During Brent Via and Kendall Livick’s senior year at Salem High School back in 2006, they always joked they’d return to coach the Forensics team they captained together. They were part of the first state championship team.
Five years later, Livick (formerly Atkins) who was working as a features reporter in Kentucky, was packing up boxes for her move back to Salem with her husband’s job when she learned from her mother that coach Mark Ingerson was stepping down from his post to spend more time with his family. Ingerson asked if Kendall might be interested.
A few weeks after she returned to town, Ingerson called Livick, who is currently substitute teaching. One of the first things she did was call her old friend Brent to meet up at Mac and Bob’s to talk about the opportunity before them.
“Once we met about it, I was hoping that she wasn’t continuing the joke that far,” Via said. He’d recently returned to town from Washington, D.C. where he interned at the White House and at a public relations firm. He’s currently doing social work in Roanoke County and Salem.
The question wasn’t whether they wanted to do it or not, it was “How can we not do this,” Livick said.
“We realized what Ingerson had given to us and we just wanted to pay it forward,” said Via.
The former team captains made a controversial move at the outset of the season: they did not hold try-outs, but let anybody who wanted to join the team stay on.
The decision paid off in a big way: five of Salem High’s eleven state finalists were brand new to the team.
“What Ingerson started is a team that self-perpetuates,” Kendall said. The veteran students knew how to cut and edit a piece, she said, and they helped the new folks.
After the work involved in practicing, the biggest challenge for Via and Livick, Brent said, was ”learning how to sniff out the talent and find the spark.”
*Back in 2005, Via and Livick had worked all season on their serious duo interpretation together, when Ingerson suddenly swopped Brent out of the duo team before States, they said. The tough choice helped Salem High win in that category though. The two new coaches had to make tough decisions later in the season singling out talent and making choices as to who’d compete in Regions and States.
*Something also weighing on the newbies was the fact that they’d joked casually that their first year as coaches would be the first year that Salem Forensics lost states. And, at least once, a joke had come true.
With luck and their team’s hard work, however, they were all sitting with Ingerson at the state competition with Salem High School’s seventh-in-a-row state championship when Ingerson won 2010-11 coach of the year.
The Salem City Council and the Salem School Board is honoring the state championship Forensics team next week, May 14 and 16.
2012 Individual State Champions: Austin Peters, Impromptu Kat Zamorski, Humorous Dramatic Interpretation Dylan Wade, Prose Interpretation
Other 2012 State Finalists, scoring points for Salem High: 2nd place Katelyn Barker, Poetry Interpretation 3rd place Mary Cameron Brooks and Savannah Stevens, Humorous Duo Interpretation 4th place Michael Lefew, Poetry Interpretation 5th place Ryan Nolen and Elly Goldstein, Serious Duo Interpretation 5th place Zach Staton, Original Oratory 6th place Emily Brown, Humorous Dramatic Interpretation.
*edited 3:35 p.m. 5/7/12