Chesapeake District 2023

After a bit of a hiatus I figured I’d make a thread for the upcoming CHS season.

As we’re finally returning to normal FRC I’ve made a spreadsheet for the 2023 CHS season and have updated my speadsheet of all-time CHS stats.

A couple of notes from the spreadsheets:

  • Over half of all CHS teams with two plays are having to compete in back-to-back weeks.
  • A quarter of the district still doesn’t have two plays.
  • With 104 teams registered so far and only listed play slots for 100 teams events may end up being overfull and some teams may have to travel further than they’d like to compete.
  • CHS is still losing teams.

CHS 2023 Events:

Week Dates Name Venue
1 Mar 3-5 Blacksburg VA Blacksburg HS
2 Mar 10-12 Bethesda MD Walt Whitman HS
3 Mar 17-19 Alexandria VA Hayfield School
3 Mar 17-19 Portsmouth VA Churchland HS
4 Mar 24-26 Glen Allen VA Deep Run HS
4 Mar 24-26 Timonium MD Dulaney HS
6 Apr 5-8 District Championship Eagle Bank Arena

Registration so far:

We still have four or five veterans that I expect to register and five pre-rookies with temporary numbers that may register as well. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to cram 14 extra teams into our current six events…

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So looking at pre-covid events


There were 7 events providing 265 slots for 129 teams meaning 7 teams could have gotten 3rd plays if they wanted to.

Looking at current events:


They have 202 slots for meaning that is enough for 101 teams however at this moment

There are 104 teams

The Blacksburg event previously has enough space for 4 more teams, Bethesda 2, and Portsmouth 8 more and they have the same locations so I imagine these are definitely not “maxed” out events

These give enough slots for 108 total teams so depending on how many teams are going to register later on this will be fine. It is also possible the other events that are at “new” locations will also open up more slots.

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This is true in theory but dubious in fact. The Timonium event is listed as 32 team capacity with a maximum of 36, that venue is packed with just 24 teams at the Battle of Baltimore offseason. To quote one of the BoB planning committee members “I would consider that to be absolutely impossible to do without putting teams outside.”

Blacksburg and Portsmouth are also very far away for the majority of teams in the district. Here’s team locations (red), event locations (green), and district center of mass (blue):


While the Blacksburg and Portsmouth events do need to fill it seems silly to force many northern teams to incur increased travel expenses to travel to such far away events.

I think we can and should do better than just ‘fine.’ I would vastly prefer add a seventh event and run all seven district events as 32 team events instead of having 40 team events. This was the quick comparison I did a couple of weeks ago:
image

Compared to the 40 team events we’ll end up with this year, 32 team events allow for more relaxed match schedules, less load on key volunteers like inspectors and CSAs, more awards given to more teams, and a larger portion of the district getting to experience playoffs. And if we have a couple of extra slots that could go for third plays or out of district plays I’m for that too.

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FRC Events is finally starting to update again.


With 112 CHS teams registered for events we’ve surpassed 2022’s team count. :tada:

Event capacities have been bumped up even more:

But this still isn’t enough slots for the currently registered teams in the district and six still don’t have a second event:
image

This close to kickoff I’d be shocked if a seventh event was added, but I really wish we could have one. It’s disappointing and inefficient that rookies and late registering veterans are being forced to play two travel events.

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CHS ended up with 112 teams registered at kickoff:

109 of those 112 teams made it to at least one competition, 104 made it to at least two competitions.

I figured it would be interesting to see how adding a seventh district event like I proposed above or implementing more efficient event assignments could have helped teams so I wrote some constraint programming code to optimize event placements by minimizing driving times for all teams. This optimization code correctly assigns each team two plays, doesn’t let a team play more than once per weekend, and ensures that events have at least 26 teams and no more than 40 teams assigned. I then compared optimal placement for the district with seven events, optimal placement for the six events we did have, and the actual placement that we used.

Obviously driving distance isn’t the only deciding factor for most teams, but based on this I’m hopeful that the return of a seventh CHS event will help us have fewer teams miss events in 2024.

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going over your data, a question comes to mind: The assumption is that driving time is the reason that teams missed events. Do you have data to support that assertion? it seems there is more to that with 3 teams, two of them rookies, not playing at all.

Also in your optimized event code, where did you place your 7th event?

I don’t think that driving time is the reason that teams missed events but I do think that driving time decently represents the expense and logistical difficulties of attending an event for teams and their stakeholders. I think it’s something that we benefit from thinking about.

That wasn’t exactly my assertion, but here’s what travel times and event attendance looked like for teams who missed at least one event:

It seems pretty clear that the single event teams were attending just their closest event. And here’s what travel time for the same teams could have looked like in an optimized seven event schedule:

As I said, I don’t think that driving time is the reason that teams miss events. I don’t know if being able to attend closer events would have made the difference to get these specific teams to competition as I’m not in communication with them. Hopefully our district organization has been in communication with them and has worked to understand why these teams were unable to attend and what can be done to help teams in the future.

