Celebrating in Paladin Town

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off

Celebrating in Paladin Town

Thanksgiving Blessings to all of the Paladin Mock Trial Supporters. I am sorry for the delay in posting my promised dispatch on last weekend mock trial results, but the second trip to Southern California in two weeks has left me with little in the tank, so I had to get my mojo back.

While most Paladins made the trek to the Sunshine State last weekend to cheer on our boys in purple in white, the three mock trial teams represented the University at two different tournaments. Our “B” team competed at the Tobacco Road Invitational hosted by Duke University in Durham, NC, and our “A” and “C” teams competed at the Beach Party Invitational hosted by the University of California, Irvine, in Irvine, CA.

#2 in Durham

Our awesome Tobacco Road contingent took 2nd place with a record of 6-1-1 in a 26-team field that was national in scope. Furman was the only liberal arts college represented in the field. But our David was not about to step away from the Goliaths of UC-Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Columbia University or the many other national universities and Research One’s that were represented at this top-notch tournament. The team won both ballots from Miami University, split with Washington and Lee, won and tied against Central Florida, and won both ballots from Columbia University. The Paladins played the toughest schedule of any team at the tournament–W&L team won the tournament (it’s sole loss coming to Furman), and the Columbia team that we defeated took 4th place. Going into the final round, Columbia was undefeated and in the driver’s seat to win the tournament, but Furman’s two-ballot win catapulted our team to second and resulted in a 4th-place finish for Columbia.

The Tobacco Road team is led by Emily Bridges ’12, Greenville, SC and Anna McDanal ’12, Hatchechubee, AL. Emily and Anna are joined by:

Sean Butler ’15, Orange, CT

Chris Pagliaro ’12, Charleston, SC

Natalia Arenas ’15, Greenville, SC

Kiersty DeGroote ’14, Lyman, SC

Daniel Causey ’14, Darlington, SC

Kathleen Wade, ’12, Tallahassee, FL

Emily Jeske ’14, Clemmons, NC

Ben Durfee ’15, Wells, ME

Emily Jeske won an outstanding witness award, and Kathleen Wade earned top honors as an attorney. Congratulations to both of these women for their outstanding work. Both Emily and Kathleen are use to winning individual awards, but these are the first of the 11-12 season for both.

Of course, we are always happy to see our supporters in attendance at the tournament, and last weekend Page Bridges ’08 (soon to be Dr. Page Bridges, MD), sister of Emily Bridges, was in attendance. Page has attended so many mock trial tournaments over the years that I suspect no Chapel Hill medical student is more knowledgeable about trial advocacy than Ms. Bridges. Emily Jeske’s parents from Clemmons, NC, also were in attendance for Sunday morning trials, and the team very much appreciated their continuing support.

Honorable Mention at Beach Party

The Beach Party Invitational at UC-Irvine is a unique event in the mock trial community. This tournament attracted the best field of the fall invitational season, and all of the programs in the field regularly qualify for the national championship finals. An invitation is a sign of one’s stature in the mock trial community. Again, Furman was the only liberal arts college in the field. Designed to determine which school has the best program, the Beach Party organizers require each school to bring two teams, and the winners are determined not from the record of a single team but on those of both entries. Sixteen schools (32 teams) sent teams to UCI this weekend.

Furman finished with a record of 8-7-1 (16-0 was a perfect record, which no team achieved), and we received a honorable mention for our effort. We tried our cases against Brown, Northwestern, Washington, and Virginia–a quartet of prestigious national universities and top-flight public Ivys. Our “A” team won its ballots against Brown, Washington, and Virginia and won and tied against Northwestern. It’s record of 7-0-1 was the second best single-team record in the tournament, eclipsed only by UC-Irvine’s “A” team. UC-Irvine won the tournament. Our “C” team lost all of its ballots against Brown, Northwestern, Virginia, but it won and lost against Washington. Our “C” team knew that it was going to a tough tournament for them this weekend, since most on the team are new to mock trial, and the team’s only other competition this fall was at the Sanders Invitational in Lexington, KY, late last month.

Our trial against the University of Virginia was especially memorable. UVA is not only one of the best programs in the nation, it also is one of our nemeses. UVA-Furman trials are always hard-fought affairs, and the Paladins have a great deal of respect for their mock trial counterparts in Charlottesville. In recent years, UVA has gotten the best of us, but on Sunday afternoon, our students were prepared for the Cavaliers. Our “C” team had to face the mighty UVA “A” team, while our “A” team faced the UVA “B” team. While our “C” team lost, it kept the margins relatively close (-7, -11), especially considering that UVA’s “A” team has one of the most decorated attorneys in the nation and a team that brings significant experience in elite, national-level tournaments. This team won tournaments at Columbia and Washington, D.C. earlier in the season. Our “A” team, however, won both of its ballots, and we did so by a wider margin (+19, +5); hence, our very young teams prevailed over UVA on point differential (+24 to +18). It was a sweet moment in our program’s history.

