Mary Wacker and Brookfield East Forensics have been inseparable for 22 years.
Fresh off a national forensics tournament in Baltimore, MD over Memorial Day weekend, Wacker sent forensics families and supporters a surprising email Tuesday morning, saying it was time for her to step down.
"After much soul-searching, I have notified Brookfield East that I will not accept a contract renewal to serve as Head Coach of Forensics for the 2012-13 school year," Wacker said.
She said her employment at Marquette University has changed, leaving her unable to juggle both work and coaching the award-winning forensics team, which now numbers 104 students.
Wacker also will taking graduate classes next fall at Marquette to finish her master's degree in rhetorical studies and education.
"My 22 years coaching the BEHS Forensics and Debate team have enriched my life in ways I cannot explain in words," she wrote.
"I am forever changed by the work we've done together, and will continue to value the lifelong friendships I have made with my students, their families, and our many friends and benefactors. Your kindnesses have sustained me through the ups and downs of a great ride," she said.
Golla praises Wacker's energy, results
Corey Golla, East's athletics and activities director, said Tuesday Wacker's departure will be a huge loss not only to East, but to the state and national forensics associations for which she has devoted time.
"Mary is so humble (but) just the energy and the time she's put in, it's really remarkable what she's done," Golla said.
"It's a really big loss to our program. We're proud of the program, it's one of the strongest in the state. She and her kids are solely responsible for that," he said. "And Mary's just been great for the sport of forensics."
Golla said he hoped Wacker is able to find time after her career and educational pursuits to return to forensics in some venue. Meanwhile, a committee will be formed to interview candidates for a new head coach, said Golla, who added: "We want to get it right."
The forensics team has four assistants — Michelle Bedwell, Jill Varick, Heidi Wacker and James Toggatt.
As head coach, Wacker has led a team that consistently has won tournaments, including 10 consecutive championships of the Greater Metro Conference Forensics Tournament.
The team showcased its national tournament entries this month at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. (See: From 'Laughter' to Tears: Brookfield East Forensics Captivates Audience)
On Memorial Day weekend, team members competed in the National Catholic Forensics League Grand National Tournament (NCFL), with Wacker tweeting results all weekend. Here are the students and how they placed in their categories:
- Advik Shreekumar - Quarterfinalist (top 8) in Lincoln Douglas Debate
- Jennifer Vosters - Octofinalist (top 48) in Dramatic Performance
- Kyle Wessel - Octofinalist (top 48) in Dramatic Performance
- Hannah Shepherd - Octofinalist (top 48) in Original Oratory
- Gabriella Smurawa - Octofinalist (top 48) in Oratorical Declamation
- Hannah Giese and Katie Klann - Octofinalists (top 48) in Duo Interp
- Jeremy Carrasco and William Seabrook - Octofinalists (top 48) in Duo Interp
- Mihir Trivedi - Double-Octofinalist (top 32) in Lincoln Douglas Debate
- Elaine Andersen - Double-Octofinalist (top 32) in Lincoln Douglas Debate
Wacker may be gone next fall, but she has one final national tournament to enjoy and savor: the National Forensics League (NFL) competition in Indianapolis June 10 to 16.
Are you saddened Mary Wacker won't be coaching East forensics anymore? What has her leadership meant to you over the years? Tell her in the comments below.