A silent update to rookie criteria

Ah, yes… Hanlon’s Razor, isn’t it? (Though I would suspect ignorance of the possible consequences rather than the stated attribute as being more appropriate.)

I would suspect, FIRST staff being reasonable human beings and all, that a message or three to the Team Advocate calling attention to the unintended consequences should do the trick as far as bringing awareness that there is an issue, and suggesting a reasonable alternative (such as 2 mentors and/or a combination of mentors and students of up to 6).


While I like the sensibility of this theory - it would require believing that HQ reviews their documents and changes them for clarification without some kind of outside pressure to define something more clearly.

It would be totally reasonable for that to be the case. I would honestly be surprised.

@EricH - I actually did email the team advocate and linked to this thread. I hope that the thread can show more input besides mine on the topic and help make the case that this criteria is harmful to the success and sustainability of rookies.


Maybe I’m crazy but the reactions here seem overblown. This isn’t stopping teams from starting, just changing whether they are a “rookie” team or not. All that effects is whether you’re eligible for RAS, RI, and HRS. If that is your main motivation for “starting” a new team, you might need to reevaluate your motivations. If anything, take it as an opportunity to go for chairmans or EI.

EDIT: to be clear, I do think any changes should always be highlighted and reasoning should be given, but reading the old version and new, I think Karthik is correct that it seems like a clarification of what they always wanted that rule to be.


I raised some concerns to HQ some time back when the “evergreen” rules got posted – especially the award descriptions. My point was that if they get changed, and I argued at the time they will get changed, how we will know about it outside the team update mechanism. Their solution was to put a last modified date on each award section… :man_facepalming:

Now we have an evergreen rule, as the OP puts it, “silently” changed. FIRST will change rules, for better or worse from time to time, but now we have no mechanism other than someone finding it and posting to CD. Not every team watches CD - especially in the offseason/summer - and some may not know about it. Even some rookies-in-process may not know, or may not know to look there.

I think, regardless of the rule change itself, this is a very bad precedent to set. If a rule isn’t “evergreen” we need to know it changed, period.

Meanwhile I’m waiting for someone to announce the “FRC Rule Monitoring System” in another thread – a website that checks for changes to the HQ rules pages every 30 seconds. :man_facepalming: :man_facepalming:


How’d you know what I was planning on playing with? :wink:


I wonder if NASA will change their criteria of what they consider a rookie team, as I know many rookies do depend on that grant, as as the rule stands you have too many mentors, you don’t get NASA money and you’re stuck paying the whole registration fee just to start.

Basically, this change is saying if you have mentors you can’t get any of the rookie grants.

  • It affects funding for starting a rookie team. Having 2 or more mentors with FRC experience doesn’t make getting money for registration/parts/tools any easier. It just means we know how to more effectively spend whatever money we receive. If I’m a grantor, I want teams to be smart with the money they receive.
  • Should a group of all new students, starting with little to no tooling or space, not be eligible for a rookie award? Winning awards is a good way to get community support. In a district event these teams that no longer may qualify as rookies may still stand a good chance at an award, at a 60 team regional I’d be willing to bet they won’t.
  • still not sure what issue it solves to limit it to a single mentor with frc experience. Is it awards? Is it grants? Is it related to team growth? All of it? Does it really address those things?

I will agree that my memory appears to be off and this isn’t as big of a change as I thought. If someone wanted to be pedantic they could go and remove our rookie inspiration award. At this point in time it’d have had little affect. In 2015 and 2016, it could have had a major impact.

I find the criteria clarification to be of a concern and hurts FRC more than it helps anyone.


This is pretty stupid. If you have FRC mentoring experience and you want to help out a new team that is starting now you would be harming that team if there is also another mentor with experience. Mentoring this team would be mean giving up the opportunity for rookie funding and awards. This would directly harm the chances of teams succeeding.


and much more importantly, rookie grants. While it might seem admirable to restrain the Machiavellian incentives that might give rise to “super rookies”, it is incredibly dangerous to restrain young teams’ access to resources that many around here would agree are already far too sparse.

True sustainability will never come from discouraging alumni or experienced mentors from working together to start teams, which increases both the sustainability of the rookie team and the sustainability of the adults’ efforts to contribute to FIRST; nor will it come from disincentivizing teams from registering adults who work with their students as mentors, a process which contributes to accountability and student safety through the YPP.

To the argument about rookie competition awards (RAS, district point bonus, etc.), while there is the possibility of abuse in the system, those mechanisms exist for a reason. The inspiration that these can provide to teams who are particularly vulnerable to folding is incredibly valuable, and removing access to these mechanisms should not be done lightly.

Like others in this thread, I am not bothered so much by this change, which seems to be not much more than

as I am of learning of the rule in general and the heavy-handed way in which it has been written. I myself, along with I am sure many others here, can think of teams that were definitely rookies who would’ve lost what rookie support is available by a strict interpretation of this rule.

I sympathize will the desire (quite arguably the need) to create a strict partition of what constitutes a rookie. But doing so in a way that errs on the side of taking resources away from those who most need it rather than possibly giving a few teams extra support that they do not “deserve”; doing so in this way is a logistical and/or ethical nightmare just waiting to happen.


