by Jetta Barbar
John Mikolajcik, the new debate coach at MCC-Longview, says he focuses on supporting his debaters and pushing them to high achievement. According to Mikolajcik, the coaching style that he employs is a mix of laid-back supportiveness with high expectations for his students. He said he hopes to send the team to nationals, but he also understands that there is more to be earned from debate and public speaking than trophies.
“It’s not all about winning at the end of the day,” said Mikolajcik.
Mikolajcik began debating as a a freshman at Derby High School in Derby, Kan. He then attended Kansas Wesleyan University on a debate scholarship. In college, Mikolajcik began studying law, but decided to focus on speech instead, after discovering how much he enjoyed teaching and speaking to the younger members of his debate team.
During his time at graduate school at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., Mikolajcik served as assistant debate coach and research assistant. He still travels back to Georgia routinely to serve as a debate coach at camps held by different universities.
Most of all, Mikolajcik wants to have a positive impact on his pupils’ lives. “I’m trying to help make their lives better,” he said. “It’s about hard work but I believe a good coach must also be personable.”
Beyond debate, Mikolajcik stressed the benefits that improving one’s public speaking ability can have.
“Debate gives good speaking abilities that anyone can use,” said Mikolajcik.
One project that Mikolajcik plans to start at MCC-Longview is a series of public forums that will feature lecturers to speak on topics of public interest. Several guest lecturers would speak on a wide range of topics, from minority issues to veteran’s benefits.
The MCC-Longview debate team competes in tournaments that are held every other weekend. Longview will be hosting a tournament on campus from Oct. 26 through 28. Volunteer judges and spectators are welcome.