Intellectual sports, in terms of recognition, do not typically make it far at UMBC, aside from our almighty chess team. Fortunately, the UMBC Mock Trial program may be joining them in notoriety in the next few years, given their recent successes hold up. The program, although not very well known on campus, has truly made leaps and bounds in the five years since its inception. Last year, UMBC Mock Trial’s A-Team held a record of 6-2 at the American Mock Trail Association playoffs, their first winning record in a tournament and their first invitation to the Opening Round Championship Series, which proceeds the first round of the AMTA playoffs.
This year, Mock Trial has built off of their initial success. The A-Team won the Charm City Classic Invitation, which is co-hosted by Stevenson and UMBC, over notable Maryland mock trail teams including Stevenson, Johns Hopkins and UMD. Also, mirroring last year’s success, the team finished the first round of the AMTA playoffs with a 7-1 record. Their success there grants them a spot in ORCS, which will take place in Washington D.C. on March 19 and 20.
Dylan Elliott, a junior history major with a minor in legal policy and a three year member of UMBC Mock Trial reflected on what he enjoys most. “The people are really great. That’s a huge part of what makes mock trial so much fun,” said Elliott. “I’m also a competitive person who played sports through high school, so mock trial has given me a way to continue being involved in a competitive team sport.”
“This, however, is an intellectual competition,” said Elliott. “It’s a lot of fun trying to break down and understand all the legal nuances of the case and how they can be used to your advantage during trial.”
Although the mock trial life can be an intellectually rewarding one, it can also be a challenging one that pushes you. Elliott said, “A big part of mock trial is the hard work that goes into preparing a case. Once you get to trial, however, you have to be ready for anything to happen.”
Mock trial requires a lot of quick problem-solving. “Sometimes opposing counsel wins an objection they should not have during trial and you have to restructure your entire direct examination, on the fly,” said Elliott. “You have to be able to develop a complex and detailed plan, while also being calm and collected enough to be thinking on your feet so you can change it if necessary.”
Elliott speaks hopefully about the future of UMBC Mock Trial, noting that a lot of extremely talented members have joined their ranks in the past two years, which works well for them because members can stay on the team for up to five years. Elliott said, “It also helps that we’re steadily improving. Over the last few years we’ve gone from a club in its infancy to one of the rising programs in the region. Last year no one picked us to advance to ORCS and this year we’re getting consistent votes in the polls. It’s a really exciting time to be involved with the team.”
Elliott and the rest of Mock Trial take great pride in their sport. “We’re a hardworking and driven team that takes part in rigorous competitions. Every time we work on the case and take it to trial, it’s an intellectually stimulating experience. Mock trial taxes your critical thinking skills and pushes you to the limits of your ability to problem solve quickly.”
“Organizations like ours are what sets UMBC apart,” said Elliott. “You hear it a lot, but it’s true: UMBC is a place where it’s fun and cool to be smart.”