so much, and he is looking forward to giving back in gratitude.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Daniel Boyle competed in Stoa for five years and has been involved in his church's speaking competitions since age ten. He competed in almost every speech event with Extemporaneous, Impromptu, Duo Interpretation, and Original Oratory being among his favorite speech events. Daniel competed in Team Policy, ranking in the top ten for Speaker and winning three tournaments in a row with his debate partner. He competed in Parliamentary Debate, his favorite form of debate, and was blessed to compete in the final round and place second overall at Nationals. Ultimately, he finished 25th in the nation overall and was ranked in the top ten for Extemporaneous, Team Policy Speaker, Team Policy Debate, and Parliamentary Debate. Daniel will be attending Concordia University Irvine to study theology with an emphasis on ministry leadership, where he hopes to use his public speaking skills to serve God as a pastor. He is excited to work with the next generation of communicators to build an army of skilled defenders of the Truth.



Speech Camp Online Coach & Liaison

Christin Caswell competed in Stoa from 2019-2022. Without access to a Stoa club in her community, she competed independently under the name “Etoúrday”. The challenge of entering competition without local support ultimately resulted in Christin forming unique perspectives from countless hours of self-study and a fair share of trial-and-error. Christin ultimately earned 35 tournament-event wins, took 9 speeches into NITOC Finals, and was The 2022 NITOC Champion in both Humorous Interpretation and also Expository. She strongly believes in the positive impact participation in interpretation speeches in particular can have on not only other STOA events, but on confidence as a whole. Christin is active in the STOA community, and passionate about the wonderful platform for expression that Stoa provides. She is committed to helping others learn to uniquely share what they are driven to say, and to grow communication skills that will last a lifetime.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Caleb joined Stoa during seventh grade. He competed for six years in Lincoln Douglas value debate, Parliamentary Debate, all four limited prep events, Persuasive, Original Oratory, and several wildcards events. Caleb’s time in Stoa has been an incredibly important part of his life, and he is excited for the opportunity to give back to the Stoa community by sharing his experiences and insights with younger competitors. Caleb will be attending Patrick Henry College in the fall, where he will pursue a degree in American Politics and Policy and compete in moot court.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Claire competed in Stoa for three years and has enjoyed all of the highs and lows of her experience! Throughout her speech and debate journey, Claire has been blessed with many successes, from winning numerous tournaments to placing 3rd at NITOC in Team Policy debate. But most importantly, she believes that Stoa has strengthened her faith and has taught her to always glorify God and have a heart of thanksgiving, no matter the results. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge about TP debate, limited prep, and platform speeches, and she firmly believes in the importance of good research, communication, and logic. Claire is an incoming Freshman at Santa Clara University where she plans to pursue an English Major. While she doesn't know where the Lord will lead her in the future, she knows that the skills she has gained from speech and debate have equipped her to boldly share the Gospel and be a vessel for Christ. 

Joshua Kaiser_edited.jpg


Camp Ambassador, Recreation & Facilities Staff

Joshua Kaiser competed in Stoa for the last two years. He joined in 2021. During that time he competed in all forms of debate, and multiple different speech events. Although most of Joshua’s speech and debate experience taught him how to lose, there were some surprising victories, such as winning a tournament (his mom said he had to write that it was on a 6-0 victory) in Team Policy, and being runner up for Parliamentary in another this past year. Stoa taught Joshua skills that other debate leagues didn’t, such as teamwork when working with one person over a long period of time, organization, how to make friends, and how to flow even though you have paper cuts and are bleeding all over your flow pad. Overall, Joshua has enjoyed his experience in Stoa, and is thankful for the people he met and those who helped him grow. He is looking forward to seeing where God wants to take him in life. 

20211020_160301 (1)_edited_edited.jpg


Camp Nurse, Dorm Mom & Administrative Staff

Leah Kaiser is a wife of 22 years and mom to 3 teenagers (2 of which graduated from their homeschool this year). Before homeschooling, Leah served as a US Navy Nurse at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital in CA.  After learning about Stoa just 2 years ago, Leah helped start a club from the ground-up in Tucson, AZ. She helped coach 4 students to NITOC in their 2nd year as a team. Attending Helmsman Camp last summer was instrumental in their success! Leah believes strongly in the mission and vision of both the Helmsman Camp and Stoa, and is currently helping make Stoa more accessible to students with medical disabilities. Leah is honored and excited to be serving as Camp Nurse and Dorm Mom at Helmsman Camp this year! 

