Andrew Dys

SC championship Fort Mill High mock trial team needs $5,000 for nationals

The Fort Mill High School mock trial team took its third state championship title.
The Fort Mill High School mock trial team took its third state championship title.

For high school football teams in America filled with great athletes, there is the Under Armour game with TV and sponsors and ESPN big money.

Big hits. Recruiters. The chance for the best to compete against the best is the thrill of a young lifetime.

For the 15 great brains on Fort Mill High School’s mock trial team, which won the South Carolina state title last month, there is no TV game for the national title.

Yet there is a national contest for arguing, and all of York County should be proud that the toughest thinkers have a chance to be the best in America.

The 15 mock trial students are the Jadeveon Clowneys of courtrooms. They are the best, and they deserve a chance to show it off in Boise, Idaho, next month in the national finals, as Rock Hill’s Clowney did in the Under Armour game when he was America’s top high school football player in 2011. Clowney made us all proud.

Of the hundreds of participants in South Carolina, for example, Kerry Barrowclough was the top attorney in every category. That is like a basketball star getting a triple-double in the state final game, then dunking for the win.

Yet all the students were stars; it was a team victory.

And like sports teams, they deserve their roster in the newspaper before the biggest game.

Here they are: Molly Anderson, Lauren Barnes, Kerry Barrowclough, Erica Daly, Stephen DeMayo, Sophia Hennessy, Lenique Huggins, Nick Kulesa, Hailey Morris, Jasmin Scardino, Daniel Sessions, Kaila Sigman, Jack Vidt, Sonia Xing and Tonia Xing.

Some of the best brains in America.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment, enormous,” said Dee Christopher, Fort Mill High principal and the school’s loudest plaid-pants-wearing cheerleader.

“The amount of work our students put in to compete and win the state championship, and now head off to compete for the national title, is astonishing,” he said.

The 15 students have practiced several nights a week for months. From May 12 to 14, these Yellow Jackets face off against the top students in America.

The problem is money. The team’s teacher advisers and lawyer volunteer coaches have received generous donations from the school and the S.C. Bar Association to help cover the $15,000 for airplane tickets, lodging and more.

But the group still needs more than $5,000, said Beverly DeMayo, head coach of the team and a teacher at Fort Mill.

The school district could not budget for this trip; no one knew it would happen. But it has happened, so the community is ponying up to make it happen.

What is a good problem, smart kids qualifying for a national title, needs help from the rest of us.

Fundraisers have been going on and will continue. Beef O’Bradys in Baxter Village has a booth to accept donations through this week.

Red Bowl in Tega Cay gives a donation for every customer who mentions the mock trial team. Moe’s in Fort Mill on April 20 and Pelican’s on April 27 will give the team donations from their sales.

Donations can be sent to the school and have come in from generous people who recognize that the value of academic achievement is just as important as athletics, and actually more important for most people in life.

“You always hope every year to be the state champion, and now we are and we want to continue the success,” DeMayo said. “We are going to compete against the very best in America. Our students earned it.”

Want to help?

Donations for the Fort Mill High School mock trial team can be sent to Beverly DeMayo, Fort Mill High School mock trial club, 215 N. U.S. 21 Bypass, Fort Mill, SC 29715. For information, call the school at 803-548-1900.