Just months after losing one of its members in a fatal car crash, the Harvard Mock Trial team finished third at American Mock Trial Association Nationals last week, bringing one of the team’s most successful seasons to a close.
Team members decided to compete at nationals with the minimum number of competitors because they had chosen not to replace Angela R. Mathew ’15, who died on Feb. 10 in a car accident while travelling back to Harvard with the team after a tournament.
“It was a difficult year,” Co-Captain Florence Y. Chen ’15 said. “But it has built a lot of confidence and a lot of strength…and that is something we are going to keep with us for a long time.”
Chen was assigned the same role at Nationals that Mathew had held before her death. Both students played journalists, who were witnesses at the trial.
Chen noted that she thought about Mathew while competing and said that it was “inspiring to think of the way [Mathew] performed.”
The 48 teams that reach Nationals are divided up into two divisions where teams compete to produce a finalist that moves to the last round. Since only the winner of each division makes the final round, Harvard’s 10-2 record and second place finish within its division was not enough to secure a place in the finals.
Harvard has never won Mock Trial nationals, but Chen noted that the team always finishes among the top five or ten teams.
Since Harvard has performed particularly well over the past three seasons, it will return next year as the top seed, according to rankings compiled by the program.
The Harvard team also boasts one of the highest retention rates it has ever had.
“It really shows the resilience of the program,” Chen said.
The Harvard team is run entirely by students, although alums occasionally coach members.
The team included co-captains Florence Y. Chen ’15 and J. Zachary Fields ’15, alongside Graham J. Wyatt ’14, Kristina L. Tester ’14, Neil N. Alacha ’16, and Gene Y. Chang ’17.
According to Chen, she and Fields often thought of a line from The Lord of the Rings while the team mourned Mathew’s death.
“You can’t decide what time is given to you,” Chen said. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
—Staff writer Harrison K. Wexner can be reached at email@example.com.