Setting the bar high: Mock Trial races to success

The Ursinus Mock Trial team has enjoyed success at recent competitions. Photo courtesy of Kisha Patel.

Nick Brough

As most students are getting ready for Spring break, the Ursinus College Mock Trial team is getting ready to pursue a championship.

The Mock Trial team is a relatively new team on campus, established only six years ago when Ursinus became a member of the American Mock Trial Association. Although they are a young organization, they are far from unproven.

According to their page in the pre-law section of the Ursinus website, the Mock Trial team “competes internally, with judges drawn from our base of alums, as well as intercollegiately.” The webpage also offers advice for students on finding legal internships, applying to law school, and more, but the Mock Trial team is the only feature that really allows students to have a hands-on, immersive experience with legal practice.

After competing in two invitational competitions so far this year, the Regional Competition in Baltimore and the Temple University Hooter Invitational, the Mock Trial team received a bid to compete in the Opening Round Championship Series.

The students making up the successful team include captain of the squad, Kisha Patel ’17, along with Mary Atta-Dakwa ’18, Kiley Addis ’20, Lizzy Henry ’17, Noah Garber ’20, Deegan Miller ’19, Greg Stryker ’19, Kimmie Walters ’18, and Min Son ’20. The team is coached and guided by Alexandra Adams, an Ursinus graduate from 2011.

Among this group of students, a few have performed above and beyond—enough to receive special recognition.

Patel has been a standout for the Bears: She has earned the Hooter Invitational Outstanding Attorney for 2014, 2015 and 2016, and Regional Championship Outstanding Attorney in 2017.

Dakwa earned Regional Championship Outstanding Attorney for 2016, and Walters earned the Hooter Invitational Outstanding Witness for 2016.

A mock trial can require large amounts of preparation and study. Patel knows this all too well.

“Throughout the school year we practice about five hours a week, but the few weeks leading up to a competition we end up practicing about ten hours a week,” said Patel. “There is a lot of work outside of practice for us to read affidavits, review evidence, write statements and lines of questioning. Plus in Mock Trial, everything has to be memorized and off-script.”

This all happens during the school and work week, when students tend to have a million other things going on. Due to hours of in-practice and out-of-practice work, members of the team take on quite a heavy workload. Balancing school, work, mock trial and the other extracurricular activities that the students are involved in says a lot about their success.

When they were at a meet before a round, Patel mentioned, one of their team members overheard members of an opposing team talk about how small Ursinus was. Their reply: “Don’t underestimate Ursinus.” The Bears ended up beating that team in the very next round.

As recently reported, the Mock Trial team “regularly competes against colleges much larger than Ursinus” and is “excelling in competitions against other schools.”

The team also engages in strong team bonding before each meet.

“One of our personal traditions as a team is to pray together before a round,” said Patel. “We are made up of individuals of different religious convictions but we all take turns giving prayers for the team while holding hands. We also traditionally hold hands and stand together in a circle during breaks and give mini-pep talks.”

Any good team knows that team bonding is essential to the recipe for success, and this is a distinguishing factor of the Ursinus Mock Trial team.

Over 650 teams compete in the Regional Championship, but only 192 of those teams nationwide make it to the Opening Round Championship. Ursinus is going to be one of those teams this year.

The Mock Trial team hopes to keep up its winning ways as they continue to prepare for the Opening Round Championship later on this year.