Written by Valerie Lick
Fifteen new members joined the University of Tennessee’s mock trial organization last semester.
They didn’t know what to expect – but months later, they’re essential parts of the team. They’ve taken on leadership roles, faced down intimidating new roles, and become part of the UTMT family.
Brett Berry, a freshman in biological sciences, said his first college invitational was nerve-wracking – at first.
“Our first two invitationals were really fun. I was really nervous, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I learned a lot,” he said. “I guess it made me a lot more sure of my decision to do mock trial.”
Berry already did mock trial in high school. But at UT, he said mock trial took on a new meaning for him.
“It’s great for public speaking, teamwork, debate skills, all those good reasons,” he said. “But I would say the biggest reason is the friends and community you get. For me, it’s the community aspect. I’ve made a lot of great friends and great memories through mock trial.”
Right now, he’s preparing for a brand-new role: He’s co-captaining a team. He said he didn’t expect to be chosen as a captain – but his co-captain, junior Megan Engle, said she couldn’t imagine leading the team with anyone else.
“As a leader, he’s supportive, thoughtful, and organized,” Engle said. “Bret has faced every task, responsibility and challenge posed by this position with a smile and a can-do attitude.”
Another new member, Sarah Batten, said she’s taking on new challenges.
“I’ve improved in confidence in public speaking – and being comfortable when things don’t go exactly the way I wanted during competition,” Batten said.
Batten is studying chemical engineering. By staying cool under pressure in competition, she said she can handle any challenge the professional world throws her way.
“Whether it is a first job interview or a research presentation, I need to have confidence in what and how I’m saying my points,” Batten said.
Batten and Berry both want to keep improving. They also both said they’re glad they found UTMT.
“I know a lot of my freshman peers are still trying to find a place they belong in college,” Berry said. “For me, mock trial is kind of my home.”