DANVILLE — The Danville Mock Trial team has plenty of accolades attesting to its continued excellence. Now, one of the coaches will as well.

Noel Alden, an attorney at Zelkowitz, Barry & Cullers and Danville solicitor, will receive the Eiler Award for Mock Trial Coaching Excellence. The designation is one of the highest honors awarded by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE), which organizes mock trial competitions in Ohio. Alden will receive the award during a ceremony held Monday in Columbus.

“It really is a group effort. The coaching is a group effort, the community supports the team so well,” said Alden. “It’s nice I’m being honored, but I really do look at it as an award for all the people involved in Danville mock trial.”

Alden coaches the mock trial and moot court teams at Danville High School. He’s been part of the Danville program since 2001.

“I truly enjoy working with the kids,” he said. “It’s tons of fun to watch them develop and challenge themselves and kind of work and fight together to be successful.”

Alden was nominated by senior Calvin Huh.

“As both a full-time attorney and full-time dairy farmer, Mr. Alden has sacrificed nearly all of his free time coaching us,” Huh wrote in his nomination essay.

Huh went on to say that Alden’s approach to coaching combines blunt honesty and an openness to student’s thoughts and ideas.

“He provides direct, constructive criticism…but [lets] us figure out how to fix things,” Huh continued. “Most importantly, Mr. Alden has tried to instill in us a respect for all people.”

Alden said his greatest point of pride is that his students, from a small town in a rural county, regularly contend with much larger schools.

“There are no divisions in mock trial, so we go against schools 30 times bigger than Danville,” said Alden. “To not only be competitive, but to beat those schools consistently, has been very rewarding.”

Alden stated that the team has made it to the state level 11 of the last 12 years.

“To put that in context, there’s somewhere between 350 and 400 teams every year and only the top 25 to 30 make it to state,” he said.

He was quick to give credit to his fellow coaches and the students themselves.

“The kids know how to work. And there’s a great community support,” he said. “There’s lots of alumni who come back, probably too many to name…People who have been in the program will come back and spend hours and hours coaching the kids.”

While the team has benefited from an outpouring of expertise, fellow coaches say Alden’s consistency has been a bedrock of the team’s success.

“I think that what makes Noel such a great coach is his profound commitment,” said Hunter Webster, the teacher advisor for the mock trial team. “He’s always more determined and more excited than anyone else in the room, which pushes everyone up to his level. It’s clear to me that he also really loves working with the kids.”

“He really puts his heart and soul into the mock trial team,” said Jay Nixon, a fellow coach and judge of Knox County Juvenile and Probate Court. “I think the kids that he works with come out a lot better off because of what he does there. To see the effect he has on their confidence, public speaking ability, critical thinking skills… he really is doing a great service to the kids of Danville.”

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Katie Ellington: 740-397-5333 or katie@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @kt_ellington