Friday, November 13, 2009

Way to go, Kids

Local Community College Beats Yale
Elgin Community College takes down Ivy League school in mock trial competition
Updated 7:08 PM CST, Tue, Nov 10, 2009

They might object to a David and Goliath comparison but, then again, as their twitter message said yesterday ...


Elgin Community College’s Mock Trial team didn’t win the Harvard Crimson Classic this year, but they did trounce a practiced Ivy League competitor -- no mean feat, considering Elgin completed its first full mock trial season just last year.

"What allowed the students to [beat Yale] was dedication," said coach Ron Kowalczyk. " That's the bottom line. Hard work."

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ECC was one of 11 teams participating in the annual two-day event, which usually pits Ivy League types against each other in a faux courtroom setting.

The team from ECC wasn’t even allowed into the tourney until a regular team dropped out and they got a call to fill in.

So ECC made the best of it during their weekend run, beating Villanova in the first round, losing to Brown in the second round, beating Yale in the third round and losing to Princeton in the finals.

Brown, which barely beat ECC in the second round, went on to take the tournament.

For the coach who put together the Elgin team, the victory was a shocker.

"I would say we were stunned. You never know in the end how the judging is going to come down,” Kowalczyk said.

Kowalczyk has good reason to be amazed. Two years ago he didn’t even have a team – an interested student asked him to create one in 2007 – and he wasn’t even on Harvard’s radar.

But that didn’t stop him from writing letter upon letter until the stodgy university put his team on the waiting list.

And once that happened, Kowalczyk – and students Anastasia Toufexis, Jennifer Rieger, Rebecca Day, Jessica Bianchi, Elizabeth Martzel, Eleni Bala, Robert Dalin, Rita Russo and Mary Burke – shocked the upper crust with their come-from-nowhere performance.

"I was beaming thoughout this whole period and I still have not gotten my face back from the beam!" said Elgin president David Sam.

ECC's team celebrated with a nice dinner in Boston.

Overall, they had a better record than Boston College's "A" team, Wake Forest, Boston University, Dartmouth's "A" and "B" teams, and Wellesley's A&B teams. ECC also tied Penn State, the Herald notes.

The ECC squad has a few more tournaments before heading to the American Mock Trial Association regionals in February.

As for Yale, a spokesperson said ECC's victory was "impressive."

"I'm sure their reputation will precede them next time."