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 Sprimont

Camp Director, Coach, Resident Director

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 is a History/Political Thought major with a Law and Politics Minor and is going into her Senior year in the Fall. She now competes at the college level in Parliamentary Debate, and has received speaker awards, won a tournament, and competed at NPDA nationals.

David Vasquez

Camp Co- Director, Coach, Resident Co-Director

David Vasquez competed in both Team Policy Debate and Parliamentary Debate throughout high school. During his time in highschool, David won numerous 1st places in team policy debate and parliamentary debate, both in the speaker category and the debate category. Throughout his college career, David has been a valuable team member to the Concordia Debate program, aiding the Forensic club in placing in the top 10 debate programs for the past two years that David has been a competitor at Concordia University, Irvine.

Ethan Blount

Coach at Speech and Debate Camp

Ethan has competed in Speech & Debate across the US for the last five years & made it to nationals all five years. Currently, he is ranked #1 nationally in combined Speechranks totals. Two years ago he won the national Parliamentary Debate Speaker title and broke the all-time record for Parliamentary Debate Speechranks speaker points. This last year he won the national title in Extemporaneous Speaking and broke the all-time record for Lincoln Douglas Debate Speechranks speaker points. He has also won over100 awards in many other events ranging from Apologetics and Demonstration to Original Oratory and Impromptu – including over 30 First Place awards. During his sophomore year, he was accepted to the World Debate team. Previously he had competed in Mock Trial for two years -- winning multiple MVP attorney awards.

Amanda Laughon

Expert Lecturer in Debate

Amanda is the Director of Debate at Concordia University Irvine and has a cumulative 11 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 Assistant Coach of the Year by the NPTE. 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

Expert Lecturer in Debate

Joe Laughon is the assistant director of debate at Concordia University, Irvine. 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.

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.

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 and GM Technology. He has consulted on large scale systems engineering projects for the Air Force, DARPA, the Navy, EDS, BDM, and Bechtel. 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.

Yaw Kyeremateng

Expert Coach in Interpretive Events

Originally from Ghana, Yaw (pronounced Yeow) earned a BA in Environmental Health Science/French and an MA in Communication with an emphasis in Health and Performance Studies, both from the University of Northern Iowa. While in Ghana, Yaw competed in British Parliamentary debate and switched to Speech and Model UN at the University of Northern Iowa. As a graduate student, he coached he UNI Speech team for 2years. Currently, Yaw is the Director of Forensics at Concordia University Irvine, where he’s been coaching since 2014. Yaw is passionate about helping students find their utmost passion within their respective speech topics and events. 

Dr. Jeffrey Mallinson

Expert in Christian Ethics

Jeff Mallinson (D.Phil., Oxford) is Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Concordia University, Irvine. His specialty is the history of Christian ideas, especially as they affect the way the Gospel of Jesus can transform relationships and defend families from toxic forms of religion. In addition to several scholarly works, he is author of a book about Christian ethics and finding the joy of transcendence in a secular world. Mallinson enjoys riding beach cruisers with his family along Pacific Coast Highway and developing a small off-grid farm in rural San Diego County.

Dr. Russell Mangum

Expert in Economics

Dr. Mangum has over 25 years of experience in economic analysis, research, and teaching. His consulting practice centers on economic analysis and damages quantification in mattes related to intellectual property and technology, antitrust, class certification, statistical analysis, and complex commercial disputes. His experience as an economic expert is extensive, with testimony in over 120 matters before local, state, and federal courts. Dr. Mangum has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in economics, statistics, finance, and econometrics. He is currently an Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Business and Economics at Concordia University Irvine, and has previously taught at Johns Hopkins University, The University of Southern California, and Pepperdine University. Dr. Mangum previously worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and The United States Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Economics.

Dr. Caleb Karges

Expert in Mordern History and War

Dr. Caleb Karges is the Chair of the History and Political Thought Department at Concordia University Irvine. He received his PhD in Modern History from the University of St Andrews in 2016. He was awarded the André Corvisier Prize for PhD Theses in Military History from the International Commission of Military History in 2017. He began as a Teaching Fellow at Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and became an Assistant Professor in 2017. He was elected CUI Bono Professor of the Year in 2019. Dr. Karges’ research interests are in the history of war and international relations. He has published works on warfare, diplomacy, strategy, and logistics.

Dr. Clinton Armstrong

Expert in Ancient History and Theology

Professor CJ Armstrong has served on the faculty of Concordia University full time since 2010, teaching in Christ College and History. He received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine, in the field of Classics, after pursuing studies at Washington University and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, as well as University of Arizona. Dr. Armstrong loves teaching at CUI, where his interests in the ancient Mediterranean world, scholarship in literature and history, and raising scholars to engage in service to society and the church, converge in the undergraduate and graduate classrooms. His service to the university includes directing the CUI Honors program, as well as continuing in conversation with faculty and students in our academic community, taking advantage of opportunities provided by CUI’s Living & Learning Communities, Cui Bono, and other liberal arts concerns. Dr. Armstrong also assists in the pastoral ministry of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church near his home in Rowland Heights, CA.

Ishaan Mehta

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

Ishaan competed in both Team Policy and Parliamentary debate during his time in STOA. Ishaan was the 2019 NITOC TP Champion, breaking the speechranks TP points record at the same time. Aside from winning Nationals, Ishaan and his partner Sathvik also won 3 other tournaments, and were ranked 1st in the nation for a majority of the year. Ishaan has also made numerous parli final rounds, with four different partners, and recieved many high placing speaker awards. This school year, Ishaan will be studying political science at Pepperdine University and competing for their debate team.

Elizabeth John

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

Elizabeth has competed in Stoa for four years and has qualified for nationals every year. She is ranked #5 nationally on Speechranks. She is the 2019 national champion in Extemporaneous speaking, and has garnered multiple awards in events of all kinds. She has a passion for limited prep events, and has won many first-place awards in these categories. She also won the Founders Award for excellence in limited prep, interpretative, platform, and debate events. Elizabeth hopes to impart her love for speaking and her love for Christ to those she teaches.

Sean Otto

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

Sean Competed In both STOA`s Team Policy and Parliamentary Debate for 6 years. During his time in STOA he won 3 large tournaments in Team Policy and he was the 2019 Parliamentary NITOC Champion. He has received numerous Speaker Awards in Both Events and he has competed in many Semi Final and Final rounds. Sean and his partner finished the year second in the nation for Team Policy and 8th for Speaker. Sean hopes to Pursue his love for Debate by getting His Law Degree.

Chad Mcfarland

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

Chad competed in STOA for six years and have gone to Nationals with an interpretation event every year. I have won Humorous and Open Interp numerous times and am a consistent winner in Duo Interpretation. Chad finished my career with a second in duo interpretation at NITOC. He has also done theatre for twelve years. Chad’s favorite event is Dramatic interpretation because if done well, the emotion is palpable and lasting.

James Monroe

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

Having just graduated high school, James feels that forensics is his calling and has competed in Stoa speech and debate from 2015-2019 where he competed at NITOC every season. In speech, he’s competed in Original Oratory, Dramatic Interp, all three limited preps, and two wildcard events, finishing his career off as #1 in the nation for Mars Hill Impromptu and top five for three other speech events. In his last two years, he added Lincoln-Douglas value debate and Parliamentary debate to the list, where he always broke to outrounds in both forms and finished 4th in the nation for Parli. In his senior year, he ended as 3rd in the nation cumulatively, winning numerous 1st place awards and tournament champion at the last qualifying tournament of the season. This school year, he will be competing collegiately for the CSULB debate team.

Rick Landry

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