School photograph of Joni Anker.
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Eagan High School Head Speech Coach Joni Anker was recently named the 2018 National High School Coach of the Year by the National Speech & Debate Association.

Anker was selected out of more than 5,000 speech and debate coaches across the country because of her longstanding and tireless dedication to her students and furthering the speech and debate activity. In her 40-plus years of coaching, Anker has impacted thousands of students at Eagan and throughout Minnesota. Since founding the speech and debate program when Eagan opened in 1989, she has coached 63 state champions and 13 national champions. Anker was inducted into the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame in 2006 and the National Speech & Debate Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

“Joni has been the source of creative energy and leadership on behalf of not only her own students, but ALL of the students and programs at Eagan High School as well as the speech and debate community in Minnesota,” said Dr. Polly Reikowski, Eagan High School principal. She added, “Joni is a true leader who serves the greater speech and debate community.”

Since founding the Eagan speech and debate program in 1989, Anker has directed her team to more than 60 Minnesota state championships. Eagan holds the record for the ‘Most Medals Won by a Single School’ at the state tournament. In a press release rom the National Speech & Debate Association, Anker is praised Dfor her passion, dedication and support of her students, helping them become better communicators so they can make an impact by finding their voice.

“The greatest gift I have been given from this amazing activity is to see a student discover they can do something they never thought they could,” Anker said. “As a team, we become family. We are all together in our quest to become more polished and effective speakers and communicators.”

Anker will be recognized at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on June 21.

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