Drake’s Mock Trial team has once again shown its ability to compete and succeed at a high level of competition. After placing fourth in the Opening Round Champion Series competition in St. Paul, Minn., Team 1237 will now be advancing to the National Mock Trial competition being held in Des Moines.
“For us to put in so much effort and to be rewarded as one of the top 50 in the country, we feel like we’ve really put the work in and deserve it,” senior co-captain Daniel Van Sant said. “Just making it this far is really exciting for us.”
The team has been focusing primarily on individual improvement in order to improve the team as a whole. More one-on-one work between attorneys and witnesses has been taking place to ensure that the group is as cohesive as possible. The team has already somewhat reached the goal of cohesiveness due to the members’ close relationships and camaraderie.
“With us, not only does our team work really hard and have a lot of talent, but we really work well together which gives us an advantage against other teams,” Van Sant said. “We’re friends and teammates, which gives us a better working chemistry.”
The team is also depending on its authenticity and somewhat on the concept of home-field advantage going into the competition.
According to team co-captains Van Sant and Kyair Butts, the foundation for the team is to learn something throughout the entire process. This constant willingness to learn, grow and improve has given the team a greater passion for what they do and an authenticity that makes them stand apart from other teams.
“At the end of the day, we believe that we craft a case that’s worth presenting and worth believing in,” Butts said.
Nationals being held in Des Moines may also prove beneficial for the team. Judges in different regions tend to have different criteria or expectations for teams competing. Drake’s team is hoping that the locality of the competition, and the assumption that judges will most likely be from around the area, will allow judges to be more familiar with Drake’s style of Mock Trial and will allow them to be more willing to respond to what the team has to offer.
Drake is well known for Mock Trial not only because the concept essentially originated at Drake, but also because of the team’s immense success in years past. This will be the third time in the last four years that Drake has qualified for the national competition.
“We haven’t sat down as a team and said we’d like to place here, here or here at nationals,” Van Sant said. “We say we want to work hard, do as well as we can, but above all else, make sure we’re taking something from it.”
Attending nationals this year is especially bittersweet for the team’s seniors. This will be the last time that these team members will compete after a history of several years in Mock Trial for the majority of them. The successful year, location of the competition and the tight-knit team are all factors contributing to the excitement of the event.
“I wouldn’t want to go out on any other stage,” Butts said. “To be in Des Moines at Nationals, in front of friends and family…Bring it on.”