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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:06 PM
Travis Hoffman's Avatar Unsung FIRST Hero
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Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

West Virginia, Ohio, and Western PA (WOW) teams - Travis Hoffman on lil ol' Team 48 here. As an individual team mentor of a WOW FRC team, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. Who loves it? Who hates it? Who do you think *truly* benefits if such a move went through? Does WOW even matter? Would we Ohio and WV teams be content renaming ourselves to simply WO(e)?

Looks like there will be an opportunity for Western PA teams to let MAR (or whatever they're calling themselves now) people know exactly what you think if you're attending the Greater Pittsburgh Regional, as well. I encourage you all to attend and be *brutally* honest at that meeting.
Wonder if they'll let Ohio and West Virginia teams crash the party?

****************************

Hello Teams!

Frank Merrick, Director of FIRST Robotics Competition here.

I wanted to make you aware that we just sent the note below to FRC teams in Pennsylvania that are not currently part of the FIRST Mid-Atlantic (FMA) District.

As you can see, we are considering integrating Western Pennsylvania teams into the FMA District. This could affect you, as the Greater Pittsburgh Regional would no longer be available for you to attend. If this integration occurs, and you normally attend the Greater Pittsburgh Regional, we will need to find accommodations for you at other Regional events.

As the note says, the decision has not yet been made, but we will keep you informed.

Thanks, and I hope you have a great season!

Frank

*****

Hi Western Pennsylvania Teams.

Frank Merrick from FIRST Robotics Competition here.

This competition season almost half of the total FRC teams in the world are playing in states/regions operating in the District model. Many teams tell us they love it.

Mid-Atlantic Robotics (MAR), now known as FIRST Mid-Atlantic (FMA), has been playing using the District model since 2012. FMA currently includes the states of New Jersey and Delaware and the eastern half of Pennsylvania. FIRST and FIRST Mid-Atlantic have recently discussed a potential realignment in which Western PA teams would become part of the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District. FIRST and FMA believe that combining all PA teams into one area will enable additional funding opportunities, including potential state funding to grow FIRST in the entire state. Currently, the split in Pennsylvania limits potential financial opportunities from the state.

FIRST HQ and FIRST Mid-Atlantic want to get your feedback and address any questions and concerns your team may have. We are planning on holding an informational meeting at the Pittsburgh Regional with representatives of FIRST & FIRST Mid-Atlantic available to answer questions.

We know there are many questions, so we will try to answer a few up front.

There is no guarantee that western PA will become part of FIRST Mid-Atlantic, nor is there a timetable for the realignment. FIRST HQ, FIRST Mid-Atlantic, & Western PA are simply studying the effects of the move and gathering public opinion on the change.

If this transition occurs, while FIRST Mid-Atlantic volunteers may travel to western PA to help with District events, the long-term goal is to develop a local volunteer base to cover the events.

Also, if this transition occurs, there would likely be two new district events in western PA in addition to the existing FIRST Mid-Atlantic events. The new potential FIRST Mid-Atlantic events will count towards district points for teams in the region and will give an opportunity for teams to ‘travel’ both to and from western PA.

We hope you join us in conversation as together we talk about expanding FIRST in your region!

Frank
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:07 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Hang in there California and Minnesota.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:10 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

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Originally Posted by marshall View Post
Hang in there California and Minnesota.
I'd be happy to add the CA Teams to CHS if they don't mind traveling!

What does the team population in Central PA look like these days? Is there a population?

Also, would you take 1629 into the newly expanded MAR district? While I love competing with them every year I feel bad for how much they have to travel in our district. Food for thought, they're closer to Cleveland than Richmond...

Last edited by notmattlythgoe : 02-23-2018 at 12:13 PM.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:11 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

If we can get SC to join PCH or NC I'd be very happy for them.

I still want the tri-state fiesta, but maybe that's just me.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:11 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

As an outside perspective, if I'm understanding this correctly, it sounds like an awesome chance for WePA teams to get into districts and would probably greatly benefit the region.

That said, with limited options for the other WOW teams, I think FIRST should be working to move you all to the district model so inter-district play can occur and not disrupt the competitions people have been attending for years.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:18 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Quote:
Originally Posted by notmattlythgoe View Post
I'd be happy to add the CA Teams to CHS if they don't mind traveling!

What does the team population in Central PA look like these days? Is there a population?

Also, would you take 1629 into the newly expanded MAR district? While I love competing with them every year I feel bad for how much they have to travel in our district. Food for thought, they're closer to Cleveland than Richmond...
Take a look at the map below, taken from this website. Looks like central PA has something like 5 teams maximum. Makes things difficult, I'd think.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:19 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Quote:
Originally Posted by notmattlythgoe View Post
I'd be happy to add the CA Teams to CHS if they don't mind traveling!
It's probably cheaper to travel across the country for districts than to play in regionals held within the same city, so it would make sense.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:20 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

In terms of team density, joining East PA and West PA doesn't really make sense. But maybe the financial incentives (that Frank mentioned) make a bigger difference.

