Luck sits squarely at the intersection of hard work and opportunity – UCLA Coach Tom Stebbins
We did it! Starting at the back of the pack, in next to last place, we applied lessons learned through five competitions to finish right in the middle of the 24 team slate bound for the FTC State Championship in Daytona Beach, on March 2nd, preserving our legacy of competing in the State Championship every year since our founding in 2008.
The ROBOT League Championship was a challenging event, aligning us with, and pitting us against, some of the best teams in Florida and the nation – including World Championship team Masquerade, from Middleton High School, which is also currently the top ranked team in the state. In the end, we made it to the Finalist Alliance captained by Brick Buddies, and took home two trophies, one for the runner up alliance, and one for the PTC Design Award.
When we take stock of our season, we are pleased with our students, honored to have the support of their remarkable families, our incredible coaches and our devoted mentors, and gratified by the effectiveness of our team philosophy , which clearly demonstrates the value of the FIRST program when applied with the academic and social integrity intended. We were able to take a group of students, ages 13-16, from diverse backgrounds and different schools who had never participated in a FIRST program and bring them together as a team, connecting them with caring, committed and supportive mentors, teaching solid engineering, design and programming skills along the way, and guiding them to a point where they placed in the top 24 of nearly 80 teams statewide.
- Our little team of rookie students has consistently applied lessons learned mechanically, strategically and corporately, with students working overtime after school, weekends and during school holidays.
- We’ve been matched against some really good, tough teams with both good and not so good alliances and we’ve scored consistently well.
- We have a reliable, well built robot, with a working autonomous, and a good collection system, two good driving teams who now know how to run defense and offense, and we make a good lifting partner.
- Team members have kept up their engineering notebook as they’ve learned the skills they’ve needed to program, CAD and build, worked hard to create a great team video, conducted community outreach , helped mentor other teams, and generally been an all-around great team of FIRST students.
There’s always a degree of uncertainty that can’t be controlled, but the more effort that’s put into the things that can be controlled, the greater the chances of success. That’s true across the board and we hope that’s a lesson our students take to heart and into all they do beyond Team Duct Tape.
It’s been quite a journey so far, as we’ve worked our way up from nearly dead last to the middle of the pack and finally, as of last week’s ROBOT League meet at Polk State College, the middle of the top! Now in 13th place, we need to hold on to a spot in the top 24, as we move into the League Championship this coming Saturday, to earn a place at the Florida FTC State Championship in March.
Team members have been working hard all season, though, and each rung up the ladder has been preceded by a journey along the learning curve, with improvements coming out of every meet.
Team members have been working overtime to build the best team they can, in addition to the best robot they can, because in the end, it’s not just about how well the robot does on the field, but about how effective the team as a whole is – with everything from technical know-how and documentation, to team marketing, communications with each other and with other teams, work with mentors, and outreach to our FIRST community and to our Tampa Bay community.
It’s that greater challenge of character and teamwork, on top of the technical and scientific challenges inherent in the game, that makes the FTC experience such an enriching one year after year.
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” – Coach John Wooden, in The Difference Between Winning and Success
Our first ROBOT League meet was instructive, if not as successful as we’d hoped. It was one thing to show new members videos and
photos and try to explain what a full scale competition was like, but there’s no substitute for the real thing. But failure is the truest test of
TDTs guiding principle of “Character above competition,” or as John Wooden observed, “You can lose when you outscore somebody in a game. And you can win when you’re outscored.” What really matters is the character of a team, and how that character holds steady whether a team is winning or losing.
Sure, we’d have loved to win – who doesn’t?! But we’re very proud of team members, all of whom took the day’s challenges in stride and vowed to come back stronger and better at our next meet on December 8th. And mentors and coaches were deeply touched by team member families’ expressions of warm gratitude at the team dinner after the event – evidence of the real value members place on the academic experience Team Duct Tape offers.
The best tribute to the team’s healthy mentality, though, was their complete avoidance of blame, their thoughtful evaluation of
problems at their post-event meeting this past weekend, and their immediate focus on needed improvements, from improved structural integrity of the robot, to stronger interview skills.
So it’s nose to the grindstone – and the drawing board – this week and next, with extra meetings, drive practice and some outreach events sprinkled in, and we’ll see if we can add some wins to our successful team!