Great story about hardwork and dedication

A crazy scenario unfolded on our team this weekend, and I wanted to tell the story since it has a great ending where hard work with the possibility of no reward really paid off.

We were selected to be a part of the 5th seeded alliance by team 987 (big thanks, btw). About 10 minutes before wheeling our robot to the field, our arm operator Daveonna experienced an excessive nosebleed (she gets nosebleeds every so often, but it’s usually not a big deal). It got much worse while at the first aid station - it was determined that the blood was from deep in the sinus cavity and she actually had some blood coming out of her tear ducts into her eyes (creepy). Our teachers made the decision to take her to the nearest hospital. She actually got better before going to the hospital, but they took her for precautionary reasons to be sure everything was fine. In the end, she was fine by the time she returned to the dome.

The story that cause me to create the thread:
As our robot got to the field and eliminations were about to start, we realized that Daveonna wasn’t going to be able to play. While everyone was worried about her, we also knew we couldn’t let our alliance partners down so we needed to put in our backup arm operator, Ricky.

Ricky is a very small statured, very quiet person. He rarely shows any emotion and when he does decide to talk, it can be hard to hear what he’s saying (but we’re working on that). Just before our first match, I went to the stands and told Ricky that he needed to come with me. He had no idea why. As we started walking I calmly explained the situation about Daveonna and that he would have to be our arm operator during the elimination rounds. In usual Ricky fashion, he quietly and calmly said, “Okay. Can you hold onto my stuff?”

We don’t have a practice robot, so Ricky doesn’t get to practice back home. Our driving time at events is so valuable that we have to give virtually all of it to the primary drivers. Ricky got some practice time before ship and a little during a fix-it window. He never got to play in a real match and he got to operate the arm on the official field in two practice matches. The last time he touched the robot controls was during a practice match in Detroit, over 6 weeks ago. I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking, or how much pressure he felt.

Our first match of the quarter finals starts, and Ricky does a phenominal job. The robot is flying around the field picking up tubes and scoring them with ease. There was virtually no difference in performance. My jaw dropped - I couldn’t believe that after not driving for 6+ weeks, he looked like a seasoned veteran. He had one small technique issue in the second match (not unexpected given the lack of time), so we told him what to do in that situation. The technique was a very subtle thing that can’t be noticed from the stands, but makes all of the difference in the world when scoring over an ubertube. In the following match he executed it perfectly, and from that point on there were no flaws in his play. Absolutely amazing.

Yes, it takes some luck to win your division and get to play on Einstein. But it also takes some good execution and our back-up arm operator Ricky came through like no one could believe. It had to be the biggest day of his life. Can you imagine how much different his day was than what he expected it to be when he woke up that morning?

So, here’s where the story gets interesting. After winning the division, we found out that he would practice with an X-box controller every night in his bedroom. He would visualize the robot picking up tubes, scoring on all of the rows, things going wrong, etc. and move his fingers on the controller so he had everything down cold in case he ever got called in to play. He knew that his chances of getting to play were pretty slim, but that didn’t stop him. He put in a lot of work without any guaranteed reward, * just to be prepared in the unlikely scenario that he would play*. He did this because a) he didn’t want to let his team down in that situation, and b) he wanted to prove that he could do it if given the chance.

Well Ricky, not only did you prove you could do the job - you helped get the team to Einstein. I’m extremely proud of you. Not just for driving well, but mostly for putting in extra effort to prepare yourself for the situation. That is a lesson for everyone: prepare hard, even if you think you won’t get the chance. Hard work leads to rewards - sometimes even when you think there might not be any chance.


This is a great story. If Ricky comes to IRI, I want to meet him and shake his hand. As always Pontiac shows us all what we need to do to succeed. Ricky, I am proud of you as well.


Chris, thanks for posting this story.

Ken told me the about Daveonna and that the back-up was in there…but the entire back story is incredible.

We have had to use backup drivers occasionally in the past couple years, but never at the WC or Einstein level. You can usually tell a difference…

Congratulations to Ricky for staying prepared. If you still have eligability left, I am sure you have a bright future as an FRC driver/operator.

Congratulations to Wings of Fire for their awesome year.

