Five students from The College of Wooster qualified for the Moot Court national tournament that will be held January 22-24 and will be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the past fall semester of Moot Court, an activity in which students argue in simulated U.S. Supreme Court proceedings, the practices and regional competitions were held entirely on Zoom. “It was challenging to adjust to this setting because so much of Moot Court is about your demeanor—your presence in the court room,” said Oria Daugherty ’21, a team captain who is going to nationals. “Not only are you evaluated on your argument, but also on how you carry yourself, how you interact with judges, etc. All of that is really difficult to translate over a virtual platform, and it is also very challenging to help newer students with these things.”
Daugherty will be joined at nationals by her teammate and fellow captain Heather Hartmann ’21, a team of Elyse Evans ’21 and Cecilia Payne ’21, and a hybrid team of Georgina Tierney ’22 and Kelton Munch, a student from California State University, Long Beach. “We are excited for the three teams that have qualified for Nationals despite the online format and the challenges of this year,” Daugherty said.
Interim coach Natalie Noyes ’11, an alumna of Wooster’s Moot Court and attorney in the Columbus area, said that another challenge this year was working with students who were in different time zones, since there were some international students who were living at home this semester. “Sometimes they were practicing at really late or really early times for them,” Noyes said. “I really appreciated them giving all they did to the team.”
Since all teams regardless of location practiced virtually this year, the hybrid team that Tierney is on did not have the disadvantage that they would have in a typical year. “Hybrid teams in general do happen some years, when multiple schools have an odd number of students participating, but they generally don’t perform very well—it’s very challenging to succeed when you likely don’t even meet your partner until competition, and don’t have the opportunity to practice with them,” Daugherty explained. Tierney found participating on the hybrid team, which won the Wooster regional tournament, very rewarding. “The benefits from being a part of both the Long Beach Moot team and the Wooster Moot team far outweighed the challenges,” she said. While the time difference made for some late nights, she otherwise had the benefits of “two coaches, two teams, and twice the opportunity to improve.”
Typically, the teams who qualify for the national tournament would return to campus early in January for a Moot Court “boot camp” to prepare for the tournament. This year, the meetings and practice rounds will be held on Zoom. “The nice thing is that with the virtual nature, we can be from all over the country and scrimmaging with different schools,” Noyes said. “We have a few of those planned with competitors from Long Beach and Loyola to get ready.”
Noyes is proud of all of the students who participated in Moot Court last semester, regardless of whether they qualified for the national tournament. “There are a lot of folks who didn’t make it to nationals but I can tell you that they worked so hard and I was so proud to get to share that experience with them,” Noyes said.
Above: In the final round at Wooster, pictured from top left to right: Oria Daugherty, Natalie Noyes (Wooster coach), Georgina Tierney, Kelton Munch (CSU Long Beach mooter), Bottom row: Heather Hartmann, Lewis Ringel (CSU Long Beach head coach), and Nick Conway (coordinator of the tournament).