Plymouth High Speech Coach is Hall of Famer

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth High School Head Speech and Debate Coach, David McKenzie, will be officially inducted into the NFL (National Forensic League) Hall of Fame in June at the NFL tournament in Birmingham, Ala.
McKenzie was notified just this week of the honor.
“It’s one of the few things that as made me speechless,” McKenzie said. “I am both humbled and honored.
“It is indicative of the coaches who mentored me, the students who worked hard to excel, and the wonderful staffs I worked with over the years,” he said. “This wasn’t won by just me.”
One of his mentors was Dan Tyree, former PHS Head Speech Team Coach and now Plymouth Schools Superintendent.
“Dan and I talked speech on the phone every Saturday night for years,” McKenzie recalled.
When Tyree resigned as the head coach, he recommended McKenzie for the job. He also met his wife Sarah at a speech meet and she became an assistant coach at Northfield. She is now the Head Speech Coach at Lincoln Junior High.
McKenzie said, “I didn’t get married until I was 32 because I knew it would take a special woman to understand.”
The McKenzies’ daughter Emily is a freshman on the PHS team and son Trent is a sixth grader at LJH.
“Both Emily and Trent have spent many, many Saturdays at speech meets with us,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie has been involved in speech since he was a high school competitor starting in 1977. Although he never won an individual ribbon, the love of the competition held his interest.
Since graduating from Northfield High School in 1979, McKenzie has only missed one year of coaching. He coached at least three times each week while attending classes at Manchester College, worked with team members at Columbia City High School when he was student teaching, spent three years as assistant coach at Oak Hill High School, worked as a radio news director and substitute teacher and coach at Wabash High School and lead a team at Northfield High School for over a decade. He came to PHS in the 2000-2001 school year.
McKenzie said, “I look forward to Saturdays when speech meets are held. “The coaches from all over the district aren’t just coaches to me, they are friends and colleagues.”
McKenzie has been the District Chair for the IHSFA (Indiana High School Forensic Association) for over ten years. Plymouth High School Speech and Debate Team remains one of the 25 largest programs in the nation. McKenzie said, “We have a high school of 1,100 students and we compete with many schools that have 3,000-4,000 enrollments.”
McKenzie says the speech year is divided into two parts. “The fall is for education and after the holidays we start looking at competition. That is when we put banners on the wall and trophies in the case,” he said.

(This story ran in the May 18-19 edition.)