FIRST Historians - [9-8-03]

This week’s story comes to us from Andy Baker, of Team 45. Yeah, you know the guy :stuck_out_tongue: Once you’ve read the story, feel free to post your own comments/stories here. If you have a big story, why don’t you submit it for the next FIRST Historians installment? For more about the mission of FIRST Historians, see this thread. So, without further adue, here is Andy’s story of the 1999 season:

I’d like to tell the story of a very memorable year in my FIRST experience: 1999.

We entered the '99 year with alot of confidence, since we ended up National Champs in '98. This also meant that we really had nothing to lose in '99. So, we took MANY risks when we desined our robot. We had some crazy ideas: metal tank treads, shifting the Bosch gearbox for 2 speeds, and a 4 axis arm. It took us forever to get these things working. We actually built a basket to put floppies in, but that never got done. We barely got ready for the first regional.

We went to 2 regionals that year. At Chicago, we started out horribly. It was embarrasing and humbling at the same time. Our robot wasn’t working and we were fighting. Tim Railey, our head teacher straightened us out on Friday night. We got better on Saturday and had some success. Wildstang picked us as a partner for the elims. We ended up losing to 71 and 27, but we got an award for a defensive play against 74. At Great Lakes, we did much better. We marketed ourselves as a puck controller. The #1 seed, our cross town friends on team 292 picked us as their first choice. We ended up doing well, but lost in the semi’s vs. 71 and 27.

Going into the National Championships, we had high hopes again. A good string of Q matches ended and we didn’t lose any. At the end of the day on Friday, Raul from 111 pulled me aside and said “you better pick us… if you don’t, we will beat you.” He had a good point. Wildstang was seeded lower than we were, but they had the agility to keep the puck away from us. Raul told me in detail how they would go about beating us and he was pretty convincing. We ended up seeding 8th without raising a floppy. When alliance picking came around, we chose our old friends from Chicago, Wildstang.

The second pick was tougher. We had a list of criteria that we deemed as “must haves” for our second pick. Our scouts went out and made a list of candidates. 292, our cross-town friends, were not on that list. If we were going to pick our friends first, then this second pick would’ve gone to 292. However, we decided to go with the criteria. Our scouts ranked who they wanted as a second pick and it turned out that we picked a very un-hearalded team, 84. 292 was not happy. 111 was happy to be picked, but not happy with our second pick either. 1/2 of team 45 was not happy that we did not pick 292… there was alot of pressure to do well in the finals.

During the first match of the first round in the finals, we were up against 68 and 16. They trounced us in the first match, mainly due to one of our gear shifters breaking down. It was time for 84 to step in and show what they could do. They and Wildstang went on to win both of the next two matches, each time with 4 robots on the puck. After that round, Wildstang went crazy about how good the 84 team and robot was… 84 saved our hide.

One of the memorable rounds were against these east coast teams who I didn’t know at the time: 131 and 157. Boy, did they have good robots. 157 had this dual-wheel drive system that kicked us off of the puck. They even tipped us over. TKO got back up, got on the puck and pushed 131 off… it was pretty dramatic.

During the next round, we were going against 71, 27, and 221. Since 71 and 27 beat us in the two previous regionals, we were geared up to finally beat them. The first match was pretty tight until we shot our arm out at the right time to tip over Beatty-Hammond’s machine. This ended the match and round pretty quickly.

We were pretty excited to be in the final round, for the second year in a row. We barely won the first match of the final round, against 1, 176, and 48. At the end of the round, we noticed that our arm was non-functional. So, as we did many times in the finals, we put in 84 to come in for us. 84 and 111 lost the next match, but it was close. 176 got on the puck right at the end of the match. For the 3rd match, Raul suggested that we put ourselves in, even though our arm did not work. I didn’t take his advice and I thought that 84 and 111 could pull it off. They didn’t. Teams 1, 176 and 48 won the Championships in 99.

We were drained and initially discouraged, but we also realized that we had quite a trip. Our our whole team rode a roller-coaster that year, and it was an amazing experience. We made some great friends along the way.

Andy B.

A good story to start off FIRST Historians, one of drama and true FIRST excitement from a team practically everyone knows. To me the most important aspect of the story is the end, where the bonds of friendship are formed. This is impossible to avoid in FIRST, and the reason why it is so universally loved.

Thanks for sharing Andy!

Excellent, excellent idea. I like it a lot. This will definitely be cool to read about other teams incredible experiences throughout past seasons, as well as letting some of us who werent around a while ago to get a little bit of an idea of what went on that year.

Keep up the good work!


Team 84 thanks Andy for his kind words and Jeff for posting them!

We expected to sit on the sidelines for most of those matches, and were happy to be able to help when problems happened. Unfortunately, we had problems in that last match when one of our chains broke.

“Thanks for the memories!”

whoa thats pretty cool

… I think the wonderful tale gets better everytime you hear it …
I can’t wait to hear more History of FIRST!

Great idea to Jeff and Replic.

And to Andy, a great story to start out with.
The heat of competition is the best part of this journey.

Glad to hear this is being received well :smiley: If you have a story you’d like to have published, go ahead and PM it to me or Replic. We’d like to be able to do this weekly, but we’ll need lots of stories for it to work. So… don’t just sit there… write something! Or better yet, if you’re on a long-time veteran team… get your advisor to write something about way back when. I’d like to see some stories from the first few years of FIRST.

Excellent, excellent idea. And there isn’t a better story to start it off! Great job guys, and great story Andy.

I was honored to be asked to give a story.

What I wrote above really was the tip of the iceberg with regard to alliances in 1999. FIRST went out on a long limb when they introduced alliances, and many people had alot of grief over it. Up until that point, every team only worried about how they performed, and they had to keep secrets from other teams in order to give yourself a competitive advantage.

Before alliances came along in '99, scouting was still important. However, if someone came up to your pit and asked you about your robot, you didn’t always tell what it could do. Students had to check with their strategy leaders to see what could be said and what was kept “hush-hush”. Also, inter-team relationships were not needed as they are now with the alliance structure.

The whole process of “getting picked” by marketing your talents was a new thing. Some teams assumed that everyone saw what they could do on the field and did not “sell themselves” to their competitors very well by building these relationships. I remember seeing many threads on this site after 1999 which said “we went undefeated at Nationals… but no one picked us!!”.

Also, picking partners was a new thing to teams. The top seeded teams put in alot of effort to make lists and pick partners who supported their competition strategy. I think that there are just as many confused pickers at competitions this year as there were in '99. This always amazes me when a top seeded picker is clueless about who they should pick.

Thanks again for asking me to give a story. I’ll have more.

Andy B.

1 Like

now there is a weekly event, story time with Andy Baker … it will sure be popular

*Originally posted by “Big Mike” *
**story time with Andy Baker **

Gather round children, let Big Uncle Andy tell you a tale! :wink:

Seriously, this is a GREAT idea. Way to go Jeff and Keith.
I can’t wait to read these every week. (I’m trying to think if I have any stories worthy of telling).

Keep it up.