Hi CD community. Over the past few years, our team has been growing in size, working on a wider range of projects, and improving performance wise. While this is really great, a number of problems have surfaced and the team is not in a great position right now.
It’s worth noting that we are a very student driven team. We’ve only got a few floating mentors, and while our lead coach is a really nice guy, his guidance tends to be infrequent and generally confusing. The leadership ends up having to figure a lot out as we go, and this isn’t ideal. Back when the team wasn’t as large or didn’t perform as well, this was fine because things couldn’t really go downhill much further. But with an expanding team, more pressure has been put on the leadership to keep everything going.
Inevitably there have been slip ups and bad decisions (notably over committing to too many projects as a team), and this has caused a lot of members to lose trust in the leadership’s ability. A significant number of members spend more time complaining and worrying about team politics, and people are less focused on learning and having fun, whether it be working on the robot, sponsorship grant applications or animations.
Another issue comes with regard to team sustainability. The current juniors and seniors include a lot of very committed members who have helped bring the team’s performance to a point where we are making eliminations frequently. However, we’ve found it hard to train up the underclassmen to the same level, and this is a lot of work for students to do. Again, this wasn’t an issue when the team didn’t do as well. But it’s tough, especially when the only “constant factor” for year to year is really our lead coach; high schoolers are in and out in four years.
To me, both of these issues show that the team just needs some proper guidance to keep it going in the right direction, because in the end we are all just high schoolers. The one difference I and a few other members noticed was our lack of mentors. Admittedly, our lead coach has tried to bring in parents to mentor, but they are in and out in 4 years or less with their students and usually don’t get involved in the administration/leadership part of the team. We’ve noticed that other teams in the area have a core group of committed community mentors who have been with the team or involved in FRC for upwards of 3-4 years. I am guessing that this additional “constant factor” that we are lacking has helped promote steady growth and sustainability across the years on those teams.
So our question is, how do we find this sort of long term community mentorship and alter our team’s model to become sustainable?
Sidenote: Posting this anonymously so I don’t have to worry about dealing with someone taking issue with anything I’ve said. I do hope this has not offended anyone too deeply.