The Making of a National Finalist – Klamath Union DECA

By Nat Ellis

Last week the team of Kannah Greer and Jacob Schlottmann-McGonigle placed in the top 10 at DECA International Competition in the Hospitality Marketing Team Decision event. Klamath Union DECA sent four students to Orlando, Florida to compete with over 15,000 other DECA members.

“Getting on stage after we felt we did really bad, was the most shocking experience ever. I thought I was going to cry. The fact that we beat that many teams were shocking.”

Kannah Greer

Greer is a junior at KU and is currently the Oregon DECA VP of Career Development. She teamed with senior Schlottmann to put themselves in elite company.

“To know that you are in the top 10 is crazy when you thought you couldn’t even make the top 20,” Schlottmann stated. “Getting there was tough enough. If you consider that we are the second team decision team from KU to place in the top 10, that is one of the coolest feelings.”

Jacob Schlottmann-McGonigle

How do you make the stage? You have to hit dingers. Schlottmann stated, “We hit dingers. We are the most creative team in the competition.” Greer added “I think it is our confidence and charisma. I bring the serious, and Jacob brings the charm. By ourselves we are alright, but together we are a team. We both have good creative ideas. When we compete, we believe 100% in what we say.

This year, former KU DECA standout Jeff Barker (Hilton Hotels VP of Global Risk Management) spent time training this team. Greer added “after winning state; Barker taught us the details of the hotel industry. On our first role play, we were able to use much of the terminology he taught us. I believe this is what set us apart. As much as I hate prepping role plays, our prep system allowed us to incorporate the information from the hotel industry into our role play. Our prep system creates a seamless flow and allows us to connect with the judge. We usually cover the problem, conduct a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) analysis, and create a budget, return on investment and timeline.

Schlottmann agreed. “First impression and the last impression are the most important. They will remember the first thing you say and the last thing you say. We did what the role play asked of us, and we added on to everything, that is what sets us apart.

The other key to success is team unity. Greer stated “As partners, we are perfect together. The way we do DECA role plays is just unique. We know where everything fits in. What we learned is that all the training helps, but it’s the people that bring it all together. You have to have the right personality and the ability to think on your feet.

Schlottmann’s view on team success. “With Kenna’s work experience and my leadership experience we were able to combine both to make a great team. Kannah’s experience is in customer service, and mine is in problems solving. This allows us to bring two completely different backgrounds to the table and create unique solutions. We are competitors. I wouldn’t have worked with anyone else. We were just special together.”

Greer recalled, “At the end of the day when you hear your event called you get nervous. Then when you hear your name called, there is nothing else like it. Hearing your name is hard to explain the feeling as you run to the stage.”

Schlottmann added, “That was one of the most humbling and blessed experiences in my high school career. Knowing you are top 10 in the nation that only comes around once in a while. There is a little bit of luck, a lot of skill and it not many can say that period. I am thankful it happened. I encourage others to join DECA. DECA teaches confidence. If you are confident, people will believe you. If you don’t join DECA, you will never get the experience.

For more information contact Nat Ellis, KU DECA Advisor. 541.331.6197, 

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