[FRC Blog] 2023 Event Listings & A Frank Farewell

Posted on the FRC Blog, 8/3/2022: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2022-2023-event-listings-and-frank-farewell

2023 Event Listings & A Frank Farewell

2022 AUG 03 | Written by Frank Merrick, Director FIRST Robotics Competition

2023 Event Listings

The 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition season is fast approaching! You can start planning your event attendance now by checking out the list of official events we have posted. Many more will be added in the coming weeks. We list an event when we have a written agreement with the venue, the event’s projected capacity, and the event’s site documentation. Our goal is to have all events posted by the end of August. As a reminder, first event preferencing is scheduled to open on September 22.

While we have started posting events, we won’t be opening Volunteer Registration to allow folks to volunteer for those events until the end of October. We’ll be sure to remind you when it opens, so stay tuned.

A Frank Farewell

This is my final blog as an employee of FIRST, as I am retiring Friday. As I noted in the blog announcing my retirement, my time in FIRST Robotics Competition has been a privilege and a blessing, and I am absolutely convinced an even brighter future for the program lies ahead!

FIRST is in the process of selecting my successor. In the meantime, Collin Fultz, currently Senior Program Manager for FIRST Robotics Competition, will be taking over my responsibilities. As well as being an alum of the program, Collin has worked in several departments within FIRST and even served on the Board of Directors of FIRST Indiana Robotics. The program is in great hands!

While I am retiring, I’m not going away, and I hope to see many of you at events in the coming years!

Frank


I don’t normally add in my own commentary to these posts, but I figured this special occasion warrants it. It will certainly be a tough mission for FIRST to find a worthy successor to Frank Merrick. The amount of passion and pride that Frank exhibited towards FRC each and every day was simply unmatched; not just towards the organization as a whole, but the individuals within it as well.

True story: Back in July 2016, Frank had noticed that I ~uncharacteristically~ missed posting two consecutive FRC Blog entries on Chief Delphi. While this likely didn’t even register for most others, Frank personally reached out to me via email to make sure I was doing okay. Despite how small this action might have seemed to him at the time, the fact that Frank took even just a few seconds to check in with a random internet stranger says wonders about his incredible integrity and loyalty.

Frank

Thank you, Frank, for all that you’ve done for FRC and its participants over the past several seasons. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement, but we certainly hope to see you at future competitions in the coming years!

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Thanks again Frank for your service to the program and all the good that has come with it and will continue to have impact into the future.

Just want to note whomever is selected to take over the role that IMHO Collin Fultz is a great interim person to handle the roles and responsibilities of the position. As noted his experience in several different positions in FIRST (not just in FRC), him being an alumni and growing up in a FIRST household (Chris Fultz, a WFA is his father) to me puts a lot at ease as we enter registration/pre-season.

Edit: Also Collin was the first ever re-occurring co-host of a FUN show back in 2016 of the original FUN Spotlight show until he started working for FIRST. Here’s the first episode he was a co-host on (interviewing Frank by coincidence) https://youtu.be/cuxGW2VJDZc?t=73

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The only one at FIRST to say it out loud:

The email he sent to Ryan speaks volumes to Frank’s character. I know countless teams and volunteers who emailed Frank directly, to receive a straightforward response. We never heard blame, but always explanation.

Running a program of this size and scope is an incredible feat, especially with everchanging board members and executive leadership, during a global pandemic, and time of immense social change. Frank has guided FRC through some of the hardest times for us as a society and FIRST as an organization, all while seeing through programmatic changes for the better (read: stop build day, BOM/CAW, etc.).

And to Frank, since you admitted to Ryan that you read CD, I’m actively recruiting volunteers for several events right now.

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Frank,

I know you might not remember me but I hope you get to enjoy retirement, do some fun stuff, take it easy, and relax. I think you’ve earned it.

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Gonna miss Frank. Dude was just plain awesome to talk to at events. He really enjoyed being there and being around the FIRST community.

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I don’t think I can sum up the impact Frank has made on FIRST in a simple CD post, so I won’t even try. But I will say this, the amount of caring and empathy Frank has exhibited throughout his tenure at FIRST is a testament to what a great person he is, and set the best possible example of what effective leadership looks like. From the time he phoned me to talk about Einstein 2012 to every subsequent interaction, I always walked away feeling listed to and cared about. I think this is a consensus feeling among our community.

Good luck, Frank, and I can’t wait to hear about your next adventure.

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I’m glad they’re starting to list events. Now I can start planning my 2023 tour!

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So now that Frank is retired, will he start posting on CD? We will finally get the rest of the story. :slight_smile:

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If you didn’t read that in Paul Harvey’s voice, get off my lawn.

So excited for Collin to step in the interim role. He’s got a steady, thoughtful, considerate confidence that will help ease the transition.

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Living in NH I’ve gotten the privilege to interact with a lot of FIRST HQ staff both at events and out of them. Frank is probably one of the ones I’m most grateful to have met and worked with. Every single interaction with him has been a positive one. He adds a face and personality to positions when it would be so much easier to hide behind the face of anonymity and bureaucracy. He holds not just FIRST accountable but himself accountable and we’re a better program for it. He will be severely missed, thought I want to put my agreement with others about Collin Fultz being an excellent interim for the time being. Enjoy retirement Frank, few deserve it more than you.

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Good Guy Frank will be a tough act to follow. As others have said, we’re fortunate to have Collin Fultz, ready, willing, and able to fill the Acting Director role.

Frank’s permanent successor will likely have a different style, but the same passion for FIRST’s vision. We should all honor Frank’s long and excellent service by giving that successor all the support we can. A successful Director —> a successful program.

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Frank, you can always come back and volunteer as Director advisor. You know, just pop into the office and meddle with everyone’s work a couple of times a week.
Maybe tour the country in a RV during competition season. Show up unannounced at events and do impromptu speeches.
Nobody will turn away their favorite uncle Frank.

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Thanks Frank for all your hard work and willingness to listen, it’s been much appreciated.

Also Collin’s great, I’d support him being named full-time Director of FRC if he wants it.

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Naah, he needs an on-field role. Referee or FTA or something. And travel as much as Koko Ed.

Frank, you leave big shoes to fill. Thanks for all you’ve done.

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So long, Frank, and thanks for all the corndogs. You will be missed!

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I’m on the other side with Dan Mantz at VRC, they are twins with their mission dynamics.

Frank you are/were the person that FRC needed. Keeping FRC active and growing the FTC/FLL programs has given thousands of roboteers a pathway to amazing STEM jobs. Your open conversations with the FIRST community was amazing. Sadly you’ve set the bar pretty high for the future.

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Frank is the definition of “Good Guy”.

Collin is right there too.

Thank you Frank for all of your leadership in FRC! I always looked forward to seeing you at events and catching up year after year. Your transparency, focus on team experience, and willingness to listen and change continue to be an inspiration to me. Have a wonderful retirement! Looking forward to working with Collin, he is the perfect person to be stepping into the role, and I’m happy to have a former participant leading the charge (even in the interim).