Forced to quit FRC by coach

#1

Hi,

I’m just another person who has been forced to quit robotics at my school, and it deeply saddens me, because I love FRC and thought that it would be a fun place to do robotics in a competitive setting (I did FLL before this and it was a blast), but the mentor/coach of the team is a complete jerk. He is cruel and has constantly put me down even for following the rules.

Because of this tension between me and the coach, I have had to go to a psychologist, and not even she knows how to fix this other than quitting robotics.

The school has it such that for me to transfer to another program, I will need the consent of my coach. However, he will never give me consent because he thinks it will “give the team that I transfer to an unfair competitive advantage”. In other words, he trusts me so little that he thinks I will tell the other teams everything about our robot so they can beat us.

That, and yet he refuses to stop scolding me for doing the right things. He even scolded me for trying to donate some zip ties and let another team borrow our screwdriver! I told him that I could just buy more out of pocket for the team, but he won’t even let me donate to the program! At one point, I had to buy a new safety kit, because our old one was empty of literally everything except neosporin and three band-aids, and I was the Safety Captain.

I thought “no problem”, right? Wrong.

He was on me faster than an angry bee and just put me into tears, telling me that I was being a burden to the program and that it is not my right to buy or donate anything to the team. And yet, we take great pride in the fact that we were sponsored by companies who donated tools and supplies.

I’m just at my wit’s end.
I’m exhausted.
I’m DONE being harassed by my coach.

I can’t join any other team, or transfer schools, or just try to get along with him.

It’s like I want to meet him in the middle, and he says “sure meet me halfway.” I then go to the middle and he doesn’t move. He says “meet me halfway again” and I go to the 3/4 line. He still doesn’t move. He does that same process one more time, and I’m at 7/8. Now, I’m done being harassed and pushed around by my jerk of a mentor.

I’m sorry to those who are on my team

I’m sorry to my friends who invited me to this program

I’m sorry to all of the people my coach has hurt.

I’m sorry that my school has such a lack of teachers that he cannot be fired.

I’m sorry to Dean Kamen, and Woodie Flowers especially. You are doing the world a wonderful thing and a great service to the world, and I am sad that I cannot be a part of it.

But,
Thanks to those teams who do not have this problem. Thanks to those teams who include everyone, teaching them whatever they need to know.

For all I know, you could have saved someone like me.

Thank you, and best of luck on whatever comes next

48 Likes
#2

I worry sometimes that I might suck at this “mentoring” thing but I guess I’m not doing that badly.

That’s a crap situation to be stuck in. You mentioned that there’s another team available for you to transfer to? What authority does your coach have to keep you from doing that? Is there some higher authority you can go to for permission?

37 Likes
#3

The school is completely run by the state, and there is legislation against transferring between another high school team unless there is consent from both schools and their team coaches. That, and people have tried and utterly failed at that process many times, because our coach will not consent to the transfer. In other words, there is no authority to go to because it is the only one I have a problem with, and he’ll refuse the transfer.

#4

In a situation like this, take it to higher authority. The principal, the school board, parent council, etc. Get your parents and other teachers involved. We can commiserate but we are not in a position to help. They are.

40 Likes
#5

Are there any teams that draw from the community (AKA not affiliated with a singular high school) in your area (within 40 mins driving distance)? I had a friend who was in a similar situation some years ago and while they weren’t able to participate in FIRST I found out later that there were several community teams in their area that could’ve taken them in.

7 Likes
#6

It sounds like trying to reason with this coach is impossible so I would try to get transferred. To do this you’ll probably have to go to the principal and get parents involved.

#7

nope. No homeschool teams, no community teams, nothing… it’s only school affiliated. Sorry about that. It’s a great idea but where I’m at it will not work.

#8

Escalate it beyond him. Your principal, school board, etc all can’t deny this.

7 Likes
#9

I can’t even do a transfer through the principal because it needs to be accepted by the coach AND the principal. Only one will not do, and I wish I could do it that way. The school board has had meetings about this, and they didn’t take any action.

