Doug Tschetter, former English and debate coach at MHS, has earned his Eighth Diamond degree of membership award from the National Speech and Debate Association’s Honor Society. Tschetter will receive his award next June at the 2017 National Debate and Speech Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. In the 91- year history of the assooiation, he is only the eighth coach in the United States to attain this distinction.
A Diamond award recognizes a professional career of excellence and longevity. Coaches accrue points through team participation, student achievement, public service, and leadership. To earn One Diamond, a coach must have coached for five years and accrued 1,500 points. At 3,000 points, a Second Diamond is awarded, a Third Diamond requires 6,000 points, and so on. A coach earns one-tenth of a point for each point earned by a student under their coaching. Tschetter has accumulated 22,902 points.
Tschetter acquired many of those points as the debate coach in Milbank from 1978 to 2014. During his 36-year tenure, he and his teams won hundreds of tournaments and awards. Tschetter was also named the South Dakota Debate Coach of the Year four times while in Milbank – in 1991, 1998, 2003, and 2014.
He now lives in Sioux Falls, where he substitute teaches at the high schools and is an assistant debate coach for 30 to 40 students at Sioux Falls O’Gorman High School. In 2015, he was inducted into the Forensic Assistant Coaches Hall of Fame. He also finds time to mentor a second-grader who attends a low-income school. The two were matched through Lutheran Social Services and his church – Oak Hills Baptist. “Coaching and working with students is really important to me,” he said. “I have made and continue to make many lifelong relationships with my students.”
Along his road to success, Tschetter has encountered several severe medical conditions. He had bypass surgery. Two weeks ago, he had a pacemaker and his fourth stint inserted. He was also diagnosed with kidney disease seven years ago. “My heart is good again after these repairs,” he said. “But I now need to be on dialysis for the rest of my life.” In preparation for his new routine, he volunteered at the Sanford dialysis center. “That made a big difference. I wanted to see what it was all about so I would not be afraid.” At first, he needed inpatient dialysis, but last week switched to outpatient. He attends three times a week.
Since his move to Sioux Falls, Tschetter has connected with a group of former Milbankites who now reside in Sioux Falls. They get together about once a month. He has also embraced the power of the internet. Through Facebook, Facebook Messenger, emails, and texting he maintains connections with former students and co-workers. “I miss those friendships and relationships that began and were formed in Milbank,” he said. “I still see some of my students at meets. I really enjoy that. They are still my kids.”