Mineos Win Honors in Speech, Debate

by Elizabeth Davis

The voices of Transylvania speech and debate team members Katrina and Raven Mineo and coach Clint Jones are ringing out across campus and, even farther, across Kentucky. Their remarkable accomplishments in forensics earned them the highest honors at the Kentucky Forensics Association’s annual state tournament last month, awards that show their tireless commitment to both competition and sportsmanship.

The Mineos, who are twin sisters, were both recipients of the Harlan Hamm Award, the association’s highest honor that is typically reserved for one male and one female who display outstanding dynamism and courtesy in competition. The coaches on the selection committee felt it would be unfair to choose one or the other.

“It was pretty overwhelming and emotional,” said Katrina Mineo of the dual award. “They listed off the attributes of one person (in the award speech), and it turned out to be two.”

Professor Gary Deaton’s praise of the Mineos provided insight into the committee’s choice. Deaton is also a coach of the speech and debate team.

“Both Raven and Katrina are fierce competitors but simultaneously empathic, kind, warmhearted people,” Deaton said. “Unfortunately, many competitors have a hard time being both.”

This type of talent and intelligence also contributed to Jones’ award. Jones, a 2003 Transy alumnus and founder of Transy’s speech and debate team, was selected as KFA’s 2011 Coach of the Year. This award is even more remarkable because of Jones’ status as a volunteer coach.

“I was really thrilled (to receive it),” said Jones. “This is the third time students at Transy have put me up for the award, and I think the third time’s a reason.”

Deaton ascribed much of Jones’ success to his academic background, citing his “knowledge of philosophy, history, politics and the world and his tremendous knowledge of debate theory and practice.” Jones is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy, taught Argumentation and Debate at Transy last fall and will teach it this fall.

Enthusiasm is another key ingredient.

“I get a rush out of it,” said Raven Mineo. “It’s absolutely thrilling. Being able to effectively communicate an important idea off the top of your head is extremely gratifying.”

But this thrilling pursuit also requires commitment. Both the Mineos and Jones began their involvement in speech and debate before their arrival at Transy. The Mineos’ began in high school, where they were members of the speech and drama programs. Jones’ interest was piqued in a more accidental fashion at an involvement fair before he became a Transy student.

“I was a bio major, saw the forensics club and thought, ‘That’s for me.’ It turns out forensics has two definitions,” said Jones.

Luckily, Jones enjoyed speech and debate and continued to pursue it at Transy. The legacy of his passion for public speaking lives on in the MOJO Award, an accolade named for him and fellow debate team member Clint Morris that is given at Transy’s annual forensics tournament.

Jones and the Mineos praised the support of Transy’s speech and debate program as one of the key factors to their success.

Katrina Mineo described the backing she gets from her sister.

“As debate partners, we literally support each other during matches,” said Katrina Mineo. “In addition, we both love seeing the other succeed.”
Both praised the mentorship of their coaches.

“We want to give a shout out to our coaches, Gary Deaton, Leigh Ann and Clint,” the Mineos said. “The three of them are so different and they cover all the bases in the best possible way.”

Jones praised the support of Transy’s faculty, including Deaton, who coached him in speech and debate as an undergraduate.

“I really appreciate everything Gary’s done for me and if I can pay him back this way, I will,” said Jones.

Jones also spoke of the engaging nature of Transy students as the main reason behind his being a coach and professor, and he praised the Mineos in their accomplishments.

“Katrina and Raven are outstanding people in every sense of the word,” Jones said.

The Mineos and senior Brian Powell are also All-American candidates for the Pi Kappa Delta National Forensics Honorary.

The caliber of Jones and the Mineos, as well as Transy’s entire speech and debate team, is reflected in the accolades they have received.

“I would say that our team adheres to the spirit of what speech and debate always has been,” Raven Mineo said. “We recognize the academic value more than the competitive value.”

Jones affirmed this.

“There are a lot of great ideas out there,” Jones said. “We spend very little time debating them with family and friends, except on Facebook.”

Jones and the Mineos have demonstrated that aptitude in forensics is essential to everyday life.

“Public speaking helps you navigate the world,” Jones said.


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