Riverton speech mentor named Wyoming coach of the year again

Apr 6, 2012 Staff

Annette Thornton, head coach of the speech and debate team at Riverton High School, has been named the Class 4-A Coach of the Season by the Wyoming High School Forensics Association.

It's the second consecutive year Thornton has won the honor.

The WHSFA is a state wide association that encourages and advances speech in all its phases in Wyoming schools.

"Annette's success and skills as a coach are without peer, as reflected by the vote of our membership with respect to this award, said Mark Houser of Jackson, president of the WHSFA. "Annette has established a very strong program. It is a pleasure to be able to coach with her and learn by her example."

Thornton has restored the RHS program to prominence, with Wolverine speakers qualifying for the NFL national tournament every year since 2006. Last year, RHS senior Robert Peck qualified for the fourth consecutive year and made the national semifinals in extemporaneous speaking, also earning NFL all-America distinction. This year's team features a record five national qualifiers -- Jaden Brummond, Jace Flanagan, Quentin Lance, Sean Thornton and Sam Myers.

Coach Thronton and this year's qualifers will participate in the national tournament in June in Indianapolis.

The speech and debate program is conducted in a four-month competitive season, with teams traveling the state to NFL-sanctioned tournaments from November to March. There are two culminating events, the NFL District tournament, where national qualifications are won, and the Wyoming High School Activities Association state speech meet.

The National forensic League is the largest academic competitive organization in the U.S. with about 250,000 members competing annually.

In nominating documents accompanying Thornton's announcement, one of her peers wrote "Annette Thornton has been coaching at Riverton High School for the past seven years. Annette is always calm and supportive of her students and supportive to other coaches. She is always working tirelessly for the Riverton team giving up many weekends and evenings to help the team succeed. Annette has had many qualifiers at the national level and students who have placed at the national level."

Thornton is a member of the RHS English department faculty. She is working now as director of the RHS all-school musical, "Fiddler on the Roof," to be staged in May.

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