I learned recently that there was a pretty significant change to rookie criteria, silently pushed/updated on the FIRST “evergreen” documentation. https://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/frc/rookie-team-criteria
- If only one mentor or teacher with prior experience on a FIRST Robotics Competition
team starts a team at a new school/organization/alliance, or as a non-affiliated team,
that team qualifies as a Rookie Team. If more than one mentor from existing team or teams starts a new, that team is not a Rookie
As far as I can tell, this was pushed out June 6th of this year with no other announcement. I know for sure when I looked into rookie criteria in 2015 that the main limitation was number of students.
I have lots of issues:
Prior experience is poorly defined.
This would have significantly reduced my desire to start a rookie team in 2015 (which already was pretty weak, I only did it because so many things fell into place for me that it seemed to be a sign)
I really believe this new criteria significantly hurts the chances of a rookie team (per FIRST rules) becoming sustainable
Amplifies the issues I have in general with the “evergreen” documentation. How are we supposed to know when there are big changes like this? I thought the whole point of evergreen documentation is that it’s not supposed to change?
If I did FTC and am familiar with FRC does that jeopardize a rookie classification? What if I was a parent, learned about FRC but just helped bring in lunches - then decide well obviously my son/daughter would be better off if we just start our own team? Is there a time limit since my last experience with FRC? What if I did it 10 years ago, the FRC world is way different. What if I was a student on a team…does that constitute experience? Don’t you want your alumni growing up, leaving town and starting new teams? Don’t you want them maybe going to some good teams and get experience first about what it means to be a mentor on a team before they start a team? Lastly, having 1 (pick your favorite WFA-mentor) is going to be way different than having 5 (pick your favorite nice but-less-than-helpful mentors).
Did FIRST do any kind of study or analysis showing if teams with on the likelihood of long term success of rookies with more than 1 mentor with FRC experience vs teams with 1 or fewer mentors with FRC experience. I end that statement without a question mark because we know that answer.
This has a significant impact on fundraising for rookies. If all my ducks are lining up in a row and suddenly I have two mentors with FRC experience, suddenly instead of thinking I might get some rookie grants to help get tools/parts or pay for registration I am now even further in the hole. I have to choose between being able to get some rookie grants to kick start the team or having enough experience to be able to teach the kids a little bit more.
I think this change encourages more rookies that have no idea what they’re doing, get some rookie grants, realize they’re in way over their head and maybe not even show up to a competition. Even with 30+ veteran teams in Houston, there was a Houston team that got a rookie grant and didn’t show up to either district event in Houston that they were registered for.
Who is this trying to help? What issue is this addressing?
After a few days of conversing with others, I’ll share some of the best guesses at the last one:
- It’s all about growth. FIRST thinks that if I’m two experienced FRC mentors…instead of joining up and starting one FRC team, now we wont join forces and we’ll instead start TWO FRC teams.
- If this is HQs thought process, we need to check in on them. If I have FRC experience, no way am I starting a rookie team unless I have another mentor that knows what the heck they’re doing.
- It was because enough rookie teams complained about facing “super rookies” you know the type – the team that comes in with something more than a kitbot and has team branding already. Maybe even win an award that isn’t for rookies only.
- I hope it wasn’t this. If this is the issue – maybe start with addressing the award criteria for Rookie-All Star or Rookie Inspiration. Something like “this award will take the amount of prior FIRST experience your team had” or something. Teams would probably try to hide or play down that…but I’d be willing to beat teams will do the same with this new criteria too. Maybe they only have 1 mentor with prior experience their rookie year, then suddenly pick up some more the following year.
- Also, FIRST should be encouraging this type of thing. Growing from either FTC to FRC or having experienced mentors breaking off and starting their own teams is the best way to grow the FIRST program in a sustainable, reliable way
- Too many rookie teams applying for a limited set of grants
- If it’s this, then my reaction will be “Oh no…you mean the fact that FIRST is setting their “most prestigious award” criteria to be based on the number of teams that they start rather than sustainability efforts means too many rookies are starting???
- If I’m a grant reviewer, I want to award the grants to teams that I think have a chance of making it past that 3rd/4th year cutoff where it seems like a majority of teams die
I don’t know, a lot about this all rubs me the wrong way. If the new rules were set up in a way to discourage new rookies from forming before they had some idea about what to expect, I’d be for it. This seems like the exact opposite of it. I think we want rookies to form from FTC teams, and from mentors with experience getting together to start a new team. It seems like those are the teams that will be around for a long time, and benefit the program the most.
What kind of reasons could you make up for why this is a good idea? Am I missing other reasons why this is a terrible idea? Am I crazy for thinking this deserved more than a quiet update to an evergreen document?