I had the pleasure of visiting the double event in Duluth, MN over the weekend. The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center hosted two simultaneous Regionals under one roof – Lake Superior & Northern Lights Regionals – and it was fantastic. These events were exactly what folks like to see – exciting gameplay, passionate, friendly and hard-working teams, committed volunteers and engaged sponsors, with everything running on schedule. Also, having had the honor of shaking hands and high-fiving awards winners on the field at Northern Lights, I’m pretty sure I saw at least a few lives changed close-up. That’s what I call a great weekend!
To top things off in Duluth, we tried a little experiment. For the first time ever in FRC, we had a one-match only ‘exhibition’ game featuring the two winning alliances from a double event. And what an exhibition it was! It evolved into the highest combined scoring match of the weekend, with a final score of 133-136 – a single disc in the high goal making the difference. The match was not official in any way, but it sure was fun to watch.
This season, Minnesota has 180 FRC teams. To put that in perspective, Minnesota, also known by some as the ‘Hockey State’, has only 156 varsity hockey teams. The state tournament draws over 100,000 spectators every year and I hear that prime tickets are passed down from generation to generation, like family heirlooms. Imagine, with me, a time in the not-so-distant future when we will be able to say the same things about FRC…can you see it?
Finally, a special shout-out to my new friends on Team 2177, The Robettes, for teaching me how to curtsy. I don’t think I had ever tried that before. At least, that I can remember.
I’ll blog again soon.
More FRC teams in Minnesota than varsity hockey teams? Interesting…along with the ‘exhibition match.’
For the first time ever in FRC, we had a one-match only ‘exhibition’ game featuring the two winning alliances from a double event. And what an exhibition it was! It evolved into the highest combined scoring match of the weekend, with a final score of 133-136 – a single disc in the high goal making the difference. The match was not official in any way, but it sure was fun to watch.
San Diego had a score of 195 to 154 in finals match 2. 2056 and 1114’s match of 211 to 74 also beat 136-133 for highest combined score.
Does anyone mind sharing Minnesota’s big secret to success? They are a middling state for population but off the top of my head I believe they are only behind California, Michigan, and Texas on team count.
Actually, we’re ahead of Texas… they’re only at 142 teams
A large part of the reason we’re doing so well is all the sponsors we have locally. There are a huge number of companies headquartered here, like Target, 3M, Best Buy, etc. We also have three of the largest medical device companies within a 5 mile radius, and well over 100 other medical products companies in the cities. Sponsorship from so many great companies certainly helps.
We also do everything we can to make sure teams return every year. If I counted correctly, we lost only 1 team this year, and they merged with another one. We have a great volunteer dedicated to finding teams money when they really need it… if you earn a spot at champs, he usually has found you some money (often from your primary sponsor) before you’ve left the building!
Also, we have great students, like this Dean’s List Finalist from my team this year! She single-handedly got funding for our team and three others from a new-to-FIRST sponsor last year!
I don’t personally know how much support we get from the state/local governments. We have congresspeople on video at each regional, but I think that’s fairly normal, and I think we’ve gotten a robot or two into the local capital building for demonstrations. Last year we were also recognized by the The Minnesota State High School League, setting up our own state championship, which occurs after Champs in St. Louis… it can confuse some people at Champs when Minnesota teams are bagging up their robots before taking them home!
Monetarily, I don’t believe the regionals get anything (I know teams don’t). The elected officials often show up at events (live or via pre-recorded video) to show their support though. They are definitely aware of us and support us.
The last two years of FIRST events in the Twin Cities have not been during the UMN Spring Break. This years events are not over break either. Are you sure that the CSE Dean does not get them for free as long as they don’t interfere with Hockey and Basketball Schedules?
I’ve never gotten a solid answer, but I believe the deal is actually that the regionals get the venues for the price that a UMN department would get them for (or close). I am fairly certain they are not free.