UMBC earned its first ever bid to the AMTA National Championship Tour in Los Angeles while competing at ORCS at Widener University: Delaware Law School. There are only 48 teams left in the AMTA Playoffs and UMBC was one of those to advance after making it past the regional round. The UMBC A Team’s score was 5-3 and the B Team’s score 4-4.
Dylan Elliott, senior history major and legal policy minor and president of UMBC Mock Trial, and Kayla Smith, senior INDS major in public health advocacy, were asked about their own experiences with the club.
Smith stated, “We started practicing in August and we had practiced most weeks twice a week, and as we got closer to nationals, it was like… three to four times a week? Sometimes every day, sometimes every weekend. Each practice lasts like a couple hours. And that’s just full program practices. We still practice individually with our groups. Dylan is my attorney and we would still go over stuff on our own.”
One of Mock Trial’s main obstacles was budgeting. Most programs have huge donors, however, that’s not the case for UMBC Mock Trial. Recently, Mock Trial has held fundraisers more frequently than ever before in order to cover the costs that come with competing.
Elliott said, “We stretch every dollar, but depending on how far the tournament, we have to spend money on the invitational fee, a hotel for at least one night depending on how far the competition is, we drive ourselves, we have to pay for food – and that doesn’t come into our budget. People are generous, though, and we help people out. Funding is one of our first things we had to overcome. As the program gets bigger, there are more people involved. We have to negotiate a lot of different things, like location, structuring with different personalities as before there were people who were close-knit. You get to a point in the season where you’re just tired of everything, but we had the ability to push past that and have that endurance.”
There also were issues with prioritizing time. Smith explained, “There were days where we wouldn’t get home until 11:30 p.m. from a tournament or late practice. Teachers and professors don’t always respect intellectual sports as much as athletic ones. When athletes have something to do over the weekend, their schedules are allowed to be moved around. Some professors have been lenient, but it’s not always guaranteed.”
All members of Mock Trial are still students first and have been creative with how they maneuvered their schedules around competitions.
In Smith and Elliott’s first year in Mock Trial, they competed one time during the entire year. In the earlier years that Mock Trial existed, they were not polished. It was not until 2015 when Mock Trial began to garner success, receiving their first “bid” or trophy. This is Mock Trial’s sixth competitive year and they have competed in places such as Philadelphia, Delaware, D.C. and Williamsburg.
When asked how they will prepare for nationals and what they will do afterwards, Elliott stated, “From here until nationals, we just have to work hard. It just comes down to practice, like scrimmages with other teams going in the region. For Nationals, we got to learn a totally different case. Between now and April 21, just a lot of practicing. Typically, this is the end of the season for us. Basically, we’re going until late April, and then we have elections. After that, we’ll probably take some time off.”