Coaching Awards

The WHSFA offers a number of awards to recognize excellence by its educators. Also see the Theatre Hall of Fame for awards specific to the One-Act Play program.


Ethel-HeiseEthel Heise New Speech Coach

Ethel Heise was a longtime Speech coach from Neenah who also taught at Oshkosh Lourdes Academy where she was their first teacher to earn the esteemed Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship in 1992, and in the same year, received the Wisconsin Communication Association’s Andrew T. Weaver Award for excellence in teaching speech communication. Heise said that she started teaching because she enjoyed her days as a student: “When I was a senior in high school, I didn’t want it to end. The next thing to do was go back and do I again.” She was always supportive of new coaches, which is why WHSFA named this award in her honor.

Speech coaches within their first five years of coaching are eligible for the award when they are doing exceptional work as exemplified by: (A). Number of students involved in forensic program as juxtaposed with the size of the school; and (B). Quality of student performances at the State Speech Festival as indicated by number of students receiving gold, silver and bronze. Candidate must submit the following through the online form linked below, by March 22. Recipient(s) will be announced at State Speech.

  1. Three Letters of Recommendation:
    1. Testimonial letter from a current student, alum, or a parent of a current/former student.
    2. Two letters from other coaches, administrators, supervisors, colleagues, and WHSFA District/Sectional Chair.
  2. Essay:  “Why I Coach”  in 12-point font, with 1” margins, double-spaced, and not exceeding two (2) pages.
Past Heise Award Recipients

2010: Nick Sirek, Eau Claire Memorial HS & DeLong MS
2011: Shauna Wessely, Milton HS
2012: Craig Pierce, DeSoto HS
2012: Amy Koszarek, Waterford HS
2013: Abbi Wills-Phillips, Lincoln HS, Wis. Rapids
2014: Vanessa Sieg, Bloomer HS
2017: Jennifer Kieran, Ellsworth HS

Lyn Luce Leadership Award

Lyn LuceLynda Luce was a longtime Speech coach who taught at Waupaca High School, as well as at Fox Valley Technical College, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Oshkosh. She had been president of the Wisconsin Forensic Coaches Association (WFCA) and National Catholic Forensics League. She was honored with the WFCA’s William Hintz Memorial Award for Coaching Excellence in 1993, the Wisconsin Communication Association’s Andrew T. Weaver Award for excellence in teaching speech communication, the Hillshire Krahn Teacher of the Year, and received the Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship. She was an active staffperson for both the WHSFA State Speech and Theatre festivals.

The award is presented to an educator who:

  • Is a successful coach in a variety of activities/performance areas.
  • Shows leadership on multiple levels.
  • Has strong community involvement.
  • Is a willing mentor.

Nominators must submit a letter of recommendation through the online form linked below, by March 22. Recipient(s) will be announced at State Speech.

Past Luce Award Recipients

2013: Nancy Herbison, Tomahawk MS/HS
2014: Roxi Wakeen, Baldwin-Woodville MS/HS
2014: Sam Jonas, Lancaster HS
2015: Mark Kohl, Lodi HS
2016: Sue Luterbach, St. Joan Antida HS, Milwaukee
2017: Tina Fern-Denzer, Viking MS, Baldwin-Woodville

Outstanding Speech/Debate/Theatre Educator

NFHS LogoWHSFA is able to recognize an educator for significant and/or long-term contributions to interscholastic speech, theatre and/or debate activities; however, professional contributions within the past five years are of the utmost importance. Each nomination should be accompanied by a photo of the nominee. Please limit support material to the space provided in the nomination form. This nomination form is due by March 22.  This award has a lengthier approval process, and will be announced in spring of the following school year (spring 2018).


Past NFHS Award Recipients

1990: Stephen Spear, Loyola University & WHSFA Debate Advisor
2009: Roxanne Wakeen, Baldwin-Woodville MS/HS
2014: Lynda Luce, Waupaca HS (posthumously)
2017: Nancy Herbison, Tomahawk