Our “A” team is led by Alyssa Richardson ’12, Columbia, SC. Ms. Richardson has recently been admitted to Harvard, Georgetown, and Michigan Law Schools, and she found out about her Harvard acceptance while we were in Cali, so we are so proud of Captain “Mama” Richardson. Mama’s kids (emphasizing their youth) are:

Caley DeGroote ’14, Lyman, South Carolina

Ricky Davis ’14, Kennesaw, Georgia

Dustin Magaziner ’15, Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Mara Hershberger ’15, Martinsburg, Pennsylvania

Chandler Jackson ’15, Summerville, South Carolina

Judy Gantzer ’15, Mumbai, India

Evan Wahl ’13, Atlanta, Georgia

Dustin Magaziner, one of our first-year phenoms who was heavily recruited by yours truly earned an outstanding attorney award. I am confident that it is the first of many that he will accrue during his tenure. Dustin won his award despite being referred to as “lumpy” by one of the judges and owning perhaps the most garrish tie collection in the Milky Way.

A shout-outs also goves to Chandler Jackson who nearly won an outstanding attorney award.

Our “C” team is led by Gillian Small ’14, Evans, Georgia, and Jessica Corey ’14, Bentleyville, Ohio. These two young women do a great job of leading their team, which is filled with characters! Those characters include:

Christina Oliva ’15, Ridgewood, New Jersey

Eric Clamage ’15, Lake Forest, Illinois

Monica Zwolinski ’15, Tall Timbers, Maryland

Kevin Hong ’15, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Nicholas Lau ’15, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ekow Bartels-Kodwo ’13, Accra, Ghana

Samy Dorgham ’14, Indian Land, South Carolina

Steven Sorosky ’14, Glastonbury, Connecticut

A shout-out here goes to Nicholas Lau who nearly won an outstanding witness award–both judges thought he was the best witness in the round with UVA A–amazing, since Nicholas was in his second tournament, and hails from Malaysia, and brings no mock trial or theatre experience to our program. But he clearly impressed the judges with his telegenic charisma.

In California, we were blessed to have Dawn Williams ’05 and Ben Adams ’08 serve as weekend coaches. They coached the teams when they were in Greenville, and it was so good to have their helpful comments this weekend.

Ricky Davis’ family frequently attends our tournaments, and they showed the Davis Family colors again this weekend in Southern California. Additionally, we were able to visit with Ricky’s father in the Atlanta airport on his way home to Kennesaw, GA, from his work in Orlando. We love our parents, grandmothers, and others who come to support our students.

More News from the Mock Trial Front

This past weekend is the end of our fall invitational season, and it also means that Coach Wes Carson is leaving us to begin his new position with Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C. Wes recently passed the Virginia Bar, and we so appreciate what he did to assist the students during the fall semester. Wes’ mock trial teammate, Mike Rafi ’08, recently passed the Georgia Bar. Wes and Mike were joined on that amazing 2008 team by Leah Branch, who is now a member of the Maryland Bar. Leah is clerking for a DC Superior Court judges this year. So a toast to Wes, Mike, and Leah and many successes as they enter the legal profession.

Thomas Azar, our acting coach, opens at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC, in Stones in His Pockets, on Friday, December 2. Stones is a two-man show in which Thomas plays eight roles. It is a comedy. I am confident that it is going to be great. So go get tickets and see the show!

Some final thoughts on the Fall 2011 Invitational Season

I am constantly amazed at the dedication of our stellar coaching staff: D. Brad Rustin ’03, Steven Buckingham ’03, Mark Fessler ’05, Lindsay Builder ’07, Wes Carson ’08, Mitchell Goldsmith ’06, Brent Tucker, and Thomas Azar. We are blessed to have such a first-rate staff on board.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I feel fortunate to work for a University that has embraced a vision for engaged learning that includes mock trial. Pollishing one’s analytical and critical thinking skills in a competitive, team-oriented environment provides these young people with a set of skills and friendships that will last a life time. The purpose of the mock trial program is not merely a training ground for pre-law students, rather it is to give students a host of skills that will make them better students, leaders, and citizens. Our 17-year history provides a wealth of data to make that case.

Thank all of you for your enduring support of these students and coaches. I don’t know of a program in the country that has a better network of supporters.

Enjoy your holidays, and I’ll look forward to reporting to you in the New Year. Our next stop is the Downtown Classic, hosted in Brooklyn, NY, by New York University, the current defending-national runner-up. We also hope to compete in Miami in late January, and we are scheduled to attend the Ramblin’ Wreck tournament in late January at Georgia Tech. Regionals this year are scheduled for Chapel Hill in early February and Kennesaw State in late February.