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Relationships Are the Best Prize Participating in Mock Trial required loads of time for Avery Field '17, but he wouldn't trade the experience and relationships for a whole case of trophies.

“At the end of my four years at W&L… I know that the relationships I’ve developed with the people I got to know in pursuit of those trophies will last a lifetime.”

Avery Field ’17 considers relationships – not trophies – the true prize when he competes

If I had a dollar for every time I told a friend or a professor “I can’t, I have Mock Trial,” I wouldn’t have paid a dime for college.  I tried to think about the number of hours over my four years at W&L that I spent practicing, planning for, or competing in Mock Trial, but I quickly realized that was an impossible task.  Between practice three, four, five, sometimes six times a week, work outside of practice, and competitions on weekends, I easily spent more time on Mock Trial than I did on classes. 

All of the hours and the practices and late nights and times I had to say “Sorry, I have Mock Trial” paid off in a big way this season. There is plenty to say about the success we had this year, but I don’t think that is where I want to go with this. Earlier this year, The Radish posted an article poking fun of the Mock Trial team for posting pictures of the team with trophies all over social media – it was a funny piece, and we had fun laughing at our own expense at the article. But honestly, the trophies weren’t the reason for those pictures; they were just an excuse to take pictures as a team.  

When you spend as many hours working as a team as the Mock Trial team does, there is no way you couldn’t get to know each person on the team well. And I don’t just mean their strengths and weaknesses in the courtroom. Over my four years in Mock Trial, I’ve gotten to know where my teammates are from, what their family backgrounds are like, what they are passionate about, what they want to do with their lives, what their beliefs are, what they see as their purpose as both as a student at W&L and in life. Every year we tell new members of the Mock Trial team the same cliché: that Mock Trial becomes your family at Washington and Lee. And we tell them that because it’s true – because we spend hours working together, eating together, sweating together in stuffy courtrooms, and celebrating together.     

My W&L experience has truly been defined by Mock Trial; not because of the successes I’ve had individually or that we’ve had as a team, but because of the people I’ve gotten to know in the process.  At the end of my four years at W&L, all the Mock Trial trophies are already gathering dust on a bookshelf in our coach’s office, but I know that the relationships I’ve developed with the people I got to know in pursuit of those trophies will last a lifetime.

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A little more about Avery

Hometown:
Hendersonville, Tennessee

Majors:
Politics and American History

Extracurricular involvement:
– Mock Trial
– Hearing Advisor

Off-campus activities/involvement:
Volunteer for Maury River Middle School’s after-school program

Why did you choose your major?
I knew what I wanted to study before I came to W&L. My interest in history was gifted to me by two awesome history teachers – one in middle school and one in high school. My interest in politics has been a natural progression from my love for history and for people – history books are filled with individuals involved in politics, because politics is an avenue through which you can impact and improve others’ lives.

What professor has inspired you?
Professor [Robert] Strong. I’ve taken a number of classes with Professor Strong, and I appreciate the passion and insight he brings to each class he teaches.

What’s your personal motto? 
“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Maybe that’s just the Southerner in me, but I think it speaks to the importance of civility, kindness and relationships.

What’s your favorite song right now?
Anything on the “Hamilton” soundtrack, but specifically “One Last Time.”

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
The Southern Inn, and I always get the fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and a glass of sweet iced tea (is there anything else on the menu?).

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
That you can’t walk between the columns under Graham-Lees; that first Chinese test would have been a lot easier if only I had known.

Post-graduation plans:
I move to Memphis, Tennessee, a week after graduation to start work with Teach For America, where I’ll be teaching elementary school at Aurora Collegiate Academy. I attribute a great number of the successes and opportunities I’ve enjoyed to teachers who have invested not only in my education, but also in my character. I couldn’t be more excited to have this opportunity to pay forward my teachers’ investment in me to students in Memphis.

Favorite W&L memory:
Just two weeks ago, the Mock Trial team got back from Los Angeles, where we were competing at the National Championship. I’ll remember that trip and our success for the rest of my life. When I joined the Mock Trial team my freshman year, our program was ranked somewhere north of 100th in the country. This year, we finished sixth in the country, better than W&L has ever finished before. When you put as many hours into something as we put into Mock Trial this season and the past four seasons, and when you become as closely knit as the Mock Trial team is, that makes our success that much sweeter. Our trip to LA was also in a lot of ways the culmination of some of the relationships most important to me during my time at W&L. The SoCal sun and Newport Beach didn’t hurt either.

Favorite class:  
My freshman year during Spring Term I took a class called the Natural History of Rockbridge County – it was a biology class that fulfilled my lab science requirement. We spent all of Spring Term hiking around the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking under rocks, looking at trees, and admiring springtime in Lexington.

Favorite W&L event:  
Mockmas. It is the Mock Trial team’s annual Christmas party. We dress up, do a big dinner and a gift exchange. It’s a lot of fun.

Favorite campus landmark:  
Cliché perhaps, but Lee Chapel. I love history, and Lee Chapel embodies so much of W&L’s history. Lee Chapel also is a symbol for the Honor System, which is flawed at times, but is one of the most important parts of a degree from W&L and makes the W&L experience unique.

What’s your passion?
People, which is why I’ve enjoyed my time at W&L. I love opportunities to have lengthy conversations with people, conversations about important topics like religion, current political events, worldview, societal problems and how to address them, how challenging life can be, anything that challenges my own thinking and allows me to get to know and understand someone else. My passion for people is also why I joined Teach For America; I believe every person deserves the opportunities I’ve enjoyed.

Why did you choose W&L?
If I’m honest, W&L actually chose me. I was enrolled at a different school when I got off the wait list for W&L. W&L made a financial offer I couldn’t refuse, and I knew Washington and Lee had great programs for studying politics and history. I prayed about it a lot, talked with family and friends about it, and realized W&L was where I was supposed to be.