I used Hayfield Secondary School in Week 5, we know the venue works as they had already hosted in 2023. As seen in my previous post Hayfield is the event site closest to the center of mass of Chesapeake teams so it’s the best choice for reducing driving time for the highest number of teams.

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having the building that works for an FRC event and being able to use that building for an event are two different things. The hypothetical of Haymarket skews your distance data because it would lower the drive time for most any team even if it’s not available.

Your Haymarket location misses one important factor: traffic. That’s why We haven’t traveled up 95 for a district event. The 102 miles between Glen Allen and Haymarket isn’t the same as the 209 miles from Glen Allen to Blacksburg.

The real issue is simple: we need more teams to host events in the NOVA/MD area. We lost one team, for one reason or another, and now we can’t find reasonable sites to have enough plays for everyone? something doesn’t smell right.

Matt you might be confusing Hayfield for Haymarket. (Easy mistake to make!)

Totally agree that we need more event hosts and venues in greater DC.

Not sure about the “smell” issue. To me it makes perfect sense that our district’s ability to execute the program (already fragile!!) would be significantly weakened by the loss of one of its champions.

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EDIT I suppose it might be worth also responding to the discussion about optimizing for travel time… I personally didn’t feel that 2363’s schedule was particularly “suboptimal” last year despite the above-average total drive time. We’ve had two huge privileges:

  • Proximity to one event - enables us to commit to a longer jaunt for our other event
  • Practice field access - enables us to go into a week 1 event with higher confidence

So (during my tenure at least) we’ve enjoyed traveling out to Blacksburg and Haymarket for the travel experience, the chance to grow relationships with folks we don’t see that often, etc.

Heyooo,

So @pchild used Hayfield as the hypothetical event, not Battlefield. It’s weird, since Battlefield is in Haymarket, and my school is called Hayfield. I’m not the one who named it, but it is definitely confusing.

I may be reading too far into the data, and if so I’m sure Preston will correct me, but his graphs mention travel time. I’m assuming that this is the actual time to travel, not some generic function of distance and a set speed. So you’re assumption about the actual mileage vs traffic may already be accounted for in his data.

I’m also gonna bring up some relevant information (some that may not be widely known) relating to events on the CHS northern route. Hopefully this gets to your “real issue”.

In fact, besides our COVID season of 2022, the locations for all southern events have been at the exact same school every year besides 2016, when the CHS Central VA event was at The Meadow Event Park (not counting the rescheduled 2018 SW event). The exact opposite is true of the northern route, where no event schedule is the same from one year to the next.

I’ve heard in plenty of conversations and statements assuming that “we need more hosts” in the NOVA/MD area of the district. Honestly? That’s not really true. In fact, there are double the amount of hosts up north in the last two years than the south (Alexandria, Bethesda, Owings Mills, Timonium, Severn, South River). Furthermore, if we needed more host sites, why are all 4 northern hosts different in 2024 vs 2023? Every single host from last season applied to host again. This means that there was at least 7 venues that CHS had as options for 4 events.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to run things in the northern part of the district from the outside looking in. It seems to me like we have a communication and consistency problem that isn’t really prevalent for Portsmouth, Glen Allen, and Blacksburg. Your “real issue” isn’t an issue. If it was, CHS wouldn’t have had the luxury to turn down multiple hosts every year in the NOVA/MD area when choosing events.

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This is correct. I researched different distance matrix API options before I started writing this code and selected Google’s Distance Matrix API because it lets me choose travel models and departure times to account for traffic. I knew raw mileage wasn’t a good choice for representing travel to events in some areas so I’ve not used it in any chart that I’ve posted.

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I don’t understand. Why ARE these potential hosts being turned down?

not sure that last comment is factual. Please, provide evidence of CHS turning down NOVA/MD sights over the past three years. When I mean “sight” I mean locations and that can: 1. host and event of appropriate size and 2. are not over the allotted budget.

Well I can say as a member of the planning committee of both the Bethesda and Alexandria events that both venues were not selected for the 2024 season. In fact, I have submitted the request to host at my school every year since 2018, so that means that we have been turned down in 2019, 2020 and 2024 (NOTE: the 2021 season was virtual and 2022 was centralized locations). Do you need more evidence than me stating that I was the one that talked with Glen and submitted the google form that CHS sent out? What exactly would satisfy you?

That’s a wonderful question Nate! I would love to answer it. Unfortunately, any time that Hayfield has not been selected I have not had any communication relating to reasons why not. In fact, it has become common for me to find out once the full event schedule has been already set in stone, and never from official communication through FIRST Chesapeake.

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I had no idea about this Joey, I’m sorry. You and your stakeholders are owed feedback every year.

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