Historic Finish for Empire Family at Nationals

46 teams battled for the prestigious honor of National High School Mock Trial Champion in Hartford, Connecticut last weekend.  When it was all said and done, 10 teams were called to the stage at the Awards Gala.

7 had one thing in common:

They competed at an Empire Mock Trial program last fall.

Including the National Champion, Central Carolina Homeschoolers, 7 out of the top 10 teams in the U.S. attended an Empire program in 2016and many say Empire helped them get there.

“Competing against the best teams in the world helps you prepare for the intense level of competition you see at Nationals,” said student Jared Steckl from Henry W. Grady High School, whose team placed 3rd at Nationals. “Without Empire we would’ve been at a huge disadvantage.”  

Reflecting on the year, Nevada State Champion coach Jocelyne Uy wrote:

“Empire was the game changer in our program.  The amazing experiences we had were the catalyst for this year’s incredible season,” her team, Faith Lutheran High School, placed 10th at Nationals.

“Once we competed at Empire we knew we could do anything.”

Starting their season in July, Empire teams prepared 3 cases over the course of 9 months.  

How’s that for dedication?

“It’s the challenge that motivates the students,” said Empire Executive Director Justin Matarrese. “And that’s why competition, with the right atmosphere, can be a beautiful thing for young people; it pushes them to their limits, and enables their growth, without them even realizing it.”

Teams agree.

Empire World Champion Coach Bill Schrier of Carmel High School (CA) has attended Empire for the past 3 years.

“It changed our program. I can’t imagine having had the year we just had without Empire.”

“Our involvement has made us a stronger program and is a major reason why we’ve been so successful during our state competition,” added Eric August, coach of the Trumbull High School team from Connecticut.

Skyler Schwartzreich of sixth place American Heritage (FL) was emphatic:

“Empire is the reason I’m a state champion!”

But Empire is never just about the competition. Making sure that students get the opportunity to connect with each other is a fundamental part of the organization’s mission.  Daniel Cowan, a student at Montgomery Bell Academy in Tennessee, talks about how that approach impacted him at Nationals:

“Empire introduced me to the idea that, although it’s primarily an event to try a case in a real-life setting, mock trial is also an event to meet and connect with new people.”

Despite winning a National Championship, Maggie Lanier, a student from the Central Carolina Homeschoolers group, left Nationals gushing about her Empire friendships:

“One of the coolest things about going to Nationals this year was seeing the support from our Empire family… a friend [from Empire] Facebooked me before the competition to wish me good luck and after to congratulate me!”

That is exactly the type of relationship building the organization strives to cultivate.  

“Trophies collect dust, whereas relationships last forever,” remarked Matarrese.  “In 10 years time, students are more likely to remember the friend(s) that they made rather than the trophy they earned.”


And that’s a wrap on the 2017 National High School Mock Trial Championship.  Congratulations to our friends at Civics First on hosting a wonderful event in Hartford. 

The next mock trial program of 2017 is Empire Atlanta!  If interested, your school can start an applicstion here.

Empire Mock Trial extends a heartfelt congratulations to its entire Empire Family that attended Nationals!  We have included a full list of Nationals participants below, indicating teams that placed in the top 10.  We are so proud of you all.

2017 Participants

Teams that participated in a 2016 Empire program.

American Heritage School (Florida)*

Caddo Parrish Magnet High School (Louisana)

Creekview High School (Texas)*

Cape Elizabeth High School (Maine)*

Carmel High School (California)

Central Carolina Homeschoolers (North Carolina)*

Faith Lutheran Middle & High School (Nevada)*

Henry W. Grady High School (Georgia)*

Montgomery Bell Academy (Tennessee)*

St. Charles North High School (Illinois)

Trumbull High School (Connecticut)

* Top 10

Former Participants

Teams that have previously participated in an Empire program, but not in 2016.

Ethos School (Virginia)

John Adams High School (Indiana)**

Korean International School (Korea)

Highlands High School (Kentucky)

Seattle Preparatory School (Washington)

**John Adams High School was represented by another of its teams at Empire in 2016.


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