I want to set a few thing straight here.
First of all, I am a 3rd year member of a GM team. That happens to be Team 68, Truck Town Thunder. As many people on my team joke about, I would get a GM tattoo. I love GM; they are a wonderful sponsor. The odd thing is, my father is a firefighter, and my mother works for the county. I have no direct relatives in the automotive industry at all. I say this to emphasize my point; my love of GM comes not from predetermined emotion, but from a life-changing experience.
It didn’t really hit me until nationals 2002 at Epcot. This was my first year on T3, and I had learned so very much. But, a very special thing happened to me, something much more important. I was discussing the events of the day with my friend, and co-team member, Joe. He and I began talking of memories past of the year. And then it hit me. How did I come this far so fast? I was a completely different person; motivated, excited, inspired, spirited, and my creativity was overflowing.
After regaining a certain level of normal thinking, I realized that I wouldn’t have felt this way without a few key elements. All of these so-called “elements” were directly related to GM. Specifically, our advisors. If any of you are reading this, I want you to thank you for making me a better person, and for helping me come as far as I have. The advisors on T3 are just wonderful. It’s difficult to put into words. Since our team has no school associated with it, you don’t get the whole “student-vs-teacher” mentality. Our advisors are our superior, intelligent, friends.
More to the point of this thread, our Advisors teach us to become adults. Our team leader explains this to the new students each year. “We can not promise you a life-changing experience, or an unrealistic view of life. We can, however, promise you a real life situation. You will be treated like adults, and expected to behave like adults. We win and lose graciously.”
Gracious professionalism is the fundamental element of our team, as should be with any other team. Don’t get me wrong, we are here to try to win. That’s what competition is all about. But it’s more than just competition, and my team understands that. I know that I would much rather lose a competition and see one of my fellow team members inspired to fix a problem, and gain this inspirational spark, than simply go home with a gold medal. And our advisors hold this belief to heart as well.
There is also something that I have seen in posts repeatedly, and that I need to address. I am sick of hearing that teams with well known sponsors don’t do any fundraising. If anything, my team does more fundraising than teams with simply a school sponsor. Instead of thinking of sponsors in terms of the amount of money that is given, try to think of them in terms of the amount that we are expected to earn. I know that Mark Garver already stated it, but over 19,000 hours were donated for fundraising last year. Keep in mind that we have a team of about 20 students, and 15 advisors. That is a lot of work!
I am not saying that there are no perks involved with being with GM. We are such a wonderful advertising opportunity for GM, and I love every aspect of it. Sure, we have cool toys like our big truck and our little truck, but it’s more than that:
• GM gives our team a home and a family, Our home being a wing of TPC Central Truck and Bus Mockup, and our family being our wonderful advisors.
• Being on a “big-sponsor” does not mean that you are given a check for all expenses, and told to make the company look good by winning all of your robotics competitions.
• And I am certainly not a glorified mechanic, cheerleader, or anything less than that.
• I happen to be a proud, highly trained, member of a team who cares more about their students getting a good experience in life, than winning a competition.