From a Newton Volunteer

Hi all -

Since our team had a Dean’s List Finalist but did not qualify for Championship, we decided to take a number of our junior and seniors up to St. Louis as volunteers. Most of us were field reset and four of the students were even able to volunteer on Einstein. I wanted to make a few comments on the whole experience.

First - if you have been part of a FIRST team and have not yet had the volunteer experience, I highly encourage trying it out. As field reset, I got the opportunity to watch nearly every game on the Newton field as well as getting a prime seat for Einstein. While the hours were long, being able to hang out with so many amazing people both on the field as well as during volunteer lunches and such was more than amazing. One thing that it showed me, above all, was that FIRST volunteers are some pretty amazing people. This is especially true of those that play pivotal roles such as Volunteer Coordinators and the like. These people continually demonstrate why FIRST is such an amazing organization. Take some time next season and volunteer. You won’t regret it.

Second - my job on field reset involved standing behind the drivers, trying to keep a barrage of balls from killing anyone. . . especially Libby Kamen as she zipped by on her stylish Segway. I have some things that I learned from this position that you may be able to take into off-season events.

#1 - Screaming at the pedestal does not make it light up.
#2 - Screaming at the referee closest to your side of the field does not make the pedestal light up.
#3 - Screaming at the ball handlers on your side of the field does not make the pedestal light up.
#4 - Screaming at the human player from the other team on your alliance does not make the pedestal light up.

Beyond that - I was both uplifted and disappointed in turn at the demonstration and lack thereof of gracious professionalism demonstrated by drive-teams. I saw a number of amazing drive-teams who dealt with both rookie and veteran teams alike in a way that was exemplary. I loved every time I got to watch the Citrus Circuits and Simbotics Drive Coach coach their alliance to a victory. They were always gracious yet energetic. They encouraged rather than discouraged even when odds looked dim.

I was also saddened by the actions of some coaches - especially adults - who felt that they had a right to yell at their drive-team and other drive-teams. I saw clear examples of bullying that left me speechless and saddened. I saw rookie teams treated horribly and watched FIRSTers throw temper tantrums. I even heard coaches cursing out other teams - adults and students alike.

To those I say these simple words: Grow up. While I may be preaching to the choir here on CD, there is never any excuse to yell at anyone while on a FIRST field. I don’t care if a ref missed a call or if the Human Player misses the pedestal light for a fraction of a second. I don’t care if you lose due to someone else’s mistake. You do not have the right to act like a jerk.

Anyway - as a whole - I think that FIRST continues to impress. The volunteer experience brought our team to a whole new level of understanding and I believe will help us next year as we continue to live FIRST loud.

Best -

Thank you. I respect you for writing this and appreciate the way you did it.

Daniel that was a very well written post. I refereed this year (at Queen City) and it was the first time in a few years I had volunteered at an official FIRST event. I had forgotten how different the perspective is when you are in a volunteer role and your team is not there. I gained new insight not only on how to play this game, but on practices I would like my team to emulate.

As for the negative interactions, alas those are a pretty consistent fixture. I have found that the number of people who act like jerks is still pretty small compared to the total of participants, but that probably makes their behavior stand out all the more. I am much more willing to forgive and forget when it is kids, but adults need to know better. While we should all try to remember that individuals are not their teams, teams should always be aware that their individual members’ behavior affects how others see the team. And that one or two negative interactions take a long time to get over.

Thank you for this. I unfortunately saw teams yelling in all of the fashions you mentioned, ALOT, this season. It’s sad and unnecessary. Once cursing is added in, especially from adult MENTORS, I am disgusted.

I understand that you’ve all put so much work into your robots and seasons, but unless it’s a life-threating emergency or immediate safety issue, there’s never a reason to yell. This goes for students, mentors, and volunteers. Yelling won’t fix the issues, but keeping a cool head and working through things will.

As the OP said, as we go into the off-season, and next year, lets try to keep the yelling and cursing out of FIRST.

I wouldn’t go as far to say there is never a reason to yell at an FRC event.

There is a way to yell that still is respectful and gracious to other teams and volunteers. It’s very easy to get carried away and I have done that in the past but sometimes you just need to make sure you are heard in the drivers box.

Notifying the referees of a dead ball or a unlit pedestal can be a valid time to raise your voice. Sarah Le was the head ref at Dallas this year and she is a good friend of mine. There were several times I was yelling at the top of my lungs to get her attention, once for a dead ball and once for a unlit pedestal that ended up being a field fault. I am pretty sure she thinks that both cases were appropriate times to do this.

No one should be disrespectful and everyone should enjoy themselves but saying all yelling is a bad thing is way to far. All sports involve yelling because you have to be heard over a large distance it’s not always a bad thing. Yelling can also be used to emphasis a point or as motivation. It’s when it becomes disrespectful and negative that we have a problem.

