After a fall semester full of preparation, the Illinois State University mock trial team is gearing up for its competitive season this spring semester.
The team’s seven students—Elizabeth Adebiyi, Connor Martin, Erin Monroe, Carlos Montenegro, Nadalie Ponce, John Rodack, and Jasmyne Wells—spent five weekends in organized competitions spread across four states last semester. In addition to these weekend competitions, team members spend about 10–15 hours per week in team practices with their coaches and other work sessions with teammates.
The team participated in a scrimmage at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the first weekend of October. The following weekend, the team competed in the 10th annual Arch Invitational tournament on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. The team posted a solid 4-3-1 record at its first tournament of the year. Tournament officials recognized team captain Erin Monroe as one of the tournament’s Outstanding Attorney Award recipients.
At the end of October, the team traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to compete in the inaugural Dairyland Classic invitational tournament jointly sponsored by Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The team posted an improved record of 5-2-1 and won an Honorable Mention designation at the 21-team competition. At the tournament, Elizabeth Adebiyi won an Outstanding Attorney Award, and Nadalie Ponce received an Outstanding Witness Award.
During the second weekend in November, the mock trial program sponsored its 18th annual Illinois State University Invitational Tournament. The University hosted 32 teams from 19 colleges throughout seven states. The McLean County Law & Justice Center in downtown Bloomington served as the site for the 16 mock trials that occurred simultaneously during each of the tournament’s four rounds that weekend.
Dozens of members of the McLean County Bar Association volunteered to serve as judges at the tournament, and the Bar Association sponsored the award plaques and trophies. Alumni from the University’s Attorneys Advisory Board also volunteered as tournament evaluators. Eastern Kentucky University won first place at the tournament this year.
The team rounded out its fall semester tournament schedule by traveling to Lexington, Kentucky, to compete at the Colonel Classic invitational tournament sponsored by Eastern Kentucky University. After returning from winter break, the mock trial team will resume its practice schedule in preparation for two weekend tournaments in Iowa in January. The students’ competitive postseason will start with the American Mock Trial Association’s Regional Tournament hosted by Northwestern University in February.
Josh Rinker ’06, a local attorney in private practice, serves as the head attorney coach for the mock trial team. Rinker was a two-year All-American Award-winning competitor on the team when he was an undergraduate student at the University.
“Mock trial was a wonderful part of my educational experience at ISU, and I am honored to be able to give back to our program by coaching,” said Rinker. “Our mock trial students work unbelievably hard. They love battling against tough competition so that their skills improve. We are fine-tuning things to be the best team we can be as we look toward Regionals in about a month.”
Rinker’s assistant attorney coach, Brad Rigdon, is the first assistant state’s attorney for McLean County. Scott Kording ’02 is filling in as the team’s educator coach during Professor Thomas E. McClure’s sabbatical this year. Kording, an associate circuit judge in McLean County, also competed on the mock trial team as an undergraduate student.
Reflecting upon the team’s successes last semester, Kording said, “I never cease to be amazed by the high levels of performance our talented student-competitors are capable of achieving. ISU has every reason to be proud of its mock trial team.”
Students interested in competing on the mock trial team must take the POL 283 (Trial Advocacy) course. It will be offered in the spring 2020 semester. If the class is closed, then interested students should contact Scott Kording for an override.