FIRST Historians - [9-15-03]

This week’s story comes from the 2001 season, courtesy of ChrisH from Team 330, The Beach Bots:

2001 was the year of “Co-opertition”. It was called a “co-opertition” because it was four robots against the clock. All the robots were supposed to work together. There were two goals to be filled with small balls and topped with large balls. For a maximum score you needed to balance the two goals on a tilting bridge. This was the key task of the game. But because of the field design only one robot could balance the bridge. That year was also known for the arguments between teams waiting to go on the field. Generally, they were arguing about which robot would balance the bridge. Many teams claimed to be able to balance the bridge, but there were few who could do it consistently. We had a pretty good driver who could balance about 50% of the time.

At the Southern California Regional we were doing pretty well. The robot was reliable and we were near the top of the seeding heading into our last qualifying match. We weren’t in the top eight, but we were close and a good match could put us there. But we weren’t likely to drop much either.

As the match started, those of us in the stands were astounded to see some little no-name robot (I still can’t remember which team it was) undertaking the delicate task of balancing the bridge. We “knew” that was our job and wondered just what was going on down there. But it wasn’t our call, that was the field team’s job. As it turned out, the bridge wasn’t balanced and we got a low score. This dropped us in the rankings, and for a while the team in the stands was pretty upset.

Later our driver and team captain, Nick Unruh, explained that it had been his decision to let the other team attempt to balance. They had begged him to let them at least try. While they had designed their robot to do that job, they had never been allowed to do so by their alliance partners. This was their last chance to try it in competition. Nick said that we were going on to Nationals no matter what and that even a low score wouldn’t hurt us too much. So he had decided to be gracious and let them try.

After that explanation we really couldn’t be angry with Nick’s decision. In fact, we were rather proud of him for it. At least after we had cooled down and thought about it for a while.

As it turned out, we were picked for the finals by 254, the CheesyPoofs, and we went on to win the regional together with another team whom I also forget, 294 maybe? There is a lot about that competition I don’t remember, including going down to get our medals.

But I will never forget a lesson in graciousness, delivered by a student.