Coming from someone with “in a complicated relationship with the Red Pedestal at hthe Virginia Regional” I did start to ask it questions after it wouldn’t light for 15 seconds…

In all seriousness, there are differences in “yelling”. If there is something that needs to be addressed i nthe very loud chaos of a match, I will yell. Not out of frustration, but because there is no adequate way to communicate it. In the first match on Archimedes there was a very bad field fault causing nothing to properly illumniate and we would have sat their for the whole match if coaches from both alliances weren’t waving down referees on the corner to tell them somethign was up (we were already there for 50 seconds).

The Youth Protection Program (going live May 1) includes a code of conduct. Bullying will not be tolerated.

As much as I agree with your post in general, referees do need to be informed when the pedestal does not promptly light up, and saying this politely at a normal voice level probably will not get the message across. I say this having refereed myself. Of course, context is everything.

The bullying of any teams, especially rookie teams, is inexcusable. “Stress” and “competitiveness” and whatever other stupid excuses people come up with are irrelevant. I’d like to see the harshest penalties applied to teams that do this, not teams that fail to get their inspection forms signed off by all the right people.

I want to start out this response by saying that #2 isn’t true. The referees are the people that determine when a cycle ends. Letting a referee know that the cycle should have ended by now is literally the only thing you can do to get a pedestal lit up when you need it. Maybe it’s not the correct referee, but that referee should be able to signal to another that hey, the cycle didn’t end.

I was also saddened by the actions of some coaches - especially adults - who felt that they had a right to yell at their drive-team and other drive-teams. I saw clear examples of bullying that left me speechless and saddened. I saw rookie teams treated horribly and watched FIRSTers throw temper tantrums. I even heard coaches cursing out other teams - adults and students alike.

I am not going to sit here and say this isn’t a real problem. It definitely happens. I do wish to add though that yelling is going to happen behind the glass no matter what. The lexan shield dampens noise so much, and you need to get attention so quickly, that projecting and raising your voice is the only way to accomplish this. I would not be so quick to interpret any “yelling” as badgering, bullying, or otherwise negative. Often times it is just about trying to get the attention of your alliance as quickly as possible to communicate information as quickly as possible.

I would also like to add that coaches have the right to interact with their own drive team however they want. It’s up to the team how their drive coach driver dynamic works. The only place you can judge is in how drive teams interact with each other. If a drive team has practiced and agreed upon having a coach yell during matches, it’s not your place to decide that the internal communication of that team is inappropriate. Inter-team interaction is a different ballgame though.

To those I say these simple words: Grow up. While I may be preaching to the choir here on CD, there is never any excuse to yell at anyone while on a FIRST field. I don’t care if a ref missed a call or if the Human Player misses the pedestal light for a fraction of a second. I don’t care if you lose due to someone else’s mistake. You do not have the right to act like a jerk.

You’re right in that there’s no excuse to be a jerk on a FIRST field. I just have to ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a team, competing to win the World Championship, whose pedestal hasn’t lit up. You’ve worked for months and put your heart and soul into your robot and team, and now you might lose your chance at glory because of a field problem. The first thing you can think to do is to get the attention of a ref. You project loudly and attempt to communicate to the ref your problem with the pedestal. This may be loud. I don’t think this action is inherently unreasonable.

That is not to say there haven’t been drive teams and coaches that were unreasonable - absolutely there were. All I’m trying to say is that every instance of a coach trying to get the attention of a referee using a loud voice isn’t inherently wrong and is totally understandable in the intensity of the moment.

I don’t mean to minimize your message, but I just want to say that there’s a fine line here that people can be on the right side of.


I do agree with this - I generally tend to use shouting for that form of loudness - though I guess in the end its both the same terminology. I saw many teams raise their voice to get over the din of the crowd as well as to get the attention of the refs. That was fine. The problem came about when others would raise their voices in a belligerent fashion.

I will say that Drive Coaches need to be careful though. I saw a number of teams who ended up driving more sloppily because they got distracted by a Drive-Coach who shouted when they weren’t used to it. It really depends on the situation at that point.

The good news is that Spectrum has a pretty awesome drive-team and I didn’t notice you yelling at them too much, Allen. :cool:

I think our first or second match the pedestal wasn’t lighting up and after 5 seconds, I was yelling upwards, because I didn’t want to run to either side and “yell” at a referee in case I got in the way of our Human Player. So I just yelled to the FRC gods watching us, to reduce the delay. Our Human Player thought it was hilarious…my voice currently doesn’t think so.

I agree with the general sentiment of your post. It’s hard to pull yourself away from a competition, it gets your blood pumping, but as a referee in FTC/Judge/General Volunteer, getting thank yous and having teams just come up to you and chat post-match, makes you know that it was just a 2 minute change of personality.

So even if you yell at other drivers or volunteers, and you think you’re “appropriate” be sure to just give them a high five or shake their hand and show them your appreciation. Being on the field for the first time ever, I got the competitiveness, I totally understand, and I got carried away at times, but just be sure to make sure everyone’s friends at the end of the day.

After all, staring at a blue banner isn’t fun, but working with other teams and winning a match by 10 points, the in-the-moment feeling is really where it’s at. Make sure you share that excitement when you’re there and you’re feeling it, trust me (as a volunteer/ref and now as a coach) I get it too and love to share it with others.

