We have some new members and new mentors on our team which is wonderful. We actually have meetings with >10 people. We are still a small team, but the new members are excited to be on the team, and we are happy to have them.
At our week 1 event, we had some members who spent most of their time socializing in the cafe’ area. One of my mentors asked to create a policy for the team that the members should be either in the pit, on the field, or in the stands cheering us on most of the event.
I feel that this has come up on our team before, and though this will be team decision, I am curious what other teams do in this regard. I am including a poll, and fully understand that CD Bias in polls is a thing.
Appropriate places where team members can spend most of their time at an event (not including load-in day are…
In the pits
In the quiet room
On the field
In the stands
Some other area that is safe and supervised, but in which you cannot see the competition.
We set the expectation that all team members have a job, and that all jobs are critical to the overall performance of the team. Scouting matches (either formally or casually) is no exception… It is a job with a direct and measurable impact on how our weekend plays out.
All jobs come with the natural characteristics of a job:
– they have supervisors who you report to
– they have colleagues who you share the work with
– they have times when you can take a break
– they have times when you cannot take a break
Everyone has a job pretty much all the time right now. Pre-Covid we were about twice as big, and had scheduled time for jobs, so everyone got some time off.
Our expectation is that everyone is in the stands for our matches. We encourage things like talking with other teams during their break times, but recognize they’ll spend some time with concessions and such.
The quiet room is always available when needed, but we don’t want people to spend all day in there - it defeats the purpose of coming to the event. So, acceptable to go there, but if it’s needed, we want to make sure we solve whatever is overwhelming the student so they can enjoy the full event.
We have pit crew members who are expected to be in the pit unless we are in a match in which they can choose to stay in the pit and watch on a screen (if available) or they can return to the stands.
We have drive team members who are expected to be on the field during our matches but unless they are pulling double duty (as pit crew) we let them come and go as they please so long as they are back in time to que (typically 3 matches before ours)
We have members who volunteer at the event and are expected to be where the VC tells them to be (even for temporary jobs)
We have team members who have other roles/appointments at the event (Dean’s List, Impact Presenter, Student Ambassador, Safety Captain) so they are expected to be doing said job/appointment when appropriate.
Everyone else is on rotation scouting matches and so long as you are back during your shift and are present to watch our matches (usually) I have 0 problem with you being wherever you want to be so long as you aren’t breaking event/school district rules.
As someone who has been doing FRC for longer than most of my students have been alive even I occasionally need to step out of the arena to be able to clear my head or just be able to hear or get some fresh air. Any team who requires their students to be stuck in the stands unless they are going to the bathroom is going to find themselves with unruly team members and issues with recruitment/retention very shortly thereafter (IMO)
We’re similar, though as a drive coach I find first/second year drive team students not being back in time to queue is a common enough pattern that I require they tell me where they’re going if they expect to be gone more than 5 minutes. If they need the bathroom, cafeteria, just a break, or whatever, it’s all no problem for me - so long as I know where to go find them if we’re queued and they’re still gone. This is also helpful if we just fixed/changed functionally on the robot and need to go try it on the practice field.
Third/fourth year students seem to know the flow well enough that I let them go with no questions asked.
For many teams - and seemingly OP’s - having enough team members for this to be a rotation is a dream. We don’t have enough leftover members to have a full scouting team for one match, let alone a rotation. This puts teams in a position where they feel everyone has somewhere they need to be at basically all times.
I fully get this as well. These events are long; here in FMA, the Saturday portion of an event is 11 hours, and that’s assuming pits close on time instead of incurring the half hour after the last match clause. The human side of things can’t be overlooked; I’m perfectly happy to be laser focused on robots for half a dozen hours straight, but that’s the exception, not the rule, and like you I value my ability to step outside sometimes.
As a result, I’d sooner run with no scouts than make a few students sit in the stands for what’s essentially a full time shift; I just can’t ask them to be doing one thing for that long when even I’m not doing that. Yes, having data is important, but we can make do without it in quals and in my experience in the FMA district there’s normally a team or few per event that’s happy to provide data to smaller teams that find themselves unprepared in a potential captain position (some even make a good portion of theirs available in realtime online). This year, we’re reaching out with other teams at our events to form scouting alliances that only need one to two of our students at a time so we can still rotate them out.
(Plus, as an aside - I find scouts that don’t want to be scouts often have errors in their data, making the whole thing pointless anyway.)