Case closed, Trumbull mock trial team is #1

Having a dynasty is all the rage nowadays. In many ways, it has become the litmus test for successful programs. Over the past 10 years, the Trumbull High School mock trial program has been quietly building a dynasty of its own, and on Wednesday, March 7, at the Connecticut Supreme Court, it solidified its status when it won the Connecticut High School Mock Trial Championship for a record fourth time.

Since its inception in 2008, Trumbull has set the bar for success in Connecticut High School Mock Trial, advancing to the state championships six times and winning in 2013, 2014, 2017, and 2018. This year’s team consisted of seniors Andrew Koch, Gabi Kwiatkowski and Sophia Otero and juniors Emily Cardinale, Daniella Chuka, Alexandra Coclin, Megan Griffin, and Adele Marchenko.

Mock trial is an academic competition sponsored by Civics First that pits high school students against one another inside a courtroom, playing out a legal drama. The program started in 1976 and includes more than 50 high schools and 500 students. In front of five presiding Connecticut Supreme Court justices, Trumbull knocked off its toughest rival, Weston High School, to secure the state championship.

“When they announced the winner, I was overjoyed,” said Gabi Kwiatkowski, co-president of the program and the only returning member from the 2017 team. “We literally put our blood, sweat and tears into this case, so to make it out of the competition as champions is such a fulfilling feeling.”

Head coach Eric August attributes the success of the program to the students.

“Honestly, it’s about them,” he said. “I have an amazing group of kids whose work ethic is tireless. I couldn’t be happier for a better group of students.”

August said Weston was as tough an opponent as Trumbull had faced.

“We knew we were going to have to be at our best to beat them,” he said. “But there is no better feeling than knocking off your No. 1 rival on your way to a championship.”

Co-president Andrew Koch said the team practices five or six days a week and the hard work has led to its success.

“We are all perfectionists and we knew to beat a team like Weston we were going to have to outwork them, and we did,” he said.

Debbie Coclin, mother of team member Alexandra Coclin, praised August’s devotion to the team.

“He is a father to two young children, so naturally he’s very busy, but he stays late at school every day and often comes to our homes on the weekends when the students are gathering together to work,” she said.

In addition to the state championship, Daniella Chuka of Trumbull won the Most Outstanding Mocker individual award.

“I was mostly concerned about our team winning, but getting honored individually was just the icing on the cake,” she said. “I gave the championship everything I had and I am so excited about the team win. Winning the state title reaffirmed our confidence that we are the best team in the state, and no one could take that away.”

The team now moves on to the national championship, to be held in Reno, Nev., from May 8 to May 13.

“This is our year,” said August. “This is the most talented team I have ever had, and we are going to take Reno by storm this year.”