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By Jeff Hendrix

Student Writer, EKU Communications & Marketing

Allie Maples’ journey began with her riding the bench on the basketball court, but it may end with her sitting on the judge’s bench in a court of law.

Maples, a senior political science major and member of EKU Honors from Mount Sterling, has achieved unprecedented success on the University’s mock trial team.  Last March, she was the only student in the American Mock Trial Association Opening Round Championship to receive an Outstanding Attorney Award for both prosecution and defense. In fact, she has accumulated several Outstanding Attorney awards throughout her years representing EKU in mock trial competition.

Eastern was the only regional comprehensive university at the 2016 AMTA National Championship, competing with better known universities and Ivy League schools. For Maples, representing Eastern on the national stage is a great source of pride. “I love it when we are the only regional comprehensive school at tournaments,” she said, “because it shatters the misconceptions that we are somehow disadvantaged.”

Maples found her passion early in life, performing in mock trial events throughout high school before attending EKU. “I was initially attracted … when I realized I was better at public speaking than riding the bench at basketball games,” she said.

According to Maples, it’s passion that distinguishes the work of great attorneys. “The difference between good attorneys and great attorneys is enjoying what you do. If you do not enjoy Mock Trial or any discipline you pursue, it’s tough to make yourself put in the work it takes to be successful.”

Maples has also overcome her own share of personal challenges to succeed. “I have had to overcome female stereotypes to compete at the same level as male competitors,” she said. “A man’s dress or appearance is almost never made an issue. A woman’s dress or appearance is almost always mentioned, whether it is walking in heels, wearing the right amount of jewelry, or our facial expressions. Women are also expected to walk a fine line between confident and passionate, but never angry.”

EKU Mock Trial Coordinator Tom Parker said Maples possesses the qualities needed to lead the team to success.

“EKU Mock Trial prides itself on developing not only lawyers, but leaders,” Parker said. “Allie is a shining example of that. She has developed her skills as an outstanding speaker and advocate, and is known in the mock trial community as a fierce and capable competitor.”

Maples has used her mock trial experiences as opportunities for personal improvement. “Mock Trial has improved my ability to think critically and speak publicly,” she said. “These skills have been valuable to my success as a student at EKU.”

In addition to becoming a better student through the program, she has personally improved in ways that she believes will lead to professional success. “As a person, Mock Trial has taught me empathy,” Maples said. “Many of our case problems concern real-life experiences. I have learned to view our cases through a more serious lens because I understand these cases could affect people in my own life or future clients.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Maples will attend law school. Her ultimate goal is to become a judge.

Parker believes she has what it takes to succeed in the field. “I’m highly confident that she will be highly successful in law school and as an attorney,” he said, “and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her find success in the political realm as well.”

Looking back on her years in EKU Mock Trial, Maples is grateful for all the people she has met and memories she created. “It’s difficult to pick a single, favorite memory,” she said, “but Mock Trial has consistently brought the best people into my life. My best friends have been made through Mock Trial. Each victory has been rewarding.”

Maples has put in plenty of time and effort toward achieving her goals, but she also recognizes that her coaches have played a role in her success. “Lynnette Noblitt, Tom Parker, Dean Sara Zeigler, Kristeena Johnson and Brandon Williams spend their weekdays and weekends ensuring we are prepared for each tournament,” she said. “These coaches have taught me the rules of evidence, trial advocacy skills, and confidence. They serve as great role models for future professionals like my teammates and me.”