Ashley Hawley won the MVP Attorney award at the Duckpond Showdown earlier in December (Submitted).

McNary senior Ashley Hawley has been competing in mock trials for a little over a year, but she already performs like a seasoned veteran. 

Earlier this month, Hawley received the MVP attorney award while competing with the McNary High School mock trial team at the University of Oregon’s virtual Duckpond Showdown Invitational, which featured more than 400 students from over a dozen schools.  

“It was really rewarding. It felt really good to get that reassurance because when you’re behind the screen it’s hard to realize how much is happening and how many people are watching you,” Hawley said. 

The event was facilitated over Zoom and featured University of Oregon students as judges and jurors. 

“It was amazing to see Ashley be recognized in that way. To earn that distinction in the tournament, you can’t just have a one-off good performance. You actually need to receive that nomination from all the judges in all of your rounds,” McNary mock trial instructor Mackenzie DeLong said. 

Hawley first got exposed to mock trials during one of DeLong’s social studies classes when she was a junior. The following school year, the two started the McNary mock trial team.

“I really got into it last year and convinced (DeLong) that we should actually start a team. We really threw ourselves into it,” Hawley said.

Hawley got her first competition experience at a regional tournament as a junior last year and has continued to grow in her ability according to her teacher.

“Ashley has really grown in her skills and confidence. She picked up on it super quick. She has really learned how to think on her feet and how to adjust in the moment,” DeLong said. 

At the virtual mock trial, Hawley represented the defense in a fictional case involving a police officer and an unlawful arrest. 

“My job was to establish our witnesses as trustworthy while showing flaws in the plaintiff,” Hawley said. “I needed to defend the police and prove that there was malicious intent and that the officer was doing his job.”

During an in-person trial, Hawley said that she is used to playing off non-verbal reactions from her opponent, so she had to use different tools to try to win during a virtual case.

“I usually base questions off of the facial reactions of another person, so it was a lot different. I had to rely on different things and have confidence in my prep,” Hawley said. 

Hawley impressed the judges with her ability to effectively prove her point and poke holes in her opponent’s case, which is why she was recognized as the MVP of the trial.  

“It’s so important to remain professional and civil, even when you are trying to tear down your opponent’s case, and Ashley does an amazing job of that. She’s professional and she’s articulate, but she’s not afraid to go for it when she sees an opportunity to advance her case and her cause. She hits the balance perfectly,” DeLong said. 

Even though this is her last year in competing in mock trials at the high school level, Hawley is hoping to build on her skills in college.

“I definitely want to continue doing mock trials in college and then look at pursuing law school,” Hawley said.

DeLong added: “I can definitely see that being a path forward for her. She is really strong just in her verbal presentation and she is very professional and very polished.”