FRC Varsity Teams

Hi i’m looking for any FRC teams that are considered Varsity Teams by their school/school district. I’ve been trying to put together a presentation for the school board to get our FRC team recognized as a Varsity Sports Team and i’d like to know how any other teams did it. What kind of arguments or talking points were used to convince them? While our superintendent is very supportive of our program, I feel like my biggest obstacle will probably be that FIRST isn’t and will never be apart of the Illinois High School Sports Association and they could immediately argue that all varsity teams are apart of IHSA and because FRC is not, we could never be a varsity sport. If you have any advice please let me know.

Ok, so why do you want to become a Varsity sport? Often, the easiest way to get two parties to agree on something is to find a way to make both parties see benefit in the same thing. So what are your reasons for wanting to be considered a Varsity team?

FRC being considered a varsity sport would create a much needed culture change in our school.

Benefits/Reasons for our team being a Varsity Sport
-Eligible for Sport Boosters (SB pays for recognition posters that detail things like team accomplishments, all state athletes, all conference athletes, athlete of the month, etc. In 2015-2016 Sports Boosters raised $250,000 for our sports teams)
-Team Captains would get to speak at assemblies on behalf of the team to update the school on our season
-A 1-2 page spread in the yearbook.
-Ultimately it starts the conversation that we are apart of the school, I can’t imagine the amount of times students in our school had no idea we existed. That’s a problem, especially because we have been more successful in the last 10 years than any sports team in the district.
-Finding space to set up a practice field would be more of a priority, no one expects the football team to practice on a 1/3 of a field but they somehow expect robotics to?
-FRC is essentially a sport, we work just as hard if not harder, we compete, anyone that has ever gone to an FRC regional/event could testify that it is just like watching a sport.

Benefits for the district
-More kids joining robotics means more kids are being encouraged to pursue higher education, 99% of our team has gone to college
-It encourages students to try harder in school, the team’s average GPA is a 3.85/4.0 compared to the district average of 2.7
-It is also lowkey good publicity for the district

What do you guys call yourselves right now? A club?

Team 8 started calling ourselves an “extracurricular team” a few years ago. Now we have our own demo day on our school’s quad, and we no longer attend the school “club day”. We make it very clear that the commitment required to be on the robotics team is more like that of a sport rather than a lunchtime club.

In Minnesota FIRST robotics is recognized by the Minnesota State High School League. Students can letter as they would in any sport. Just recently a group of us started the Northern Minnesota Robotics Conference, the first FIRST conference recognized by the MNSHL. This is a conference like a football or base ball conference. I think you are on the right track. Robotics should be out front and visible as any other sport instead hiding in back rooms and closets!

Some teams in our county have spent a tremendous amount of time and effort asking for even the simplest amount of district support and have made little to no progress. The schools themselves are supportive but the county as a whole not so much.

I am against trying to be considered a varsity sport because we simply are not so why title us something we are not. That does not mean the same resources or benefits should not be granted to FRC. That certainly does not mean robotics is any less serious or important, dont equate that train of thought. I view it as the school districts/counties should recognize FRC as an “other”. FRC is interesting enough to draw all types of students I don’t think we need to fly under the title as “varsity sport” to get the benefits. Sometimes I think prying your way into traditional sports alienates you as a group that cant cut it on their own so needed to leach on to something successful. I think FRC can be just as popular and independent as varsity athletics with the proper leadership and support.

The one thing athletics has that robotics does not besides funding, and facilities is an abundance of technical mentors like coaches on athletics teams. There always someone capable of coaching a sport in a successful manner and often times students have been playing a sport since they were young kids so the experience is there on both sides. No so in robotics.

Its a challenge to find multiple technical mentors who can devote the time, and often times the students may not have the backgrounds. So its twice as challenging.

I am not sure the " varsity " title is best but I very much support the idea that school systems need to be more serious as to how they allocated resources toward competitive robotics teams. Robotics can stand on its own, if school systems require something to be a “varsity sports” for some benefit then that needs to change but the titles should not. IMHO.

edit: We call ourselves a Robotics Team and preach that as far as attendance,commitment, success, and failures. We are a team like in business or industry but not a varsity sports team, Just a TEAM. There is no JV with us so there is no varsity. You could argue we can afford to be a JV since we burn $15k a year few JV programs do that.

What does being in Northern Minnesota Robotics Conference mean?

If you’re interested I can put you in contact with some folks from 3467 who succeeded in getting varsity letters for the most dedicated of their team members, in NH where it is not recognized statewide as a varsity sport like IL. Shoot me a PM.

Hey, I’m from team 156, and our robotics team has varsity status at our school. We managed to do it by giving numerous presentations to our school board about all of the benefits from our team to the school and community. Also, we strongly pushed the fact that during build season, the Robotics team students tend to spend more time than in any other varsity sport per week. After a while, the school eventually awarded varsity status for the commitment required for Robotics. I hope you succeed in getting your team varsity status in your school because it really helps with things like recruitment and team growth as a whole. If you have any more questions, feel free to message me. However, the people who worked for the status have graduated by now, so I can only answer general questions you may have. Good Luck!

Bedford Express has been since 2010. We always try to help other teams earn this recognition, so if you PM me I can get you the contact info for our main coach.

The FEDS (201) are a varsity team, and so are the Adambots (245). i’m not sure about the Cyber Cats (5436) but i think they are because we are all part of the same school district. I’m not sure how or when we became a varsity team but 201 is 20 years old and 245 is 19 years old so i’m not sure how long it took us to become varsity. And frankly i don’t know how we did it, but it has not really helped out our team much as far as membership is concerned. Many people in our school don’t even know we have a team and join team 1 instead.
But if i had to guess i would say that since one of the mentors on our team works for the school at a higher level, that probably had something to do with it

Well at this time we are working on an umbrella 501c to cover all teams. We feel it may be more appealing to sponsors to give to a large number of teams instead of just 1. The money we pool can be used by members for things like emergency supplies or travel to champs.
We are remote and spread far up here. We are planning on hosting a offseason event where local teams can compete without the cost of overnight travel. Plus we share information, assist each other and try to attend the same regional events.
The fact that we are recognized by the Minnesota State High School league. Helps us leverage with our school districts.

Worth the read.

We give Robotics Letters for the Jackets but we are really on the same level as Band and Academic Letters.

Our members letter in Band, Academics, and Robotics as well as the more traditional sports, Track, B-Ball, Football, XC, Wrestling, ect…

Mr. J

Commenting to pull up this thread later. Being able to give team members a varsity letter and that same recognition would be great. Most robotics students are not athletes.

One clarification on this. We are considered an ‘Activity’ here in MN, not a ‘Sport’. The good news is that we get all the benefits of being recognized by the MSHSL without having the limitations of of practices/meeting times that are put on the athletic teams. I believe most High School leagues control this closely.