May 11, 2004
Mock trial team says thanks
The Glenwood Springs High School Mock Trial Team wants to thank all the people, businesses and organizations that supported them through the school year: Vic Zerbi, Charlie Willman, Ruben Hernandez, Paul Metzger, Caroline Ferrer, Mathew Kaufman, Wes Burke, Amanda Maurer, Mike Wells, Hugh Warder, the Mock Trial groupies (i.e. “our parents!”), Colorado Bar Association, and more than 100 community supporters.
Mock Trial team members: Seniors Caitlin Barnes, Jacob Ziemann, Abby Willman, Shelby Sadler, Mitch Trebash, Aaron Rowland; Juniors Carlyn Farquhar, Scott Straus.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – One thing is crystal clear: the kids of the Glenwood Springs High School Mock Trial Team know how to string sentences together.
Conducting an interview with the eight-member team is a delight and a challenge. Each team member has such a natural ability to express his or her thoughts – what’s sometimes called “the gift of gab” – that it’s hard to decide who to listen to first. They all have something to say.
“No one really understands what we do,” said team member Jacob Ziemann. “They don’t really know what it’s like until they see a trial themselves.”
What they’ve done recently is nothing short of extraordinary. After taking the state championships in March, beating out teams from 77 Colorado high schools of all sizes, the team traveled to Orlando, Fla., May 6-9 to compete in the national mock trial competition.
In Florida, they finished eighth out of 44 teams from across the country.
Since 2002, the team has taken top honors at the state championships every year, beating out every school in Colorado to qualify for the national mock trial competition.
“They’ve got the best record of any high school in the nation over the last three years,” said Victor Zerbi, a Glenwood Springs municipal judge and retired Garfield County Court judge. Zerbi started Glenwood High’s mock trial team 11 years ago, and continues to serve as the team’s overall coach.
Courthouse, not Disney World
Although the nationals were held in Orlando, there wasn’t a lot of time to cruise Disney World.
Besides, team member Shelby Sadler said, the Magic Kingdom, “isn’t quite the same now, compared to when you’re an 8-year-old.”
Team member Mitchell Trebesh said the team did visit Epcot Center for a mock trial event, and the team went to the MGM Studios, but everybody was pretty focused on the competition, and the Orange County Courthouse where the competition was held on Friday and Saturday.
“It was hard not to talk about it constantly when we were all together,” Trebesh said.
For competition, each team is given the same “problem” five weeks in advance – a fictitious case for which team members have to prepare both a defense and prosecution.
For the nationals, the case involved an “eco-terrorist allegedly killing a corporate vice president,” said team member Abby Willman, whose father Charlie Willman is a local attorney and one of the team’s coaches.
According to Aaron Rowland (a.k.a. “White Spider”), who other team members say provided the comic relief for the group, the Willman house became the team’s unofficial headquarters, where they spent countless hours going over the case, memorizing arguments and reacting to questions.
“Charlie became our dad while we prepared for this,” said Aaron.
Each team member seemed to have a preferred position: prosecution or defense.
“I preferred arguing for the prosecution,” said Willman.
“We had to switch off, first arguing for the defense and then the prosecution,” said Caitlin Barnes. “I liked arguing for the defense.”
“I’m very proud of the team,” said Zerbi.
“Plus, we had a lot of fun. We got to wear our black and gray pinstripes,” said Shelby, “even though my pinstripes were purple.”