North Central’s new mock trial team gaining experience

North Central’s mock trial team took 10th place this year at the regional competition held Feb. 21 through 23 at Hamline University. 

The team, created in January of 2018, is still young in comparison to other schools’ teams. Along with finishing a second year of competition, two team members, Sarah Welch, a junior social work major, and Bridgett Boeke, a senior marketing student, received Outstanding Witness  awards given out at the event. 

Twenty-eight teams were present at the Regionals Competition which included many of the top universities in the region. The larger schools typically submit more than one team. North Central scored more than several of the “B” teams as well as some “A” teams. 

Across the United States, 900 to 1,000 schools compete in the American Mock Trial Association’s regional competitions. The mock trial teams have a maximum of 10 students per team and often have full-time coaches preparing teams for competition. Teams participate in four trials throughout a weekend: Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. Trials last approximately two to three hours each. 

As well as teaching classes and working as Dean of Academic Assessment and Accreditation, LaToya Burrell is the coach for North Central’s single mock trial team. This year North Central’s team consisted of nine students from various majors and backgrounds, with senior business major Chloe Spoonemore and senior entrepreneurship major Victoria Cortese acting as team captains.

Members of the mock trial team began preparations in September when cases were first released and continued to practice regularly.  

“It is exhausting,” Spoonemore said, “but in the best way possible.”

Despite coming from a younger program at a smaller school, Cortese said North Central’s team saw the challenge as an opportunity to step up their game. After a particularly difficult round against the A team from University of Illinois, Cortese said their coach said “You should have seen their faces; They didn’t think you were going to put up a fight.”

North Central’s team also included senior business major Haleigh B. Stratton, and four other juniors: education major Alejandra J. Llerena, accounting major Teagan A. Keeling, business major Kimberly Emraj, and interdisciplinary studies major Julius A. Hernandez.

The winners of the Regional Tournament move to a second-round of competition. If they finish in the top, they move on to the national championship. 

The University of Minnesota tied with Northwestern University and University of Illinois for the top title in the Regional Tournament. Seven teams planned to advance to the second round, which was scheduled for early March in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 2019, Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, won the AMTA national championship.