The Guy at the Back of the Room

Last Friday morning I woke up in Lubbock, TX.  I was there to do a weekend seminar at a church and the hard water of the hotel shower and the dry wind blowing as we walked to our car brought back a flood of memories. 

When I was in law school at Texas Tech I entered the intramural mock trial competition among the 2Ls, or students in their second year of law school. 

Every night for a week we competed in a round robin style tournament, taking turns as both plaintiff and defendant against the other teams. 

No one was more surprised than I when my partner and I won that first round. 

I noticed this guy who came in and sat at the back of the room during my closing argument, but I didn’t think much of it.  

Then the next night he came in again, right before my closing argument. 

He showed up for the third round of competition. 

And when we advanced to the out rounds, he came in for my closing argument every time. 

I didn’t find out who he was until we made it to the finals on Friday night. 

The courtroom at the law school was packed. We all stood and then a panel of judges walked out, including the guy from the back of room. 

As I stood up to give my closing argument, he put his pen down, folded his black robed arms, leaned back in his chair, and just listened. 

After they announced that we won, that same man came over to our counsel table and stuck his hand out to shake mine. 

“You did a fine job,” he said to me, with a thick Texas accent and a big grin. 

It turned out that he coached the national mock trial team from Tech.  And three weeks later I found myself competing for Tech in the national finals in Boston. 

We lost, but it didn’t matter. 

Because the coach picked me. 

Because he recognized something in me that I didn’t yet believe myself. 

So whenever I get up to speak, I’m always thankful for him.  Especially in Lubbock.

Here's the national mock trial team from Tech at the tournament of champions awards banquet in Los Angeles the following year. I ended up competing on four national mock trial teams during law school, with a wonderful coach who tried very hard to teach me that less is more. A lesson I'm still trying to learn!



5 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie Tracy says:

    I love to read your blogs!! I know we’ve not officially met, but you always lift my spirits through your writing. Keep ’em comin’!! 🙂

    1. sallygary says:

      Thanks, Julie – and I’m looking forward to officially meeting soon!

  2. Alyssa says:

    You are awesome!! I would always pick you for my team. In fact…now that I’m thinking about it…I may get the opportunity to testify in either the house or senate (or both) in Oklahoma. If I really do, I would love to get your help on my speech!

    1. sallygary says:

      Wow, Alyssa, how exciting! I’m so proud of you! You’ll do an awesome job – and I’d love to hear more about what you’ll be talking about, so fill in the details when you have time!

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