While all other athletes on campus get countless tries to correct mistakes in each game that they play, the members of The Gregory School’s mock trial team only get one chance: competition day. For months, the ‘mockers’ rehearse, practice, and perfect every word that they’ll say in court.
While its credibility as a sport is debatable, the time and effort required to be on the team is just as much of a commitment as any other extracurricular on campus, if not more so.
Unlike in basketball, where someone can watch a game or two and understand how it all works, a high school attorney (and anyone else, for that matter) can’t understand what goes on inside a courtroom on the day of the regional competition— or, if you’re as good as the Gregory School’s White Team was this year, the state tournament — until they’re there. You can’t envision what it’ll be like, and if you try, you’ll still be surprised when you get there.
All you can do is know every piece of the story like the back of your hand, and go in thinking that you’re going to smoke the competition. If you’re anything like this year’s members, that means that you’ll do incredibly well. This year had an insane amount of potential for the entire group because for the first time in Gregory School history, there were three teams of six attorneys, not two.
It helped that a high number of freshmen entered the high school knowing they wanted to participate. Many freshmen all decided to commit as early as mid-October. But senior captains Ben Showard and Karam Katariya wanted more and kept recruiting. Finally, the 2016 season was looking promising: 18 students signed up, 11 of whom had never participated before.
Even though the case for each year doesn’t come out until mid-November, Dan Young, the team’s faculty advisor, pushed for an early start. Since there were so many new members, the team had to first learn “court etiquette”: before understanding the case, students first had to understand the general rules of mock trial and how everything worked. For weeks, they studied rule numbers, common objections, and practiced flawless responses to impress judges. Finally, after almost a month of weekly practices and weekend meetings at Whole Foods, the case was released.
Every year, the case alternates between civil and criminal complaints. Since last year was a criminal case year, discussing the wild story of Detective Quinn Penner, no one was surprised when a civil case was filed. This one was about the wrongful tazing of math teacher Avery Leon.
Immediately, the mentality shifted from general preparation to specific rehearsal based on exact information in the case. Each student selected two characters from the case; one they would direct examine, and one they would portray as a witness and cross examine.
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