For 57 years, Frank Sferra was a speech coach at Mullen High School. But the breadth of his impact in speech activities reached throughout Colorado and the nation.
Sferra, 77, had long been recognized as the preeminent speech coach in the country by educators and speech/debate professionals. He passed away Wednesday morning after a long illness.
“Frank was a passionate man who gave his life to his students. His impact on the Colorado speech community is immeasurable," CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico said. "He is speech to Colorado’s high schools. We will miss him as a teacher and coach, but even more as a man of integrity and character, and as a friend."
Sferra served 10 years as president of the National Forensics League (NFL) and spent nearly every year since 1966 on the NFL Executive Council. In Colorado, he served 20 years on CHSAA's Speech Advisory Committee, including 18 as chair.
He is a member of the National Forensics League Hall of Fame, the CHSAA Hall of Fame (1991) and the National Federation of State High School Associations' Hall of Fame (2003).
In fact, Sferra was the first speech individual inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame.
Just this past June, Sferra was presented with the inaugural NFHS Section 6 Heart of the Arts Award for his work in speech activities.
He will be remembered as the person who started the Colorado state speech tournament. His Mullen students enjoyed great success at the state and national level. In 2012, Sferra became a 7 Diamond coach in the NFL, one of very few to reach that level.
Sferra was a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School and Regis Univeristy. He held a Master’s Degree in Communication from the University of Colorado. A Denver native, he was a teacher at Regis Jesuit, St. Joseph, Bishop Machebeuf and Mullen high schools for 57 years.
In an email, Mullen President and CEO Carl Unrein wrote:
We recognize Frank's passing will impact our Mullen community on many levels. Frank was such an integral part of Mullen's history and our Lasallian Mission. Frank was a long-time educator at Mullen High School and his tenure spanned seven decades. Notably, his accomplishments included a nationally prominent Speech and Debate program. However, Frank impacted the entire Mullen community with unmatched dedication to our students and an unrivaled commitment to excellence and integrity. His legacy will endure for many years to come, particularly to Frank's friends in the Speech and Debate community and the Colorado High School Activities Association.
Services are pending and will be updated when known.