Mock trial team creates closeness in ISBA tournament


Ishani Hariprasad

Members of the mock trial team practice for their Springfield competition on March 18 and 19.

Clare McRoberts, Assistant Editor

While most students were enjoying their final days of spring break, members of the U-High Mock Trial Team were competing in the Illinois State Bar Association’s annual tournament on March 18 and 19 in Springfield.

This was the first in-person ISBA tournament since the pandemic, and the group participated in the first round of trials. The team did not make it into the quarter finals because the team was not ranked in the top eight. One member of the team, Sahana Unni, received a personal award for being an outstanding witness.

The team had previously participated in Niles North High School’s Viking Scramble Tournament on March 4. There, the U-High team won one trial but lost the other. Lusia Austen, a member of the team, said that although the results were mixed, the difficulties ultimately strengthened the team’s skills on matters like how to contend with legal objections during the trial competitions.

“We have had a lot of tough things with objections where people will say objections you haven’t prepared for or they’ll just whip out really tricky objections to respond to,” she said. “So that was something that with practice we’ve definitely gotten better at.”

The co-captains of the team are Olivia Jessen, Samara Arain and Lena Stole, and the coach of the team is Christy Gerst, history department chair. Other members of the team are Yusuf Arain, Jonah Austen, Kat Bean, Celine Derroitte, Maya Livni, Raven Reid and Sygne Stole. 

Despite not making it to the next round at the more recent ISBA competition, Lusia said that working together and being together at the tournament allowed the group to connect more deeply and build camaraderie.

“COVID last year was kind of difficult, because we just weren’t able to be together in person as much,” she said. “We weren’t really able to bond as a team in the same way as this year and I think that’s very essential when you’re essentially putting on a little play together. You have to know how to work together.”