Mock trial team honored for "fair play" and character at nationals

From left, mock trial team members Patrick O'Connor, Zainab Shakoor, Emilie Winfield, and Camerion Vanderscoff. (Photo courtesy Santa Cruz Sentinel)

The UC Santa Cruz mock trial team competed with spirit in a prestigious national competition held from April 15-17 in Des Moines, Iowa.

While they did not walk away with a top prize, this group of underdogs wowed the judges with its character and conduct.

In fact the group won a special honor, the "Spirit of the American Mock Trial Association Award", given to the team "that best exemplified the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play." They were the only team to be honored in this way.

Also, team member Megan Cole won an All-American Witness Award for serving as a trial witness; she was one of a dozen students honored for exceptional performance in this area.

"Hooray for our team," said UCSC mock trial instructor Dena Robertson. "I am so proud of their accomplishment; I think it is very impressive to win this Spirit award."

UCLA won the overall competition with a score of 6-2, while UCSC scored 3-5.

"But we were the under-Slugs coming in, so I count this a victory," Robertson added.

The debating team defeated expectations twice in a row – first by scoring out of the regionals, then placing high in the Opening Round Championship Series in Irvine this spring that it nabbed a spot in the nationals.

Read about their unexpected rise to the championships in a Santa Cruz Sentinel story.