25 Mar Spotlight Series: Nosa & Sydney
“Mock trial is not for the faint-hearted.” The coaches of Capital Mock Trial often start the first yearly information meeting with that simple statement. Not the most encouraging proclamation. It is typically followed by a challenge: “However, if you join mock trial, it will change the way you speak, the way you think . . . it will change who you are as a person. It will change you for the better.”
[Tweet ““Mock trial is not for the faint-hearted.” -Capital Mock Trial #ilovemocktrial”]
Capital Mock Trial is a young team; it has only been in existence since January 2013. The team members consist of independently homeschooled students. In those three short years, the coaches have already seen the effects of the team’s purpose statement in the development of the students as individuals and as members of a team. The Capital Mock Trial purpose statement is: Our aim is to develop young adults with character who are challenged to become most confident public speakers and most capable critical thinkers within their ability.
One such example is Nosakare “Nosa” Fletcher. Nosa joined Capital Mock Trial with charisma and style that cannot be taught. As his skills improved, he gained the confidence to effectively improvise in nearly every round. Mock trial has personally affected Nosa. “Mock trial was definitely one of the first major times I had to work in close conjunction with new people and it forced me to grow. I had to learn how to work with different people with different personalities and different skills, and this caused me to come out of my own shell more. I went from a quiet introvert to a contributing member of my team and that has helped me with school, jobs, and many other areas in my life. I also had the pleasure of being a lead attorney on my high school team for two years—this greatly developed my leadership ability. For the first time, I had responsibility for a team’s success and my teammates looked to me for inspiration and guidance.”
Nosa had two successful years in high school mock trial and competed in the Gladiator tournament in 2015. He caught the mock trial bug and now competes on the mock trial team at Howard University. Nosa states, “Mock trial is entirely linked to my college experience. I have met some of my closest friends through the Howard University mock trial team. I often travel across the country with them for tournaments and I’ve gotten to know them well while living with them on the road. We traveled most recently to Las Vegas for a week following a tournament, which has easily been the high point of my year. Mock trial has definitely enhanced and improved my college experience.”
With a homeschooled team, the family becomes as much a member of the team as the student. When asked about the impact that mock trial has had on her son, Chesarae Fletcher beams. “Mock trial has given my son focus. It is the first thing that was really his own. He took ownership. This was his event and he wanted to do well in it.”
[Tweet ““Mock trial has given my son focus.” —Chesarae Fletcher #ilovemocktrial”]
Sydney Adamson had a completely different experience. When Sydney joined Capital Mock Trial, she and her friend sat meekly in the corner of the law office library. When she answered a question, the coaches would often ask her to repeat the answer and speak louder. The coaches were fairly confident that Sydney was doing the activity because her mother made it part of her homeschool schedule and thought she might stop mock trial after our first club competition. They held our breath when the signups for the second session came around. They knew there was talent there; they just needed time to develop it. Thankfully, Sydney continued with the program. She took on the role of the defendant, still maintaining her mousy demeanor. During one practice, one of the coaches brought her near tears during a cross-examination. They thought that episode might be the end of her mock trial career. Sydney returned. She returned with a tenacity that surprised everyone. She developed into a strong witness who could hold her own during some very intense cross-examinations. When asked about her mock trial experience, Sydney notes, “I think that mock trial has helped me enhance my self-motivation.”
Sydney approached the coaches in her second competitive season and indicated she wanted to be an attorney; they eventually acquiesced to her petition. She became the student who arrived early to class to work on her opening statement and asked for extra time to practice direct and cross examinations. She took our statement “You own the courtroom” to heart and claimed it as hers. She has matured into a team leader with a natural inclination to encourage young or timid teammates in developing their skills. One lesson she imparts to these students is, “Be flexible with whatever comes your way. During one competition, about 10 minutes before our consolation round started, our closing attorney got sick. My other attorney and I had to split his responsibilities. We had to make it work. We didn’t have time to complain and feel sorry for ourselves. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. In the end we won the round and got third place. I’ve learned to deal with lots of disappointment and last-minute changes.”
[Tweet ““I’ve learned to deal with lots of disappointment and last-minute changes.” #ilovemocktrial”]
During the recent 2016 county competition, Sydney’s appendix ruptured after the second round; she had emergency surgery and was hospitalized for five days. She was not able to return to competition. Practicing the lesson of flexibility, Sydney reflects, “When I came out of surgery I was depressed. I was missing out on school, college classes, all my part-time jobs; I was director of a charity 5K race that still had work to be done, I was letting my mock trial team down, and I was in tremendous pain. But then I stopped. This was a curveball all right, but my reaction would determine everything. I could sit and whine or I could deal with my situation and get as much as possible done. I’m not saying I didn’t mess up. But I did my work and am slowly catching up on the time I lost. Learning to deal with the spontaneous parts of mock trial helped me learn to productively respond to the spontaneous parts of life.”
Sydney has no aspirations to study law; she plays the violin and plans to study biology. She is also the manager and organizer of an annual charity run called Run for Freedom, which was developed to raise money for victims of human trafficking. “Mock trial has given me the skills I need to confidently speak with the members of the general public and with business people. I can approach these people with assurance and speak to them in a way in which they trust me and they sponsor my event.
When asked how mock trial has affected her daughter’s development, Mindee Adamson is enthusiastic. “I believe the mock trial experience has helped my daughter become more confident and comfortable with public speaking. I enjoyed watching the team support each other before, during, and after each trial. While they wait to go on, they are helping each other by going over examination questions. While one attorney is presenting, another is looking at the objection sheet and another is writing down notes—they are working together as a team. Then, afterward, they go over different aspects that will be helpful in the next trial and congratulate each other on a job well done.”
Each student’s mock trial experience is unique. That is the joy of mock trial. Mock trial is not just for those who want to study law. There is a place for everyone in mock trial.
[Tweet “”There is a place for everyone in mock trial.” — Karla Memmott #ilovemocktrial”]
Mock trial competition is fun; it is an iron-sharpening-iron experience. It is in the heat of competition that the students learn to push them just a little bit more, trust their inner instinct, and rely on one another as a team. Winning a trophy can make the effort seem more worthwhile. However, Capital Mock Trial coaches strive to teach the students the benefits of the personal trophies: the skills gained in disciplined practices, the thrill of competition, and the satisfaction of knowing that the best effort was given in each round. These are the trophies that no one can take away. The wood and metal trophies are wonderful for moment, and it is nice to have a team name written somewhere on the record book. The personal trophies, however, are the true rewards bequeathed to those who accept our initial challenge that mock trial is not for the faint-hearted.
It is for all these reasons that the students, coaches, parents, and alumni at Capital Mock Trial wholeheartedly agree: WE LOVE MOCK TRIAL!
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