Ardmore High School’s speech and drama coach, Brian Gunter, was recognized with an award from the Oklahoma Speech Theatre Communication Association last month.
The H.B Mitchell Outstanding High School Forensics Coach Award was created in 1987. It’s named for a former Seminole Public Schools debate coach whose teams won 13 consecutive state high school championships, an accomplishment only one other coach has managed to match.
“Anyone who’s not very involved in this doesn’t understand how massive an achievement that is and how much work it takes to win it every year,” Gunter said. “80 hours a week, 40 during the summer, only one month a year where you’re not going to a competition, 25 weekends a school year, some of them 5 or 6 days long.”   
Gunter said the award came as a surprise. He was in Dallas with his team at a competition when he was announced as a possible recipient, and traveled back to Ada for the ceremony on short notice.  
“I didn’t even know until a few days before the award assembly,” Gunter said. “I’d started school and I was right back to it. I went because I thought it would be terrible to win it and not be there.”
Gunter said the person who nominated him mostly knows him through his work and through his past students, but they’ve never worked together directly. A second person nominated him as well.
“He’s judged for us at various tournaments over the years,” Gunter said.
As for the 13 consecutive win mark, Gunter said he thinks that trying to match or beat it now would be a little bit crazy.  
“I was working to break it, but then I moved to Texas,” Gunter said. “I’ll probably never break it now. I’m getting close to 13 state championships, just at eight different schools. I’d have to win another 11 to tie with him.”
Since Gunter took over as The Act’s speech and debate coach three years ago, the program has expanded. The Act received recognition as a member of the National Speech and Debate Association’s 100 Club last year, and joined the 200 Club this year.