Fall Off-Season Events

For teams that have hosted Fall Off-Season Events or been involved with one, what were your experiences. Any difficulties? Did you find it easier to plan? Is it any different than planning and hosting a summer event? Do you have any suggestions on how to run a successful Fall event? All responses are appreciated.

I’ve helped with a fall offseason event for going on seven years.

  1. Timing: It’s tricky - you want to make it early enough in the year so teams can build off the experience, but late enough so that teams have had a chance to form and coordinate themselves. Our event is always the third Saturday in October - that makes it easy for teams to plan, and for our administrators to schedule.
  2. Location: Anecdotally, it is better to have the event in a single, large area that can house the field, spectators, and pits together.
  3. Parking: The venue should have ample parking for teams, spectators, media, load-in/load-out, field setup and teardown.
  4. Food: Several schools of thought on this one. If done properly, this will be your main moneymaker. Some events prepare their own food (parents bring in hot dogs, chili, bbq, popcorn, vending-sized quantities of chips, candies, drinks, etc.); some events “cater” (area businesses either donate or heavily discount their food for the event to resell out of a concession booth); last year we had food trucks provide lunch at our event while we had drinks and snacks. No matter what way you do it, make sure there are options for any dietary requirements you may encounter.
  5. Volunteers: They need to feel welcomed, valued, and respected. Have a volunteer room stocked with snacks, drinks, COFFEE, and a place to relax a bit. Fall offseason events are great for creating a new volunteer base for your community, and retaining existing volunteers. Make sure all people involved are well-trained and supported throughout the event.
  6. Teams: Find out what your teams’ strengths, weaknesses, and needs are. Play to their strengths, support their weaknesses, and provide for their needs if possible.
  7. Media: This is a great opportunity to showcase some really awesome accomplishments from area high school students and their mentors. These events have great local and regional appeal - make sure local media realizes that.
  8. Continuing Ed: Colleges and universities would be very interested in what amounts to a captive audience of the best and brightest of the community.
  9. Delegate: Area teams and people would love to help you and support your efforts; all you need do is ask.
  10. Setup: As you set up the field the night before, leave time for extensive testing. Run through matches with six robots to ensure connectivity etc. This will take more time than you expect, but it’s better to make sure everything is to spec before the event actually begins.

Please PM me if you have additional questions. I’m happy to help with my past experiences.

Off-seasons are critically important when we look forward to new regionals or further expansion of districts - we need people with some experience who are ready to step up into that key volunteer role, and we need to make sure those people are geographically spread out. Using the situation we have here in MN as an example… we had two LRI’s in the state this year, both located in the twin cities, and both handled an event here and in Duluth. Obviously, that’s not sustainable when we start to talk about adding a new regional or changing to districts. We look for these off-season events to help us train and bring in new volunteers who can fill those key roles. I know this fall there are some off-season events being planned several hours from the twin cities… I’ll likely be driving out to at least one of them with the intention of training someone who is actually local to that event… hopefully after a couple years running inspections at that event and inspecting at regionals, that person will be capable of stepping up as an LRI if we need them to.