Who is at the Helm?

The Founders of the Helmsmen Institute are all champions in Stoa, with outstanding achievements in high school, and they went on to attend a University with a Forensic Program ranked in the top 10 in the Nation. The Founders of the Helmsmen Institute cumulatively have over 35 years of experience in competition or coaching Speech and Debate and are experienced in assisting debaters to become the best individuals and debaters they can be. The Helmsmen Institute Board of Directors consists of college and high school forensic coaches with over 85 years of experience altogether, and are present to guide staff and students alike through teaching and coaching. 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.

 

DENISE SPRIMONT

President, Co-Founder and Leadership Team Member. Lincoln Douglas Lead Strategist, Apologetics Strategist, Original Oratory Strategist

Denise Sprimont competed in both speech and debate for 7 years in STOA and is now the debate coach of SCARLET, her home team, and she has enjoyed every moment. Throughout her high school career, Denise was blessed to compete in 9 speech events, and 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 Junior 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. Denise feels truly grateful to have received not only the gift of debate but also of mentorship, friendship and is amazed by the way God shaped her life and faith through STOA.

 

DAVID VASQUEZ

Vice President, Leadership Team Member and Co-Founder. Team Policy Lead Strategist, Parliamentary Debate Lead Strategist and Extemporaneous Lead Strategist.

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.

 

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DENISE SPRIMONT

President, Co-Founder and Leadership Team Member. Lincoln Douglas Lead Strategist, Apologetics Strategist, Original Oratory Strategist

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.

DAVID VASQUEZ

Vice President, Leadership Team Member and Co-Founder. Team Policy Lead Strategist, Parliamentary Debate Lead Strategist and Extemporaneous Lead Strategist.

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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DEETTE SPRIMONT

Executive Board Member

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. She is overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of God, and her greatest joy is to glorify and honor Him in her daily life.

TOM SPRIMONT

Executive Board Member

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.

AMANDA OZAKI-LAUGHON

Executive Board Member

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 Sweepstakes 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 National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence. 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. When she isn't coaching, she is usually eating churros in Disneyland.

KONRAD HACK

Executive Board Member

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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Joe Laughon 

Executive Board Member

Joe Laughon is the Assistant Director of Debate at Concordia University Irvine and has a cumulative 15 years of experience competing in and coaching debate. He graduated from Concordia University Irvine in 2013, and debated on CUI's debate team for three years, during which time they won the 2013 NPDA Sweepstakes National Championship awards. In addition to his coaching experience, Joe is a freelance writer, and has been published in The National Review, The Daily Caller, and The American Conservative. When he is not coaching or writing, Joe enjoys watching the Dodgers, studying the Genealogy of his family, and working on developing his personal podcast.