As a participant on Newton this past week I would really like to thank all of the volunteers on Newton. We had a terrific time and everyone was very helpful and friendly. It was nice to put our name on the Newton sign and I hope someone got to take it home as a momento.

I want to specially thank the FTA’s who were particularly helpful and cordial in getting everyone connected to the field. You were terrific and it was nice to know when our team took the field that you would be looking out for us and for all the other competitors so we could perform on the field.

Thank you so much for spending your time helping all of us to have such a great time and compete like crazy!!! It was exciting and it was a great experience for everyone! We love you guys!!

Unfortunately, I had to try to answer a question from the students on my drive team this year: “Why can mentors be drive coaches?” The team had very bad experiences with several mentor drive coaches from other teams - they felt disrespected, belittled, and ignored. That’s something that should never come from a mentor involved with FIRST. We all want to go out there and win, but we should never be doing so at the expense of one of our alliance members.

I will say that poor interactions much less severe than encountered this weekend have caused my team to cross highly ranked teams off our pick list at past events.

4464 would also like to thank the Newton volunteers for a fantastic experience this year - everything went very smoothly for us and all of our interactions with event staff were pleasant.

I’m saddened to hear of bullying and cursing on the part of FRC drive coaches. We all have to remember that, ultimately, FRC is not about winning the competition. It is about inspiring young people to pursue careers in difficult subjects and forging greater cultural appreciation for those subjects. That sort of behavior is actively detrimental to these goals.

Fortunately, we did not have any such encounters. All of the teams we participated with were friendly and gracious, and we hope to see them again next year.

Why can mentors be drive coaches?"

I’m from a program of mentors who have historically supported the mentor drive coach train of thinking.

If you have a mentor that is so emotionally invested in winning a championship that they disrespect or discourage the students (their team or others), that is a personal problem, not a problem that stems from allowing mentors to be drive coaches. That same personality will do the same thing (albeit less noticeably) in the design meetings, pit area, etc.

In general, the average mentor should have more emotional maturity than the average student, and be able to be a positive voice in the drive team. A good mentor drive coach watches for aggressive behavior from other drive teams or mentors and works to diffuse them. In my short time in FIRST, and as a mentor drive coach this season, I’d say we’re at a 90%+ “good mentor coach” level.

Even if it was only high school students, if I have a team of freshman driving, in an alliance with a strong willed student drive coach, who is coached by the same mentor you’re trying to weed out… that senior is likely to act like an equal jerk to the mentor coaching them.

So kudos to bringing it up. The scenario needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as in every competition tensions rise and people behave less than perfectly. However, this behavior affects everyone differently, and we need to be sensitive to the fact that as important as that qualification match may seem, the way to get the rookie team to give you their auton ball isn’t to be a bully. Whatever the outcome of the match, acting like a jerk to get a win will never pay off in the long run.

As the drive coach, I try to be clear with other teams: I’m not yelling, I’m articulating with emphasis. I mix in plenty of encouragement before and after, even if we get an unexpected loss.

The worst is when the drive coach next to you is freaking out one of your drivers because the other coach is freaking out at his own drivers.

^ This. For my really young team, this was extremely frightening. We were on the sidelines watching and our driver said “I really hope we don’t have a match with that team, the coach scares me”.

As someone with a pretty unique perspective, there is a lot I want to say on this matter, but being on mobile, it will take far too long. As many have said, I feel mentor coaches should be removed from all of the programs. Often times the mentors do bully the students, even if unintentionally. I have been a student coach (2005) and feel students should be the coaches. I have had other adult coaches yell at my students before. I was the alliance captain. I regretted choosing them after that. The past 3 years, I have also reffed. This is the first year with this much yelling and banging, mostly because of the pedestals. I would also like to point out, that many times refs didn’t score a cycle because the ball may not have been fully scored, not always the case but it happened. There was also delays, and dead ball problems. Referees were asked to do more this year than ever before, and it sometimes had negative impacts, but the level of yelling was a bit much.

As I have mentioned to others, and others here on Delphi, please volunteer. Especially if you think you can do so much better of a job. I would love for many of the referee haters this year to go pick up a tablet at an off season and then rethink what they were talking about. Overall, remember that these people are all volunteers trying to make your event better, and your experience a great one!

As a mentor coach (and former driver), I strongly disagree. At 4464, we’ve decided on mentor coaching precisely to lessen the stress on the students; if a match goes poorly, it’s the coach who takes the criticism, not the drivers. We do not feel that it is best to have a student in that position.

As someone that tends to come across as rather cross when I yell to (not at!) people, it is very, very easy to have “communication” yelling misinterpreted as “angry” yelling. Which definitely isn’t to say that during my brief stint as a human player during the 2012 season I didn’t notice a select few coaches and drive teams that dealt with each other and our drive team in a manner that didn’t seem particularly gracious or professional.

So, from an observer’s perspective I think it’s really easy to misinterpret yelling, especially when there are some people that are genuinely being problematic.