Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth “Libby” (Robertson) Kincanon ’96

A middle school teacher in the Westchester School District, Libby Kincanon ‘96 has been coaching the Fenwick Speech Team for nearly two decades. Earlier this year, she and fellow coach Geralyn Magrady cheered Team Captain Alex Lefko ‘24 all the way to IHSA State Competition in the category of Radio Speaking.

“Ms. Magrady and I could not be more proud of Alex and her success this year,” Kincanon said. “Alex’s voice is smooth, articulate and empathetic as she presents the news. Her great success is a tribute to her exceptional skill and hard work.”

It was a full-circle moment for Kincanon, who was the last female Friar to compete at State back in 1995.

“I loved theater, speaking, acting, and humor,” she said of her years on the “hugely successful” Fenwick Speech and Debate Team, on which she competed in five categories over four years. She was also involved in volleyball, swimming and water polo, in addition to the Wick, Campus Ministry and Blackfriars Guild. “Fenwick was an exceptional educational experience for me, filled with high demands and creativity. I gained confidence in my learning that far exceeded anything up until that point … and I met my lifelong best friends at Fenwick.”

The last two female Fenwick Friars to compete at state for Speech: Alex Lefko ’24 and Coach Libby Kincanon ’96.

After spending time with Teach for America in Los Angeles, she returned to volunteer at Fenwick in 2006 following the passing of Coach Judy Speer.

“Those first years, it was hard to recruit after Ms. Speer’s passing. Ms. Emily Anderson used to put sign-up sheets for me on the first floor and then text me who signed up and when,” Kincanon said of her early coaching days. “I have coached after school two times a week ever since. Now we have students who have transferred to Fenwick because of the Speech Team and chose Fenwick because we offer Speech and their second choice did not.”

The team has seen success through adversity in her years of coaching, going to IHSA Sectionals in 17 of her 18 years with the program. “Even in COVID, when we switched to online live competitions, our students were in the final rounds every single time” despite facing schools with larger teams. 

Fenwick Speech has continued to be a top priority in her life. Even as “a wife and busy mom of three extremely active kids,” Kincanon has never missed a tournament or practice, traveling to Washington, Albany, Omaha, Sacramento “and everything in between” for Catholic Nationals. (“Sometimes my kids have even served as mascots for the team!”)

The most rewarding aspect of this work is “sharing my passion and the gift of speaking with fellow Fenwick Friars (some whose parents were my classmates) … [it] allows this busy mom and proud alumni a chance to relive the ‘good ol days’ with pleasure.”

Her passion for speech class and competition stems from its importance as a life skill and aspect of Fenwick’s college preparatory curriculum.

“Learning how to speak, present, write, perform, collaborate, and communicate is imperative for future success,” Kincanon said. “Ms. Magrady exemplifies this in her class. In a world where we rely on abridged text communication, speaking and listening are crucially-needed 21st Century skills. I hope more students continue to join the program and embrace the team. In the words of Sandy Rose, ‘Have fun and learn lots!’ I make sure to say that at every tournament, and I hope each student who has gone through the program does both.”

Ms. Geralyn Magrady, Alex Lefko ’24 and Mrs. Libby Kincanon ’96 at IHSA Sectionals.

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