WU mock trial team again captures Golden Hat at Jayhawk Invitational

Eric Smith

Coveted trophies are a part of competition. In D-I college football there’s the Heisman Trophy. In the NFL it’s the Lombardi Trophy. However, in the college academic competition known as mock trial, the Golden Hat is one of the top prizes.

And the Washburn mock trial team won the Golden Hat at the Jayhawk Invitational by placing first overall and defeating several teams ,including the host team Kansas, which placed ninth. It was the second time that Washburn had won the trophy in its short existence.

“I’m really glad to have it back,” said Jenna Seematter, junior political science major. “It’s a traveling trophy so that makes it a little different than any other trophy. It’s cool to have a trophy that has history with it. There’s a story. It has the whole KU-Washburn rivalry built into it and that makes it more fun.”

Danielle Hall is one of three law school coaches for the Washburn mock trial team. And before she attended the law school, she was a fellow mock trial participant. She said the Golden Hat began as an actual cowboy hat that was owned and worn by Ryan Faulkner, a Kansas mock trial student. Faulkner was talented and after he graduated, to commemorate him and the teams he played on, the Kansas mock trial team bronzed his hat and made it into a trophy with its very own pedestal.

Since the 2004-05 school year, the Golden Hat has been given out at the KU home tournament. In the very first year, the Jayhawks won. But ever since then, the Kansas team has been in a slump. The following year, the Washburn mock trial team dawned the Golden Hat for the first time. The KU Invitational was not held in 2006-’07, and the Air Force Academy won the trophy last year.

So in the short history of the Golden Hat, Washburn has made its mark on the trophy, literally having its name on it more than any other school.

And while Washburn has traditionally been rivals with Emporia State, the Washburn and Kansas mock trial teams have a rivalry of their own.

“It’s still competitive, but we’re beating them all the time like we beat Emporia,” said Seematter, who is one of the team’s longest standing members. “It definitely makes things more intense when you get in the courtroom against a team that you have a not-so-friendly rivalry against.”

The Washburn mock trial team now has the whole year to show off the Golden Hat. The location to put the trophy has yet to be decided. The trophy case designated for the team is almost full and the Golden Hat is a large trophy.

“I don’t think there’s much room left in our display case,” said Seematter. “Maybe they’ll have to build us a new display case for our new trophies because we’re going to be winning a lot of them.”

The Golden Hat is a very interesting trophy. Many heads have worn it and it is not exactly in the greatest shape as the hat itself separates from the base. But overall for the Washburn mock trial team, the trophy stands for progress.

“I think it means that the reputation Washburn mock trial used to have in years past is definitely coming back,” said Seematter. “It means that we’re really competitive in the mock trial field. Just besides qualifying for nationals last year, it definitely legitimizes us.”