Coach Kirsten Manthei steps down

Nina Shearrill, Business Manager

For the past 16 years, speech coach Kirsten Manthei has dedicated her time to coaching high school speech teams. Starting 14 years ago at LT, she began working as an assistant coach, helping turn a group of five students into a team of over 50 promising members. Early on this season, she announced she would be stepping down as head speech coach.

During her speech coaching tenure she taught classes such as Interpersonal Communication (IPC) and Speech Arts, in addition to spending most of her weekdays and Saturdays coaching and going to tournaments, Manthei said. Due to such a packed schedule, she has had to miss out on a lot of quality family time. She will continue to teach as he takes on a part time theatre directing position.

“My husband’s birthday is in early February around the time of sectionals,” Manthei said. “We’ve never celebrated his birthday on his birthday. We’ve always had to celebrate it on a Monday before. [After I leave], I promised him we’ll have a big party on that weekend.”

For the last 16 years, speech team has occupied most of her free time, she said. As her two young children continue to grow up, they have begun to become involved in several activities. With her son in band and sports, and her daughter in dance and theatre, she wants to be able to be around more for the events she usually missed out on, she said.

“[My family] is very excited. They definitely support me, but I’d be gone most Saturdays and it has been difficult,” she said.

This year marks a decade of her being head coach, Manthei said. Early on this season she announced her decision, even though this has been in motion for months now.

“I had been contemplating whether or not [2017-2018] would be my last season, but after taking [Pilar Valdes ‘19 and Miles Hession ‘18] to state, I did not just want to leave,” she said.

Due to her love for both theatre and speech, the decision was not easy for her, she said. Both theatre and speech are large commitments, but there are very few Saturdays, if any, that require a theatre rehearsal. Furthermore, the time needed to produce a show spans a few weeks, whereas a speech season usually starts in August and ends in February.

“I’m really going to miss my students and practicing; but [theatre] is my dream,” she said.

Before working for LT, Manthei obtained her degrees for teaching and theatre, Manthei said. When applying to work at LT, her original plan was to become a theatre director.

“When I applied I was offered a teaching position for IPC,” she said. “I ended up falling in love with IPC and speech.”

After one of the former theatre directors could no longer maintain his position following the 2017-2018 school year, a position became available. With her new position, she jumped at the chance to direct “Game of Tiaras,” which opens Nov. 8 and closes Nov. 10.

“It was the next natural step for her,” LT Theatre Director and Teacher Lawrence Keller said. “She’s been wanting to direct since she’s gotten here. With her theatre background, organizational skills, and her ability to work with diverse groups of students, I can’t think of anyone better suited for the position.”

As for the speech team, assistant head coach Sarah Pouls will be filling the vacant position.

“She is very qualified,” Manthei said. “She just is focusing more closely on the intricate details she will have to deal with fully as head coach.”

Pouls has been coaching the team for over five years and has been taking a lead role as the transition from coaches moves forward, Manthei said.