APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) — If it’s 3 o’clock on any given afternoon, you can probably find Pam Wycoff listening to a speech.
As the head coach at Apple Valley High School for 24 years, Wycoff has spent countless hours teaching students the intricacies of public speaking. From delivery and vocal inflection to eye contact and body language, everything is intensely analyzed.
“We help kids have the confidence to compete hard, enjoy being in front of an audience and truly love what they’re doing,” Wycoff said. “All of that makes you a really good speaker, but being the best really boils down to competitive drive.”
That work ethic, featuring long hours and meticulous attention to detail, has built Apple Valley into one of the most successful forensic programs in the nation.
This year will be Wycoff’s last, leaving an undeniable legacy that stretches a quarter-century.
Since 1989, Apple Valley has produced 73 state champions. Of the 103 students that have reached the coveted final round at two National Forensic League tournaments, 23 have been named National Champions.
“To be a part of something so big when you’re so young, it’s fundamentally changed how I approach life,” said Nader Helmy, a senior and two-time national champion in Original Oratory. “I think overall, it’s made me a better person.”