By Rachel Pasker
For most students, McMullen 001 may be just a classroom, but at night it turns into a courtroom.
The St. Ambrose Mock Trial team uses this classroom to practice for tournaments. After two tournaments in the semester, the team is undefeated and off to the best start coach Henry Marquard has seen in his seven years of coaching the SAU team.
Although only five of the 11 members of this year’s team are returning, Marquard points to the success at the end of last year as the reason for the record start, as well as the strong performances from the newcomers. The 2012-2013 Mock Trial team tied Northwestern University’s top team before missing nationals by two points out of a possible 300.
Marquard noticed that other tops teams that they faced had pushed public speaking, so he made that his goal for this year. In addition the team strives for consistency in every performance.
So far this semester, the team put together seven wins, no losses and one tie. They placed second at their own tournament and third at the Quincy University tournament. Although neither of the tournaments have been easy, Marquard believes that the season will just get harder.
“We’re going up against some of the best and most prominent schools in the country,” Marquard said.
On Nov. 17 the team will continue their season and travel to the University of Iowa for a two-day tournament, and on Dec. 7 and 8 they will be at the University of Illinois for another two-day tournament. After the winter break, the team will resume competition as soon as classes start again. Regionals in February consist of 25-30 teams in each area and then the top eight from each region go to Nationals in Orlando in April.
“The ultimate goal is to reach the National Mock Trial Championships,” Marquard said.
Mock Trial combines speech and debate within a courtroom. Every year, one case is used and members of the team must prepare their parts, whether it be a attorneys or witnesses. At the tournaments, the two teams go against each other acting out this case while judges score them on a range of areas from appearance to performance.
Marquard noted one of the most common misconceptions of mock trial is the assumption that one must have a certain major to participate.
“You don’t have to be a Pre-Law student [to be on the team],” he said. Although half of the team is made up of Pre-Law students, the rest come from a variety of majors. The entire team practices two nights a week, and the attorneys and witnesses meet on their own two additional times throughout the week. However, in the week leading up to the tournaments, Marquard said more meetings and practices are held to ensure everyone is ready for the weekend.