Activities & Organizations News

Mock trial debate team earns spot in tournament

The Mock Trial Debate Team will participate in a tournament from March 17 -19. | Abby Trout/The Cougar

For the first time in program history, UH’s Mock Trial Debate Team is headed to the Open Round Championship Series in Memphis, Tennessee.

The team competed in the regional competition, which was open to all area teams, and placed in the top eight to earn their spot in the tournament, which takes place from March 17-19. The students look to become one of six teams in the nation to advance to the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship tournament in April in Los Angeles.

“Our goals are to raise enough money to make it to Memphis, and to do well there,” said the Mock Trial team’s president, political science senior Delaney Catlettstout.

For the past three years, Mock Trial has been denied funding from the Student Fees Advisory Committee, which allocates funding to various UH units, mostly in student life. So the organization relies heavily on its members and small fundraisers for financial backing, Catlettstout said.

“We are lucky to have team members who can afford to finance the trip, but we are doing everything we can to take the burden off of them,” Catlettstout said.

The lack of funding from SFAC has added a heavy load to their journey to Memphis. Catlettstout said a GoFundMe page has been set up to help alleviate their members’ financial burden.

“All members of the team work hard and deserve to be able to focus on the competition aspect instead of how they are going to pay,” Catlettstout said.

Members have been preparing for this tournament since March 2016 and are excited for what is ahead.

“I love the competitiveness and the amount you have to learn to compete effectively,” said Shane Smith, coach of the Mock Trial Association and an economics senior. “Many of the things we learn are used in U.S. courts, so there’s always something you can improve. It’s also very strategic, so it’s a lot of fun to plan for the different possibilities and try to outperform the other teams.”

Ryan Franks, mock trial vice president and a communication sciences and disorders senior, thinks the Cougars have a good chance at success at the tournament.

“It’s going to be a tough competition for sure, and I don’t want to jinx us by saying it’ll go one way or the other, but our team is the most competitive it’s been in years,” Franks said. “We’re all fully committed to this, and I definitely think we have a shot at making it past Memphis’ tournament and going to Nationals. It won’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be as fun or exciting if it was.”

Delaney Catlettstout is also an opinion columnist for The Cougar and a member of the Student Government Association.

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