Saturday, March 11, 2023

The Kids Are Alright

Drove out to Grand Rapids (on the west side of the state about 2 hours and a bit away) to spend the day at the High School Mock Trial Competition.

Why all the way to Grand Rapids?  Because the closer competition got shut down last Saturday due to the snowstorm and this was the only location where they could go. Oh, and we had to be there by 7:30 a.m.

Add to the fun of the extra distance  that this week, unlike last Saturday, over half of their team had to take their SATs today and they were a little behind the 8 ball.  Not a single senior was able to attend, and for many this would be their first competition.

Oh, and their designated teacher couldn't make it either and it was beginning to look a little grim as to whether they could even qualify to go as a result.

Leah decided that they were not going to give up but that they were going to compete and set about making it happen.

To make this work, Leah contacted the Grand Rapids Section, and then had me set up as the designated coach so the team could attend, they put together the pickup team and off we went. So, I got to wear a badge with the Teacher's name crossed out and my name hand-written in, so I was very official-looking.

The Mock Trial Competition staff in Grand Rapids were great - they graciously accommodated getting our team into the competition due to the weather cancel and they did a fantastic job running the competition. It was very, very well run.

For a pickup team, with some of them having to learn their parts in hours, not the days or weeks that everyone else had, they did really, really well.

Teams have to supply timekeepers, witnesses, and attorneys.

You could tell our team took it seriously.  Our witnesses had their parts and the complex set of facts down pat.  Two of them ran circles around opposing attorneys cross-examining them and had us in stitches at times with how well they were doing and how into their parts they got, even putting on accents and mannerisms to match the roles.

People that had to step into parts in a matter of a couple days put in the work and turned in some impressive performances.

Our Prosecution team went first round and it was kinda rough as some had just gotten their part two days (or less) before today, and it had two freshmen competing for the first time.  Still they put on an excellent effort and did the school proud.

Leah was on the Defense team and was in the second round. She and the team did really well, losing the round by a single point.  It was darn close.

Then Leah had to fill in a spot in the third round on the Prosecution side and had 12 minutes to prepare for her part over lunch, and she did it with style.  She really got into the part and dominated the opposing side's witnesses, including catching one who contradicted their affidavit allowing her to utter the classic line: "Were you lying then or are you lying now?".

I wanted to stand up and cheer - sadly as the coach, I had to remain silent during the round. 

The other teams thought our team were seniors and were dumbfounded to learn that the top players were juniors along with some sophomores and freshies.

The other teams also put on some excellent performances, and everyone really put in a lot of effort and it showed - a bunch of serious, studious, and also fun-having, well-mannered kids.  

So yeah, the kids are alright.

While Leah's school didn't advance to the State Finals this year, they put on a fantastic effort and this team is only going to get better. I think they would have made it had the full team been there as originally planned.

Next season for Leah's high school, I will be their official coach and involved in getting ready from Day 1, and we're going to really whip them into shape and start training on hearsay and evidentiary foundations early and often.


pigpen51 said...

Congratulations to all involved. I was involved in forensics competitions in high school, and it was one of my best memories from my school experiences.
Not just the mental exercise involved, but the social aspects, from meeting people from other places, and learning to handle yourself in a forum like that where you have to speak in front of others is always helpful in your later life.
And a big well done to the leader who stepped up to ensure that the team was able to compete even though they were facing a lot of adversity.

Aaron said...

pigpen51: Yep, they're a pretty driven and self-motivating bunch of kids. I'm glad they're doing this activity for all the reasons that you listed.