Nicole Kaiser_edited_edited_edited_edited.jpg


Administrative Staff

Nicole started speech and debate in 2021 and began to compete in the spring of 2022. She loved her experience in Stoa so much that she decided to become a super senior so that she could continue competing in the 2022-2023 season. She competed in Lincoln Douglas Debate, Parliamentary Debate, Team Policy Debate, Open Interpretation, Persuasive, Mars Hill, and (her personal favorite) Impromptu. Over the past few years she has found a passion for speaking and bringing awareness to mental health topics by sharing her story in speech rounds. She also found that she thoroughly enjoys watching rounds and giving intensive feedback and support to those she watched. She has learned so much and gained many memories in Stoa, but if you asked her what one of her favorite memories was, she would say being mistaken as “Nicholas” at multiple tournaments. God used Stoa to bring back a confidence that she had not had in a long time, and she can’t wait to encourage others through the skills she has gained. Though her time was short in Stoa, she has seen how it has equipped her for the plan God has for her.



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 in Stoa, 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 Junior at the Saint Constantine College in Houston, and is currently pursuing a career in cybersecurity.



Coach at Speech Camp

Alyson joined Stoa in 2017 and has competed in all forms of debate, limited prep, and platform speaking. Although Alyson was blessed with a competitively successful senior year, including winning Speech Sweepstakes and Tournament Champion at NITOC 2023, she views her greatest achievement as the friends she has made and skills she has learned. Alyson plans to attend Cal Baptist University next fall to major in Accounting and will continue to pursue speech and debate as she competes in collegiate forensics. Alyson attended the first ever Helmsmen Speech and Debate Camp in 2019 and truly enjoyed learning from the instructors and fellowshipping with her fellow students. She is grateful for the opportunity to coach this year and is looking forward to sharing what she has learned!



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

John Semple competed in Stoa for six years and was involved in the Stoa community since 2011. He remembers cheering for his sisters whenever they got awards and dreaming of competing. Beginning with Apologetics and Lincoln Douglas only, he eventually added more events to his repertoire. By his senior year, John expanded his event list to include interps, and found they taught him skills he was lacking. He experienced great success in all 10 of his regular events through his senior year, eventually earning first place titles in Apologetics, Impromptu, Extemporaneous, Original Oratory, Expository, Open Interpretation, Parliamentary, Parliamentary speaker points, Lincoln Douglas, Lincoln Douglas speaker points, and Team Policy. His favorite speech was his Expository with which he won six tournaments. At NITOC 2023, John won the national titles in Lincoln Douglas debate and Apologetics speaking, broke the NITOC record for picket fences with seven, and was awarded the second place Tournament Champion award.John’s foremost struggle and foremost goal in Stoa has been to constantly press in for God’s wisdom and trust Him with all results. John now coaches all speech and debate events, but specializes in debate, limited prep, and Expository. He is excited to see where God leads him through the rest of his life.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp, Recreation Director, Administrative Assistant

Elise began competing in Stoa in 2014, and enjoyed the growth and challenges she experienced each year! During her time in the league she 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 be 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!



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

David Vasquez competed in Stoa for seven years, where he competed primarily in Team Policy debate, Parliamentary debate, and Extemporaneous speaking. David won 1st place numerous times 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 worked actively with organizations and individuals such as The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and former Senator John Moorlach during his time at the Charles Koch Institute and The California Policy Center. Currently, David coaches Voyagers Speech and Debate in Stoa, and is the Assistant Director of Debate at Concordia University Irvine. He also served as the founding Director of Forensics at Concordia University Chicago. He is currently working as a Policy Analyst for the Center for American Prosperity, the Center for Energy Independence, and the Center for the Environment at AFPI.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

James competed in Extemporaneous speech, as well as Team Policy and Parliamentary Debate from 2015-2020. He enjoys the refutation side of debates that focus on the statistical and logic based arguments. He is immensely thankful for the experience and gifts with which Stoa has blessed him, such as 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, and for his last accomplishment in Stoa, he placed 6th place in Team Policy and 6th place as Team Policy speaker. James currently resides in Idaho where he is attending school to become a welder.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Logan began competing in Stoa in his freshman year in high school and has competed invirtually every event including all limited preps, platforms, interps, and all three debate events.At nationals in 2022, 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 just finished his freshman year at Baylor University as a 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.



Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Hudson Winchel was born into a family that is passionate about speech and debate and has been involved in the activity for as long as he can remember. He participated in all forms of speech, as well as Team Policy, Lincoln Douglas, and Parliamentary Debate. He has won 25 tournaments across diverse events such as Apologetics, Impromptu, Original Oratory, Persuasive, Parliamentary Debate, and Team Policy Debate, ultimately achieving the title of the 2023 NITOC Parliamentary Speaker champion. He became tournament champion at multiple tournaments and ranked third in the nation overall. However, his true goal lies in utilizing these talents for God's glory, inspiring the next generation to become impactful speakers and communicators.

bottom of page