Speech and Mock Trial Teams Bring in the Wins

By Montana Bass ’18

This season has been a spectacular one for CC’s Speech and Debate team, with Russel Skorina ’18 and Victor Torres ’18 competing in the national competition, and CC’s Mock Trial teams, which had both the A and B teams (similar to the varsity and junior varsity team structure) make it to the regional competition. This is the first year that the B team has made it past the regional competition the national qualifier Opening Round Championship Series, along with the A team, a season made sweeter by Cole Simon ’20 winning an “Outstanding Attorney Award,” and the “Outstanding Witness Award,” a major achievement at this level of competition as only a small number are awarded.

Speech Coach Sarah Hinkle, who also works as the head acting coach for the Mock Trial teams, says students’ dedication paid off this year. “It takes a lot of time to get to this level of competitive success,” Hinkle says of her students. “We can’t openly recruit top-notch, competitive high school speakers because we can’t offer scholarships like publicly funded universities do. This is a club setting, but we are asking for scholarship-level commitment. It’s just your word saying ‘I’m not going to let my peers down.’”

CC’s Mock Trial teams are coached by alumna and 4th Judicial District Court Judge Regina Walter ’80, who founded the program four years ago. CC has sent a team to the national qualifying round every year since, and this year sent two teams to the national qualifying round for the first time.

Even with the end of the season, Torres says he’s not planning on slowing down. This past season was his first with the speech and debate team and he went straight to nationals in the Prose and Program Oral Interpretation events with Hinkle’s help. Once he decided to commit to speech this year, says Torres, “I gave as much dedication as possible, especially to my interpretation events. We worked on it together. Sarah was the big player in finding the pieces and I was the actor.”

Making it to nationals was a shock and though Torres did not place there, it only fueled his ambition for next year. “I witnessed some fantastic things at nationals. I’m reading a lot of books to figure out what I want to do next year. I’ll meet with Sarah over the summer so I can start out the year and hit it hard. I hope to make it to nationals with more events, but even if I just qualify, at least I’ll get to go.”

For the students who have seen such success under Hinkle’s tutelage, however, the commitment is immensely rewarding. Wynter Haley Scott ’18 has worked closely with Hinkle throughout her three years in mock trial, developing her already-solid acting skills and preparing for a career in law. “I wanted to incorporate skills I learned in acting into something that’s more of a career and that I would enjoy,” says Scott. “It’s really easy to see how acting skills translate into being a witness, since you’re taking on a persona. But it’s so important for attorneys, too. What wins trials isn’t the evidence, it’s how well you come across as believable and unbiased.”

For Simon, winner of the Outstanding Witness Award, the acting skills he developed with Hinkle and their incorporation into strategy he developed with new B team coach Ansel Carpenter ’16, his first season was already a stand out. “It was a total dream,” says Carpenter of watching students who had no previous mock trial experience excel so quickly. They had a depth of talent that not only gave them a solid A team (or varsity level squad), but also to have strong performance with the B team. “I feel really lucky that we had such a great group with good interpersonal dynamics. That, the team’s skill and their hard work are the main reasons that this B Team, which isn’t necessarily our most experienced students, became the most successful we have seen at CC.”

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