By Danielle Waugh
BROOKYLN, New York – Now in its third day, the 2014 Empire New York tournament is already emerging as the best competition in Empire history.
Six hundred people filled the Grand Ballroom of the Brooklyn Marriott Friday afternoon.
The highly anticipated Opening Ceremonies Video got the crowd to its feet, as Master of Ceremonies Co’Relous Bryant led students in the final countdown to the Empire.
“The ceremony was electric — the perfect kickoff to a weekend filled with passionate students and life-changing experiences,” said Bryant. “I was fueled by the energy and the excitement of the students. It was clear that they understood the magic that was about to unfold, and they were ready for it.”
The opening program featured distinguished guest and speakers, including U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, who flew in from Washington D.C. to address the students.
Treasurer Rios, who is an alumna of Empire team Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, California, told the students they are developing skills that will set them apart from their peers, and prepare them for bright futures.
Rios said doing an activity like mock trial is “the best investment you can make.”
The mood of the Opening Ceremonies then shifted from celebratory to somber and sentimental – as the program to honor late Bishop Lynch Mock Trial Coach David Post began.
A longtime member of the Empire family, David Post passed away from his battle with cancer this past July.
With video submissions from Post’s current and former students, friends, and colleagues, the Empire staff put together a video tribute, and honored him posthumously with the Empire Mock Trial Outstanding Educator Award. The Empire has also renamed the “Spirit of Empire Award” the “David Post Spirit of Empire Award,” given to a team who displays character and civility.
After a pin exchange ceremony, students, coaches, and staff broke off for their respective “After Hours” receptions. Students were invited to an Empire Alumni panel discussion and karaoke, while staff, volunteers, coaches, and judges, were invited to a reception at the Marriott.
Just a few hours later, students were waking up early to prepare for an intense day of competition.
This year’s field of 40 teams includes 13 reigning state champions, three reigning national champions, the reigning Canadian provincial champion, and the reigning Empire World Champion, Sylvania Southview from Sylvania, Ohio.
Who will take home the 2014 title? Two more rounds of mock trial will determine the top team in the world.