Forensics instructor balances teaching and acting professions

One person who understands juggling many jobs is Larry Radden. Radden is a speech instructor at Saddleback College, juggling full time classes while coaching the forensics team.

For his first 11 years at Saddleback, Radden coached the district speech and debate team, the South Orange County Community College forensics team, which was a joint program between both Saddleback and Irvine Valley College.

However, two years ago, the programs became independent and Radden took charge of the Saddleback division with the help of Assistant Director Heidi Muller-Ochoa.

Using the experience from his own debate team days, Radden inspires his students and provides a fun learning environment for the forensics team.

“Larry made me be involved in the team and I really enjoy it,” said Cassie Owens, 20, communications. “I met a lot of my best friends in speech.”

Radden attributes his current career choice to his experiences on his own college speech and debate team. An alum of San Francisco State University, where he double-majored in theater and speech, Radden later went on to graduate school at California State University, Los Angeles, where he majored in speech and communications.

This was all in addition to working part-time and performing in various productions.

During that time, Radden earned many gold medals for his achievements in speech and debate, and, in 1985, he was considered the top speaker in California.

Now he has had the opportunity to encourage other students to pursue their gifts by taking his forensics team to national competitions such as Phi Rho Pi. Saddleback’s team came in 10th place out of 78 schools.

“I thought that was a great showing for a program starting from scratch,” Radden said.

While in college, Radden was able to balance his full-time school schedule with a part-time job.

Radden also coaches a “Readers Theater” group, which practices 10 hours a week. The practices are in anticipation of a statewide competition, which the group attends each year.

There may be many credits to his name already, but Radden still finds time to take on acting roles in addition to his teaching and coaching positions.

A bonafide actor complete with a Screen Actors Guild card, Radden started his performing ambitions as a stage actor and later went on to commercials, TV and film acting.

Some of his credits include multiple appearances on “Superior Court,” and most recently Radden has had a reoccurring role as a college dean on a USC film school TV series called “Burnkarnt 616.”

Radden gives thanks for all of the support he has received throughout his career. He also notes how an opportunity presented by his college speech instructor helped lead him to his present position.

His former instructor is the person who encouraged him to join the speech team back in college and, without that, Radden said he may have pursued another dream.

“It’s interesting how God led me to that [class], which led me to this wonderful opportunity to work at this institution”, Radden said. “I would like to thank the student government for their generosity, as well as our division, the administration and the students that are actually on the team.”

Radden also acknowledges that he receives a great amount of help from Muller-Ochoa, who takes on many roles as assistant director and who Radden describes as “an asset to our program.”

Muller-Ochoa’s main duties are to create and collaborate with students on speeches but, in addition, she makes sure the team has funding, transportation and practice times. The team also has her to thank for starting their website.

“I think that my favorite part about working with this team is working with students committed to achieving success ethically,” Muller-Ochoa said. “Interpersonally, they’re just really good people to work with.”

A lot of time is put into Radden’s team. There is a three-hour meeting every Friday and a minimum requirement of one hour a week to be spent one-on-one with a coach.

Anyone who would like to contact Radden or would like to inquire about the forensics team may contact him via voice mail at 949-582-4909, or by his e-mail lradden@saddleback.edu.

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