1 Like
#10

Also your situation and your description of your coach gives me concern about the wellbeing of the other members of your team - do you know of anyone else on your team that has also had negative experiences with this coach? It would be good to group together and have your parents advocate for you to the principal about this coach if they are as bad as you have described. Also, on the FIRST side, I suggest contacting your area’s FIRST Senior Mentor, you can find a list of them and their affiliated regions here: https://www.firstinspires.org/senior-mentors

6 Likes
#11

All the other members have been quiet about it and just given in or already quit. It’s just me on this one. At this point, I just want to leave without causing drama. I wrote this post to try to encourage other teams to include their members so that they don’t get in my situation. I only want at this point for it to be looked at by other teams so this never happens again.

#12

That’s completely understandable, I’ll be honest that I was once in a toxic mentor related FIRST situation in high school that I wish I had left earlier without causing too much drama, but that’s in the past. I emphasize with your situation and its unacceptable that this continues to happen on FIRST teams.
For me personally I was able enjoy FIRST again and continue participating in the program (since I was stubborn and didn’t want to leave fully) through volunteering at events, which have been far less stressful and more positive than attending events with a team. If you still want to stay connected with the program in some way, without sacrificing too much of your time and mental health, volunteering is definitely a great route to explore.

4 Likes
#13

That would definitely be a less stressful way to do the program, but I I’m curious as to how I could volunteer, as ive been told time and time again that only FIRST alumni or those working at a FIRST sponsor company, and my belief is that in order to be a FIRST alum, you must participate all the way through your senior year. Is there any advice for how I could still volunteer without graduating through a FIRST program?

#14

Anyone can volunteer. Just contact your local RD or planning committee and tell them you want to help out. Depending on your age, there may be limitations as to which roles you can be in, but they can help guide you through that process, if your willing to jump in where needed and work toward a role you would prefer.

5 Likes
#15

Okay, that’s nice to know. I’ll do that then. By the way, out of curiosity, which of those jobs are not restricted by the age limit again?

#16

^ What Jon said. I recommend starting out in positions like Field Reset or Team Queuing, as Field Reset gives you one of the best views of the field during matches and also lets you interact with teams as they set up their robots on the field, while Team Queuing is well suited for those that are more social as there’s a lot of team interaction and you’ll get to know teams very well by the end of the event. It’s also worth coming in before the event starts and helping the field crew set up the field or staying a little bit after and helping everyone pack the field up, its a lot of work but its a collaborative effort and you’ll get to know and make friends with a lot of the volunteers in your area!

Jobs that tend to be age restricted are ones that play more of a key role like being a Referee, Robot Inspector, Official Scorer, CSA, etc. The age restriction for most of these roles sits at around 18 or 19. You can learn more about specific volunteer roles through here: https://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/frc/volunteer-event-roles-and-training-resources

Also, there’s plenty of volunteering opportunities in FLL and FTC as well, and the key roles there have lower age limits IIRC, so there’s a lot of explore in those aspects of the program as well. For FRC in particular since the season is close to ending, I’d take a look at offseasons in your area and send an email to the event contact and see if they’re looking for volunteers (which they almost always will, events will even take walk in volunteers on the day of competition).

#17

Thank you very much! I guess it’s a shame I won’t participate in robotics any more as a team member but I’ll be happy to volunteer at events like that. It’s nice knowing that there is something that I can still do even if I’m not on a team

#18

Although the volunteer route works out for you, I would still look into addressing this with your principal at the very least, not for transfer sake but to bring attention to this problem.

If no one speaks up the problem will continue to another student and another. That doesn’t sound like a great learning experience and should be addressed ASAP.

2 Likes
#19

Ok. I’ll make sure just to send a letter instead, so that there isn’t a full sit-down conversation about it and that way it will at least be brought up.

#20

Since it sounds like everyone else on your team is affected in a similar way, you could all walk and start your own team outside of the school. There’s going to be a few hurdles, depending on how much your team is supported by the school, but at the very least, it could light a fire under your former team’s leadership to do something if there’s no one on the team.