[FRC Blog] We Cherish Our Traditions (Written by Woodie Flowers Award Winners)

Posted on the FRC Blog 5/23/22 We Cherish Our Traditions | FIRST

We Cherish Our Traditions

Wow what a year! We did it! We planned, we guessed at plans, we masked up, we followed medical advice, we anticipated next medical advice, we interpreted medical advice, we gathered electronically then in person, we gathered back our students, we gathered back our sponsors, we built, and then we actually competed!!! Oh Yeah!!! It was great!!!

For a program that is so dependent on group collaboration, sharing, and being crammed together in rooms, buses, planes… we figured out a way to make it happen. We were never quite sure what part of our teams were going where, but everyone stepped up and it happened.

Our traditions even happened! We soon remembered that it wasn’t all about robots. We remembered to be accepting, to be mindful, to be respectful, to listen to others even when we didn’t want to. We remembered to be gracious professionals in the world that Woodie had outlined for us not so long ago.

You showed us you valued these traditions when you signed the denim shirts that were an acknowledgement of your support for Woodie and his guidelines. You made your Grandparents proud, along with your coaches, mentors, sponsors, schools, and all of us that help make FIRST happen. As you think about this year and gear up for next year, think about how your mentors have shaped your experience, cheered you on, and made FIRST loud! Consider nominating them for the Woodie Flower Award… it is something that only you can do for your special mentors.

Rest up, recharge, build up your energy levels because we can’t wait for next year to make FIRST better than ever!!!

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Anyone else find all the life-sized Woodie posters at comps and in the blog post… odd? He brought so much life to the program and made many of us think about why we were doing what we were doing - this form of idolization seems to be antithetical to what I would have thought he would want (I only got the chance to meet him in person once). This paired with the reminder of tradition invoked in the blog post and some of the speeches at champs is a bit unsettling and I don’t know if I can place why.

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I agree. I like the denim shirt idea, putting it on a cardboard Woodie hit a little wrong.

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The people who actually knew Woodie don’t seem to have an issue with the cutouts or the shirts (and, in fact, it was many of those who knew Woodie the best, including his wife, who were involved with keeping his shirt signature tradition alive). I would encourage us to defer to those who knew Woodie best rather than speculating about what he would or would not have wanted.

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That’s fair, it just seems like we are getting closer and closer (or going deeper and deeper) into cult territory. It’s a bit uncomfortable for a lot of folk

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The strange thing is, if Woodie was still walking among us, I don’t think I would have thought twice about the cardboard cutout.

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There was a thread that shares some of your concerns already, including a post from Andy Baker responding to some of the concerns (and a call for suggestions).

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As far as people who probably deserve cult like worship I can’t think of anyone I’d be more ok with people worshiping that way…

So maybe it is cult-y. But could do a lot worse.

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I like the cardboard woodie as just a nice reminder in the corner, though now that it’s stored at the office it’s scared the crap out of me more than once when I come down to the middle floor and don’t expect human sized things there, and boom, woodie staring at me :stuck_out_tongue:

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To me it’s not even that. Coming into this year no students who started in FRC in high school were in FRC while Woodie was alive. For those of us who have been around 5+ years seeing Woodie in different mediums provides a very different perspective and feeling then those who have not.

Finding ways to honor Woodie’s legacy and continue what he brought to FIRST and the world is important. But there’s a limit of how much as quite frankly anyone who joined FIRST after the 2019 season will not share the same perspective. To those people, Woodie will be remembered like many other world events/famous people.

IMHO celebrating the impact and carrying on that impact is more important than celebrating the person, especially if you want buy-in and adoption from newer members.

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It seems to me like the post, alongside all the pictures, is trying to position the cardboard cutout AS one of those traditions we cherish and value? Is this the subtext?

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To be honest a lot of this post sits with me the wrong way. We followed the science, except masking wasn’t enforced well at champs, we shoved people unsafely together for Einstein, and there was a not insignificant outbreak that occured because of the event. (To be honest I’d be super curious about the total numbers, but I doubt we’ll ever know).

The speeches about woodie were deeply uncomfortable and I don’t feel reflected the amazing person he was. Someone pointed out to me it also felt like a megachurch type atmosphere. To be honest, I just wish they’d humanize him more than try to immortalize him. I didn’t like Woodie because of what he meant to FIRST, I liked woodie because of the person he was and I worry that people are going to get the wrong impression of him because of the this. Find pictures and videos that humanize him. Teach what he would’ve wanted by setting a good example, not by having a cardboard cutout and saying “here, woodie!”.

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Woodie provided a unique and important voice to FIRST, but while the message is timeless, the actual content he provided will age. It already has. I’ll always share his messages because they will be as important tomorrow as they were yesterday, but I’m very interested to see whose voice can or will replace Woody in his role to the FIRST community.

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I don’t know if anyone ever will in the same context and that’s okay.

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I get where you are coming from @Tyler_Olds and maybe Woody laid the foundation so well that we don’t need a new voice, but my view is Woody’s philosophy is so important that we need a current voice to challenge and educate us.

Further, I think it is important for a new voice to emerge and perhaps morph slightly to reflect on the challenges our society presents in following Woody’s GP ideals. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the current crop of students need a new beacon. We can’t force it; that would likely fail. It has to be genuine, inspired, and persistent all on its own. We’ll see.

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This is going a bit too far, but I do see way too many posts here that basically come down to “well FRC should be X forever because Dean or Woodie said so in the mid-90s”. Things change, programs improve, people learn. They already have changed a lot, in some ways I’m sure away from the original vision they had, and that’s OK. No one and no vision is perfect.

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I think the Woodie Flowers Award Winners as a group should fill this role. That being said, this is the first season without woodie. I am sure they are still trying to figure out the best way to do it. Just give them some time.

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Where Woodie will live on, likely in perpetuity, is our discord server’s thumbs-up react.

Which will hopefully inspire future students to ask “who’s that?”. At which point we can tell stories of FIRST-that-was.

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One of Woodie’s many legacies that I would like to see live on is the spelling of his name. I know auto-correct does weird things, but please, it’s Woodie, not “Woody”.

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