Saturday, May 30, 2015

World Champion Series: Part 6 "Homeward Bound"

  The bus ride back seemed longer than the bus ride going there had, but not in a bad way. Everyone was so tired but also happy. We had built a robot in just six weeks that was good enough to attend two district competitions, the Indiana FIRST State Championship, and the FRC World Championship. Not to mention place 37th in the entire world. We wouldn’t figure that out for another couple of days. Pretty good for one season’s work. And a pretty good way to spend my last year on the team. Truthfully I’ll miss FIRST. There was one moment, on the bus, where I just sat back and realized everything that I had gained as a member of this team. All around me were people who were laughing and smiling and enjoying each other’s company
Bus Leaving St. Louis
Leaving St. Louis after an exciting competition
At one end of the bus a group of students took turn playing Xbox while, at the other, a mass of people crowded around a little table for a marathon card game tournament. And not just students, mentors and parents too. In that moment I realized I guess I owe FIRST a lot. Not just in the academic aspects but also in memories and lifelong friends. Because everyone on that bus that night was nothing short of a best friend to me.

In case you missed part 5 "Einstein On The Edge" Check it out

Thursday, May 28, 2015

World Championship Series: Part 5 "Einstein On The Edge"

Once each division had a victor, we packed up our pit and got a good seat for the finals. For these last eight alliances, they tore down all but two fields and called them Einstein. Never have I seen a more intense set of FIRST game played. These were the best eight alliances on the planet. There wasn’t a single team there that didn’t deserve a spot on Einstein and was good enough to show why. 
In the stands
The Crowd Awaits Einstein
 One after another the finals were played and FIRST really pulled out all the stops. There even was a “Match Break” desk where two First officials would sit. Between every match, they would come on like sports casters and break down what happened in the last match. Reporters walked the two fields, getting interviews from the competing drive teams that would suddenly play for the whole stadium to see on the building sized screens. They even had cameras that would sweep across the packed house of cheering fans when a good dance song came on. That’s one of my all-time favorite things about FIRST: It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost, it doesn’t matter who it is that beat you, every team genuinely wants every other team to do the absolute best that they can no matter what. Good luck finding another sporting event where both sides want theiropponent to play their best, even in defeat.
In the End
Confetti From Above
In the end, it was the alliance from our division that would win it all. Confetti rained from the ceiling as the last official match of Recycle Rush came to a close and FIRST crowned a new world champion. As for our little team from Indiana, we loaded back onto the bus and said goodbye to St. Louis. It might be the last time for me, but I am sure with 100% confidence that the PhyXTGears will be back to St. Louis again. Or, at least wherever the World Championship is being held in the coming years.

Did you miss Part 4 "Glory Road"? Check it out! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

World Championship Series: Part 4 "Glory Road"

I will never forget my first time stepping onto Newton Field. I was our driver and was purely humbled by being able to be here and get to drive at St. Louis. Stepping onto the field was especially significant for me. This year, because we assumed each competition we attended would be our last, I never knew when it would be my last time on a real FRC field. I guess it was only fitting then that our first match was one of the worst we had ever played. It was time to come back to reality. We were here, but it was time to buckle down and do what we came to do: compete.

Over the next several days we rose through the rankings one match at a time, each one with seemingly a whole new set of challenges, rewards, and struggles. The low point of the qualifications came before they even started when we realized we were missing a key robot component and had to improvise a spare that we would then use throughout the competition. The high point was when we randomly got paired with the team that would go on to be the world champion and nearly broke the world record in number of points scored in a match. In the end, we made it to the top eight and held onto 6th. 
First Worlds Championship
The Team Driving "Not Yet"
At alliance selection, we were hoping to be picked by a higher team but were also prepared to be Alliance Captains ourselves. The latter ended up being the case and we went into the quarterfinals of the Newton Division as the fifth Alliance Captain. We moved a condensed version of our pit into the Dome and prepared to see if we could go all the way. After a few matches in the quarterfinals, it was clear we would not move to the semis.
Not Yet
"Not Yet" in Action
Our best few matches were those last few, but we were simply not as good as the competition. And I don’t think a single person on our team, or on our Alliance Partner teams, was unhappy with how those last few matches turned out. We played our best and that was all that mattered. If you missed out on Part 3 "The Fields of Science" Check it Out!