By Abigail S. ’24, Grace D. ’24, and Annie F. ’24
It’s no secret that Winsor’s Mock Trial team is the one to beat, having gone undefeated last season and with the title of six-time state champions. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, this year is different. Pizza and Thai food dinners are no longer a staple of Sunday practices, much to the disappointment of team members. Trials take place virtually, as opposed to in a courtroom. Masks and social distance are now mandatory at on-campus meetings, and all members are expected to uphold the new health and safety guidelines enforced by the school. Nonetheless, the mock trial team has kicked off the season with excitement, enthusiasm, and lots of laughter.
Over the weekend of October 17, the group participated in the virtual Garden City tournament. Serving as the defense in a murder case, each member prepared for their role by attending both virtual and in-person practices. Mae M. ‘24, making her mock trial debut as a witness, said of the weeks leading up to the event, “The team really worked together. There were plenty of people there to help me as a new student. To help me be prepared, teammates ran my [parts] with me until I felt super confident.” Mae also expressed how the team was an extracurricular that drew her to the school, saying, “From the very first open house, when I was applying to Winsor, [mock trial] seemed like something I would really love doing.” Mae was thrilled when the season finally arrived, and she described her experience as a new member to be “exhilarating,” “fun”, and “one of the happiest moments of [her] week,” even considering the restrictions of the pandemic.
That being said, the team faced some unavoidable difficulties. Grace A. ‘22, co-captain of the team, predicted some possible challenges during the virtual trial, saying “[with] technical difficulties and internet glitches, sometimes you can’t hear something somebody says; they’re muted and they don’t realize, or they’re unmuted and they don’t realize.” Grace also acknowledged that a significant part of success in trials is the ability to read the judge, which is easier on a virtual platform that makes the judge’s face more visible.
Additionally, Grace relayed her various responsibilities as a co-captain of the team during a global pandemic. “This year,” she said, “the coaches and captains do more of the talking than they normally do. [Practices are usually] more team-focused and interactive, but we’re doing our best to make sure that everyone gets to talk and it’s an inclusive environment.” She went on to shed light on the bittersweet feeling of having mock trial during a worldwide health crisis, saying, “Zoom’s just not the same, but we’re doing our best.”
Looking ahead, Grace expects that the mock trial season will proceed “with a combination of online and in-person club meetings with online trials.” The Massachusetts State Trial, in which teams from the state compete for a place in the national tournament, will also be conducted virtually. The same is expected of Nationals, but plans are yet to be confirmed. The future may be unknown, but the team is looking forward to the rest of the season, and each member and coach continues to be committed to the club.
Although Winsor’s Mock Trial team has had its fair share of COVID-related challenges and stress, the coaches, captains, and members have worked hard to foster a warm, yet focused and safe environment this year, and each member has approached the season with an abundance of enthusiasm.