Throughout the existance of the UW-Eau Claire's Forensics program, significant coaches helped pave the way for the program, and have helped communicators to grow and prosper. While all coaches are significant and help the students to grow and compete at a national level, there are certian coaches that must be remembered, for if it weren't for these program directors, who knows where the UW-Eau Claire's Forensics team would be today.
Eau Claire's chapter of Pi Kappa Delta was chartered in 1951. The Wisconsin Zeta chapter charter was signed by Grace Walsh, one of Eau Claire's most treasured former coaches.
Grace, originally from St. Paul, MN, taught speech and coached forensics at UW-Eau Claire for 36 years. She received a bachelor's degree in education from UW-Superior in 1932 and a master's degree in philosophy from UW-Madison in 1939.
As a professor and director of forensics, she coached 25 state oratory champions and six national champions before retiring in 1980. She also coached 11 Wisconsin forensics champions, and no other state team beat UW-Eau Claire while the team was under her supervision. She was also the co-founder of the speech department and served as its chair for some time.
Grace also played a key role in developing many of the events and activities that are now standard conventions of the competitive speech world. For more than 50 years, forensicators at Eau Claire have strived to live up to the standard of excellence Grace established.
The annual Grace Walsh Individual Events College Forensics Tournament was named in her honor. She also was named an honorary member of UW-Eau Claire's alumni.
On April 24, 2000, Grace Walsh passed away at the age of 89. When team members visited Grace in December 1998, she said, "Be proud of what you do and don't take out junk!" The team has worked hard to follow her advice.
Thanks to Grace's leadership, UW-Eau Claire is one of only a few schools to have competed at every NFA and AFA since their inceptions, as well as to consistently place in the top ten.
To see the Interstate Oratorical Contest's Special Grace Walsh Edition, click here.
More coaches coming soon!