Sam Ohrenberger-Hopkins, an adjunct professor of communication and head coach of the Brownson Speech and Debate Team, received the American Forensics Association's award for Most Outstanding New Coach this spring.
The American Forensics Association is a nonprofit organization committed to public advocacy and those who teach it. The Most Outstanding New Coach Award recognizes people that have excelled as coaches, demonstrated leadership and excellence in educating. It is presented each year at the National Individual Events Tournament.
"I'm so thankful that I've had the ability to reach so many people and am humbled that they thought I was deserving of the award, said Ohrenberger-Hopkins. "In fact, knowing that I have such widespread support is as gratifying as receiving the award itself. I also want to emphasize that I would not be here without the amazing students I've been lucky enough to coach over the years, working with them is among the most fulfilling things I have ever been fortunate enough to do."
Ohrenberger-Hopkins has been coaching the Brownson Speech and Debate Team since fall 2014, and has been a head coach since 2016. Previously, he was involved with speech and debate during his undergraduate years at George Mason University, and coached while he was completing his graduate studies.
In order to receive the award, Ohrenberger-Hopkins had to be nominated by current and former team members. His peers, both at Seton Hall and at other universities across the nation, had to write letters of support for his candidacy.
Ohrenberger-Hopkins' role on the team is focused primarily on travelling with the students to all of their tournaments across the country, and working with students on topic selection, speech delivery, character development, as well as other aspects of performance preparations.
Catherine Zizik, Associate Professor of Communication and Director of the Brownson team, commented on his ability to keep the students motivated during tournaments. She stated that he has a passion and love for the activity that is clearly reflected in the dedication he shows to the students and the team.
Zizik said, "Our University's mission is about servant leadership rooted in love and respect for all. Sam Ohrenberger-Hopkins embodies these characteristics and has served our Brownson speech team tirelessly. He is a talented and perceptive coach who has helped students find their "voice". Sam has been the leadership glue of the team while at tournaments. It is not easy to dedicate many weekends of travel, driving in 12 passenger vans and getting home at 2:00 a.m. He does this with a smile on his face, pride in his heart and a dedication to our students!"
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