One of Monterey County's several hardworking Mock Trial teams is the one from Carmel High School. Earlier this year, as we wrote about in a previous blog post, Carmel won the Lyceum's Mock Trial competition by two points over Pacific Grove High School in a head-to-head battle to see which team's understanding of the case and execution of all trial roles was greatest.
This same team competed in the Empire New York tournament on November 10-14, and in the end they won the World Championship Crown! The Lyceum reached out to team president Mindy Morgan and her team for a few words about the experience:
So, what's the Empire NY competition all about?
"Empire New York is an international competition composed of teams from the United States and abroad, focusing on a complex case which requires the competitors to master complex legal proceedings and sophisticated, technical procedures. While emphasis is placed on a mastery of the skills, Empire also promotes integrity, respect, and hard work, and works to create relationships that will last a lifetime."
Nice! How do you prepare for a competition like that?
"I don't think it's possible to describe how much time, energy, and effort was put into this case. We practiced four to five days a week, three of which were weekdays. We had practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after school from 5pm to 7:30pm and then on Sundays from 3pm to 7pm. In those practices we wrote our lines of questioning, worked on learning the rules of evidence, and went over how we would deliver opening statements and closing arguments.
"An event like this also requires an immense amount of teamwork from the time the trial starts to the time it ends. In the process, we became a family. That sounds cliche, but it's true. When you spend hours and hours with a group of people, you become really close with them and in many ways they become your second family."
That must be wonderful to create bonds so strong with your teammates that you can basically consider them family. So, when you went to Empire NY, how did you all feel participating as a family?
"When you participate in a tournament like Empire, where people from all around the world are present, you get a sense that you're participating in something bigger than you, and bigger than your immediate team. You get the sense that you have a duty to represent your school as best you can. In addition to those more serious obligations, mock trial is a lot of fun. When you're competing in a tournament of that caliber, meeting new teams, and being with some of your best friends, there's really no way to go wrong!"
And it sounds like you all didn't go wrong, because you won! How did you react when you found out that Carmel took the competition?
"Initially, when they first announced our name, we were quite shocked. You don't expect to win something like that, and going into the tournament we didn't really have any expectations. We wanted to do well, we wanted to do our best, but we hadn't even thought of winning until we were in the final trial. We had talked about it before that but only in a half-serious way. Our goal was to take it one trial at a time and just focus on what was in front of us.
"After it sunk in that we had won, it was a wonderful feeling. Knowing that we had worked so hard up until that point, and seeing our work pay off in such a huge way, was really rewarding."
What were some of the most memorable moments from this event?
"There are so many highlights! Being in New York was just a general highlight. Seeing all the city has to offer was so cool for all of us. We were able to take in some of the sights such as going to the Empire State Building and the Museum of Natural History. We also just had a really good time being together as a team in one of the greatest cities in the world. The actual tournament and the competition itself was also really fun, being in trial against strong teams and being challenged by real lawyers and judges is a huge part of what makes mock trial great."
One last question: What were your biggest takeaways from this event?
"Before we got to the tournament, we weren't really sure what to expect. We didn't know how we were going to be compared to the other teams and we didn't know if our understanding of the case was going to be sufficient. But as the weekend progressed, one thing stood out to us: Hard work always pays off. We worked so hard to prepare for this tournament and in the end, it paid off in a big way."
That's a great message and an encouraging reminder for all of us, no matter what it is we're doing. Thank you for your time, Mindy, and congratulations once again to the Mock Trial team from Carmel High School!