A Rookie's first look at FIRST

Posted by Carolyn Duncan at 04/11/2001 5:03 PM EST

Student on team #495, The Pack, from Jamestown High School and VBEP/Raytheon/Saic.

This year I was a rookie team member on a rookie team. Only 3 people on my team had any idea what we were all about to get ourselves into. They were all mentors; 1 NASA employee and 2 college student who were on high school teams. We started the year playing with legos and were soon approached with and offer to become a FIRST team. When I joined I knew nothing about what I was doing, I just joined to play with legos, I though I was just a member of the nerd club (Tri- Lambda lol). Once we started talking about FIRST I didn’t know what to think but I went along with it, iot seemed fun and gave me something to do. When I went to Richmond to see the kick off web cast I knew that this was huge and instantly was gung-ho. I went home that night and started annotating the rules that I had to prepare for a meeting the next day. From then on there was no looking back, I became a nerd, which I now prefer to use the word ninny (thanx Anton). We began construction of our robot and many people experienced burn out, understandable considering we were doing good to have 5 students at a meeting on one night. I myself began to wonder why I put up with some of the things some of my mentors did and said that were nearly unbearable. Only my stubbornness and my will to win got me through. (those who know me, team 495, or the mentors I’m talking about understand; if you don’t know and want to just ask and I’ll tell you via e-mail, it would not be gracious or proffessional to post it publicly) The night before shipping, we worked on wiring for 10 hours. Wondering what it was all for. The day we left for the VCU regionals was a day of uncertainty. Once we got to the arena I knew what it was all for. I immediatley wanted to know why I had never heard of this before and why I hadn’t been on a team before. It was great! I’ve never met a group of people quite like the FIRST people before. After VCU we had to go home and work out a couple of kinks with our robot to prepare for nats. Myself and the only other girl on the team counted down the days until we would leave for Orlando. In our 1st block engineering class we never did our work, we talked about our robot and plans for nats. Once we got to nats we went wild. We knew that all our hard work had payed off. What would happen would happen, we just had to sit back and enjoy the ride. It was one big celebration, not a party because I got in trouble for using that word around my mentors. I never though joining the nerd club would ever be so fun or that I would ever want to admit that I was a member. Now the only thing I do reliably is tell people about FIRST and encourage them to join a team or start a team. I’m now suffering from withdrawl symptoms and it’s only been a few days. I want to go back to nats and odo soooo much more. When I watch my vidoe tapes from Orlando it makes me cry. This is because I made so many friends there who weren’t necessarily on my team. A couple of other teams would stop me when I would walk by and talk to me. Or in the case of team 122, I became a serogate member of their team. Everyone there was so great as are all the people who post here. I guess what I’m really trying to say is thank you all for adding a plus to my senior year. I enjoyed meeting you guys at the web hug and seeing you around the competition. It was truely an honor to be there with you. I don’t regret for a second deciding to be a ninniy over playing soccer. It was entirely my pleasure. I want you all to know that you hold a special place in my heart and I hope to see you all next year.
Team 495