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A Passion for Speech

December 21, 2018 - 1 minute read

Yaw Kyeremateng, Director of Forensics

Concordia University Irvine's director of forensics, Yaw Kyeremateng, was named the 2018 Outstanding Coach of the Year at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament, a high honor for someone who helped build Concordia Irvine’s speech team from scratch.

When Yaw arrived at Concordia University Irvine four years ago, the fledgling speech team numbered thirteen people, only half of whom had prior experience. Following a similar trajectory of success as the debate team, the speech team skyrocketed into the top ten in just three years.

“It almost seems impossible,” says Yaw. “You wouldn’t expect us to jump like that. People were like, who is this Concordia school? Everybody was amazed.”

Concordia University Irvine’s forensics team works hard and keeps a brisk pace of meetings, practices and training workshops on everything from how to approach a stage, to tournament etiquette, to helping other students and teams improve.

The more passionate you are and the more fun you have, the better you will do.

“It’s all about the educational aspect of it,” says Yaw. “The more passionate you are and the more fun you have, the better you will do. Being a champion is not necessarily getting a trophy but working hard toward the event, having a good work ethic and helping students from other schools.”

Yaw immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana in 2007 to attend college, and at first people found his accent hard to understand. So his college forensics coach had him speak with a pen held horizontally between his teeth to improve his articulation.

“It helped tremendously,” Yaw says.

He started winning, advancing to semi-finals and finals in events such as after-dinner speaking, dramatic interpretation and program of oral interpretation.

After college, he became a coach at Concordia University Irvine. Winning the prestigious Coach of the Year award at this stage in his career “felt great because the people I look up to have that trophy,” Yaw says. “Three of my former coaches have received it, so there’s a lineage of coaches helping each other.”

The future for the CUI forensics teams is really bright

As for what’s ahead, “The future for the CUI forensics teams is really bright,” Yaw says. “We have set a standard and created an atmosphere where everyone feels they belong.”

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