My First NFL Student Won State

I’ve catered to the homeschool leagues for years, but these past few I have slowly-but-surely ventured into the public school speech and debate league. My first camp student was Maheema in 2011. And she just won State!

Maheema at camp in 2011. She won State last week. I hope she's the first of many NFL champion alumni.

Maheema at camp in 2011. She won State last week. I hope she’s the first of many NFL champion alumni.

Maheema took first place in extemp for the Colorado state tournament two weeks ago. The coaches and I are doing happy dances for her. Sure, we do for all our students who excel in competition, but this is our first public school student. I believe strongly in the home-school leagues and what they have to offer, but Training Minds and Monument Publishing are venturing into the National Forensic League (the public school league) for good reasons.

I started in 1998. I was a public school teacher at the time and wasn’t impressed with the quality of the NFL. They’ve improved a lot in the past decade. Likewise, I’ve improved. I’m leading over 30 coaches and authors from all different backgrounds, some actively involved in the NFL. So, it makes sense to at least consider the NFL.

I’ve got three reasons to be pressing forward. If you’re into speech and debate (or you feel like you should be), you may enjoy my thoughts on this.


I love home education. The idea is entrepreneurial, adventurous, and totally American. About two million students around the country have been home educating since 1995 when Wendy and I started doing it. But that number hasn’t changed much. Twenty years later, home education is still hovering around 2 million.

Furthermore, home education doesn’t look nearly as “homey” as it used to. When Wendy and I started, there were clear lines between home, private and public education. The three rarely mixed. Today, there are all sorts of co-ops, educational options, and state laws that mix the masses. Defining a home schooler today is like nailing jello to a wall. Parent-directed education has made a comeback from the locked-up, institutionalized standards of the 1980s and 1990s (which is probably a topic to cover in a later post).

For me and my focus on speech and debate, Maheema helped changed my perspective. In 2011, she signed up for our camp. She came wanting to master extemp. It made the coaches and me ask ourselves, are we necessarily home-school advocates? Sure, we believe in it, but we’re speech and debate advocates first. 

I believe that was a nice refining of our purpose, a very good thing indeed.


Let me go back to that 2 million number. Sounds pretty significant doesn’t it? It’s puny when compared to the behemoth public system: There are 120 million public schoolers. When I think of it, I’m a little man next to a giant.

But the stones in my sling are pretty doggone awesome. I truly believe in the educational benefits of speech and debate. While public schools tend to value football and sports, I value academic speech and debate. I’m a total nerd and my students are awesome. They’ll hire the jocks later in life and make the world a better place. So in high school, bring it on. I have no doubt that our training minds curriculum can help make all three educational communities stronger and better.

This perspective is like a great commission. “Go out into the public schools and teach them speech and debate skills.” We’ve dabbled in this these last few years in these ways:

  • Maheema was our first camper in 2011. Last year we had 4. So we’re growing!
  • Vance Trefethen, my coauthor master-brief-writer, has pulled together our first NFL Blue Book. I pulled an ad in the NFL publication Rostrom…we’ll see how it goes!
  • One of my main coaches, Travis Herche, is being hired as an NFL coach through the Internet. This is an exciting development, and he and I are plotting a way to get to the NFL national tournament in June. (It’s during the same week as the NCFCA tournament, so we’re needing to strategize a bit.)

Maheema’s success is a huge encouragement to us, and a sign that we’re on the right track. My third reason is ultra-competitive:


Homeschool speech and debate rocks, probably the biggest secret of the homeschool movement. Seriously, every homeschooler should be involved, because it is the best community in the world. That’s my humble opinion, of course, but I believe I’m on target with that opinion.

Therefore, we could so pone in the NFL. Like I said, I wasn’t too thrilled about getting involved years ago, but I believe now is the time. There is a ton of great people in the NFL, and I look forward to befriending them. I also look forward to utilizing the coaching prowess of Training Minds and the publishing arm of Monument Publishing to deliver great resources and bring some public schoolers to their national tournaments and win.

This week…

I’m training in a customer service representative from Oklahoma to help me out taking care of campers and customers. I’m giving a webinar tonight to 125 attendees with educational leader Andrew Pudewa. I’m flying out to Cincinnati for a rocking-huge homeschool conference. I’m busy, but it’s a good kind of busy.

Thought you’d like to keep up to speed with what’s going on. I appreciate your prayers and support!