The simpler analysis is that it would be good for West PA. Districts are great! MAR CMP is barely farther than one of the regionals we decided to attend.

If it happens, it would suck for the rest of WOW.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:24 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitchhiker 42 View Post
Take a look at the map below, taken from this website. Looks like central PA has something like 5 teams maximum. Makes things difficult, I'd think.


I just drew a line to make it clearer which teams are from FMA. Seems like 5 non Pittsburgh teams and ~15 Pittsburgh teams.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:25 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akash Rastogi View Post
As an outside perspective, if I'm understanding this correctly, it sounds like an awesome chance for WePA teams to get into districts and would probably greatly benefit the region.

That said, with limited options for the other WOW teams, I think FIRST should be working to move you all to the district model so inter-district play can occur and not disrupt the competitions people have been attending for years.
Some would say that Western PA TEAMS (perhaps not Western PA FIRST-related OFFICIALS, who might have other intentions....) were already working (admittedly slowly, but still working) toward a WOW district that would let them compete in the region among friendly teams they've been associating with for years.

Is MAR the best district scenario for Western PA teams? Ye get cheaper events sooner and might be able to qualify locally, but you willing to pay for fees and travel costs to the east coast to attend the MAR Championship to punch your ticket to the Detroit Championsplit?

If you expect to hedge your bets with the still very local Buckeye and Miami Valley regionals, I don't think ye all will be getting in. If you go MAR, you might as well build a Trumpian wall at the Ohio-PA line. Ohio and WV teams newly shut out of Greater Pittsburgh will pack those events to the rafters before you get a chance to register. In fact, any district teams that are used to traipsing over to these regionals (being centrally located, we've had all comers as a prime poaching area, attracting district teams from IN, MI, NE, and MAR) will probably find themselves shut out completely.

Districts are great...except for when they aren't. Make sure YOUR best interests are being served, and not those of MAR officials looking to raise more money that may benefit people/regions who aren't you, more than you. ASK QUESTIONS. GET ANSWERS. Don't go along for the ride and accept what they have to say at face value.

If a unified Pennsylvania was truly in Western PA's best interests - if MAR truly had your best interests first and foremost in their minds - then how come Western PA wasn't assimilated into MAR when it was first formed? I'd love to know the TRUE, behind the scenes history there.
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Last edited by Travis Hoffman : 02-23-2018 at 12:33 PM.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:28 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Decidedly good for obtaining state-wide funding.

Questionable for western PA team experience.

Decidedly bad for teams that regularly attend the Pittsburgh Regional (Northeast Ohio, Western New York, West Virginia).

Food for thought: Only 23/51 teams registered for 2018 Pittsburgh Regional are from Pennsylvania.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:31 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank
Also, if this transition occurs, there would likely be two new district events in western PA in addition to the existing FIRST Mid-Atlantic events
Seems likely that all of the West PA teams will go to these two new district events and the rest of MAR will stay at the existing events, with zero crossover.

MAR is nicely compact right now, I'd guess that ~95% of teams can attend two district events without needing a hotel. It'll be interesting adding the rest of Pennsylvania to the mix.

Districts are definitely the right move and will be good for western Pennsylvania. I think it might be better if there was a westPA-Ohio-West Virginia district, but we'll see what happens.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:53 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

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Originally Posted by Hitchhiker 42 View Post
Take a look at the map below, taken from this website. Looks like central PA has something like 5 teams maximum. Makes things difficult, I'd think.
Reminds me of what Michigan looked like before it went district. I can't find a map of MI teams from 2009 - maybe someone else can help me out here. Teams in the northern lower peninsula and the UP had to travel a significant distance to get to one event, let alone the two they were required to attend. For the western UP teams, even with more events in the UP now, it would still make a lot of sense if they were incorporated into a Wisconsin district due to geography, but I imagine that won't happen due to funding.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AGPapa View Post
Seems likely that all of the West PA teams will go to these two new district events and the rest of MAR will stay at the existing events, with zero crossover.
I wouldn't count on that...it's nice to not see the same teams at every event every year. I don't think there will be a significant amount of crossover, but I could see 3-4 teams making the trip to the opposite side of PA each event.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:56 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

I believe districts would work if we just made the
Points universal across all competitions. It would open up travel and force districts to put on a good show vs owning a Monopoly.
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Unread 02-23-2018, 12:59 PM
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Re: Frank Merrick Email - "A Note to Ohio and West Virginia Teams"

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I believe districts would work if we just made the
Points universal across all competitions. It would open up travel and force districts to put on a good show vs owning a Monopoly.
soooo.... regionals? Pardon my ignorance but what is the difference here? I was under the impression that one benefit of districts is reduced travel distance.
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