View Full Version : FIRST Historians - [10-23-03] - A Special Championship

Jeff Waegelin
10-23-2003, 02:25 PM
After following all of the discussion that's gone on here, my thoughts turned to the last time FIRST changed the Championship criteria, prior to the 2002 season. I'd like to tell my own personal story of that season, this time. My team had come off of a rather lackluster performance in 2001, but we were psyched up and ready for a great 2002 season. Then, a whole bunch of things happened all at once. September 11th came along, we lost our major corporate funding, fell on the wrong side of a school district ban on out-of-country travel that kept us out of the first Canadian Regional, and then, we found that we wouldn't be able to attend that year's National Championship.

It was crushing. The one thing we'd still held hope for seemed like a daunting task. At that point, we could've easily complained that it was unfair, that being excluded solely based on our team number was a horrible reason (and indeed, it was). We didn't do that, though. We accepted the decision that FIRST had made, and set out to do the one thing we could do: win a regional competition, and qualify for the Nationals. We had a small budget, no shop due to renovations, a slim chance at victory, but a whole lot of spirit, drive, and one goal in our sights.

For the six weeks of build season, we pushed harder than we ever had before. We spent three weeks designing and building what we hoped would be one of the best drive systems ever. Our simple transmission wasnt really, as wed find out, but it was a major departure for a team that had never done anything innovative in that area, and the design was 100% original and ours to be proud of. We had almost no technical help, save for one teacher and a few parents, but we poured our time and hearts into something that we knew could succeed. At the end of the six weeks, we shipped off something that we knew was the best robot wed ever built, and that was a reward in itself. It was only a few short weeks to the first regional, and we were ready to take on the world.

From the first day, we knew the only way wed ever make into the Championship was to win our first regional, week 2, at the new Buckeye Regional in Cleveland. It was the only way wed have enough time to make travel plans, so it was a must-win situation. Thursday, our robot seemed shaky, and we needed some welding in the hotel parking lot to fix a last-minute catastrophe at the end of practice rounds. Friday qualifiers came around, though, and we were doing well, winning matches handily, and demonstrating that maybe our robot was as good as we thought it was. We were seeded first for a short time, but then disaster struck twice. The last match of the day, we just collapsed, dropping a few rungs in the standings, but still finishing the day in 3rd. Saturday was another day, and we had two matches left to make up for our loss.

The next morning, after a crushing one-point loss to 67, and an exciting, but low-scoring match against 94, we were firmly planted in 28th place, seemingly outside of the possible range of selection. We were prepared for another regional finals in the stands, as the second round of pairings reached the halfway point. Fortunately, though, luck was on our side, as a rookie team, 859, picked us to join their 5th-seed alliance with 469. And the rest was history. From that point, we were on a roll, and nothing could stop us. In the end, two alliances that everyone thought would win easily were beaten in the last seconds by the dark horse, 201 and 469. They were some of the most exciting matches Id ever been a part of, and it was made all the more sweet when we realized wed just won a regional and we were going to Disney World!

We did make it to the Championship that year, and it was, by far, the best one Ive ever been to. It was arguably 201s best season ever, but that wasnt the reason. Nor was it because it was the last year at Epcot, and not because we made division finalist, but because of the hard work, the trials, and the struggles wed been through to get there. That year, the championship truly meant something special to me, because I knew that after all that had happened, wed earned it.

I guess, the moral of my story is, no matter what you think of the new qualification rules, remember: youre not out of the running until the last match of the last regional. Until then, you always have a chance. And, if you do manage to qualify like we did, the Championship will be something special to you, too.

01-06-2004, 08:01 PM
Jeff! Cute story :)
469 and 201 are THE best alliance ever
:D :D
I reallyyyyyy hope we get that again sometime..
Let's see..you write really well too even if I'd already heard most of that before, I still like it... :rolleyes: ok so that wasn't supposed to be rolling eyes i just thought it was muchos cute!!!!! hehe.
wow i am hyper and not making any sense..sorry about my boyfriend ;) for you know, good reason.. anywho,
fun times, you're awesome and so is your story!

05-14-2004, 10:09 AM
Jeff, that was a great regional and an awesome year with awesome machines. At the point in time of this story, I was a senior in HS at the International Academy on 469. I was probably even on the field some of those rounds you speak of as part of the field team. That was a great alliance team with great alliance partners. Oh, the memories, always fun to look back! :)

Ashley Weed
05-14-2004, 10:16 AM
Excellent story! Right there is a perfect example of the ambition, spirit, and courage of FIRST participants! 2002 is deffinately a "Magical Year" for our team too, and will always be kept in our hearts.

05-14-2004, 12:55 PM
Yeah. That's awesome. It reminds me of our year last year. There is nothing like earning it win you know you earned it. We won the LSR regional by like an inch in 2003 to come back to Houston the next week. That was quite a whirlwind. We came back home for two days before we left again and spent all that time fundraising money we didn't have. Seasons like that make it hard to improve on.

Jeff Waegelin
05-17-2004, 01:46 PM
I'm glad everyone liked this story, even if it took a while to get noticed. While it's enjoying new popularity, I'd like to take the time to point everyone to this thread:

The FIRST Historians Mission (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21845)

FIRST Historians is a feature I started back in the fall, to highlight personal stories, just like this one. It ran for about 2 months, before I ran out of stories to publish. If you'd like to see this become a recurring feature, again, PM any stories to me for approval, and we'll get them posted. I'm glad to see some interest in this again, as it's a personal favorite project of mine. So, if you have a story you'd like to tell, submit it!