Whew. It has been a crazy, long, amazing two weeks. Last Wednesday began my big Idaho adventure. I had to go to the post office in the morning to get my passport renewed for the summer, which was surprisingly easy. The man at the Exeter post office was very nice and helpful. After that, I grabbed a coffee from D2 (a coffee shop in the town of Exeter) and returned to my dorm. There I made some final edits on an essay before turning it in to my teacher. Next I had an interview for the DRAMAT board. I performed a rap about each of the current board members.
Right after that, I grabbed my suitcase, met the Mock Trial A Team in front of the science building, and headed to the airport. There were eight of us on the team: three lawyers, four witnesses, and one time keeper. We flew first to Salt Lake City, Utah for a connection. When I got off the plane, I got a call saying I had made it onto the DRAMAT board which was very exciting. My teammates and I bought Auntie Annie’s pretzel poppers in celebration. The flight to Boise, Idaho was short, and we headed to our hotel. Our three coaches/advisors met us there: Walter Stahr, a former Exeter teacher who moved to California and skypes in to our meetings, Kyle Skinner, the former Mock Trial State Coordinator for New Hampshire, and Jared Bedrick, the current State Coordinator and a licensed attorney. The meeting was brief and we were all instructed to go to bed as soon as possible. We slept two to a room in very nice accommodations for which we were all very grateful. My roommate and I each quickly went to bed.
The next day, Thursday, we had two scrimmages, each as the Defense. We learned a lot from both, and returned that evening to work on our case. Before our long night began, however, we attended the Pin Ceremony. Basically, every year, the states competing at nationals bring little goodies, or representations, of their state. New Hampshire’s was a pin in the state’s shape, Georgia gave away stuffed cows, and Maine brought Chocolate Lobsters. The get-together was held in a courtyard and they served delicious food. It was quite an interesting experience: a bunch of mock trial nerds running around and meeting each other. We met some hilarious people and made some friends. After we ate, we decided we better head back to the hotel to work. Our co-heads stopped at whole foods and picked up fresh fruit and snacks. The night was long and full of rewriting, but we managed to get to bed at a decent hour.
On Friday we arrived at the courthouse at around 8. We passed through security and headed up to our room. Once we arrived at the very nice courtroom, we spread out: the witnesses practiced sitting on the stand and our lawyers did vocal warmups in the back of the room. The opposing team arrived and we learned they were from Nebraska. They also happened to be the defending national champions. Obviously, we went into this trial pretty stressed. Our coaches calmed us down. They told us to continue doing what we’d been doing and we’d be fine. And you know what? We didn’t lose to them by that much! We held our own and most importantly learned a lot. After team lunch we had our second trial, which went much more smoothly. This time we were up against the team from South Korea. One of our team members had gone to the same school they came from, and knew many of the same people the South Korean team knew. When the trial ended we returned to the hotel and went swimming for a little bit. Then, Mr. Stahr took us to a team dinner at a really nice seafood place. After dinner we walked to Ben & Jerry’s and brought ice cream back to the hotel. Again, we stayed up working.
Saturday went much like Friday, and despite feeling confident about our trials, we all returned to the hotel exhausted. We had very little time to relax however, because we soon had to head over to the awards ceremony. Our coaches informed us it would be semi-formal, so we did our best to dress nicely. When we arrived at the ceremony, the first to go was Cowchips the Cowboy Poet, who read some bizarre but amusing poems. The team awaited eagerly to hear if we had won any Lawyer or Witness awards, as well as if we had placed in the top 10. As names were read first of individuals and then of teams, it became increasingly clear we would not win any awards. Much of are team was heartbroken. Most decided to return to the hotel, but a few of us chose to stay and go to “the dance.” Every year, after the awards, there’s a dance resembling a Bar/Bat Mitzvah dance. All the kids who have been working hard all weekend unwind and dance. Nobody was really dancing, we were all just laughing at ourselves. After awhile we decided we should return to the hotel to be with our team. When we got there, we joined a circle of people snacking and bonding. We stayed up that night talking.
In the morning, we learned where we had placed 35th out of 48th. Obviously many of us were disappointed and upset. The co-heads called the rest of the team down and we sat together at breakfast:
“We know you’re disappointed, we’re disappointed. But that number is not an accurate representation of what we did and how we performed this weekend. Whether it was a judging issue or whatever, forget it. Just remember how well we did. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but we don’t want that to change how you feel about yourselves and this team. You guys should be insanely proud of yourselves, I know we are.”
With much “aw-ing” and smiles, we headed to the airport. The way back was quiet, consisting mainly of long naps. We had become a real team ready for next year. Nobody really minded what place we came in – it was still an amazing experience.