Winning Glenwood teens stuck, but safe in NYC

The anticipation was worse than the reality for nine Glenwood Springs High School mock trial students who have been weathering Hurricane Sandy in a Brooklyn hotel this week.

Glenwood’s team was in New York City to compete in the Empire Mock Trial international competition. As if taking the school’s best-ever third place in the event wasn’t enough, a bunch of mountain-town kids got to experience a hurricane first-hand, even if it turned out not to be too bad in the part of town they are in and the sturdy hotel where they are staying.

“We’ve been very lucky as far as where we are. We’ve barely been impacted by the hurricane,” said Charlie Willman, a team coach.

He said Brooklyn didn’t seem to be as hard-hit as Manhattan. On top of that, the team and others in the competition are lodged in a Marriott that’s a designated evacuation shelter and a headquarters for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It has backup generators and extra food and water.

“We really felt secure and safe in the hotel,” which merely creaked some during the winds, Willman said.

“It mostly just feels like a rainy day, at least right now, so the worst has passed,” team member Erica Arensman said Tuesday afternoon.

“… It was waiting for the storm itself that was scarier.”

Teams from the United States, Canada, England, South Korea and elsewhere competed in the event. Arensman said about eight of 36 teams pulled out of the competition and left the city because of the storm, but leaving wasn’t an option for the others. Glenwood’s team had been scheduled to fly home Monday but the flight was canceled. They’re now scheduled for a Thursday flight.

Mike and Karin Gambas’ daughter, Grace, is another Glenwood team member, and told her parents the experience left her bored.

“From Karin’s and my perspective a ‘boring’ hurricane experience is better than an ‘exciting’ one,” Mike Gamba said.

Willman said the students have spent their down time working on homework and mock trial preparation. Glenwood long has had one of Colorado’s best mock trial teams, with numerous state titles. It previously has posted sixth- and seventh-place finishes in the Empire event.

The Glenwood students also have entertained themselves with movie marathons.

“They had what they called the hurricane party (Wednesday) night,” Willman said.

Arensman said one of the movies they watched was the horror film “Ghost Ship.”

“We were like, oh well, good thing we’re not out there” on the ocean, she said.

She said of her trip, “It’s definitely going to be an unforgettable weekend, both for the competition itself and the hurricane. We’re going to have a lot of stories to tell, that’s for sure.”


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