It’s clear that I have a bias with this because I feel it would have impacted me/my team in a negative way.

So I think the next question is - am I / is my team the outlier? Say my team doesn’t get RI, do our experienced FRC mentors power through the lack of support for a couple more years? We also had a principal that was previously at one of the Robonauts schools, so she knew what kind of impact a good FRC team could have, and made her one of our biggest supporters. Truthfully, she is the only reason we got space at one of the schools and were allowed to be a school supported activity our first year. She moved after our 2nd year, so it ended up being really important to get district support so we didn’t lose our space in our “trial run” (as I was frequently reminded it was) of using the space for robotics. Does the team that gets RI instead of us get the support they need to improve faster than they have without it (or still exist if they don’t)? To be fair, the RAS from our competition, who also wont RAS at the world championship, didn’t exist the next year. So clearly those types of awards don’t guarantee a team’s sustainability even into a 2nd year.

Seems like it’d be another good reason for an exit survey (Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose).

Related to this: At least according to my research of the 21 Texas FRC teams that started in 2015 (the year Pearadox started) only 11 of them still existed in 2019. It’d be interesting to find out of those 11 teams (5411, 5414, 5417, 5427, 5431, 5503, 5572, 5681, 5682, 5726, 5754) how many started with only 1 or few mentors with FRC experience. And it’s a loaded question with no real answer, but I wonder what kind of impact it would have had on any of the teams that would not have been considered a rookie team, if any.


I think a situation happened this year where team 7404 Hightide was created. However we all know them as 4414. I don’t know the full situation and may be completely wrong, but it seemed like they registered as a rookie team and were given a number but were soon given a different number (4414) to represent how long the students and mentors have been in FIRST. Hightide in my opinion is an amazing team and I don’t know how much funding they have but not having rookie grants probably made a pretty big impact on them.

IIRC, they split from a cali team, and they have a full machine shop at their disposal.

Looking at the bot they had, i have little doubt that they were super strapped for cash like most rookie teams, but I could be assuming too much.

No, I don’t think you are on second thought.

We were still able to qualify for a few different rookie grants even after the number change. Turns out cooperations care a lot less about your competitiveness than first does, and fundamentally we were starting from nothing as rookies.

All that aside we did a majority of our fundraising finding other corporate sponsors and fundraising creatively. I don’t think we would have been affected by a lack of rookie grants. We built a pretty expensive pair of robots and if a rookie team expects to do the same they need to prepare to fundraiser miles past rookie grants.


I’m not so concerned about the actual change… it only determines qualification for a few awards as opposed to the actual ability to start a new team… but I am concerned about the process.

The change should be clearly noted with the changes redlined so it is quick and easy to see the difference. It would also help to have it posted in draft form… the wording for this is awful. The first sentence speaks to mentors with previous FRC experience (me), and the second sentence refers to mentors on current teams (not me). So only one of me can help start a rookie-award-eligible team in the first sentence, but an unlimited number of me can help start a rookie-award-eligible team in the second sentence.



from your web page:

“Shaker Robotics was founded in the spring of 2008 as the Shaker Techology Club by a former FRC Team 1726 mentor, a young technology teacher, and two students.”

That’s not much experience! yet you should see what Tom (that 1726 mentor) did on 1726 with zero experience…won a blue banner as the 4th alliance captain, as a rookie team. Hmmmm…


back to your regularly scheduled program


One definitely seems low. This really could put a detriment on “Mentor Couples” a.k.a. two married mentors who would want to start a team could be super impacted.

I like to think @Karthik is right about his above assumption, fingers crossed.


Maybe its the rules lawyer in me but this does not limit the number of experienced mentors on a rookie year.

It clearly states if 2 experienced mentors start a team (Lights Out for example) they are not a rookie. However if one mentor starts it and in the process of existing in the preseason another experienced mentor joins then they stay a rookie. Basically when you fillout the paperwork for a new team you need another person with 0 frc experience as the secondary contact but once you are in and the team is “started” you can have as much experience as you want

Maybe I don’t have the same definition of start as first but that is how i read it


I think there’s a very significant other question, which is “Are these teams eligible for rookie grants and the rookie Kit of Parts?” The answer to that question will very much drive my opinion of this issue.


The rookie kit of parts in particular is the first thing I thought of when I saw this thread. If a newly-created team is not eligible for the rookie kit of parts, that means that they are responsible for purchasing many of the critical components of a robot’s control board, including the RoboRIO. Those components are not cheap, and you can’t test a robot without them. This would be a huge financial burden to place on a newly-formed team, especially if they are also not eligible for rookie grants.

Back in 2014, I and several other mentors from 868 helped start team 5010. We worked our butts off and managed to win Rookie All Star, which got us a spot at Worlds. However, it was a major struggle getting the funds together even to pay the registration fee, to say nothing about travel costs, replacement parts, etc. A lot of us ended up writing personal checks to help cover the difference, and that was with a rookie grant. It doesn’t matter how much FRC experience your students and mentors have–when you’re a rookie team, your primary concern is financial. As they are currently written, it looks like this rule change will severely cripple a lot of rookie teams’ ability to do the fundraising they need to get off the ground.