With the Greensboro competition complete, we wanted to give you an up-close look at some of what made it an exciting day.
Before that, we want to say a huge thank you to this year’s sponsors as well as anyone and everyone who has helped us in the past. It would be impossible to have gotten to where we are today without the unwavering support of our coach Leslie Clegg, our mentors, our parents, FIRST, our school Pine Lake Prep, and of course our sponsors.
We also want to recognize our fantastic alumni. Any success we are having this year 100 percent belongs to you as well. You have laid the foundation of the team and taught us everything we know about building robots and running a team. We wish we could come find all of you at college or at work to present you a medal. You deserve it!!
Now let’s move on to our breakdown!
For those who don’t know what the Chairman’s award is, it is the most prestigious award offered by FIRST. It is given to the team that all others should idol, pushing the message of FIRST and Gracious Professionalism into their community, spreading STEM among their school, and giving those who haven’t been introduced to STEM a chance to both enhance their knowledge on the subject and experience the joys it brings. Being on our Chairman’s team myself I can tell you how it went. With all presentations we were ushered in and did our introductions. From there we jumped right into our presentation. The SPORK team members that created the presentation could not have done any better. The formatting of it and the wonderful graphics that were put together were simply outstanding. We ran through all of our slides, with a slight stutter here and there but nothing too outlandish. Once we wrapped up with our presentation the judges seemed intrigued with our outreach events we had participated in and we answered the questions to the best of our abilities. Later in the day I was approached by a judge asking for a USB stick with our Chairman’s video on it and from there the judges did what they do. Winning Chairman’s though was such an honor to the point in which many of us were in tears. It was a dream come true for all of us and it truly is impossible to put into words the way that I felt when we had won.
Our pit in previous years had been hectic and generally very messy, not to mention painful to the eyes. This year our coach, some team members, and one or two mentors decided to improve this in all ways. They collaborated with our new safety team, which has more than doubled in size from last year, to find the best way to have flow and maximize space so it didn’t feel so cluttered. One of our major critiques from the year prior was to have fewer people in the pit and with the new design we managed that. They built up a REALLY nice pit, managing both aesthetics and space perfectly together.
As everyone knows, safety is vital both in our shop and at competition and our new safety team has done an outstanding job. In the past year they have created some new rules that have earned high praise from our safety mentors. They created a new system that shows mentors and anyone else intrigued what machines students are certified to use. On the back of the nametags all students are required to wear is a list of all things they are certified to use, a date in which they were certified and a mentor signature. Not only have they come up with great ideas, but they have gotten much more strict to better enforce the rules of safety among our team.
Spirit & Teamwork:
Being the Spirit Lead myself this may come ever so slightly balanced, but please do know it is heartfelt in every way. Last year our team worked generally well together. Don’t get me wrong, but something had changed between then and now that makes it feel like we aren’t a team anymore, we are a family. Whether you are talking with someone about the robot or something personal, they are always listening and there to help you. This is something that I myself love to no end. It has also made us united so that when cheering in the stands, or from home in some cases, it is with full force and is wholehearted in every way. Leading chants last year could be a pain if I am being entirely honest, but this year I am not only happy, but excited to do so. I am proud of the way we hold ourselves together and the ways that we have reacted to situations that have been thrown at us.
This year has been fantastic in terms of outreach. In the past few months alone we have been working on a website for a close friend of one of our mentors, worked with our local community center, and even participated in our school’s “STEM Night.” It all would have been impossible without our lovely Operations mentor (You know who you are :D) who has worked tirelessly to help this team thrive as it has.
Now for the fun part, the actual competition with our robot. We started off pretty rough, our drive team was still going through the motions of getting used to the field and the game itself, but we managed to work through it. After the first few games we ended up in 24th place, from there we worked our way up to 10th at the end of the day and to 7th after the final qualification match. Alliance selections came and we were selected by Swift Robotics in the 3rd Alliance position. We agreed on selecting REACHS Robotics to finish out our alliance and from there we went into the quarter finals. We lost our first match which was a bummer, but we all came back and won the next two. From there we went to the semi-finals and then won the next two matches. Then it was on to the finals. The room was electric when we won our first match. From there we had a slight break to fix things and we went into the second match. We then lost the second match due to penalty points and the entire stadium was on their feet come the third, and final, match. We won that final match and claimed the title of champions. It was very emotional for us in the stands and behind the controls and we thought all of this had to be a dream. Here we are, less than a week later and it’s very much true!
Thank you so much for reading this lengthy, but heartfelt essay. Hopefully you can read some of our other posts (in the case you haven’t looked at your inbox recently). Enjoy your spring breaks, whether it be now or in the near future, and thanks again for reading through this.