Senior Loesel helps mock trial team develop


Tejas Duggirala

Co-captain Jonas Loesel instructs new student, Jackson Canbob. They refer to the novices as ‘grapes,’ and experiences students as ‘raisins.’ Mock trial is a student-led club, and seniors often instruct underclassmen.

Katie Sigal

Senior Jonas Loesel walked onto the Midtown Mock Trial team just to try something;three years later, he is now a co-captain.

“I had heard from friends’ parents that the mock trial program was one of the gems at Midtown,” Loesel said. “When I got there, I knew I wanted to try it out. I went to the introductory meetings and have not looked back since.”

Over the years, Loesel’s role has changed drastically, going from an uninformed freshman to a leader and a teacher.

“At the start, I knew nothing,” Loesel said. “Even though talent is very important, mock trial is an activity that needs to be learned. During my freshman year, I was really just learning how mock trial worked, and how I fit in the team. In the following years, I competed at a higher level and took on some responsibility in mentoring freshmen, but I was learning a lot about mock trial and a lot more about how to lead and manage a team. As is customary for seniors in mock trial, this year, I am part of the main leadership of the club.”

Last year, the team lost three seniors, leaving large gaps in the upperclassmen numbers. Mock trial coach and Midtown teacher Andrew Copeland describes the team as majority novices.

“We only have a few experienced people,” Copland said. “So it’s kind of a lot of young kids that don’t know what they’re doing at this moment, and we’re trying to get them there.”

Because of the small number of upperclassmen, the team is heavily focused this year on teaching the younger kids, or “grapes,” the ropes.

“At the start of every year, the older mock trial students, or as we call them, the ‘raisins,’ use the first couple practices to introduce the new students, or ‘grapes,’ to mock trial,” Loesel said. “As we develop our state case, we make a conscious effort to mix students with more and less experience together so that we don’t have younger students struggling to learn what to do.”

In mock trial, it is essential that the more advanced students work with the beginners because they have first-hand experience and can help in a different way than the coaches can.

“Doing mock trial is a process, and you don’t know the process until you do it,” Copeland said. “So really the only thing the beginners have are the current older students that have been through that process because there’s only so much the coaches can do because we’re not actually doing the work.”

The four senior co-captains, especially Loesel, work together to make sure that the beginners are comfortable.

“Jonas has been a huge help to lead the group of over 20 freshmen into our first state competition,” Alannah Edwards, senior co-captain said. “He is great at making everyone feel comfortable and on the same page, work-wise. The uprisers are really responsive and listen well to him. They are also able to contribute to the conversation and work without feeling scared or uncomfortable.”

Freshman Patrick Pickren agrees with Edwards on Loesel’s influence on the team.

“Jonas impacts the team because he is instrumental in organizing events and helps the group work through problems,” Pickren said. “Jonas is an amazing leader and is a big reason why the Midtown mock trial team does so well. He is very hardworking and is a great person to ask for help.”

The main reason for being able to efficiently teach and bond with beginners is the strategy the co-captains discussed at the beginning of the year.

“We divided our new talent among ourselves to give each younger kid a go-to mentor to help them out with anything,” Loesel said. “Now, as we are deeper in the season, these connections still pay off, but we have made an effort to expand the connections between the older and younger students. The younger students know that they can come to any of the older students to help them out.”

There are many skills beginners need to learn. Some of these skills are taught and some are picked up on.

“Grapes learn a variety of techniques and tactics through mock trial to master confidence and public speaking, down to the small details,” junior Tejas Duggirala said. “From pacing to volume to speech patterns, one of the beautiful things about mock trial is it’s just as much of a theater event as it is law.”

No matter how the team does this year in competition, Loesel is happy to have had an influence on the team and inspire the underclassmen to lead in future years.

“I hope that my biggest impact has been as a facilitator,” Loesel said. “At the start of the year, our team was meager, and after lots of seniors graduated in the past two years, we were pressed to find new talent for our program. Throughout this year, I have really tried to recruit new students into our program and show them the fun there is to be had in mock trial. With my teammates’ assistance, we have nearly 30 students in our program this year. Whether in recruiting or anything else, I think I have been able to ensure that our team is strong and running smoothly this year and in the future.”