Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly published Camryn Curnuck’s major. Curnuck is a healthcare management major. The Rider News regrets this error.
By Sarah Griffin
Rider’s mock trial team announced their involvement in their first ever regional competition hosted at Princeton University on Feb. 19. The team made up of seven women took to Instagram to share that “[They] are tiny! But [they] certainly are mighty!”
Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, took to Twitter to report the same. He said, “Rider University’s brand new Mock Trial team earned an incredible 7-1 record … this weekend, including a 2-0 win over a top 25 team nationally. Our students won a bid to the national semifinals and shocked the mock trial world.”
Throughout the academic year, the team participated in competitions which, according to the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA), “are held around the country to allow teams to practice and prepare for AMTA-sanctioned tournaments in February through April.”
The Rider team is led by former New Jersey trial lawyer Alan Y. Medvin.
Medvin said the team’s performance in their first two invitationals of the year made him “so proud.” He continued by saying that he “couldn’t ask for a greater group in terms of the people who are competing with us on the team.”
Medvin reached out to Andrew Bernstein, a senior political science major, in Spring 2022 asking Bernstein to help start the mock trial team for Rider.
Bernstein described Rider being invited to their first invitationals as a “big deal.” Bernstein also said the new mock trial team filled a void the university had before its inception.
Michaela Smith, a sophomore communications major and co-captain of the team, said the first competition of the season was “really eye-opening.”
Smith added, “We were definitely very intimidated and a little nervous going in, but I feel like we came out with a lot of experience and takeaways that we can use to get ready for regionals in February.”
Camryn Curnuck, a senior healthcare management major and competition captain of the mock trial team, called being on mock trial “a beautiful blend of theater and academics and strategy.”
Curnuck, who is considering going to law school, said that in the next few competitions of the season she is going to work on “appearing more confident,” something she got practice with the weekend before Thanksgiving when she stepped in to play an attorney instead of a witness when a few of her teammates called out sick.
Amanda Steele, a freshman political science major on the team, said not having all of her team members caused a disadvantage at the first competition of the season. Despite this, Steele said the competition went really well.
“We were expecting to get absolutely trashed by other teams that had all their members, but we didn’t, and we did significantly better than expected,” Steele continued.
Bella Frost, a sophomore acting for film, television and theater major, plays a witness in Rider’s mock trial cases.
“Last year, I was in my acting for the camera class and our teacher started talking about [the mock trial team] and how it was a great opportunity to learn about and play a character in a high-pressure circumstance … so I figured it would be a good opportunity to practice some acting skills,” Frost said.
The Rider Mock Trial team shocked everyone, including themselves, by how well they placed in their competitions over winter break: the team won seven out of the eight possible ballots, something unheard of for a team as new as the Rider team.
“When Alan told us we went five and one, and were probably going to be seven and one, that was when I felt like I won,” Curnuck said. She continued as tears started to fall down her face, “I’m getting emotional, but it wasn’t about the trophy for me. I just wanted to feel proud of my team and the work we put in because we worked so hard all year and to just be able to be so proud of the performance we put on and all the work we put into this, getting something out of it is the best feeling in the world. I really can’t even describe it.”