Great story Chris. I’m going to share with my team - especially the back-up drive team. We actually had our backup arm operator in for the MI State Championship, but that was something we knew about well in advance so he had plenty of time to prepare…I can only imaging what would happen being told minutes before eliminations begin, “Get ready…you’re going in”!

By the way…I was very happy to see your team out on Einstein representing MI - congratulations.

Wow, **that **is an incredible story. I will share with my students.

I only saw your team perform on Einstein, and I never would have guessed you had a backup operator. The performance looked… Seamless.

I love this… it’s so typical. I must’ve heard the same thing a hundred times this weekend:

Glad to hear Daveonna is ok.

Thanks, Chris, for sharing this story.

Wow. This is a great story. Thanks, Chris. Way to go Ricky!!!

Andy B.

The true spirit of integrity dwells within Wings Of Fire. We see it in the mentors and we see it in the students. Consistently. I have never failed to be moved beyond words by the actions shown and the stories told.

Daveonna, I’m sorry that happened to you and I’m glad you were able to return to the Dome and that you are ok. Your teammate had your back and that must be an incredible feeling, having helped to get the team so far with your hard work. Ricky - dedicated practice and commitment with the very real possibility of no payoff - sets a bar very high as a role model for your fellow members of the FIRST community. We can all learn a great deal from your dedication and from this story of valor and triumph.

One thing that I have learned from talking with your mentors is that they love to talk about their students. They love it. This is a beautiful reason - why.

All the best, 51. Rock on. Congratulations on a job well done.


Thanks so much for sharing this. It is very moving and inspirational and I will be sharing it with our team. Congratulations on Einstein.

Awesome Job Ricky!!!

I wish every kid in FIRST would read this. I’ve heard countless “backup” drivers whine about the lack of time they get with the robot. This PROVES you don’t need it. Hardwork & dedication can truly make it or break it.

And what really blows my mind is that he did it ON HIS OWN. Sure many of the great teams with backup robots have mentors scheduling 2-3 hours of drive time every day with their kids. But how many of the kids would initiate that on their own? While I’m certain they are out there, I bet it would be a lot fewer.

I love hearing stories of this kind of motivation. Its inspiring & a relief to know that that kind of dedication is still out there.

Amazing story - thanks for sharing!


This is definitely being sent to the team.

This definitely shows one of the greatest sides of FIRST. Way to go Ricky! Team 1675 is very proud of your dedication! :smiley:

To expand on Adam’s sentiment: I am sure he has a bright future.

Thanks for posting, Chris.

(Still waiting on the Hall of Fame vandalism picture. :wink: )

This is a great story, and I’m sure it is not unique. What is different about this story is that the hard work had an observable outcome.

I would imagine there are dozens, even hundreds, of such stories that are behind the scenes in the teams we consider to be powerhouses. Yes, some teams have an advantage of a great sponsor. And let’s face it, there are only so many JVN’s, Bakers, Copiolis and Karthiks in this world, not enough to mentor every team. But beyond those powerhouse sponsors and mentors, there must be many unsung dedicated student heroes like Ricky.

The powerhouse teams don’t get there just because of the advantages they start with. They get there because of all the hard work and dedication of every member on their team, even when that hard work seems pointless and may not get recognized. They don’t get there from luck; all that hard work creates the potential for lucky situations that the team can exploit when the unlucky happens.

Congrats to 51, and kudos to Ricky for being there, ready and prepared to step up when needed.

Bravo. That is dedication.

Thanks for sharing this story Chris. I hope this story serves as a form of inspiration to all students (and mentors) participating in FIRST. This is the form of dedication that makes us great.

Ahh… yes for sure. I am almost never looking at a big enough picture.

Thank you!


Fantastic story. Ricky - thanks for inspiring the rest of us!

If only it wasn’t our alliance (364, 365, 1986) that was on the other side of the field for those first few matches! :smiley:

Congratulations on your Curie Division win and for representing our division well on Einstein!

Part of what made this story so special is that Ricky is a senior and this was his last shot. It was nice for him that he got his chance, and even sweeter when it occurred in the last possible chance.

Daveonna is a senior, too. In fact, all of our drive team were seniors. Back to the drawing board for next year!

Congratulations on your big award at the championship. I always watch you guys closely, and I’ve been wanting to talk to someone on your team for a while. “Why?” you ask. Because my brother-in-law is on the Hopkins school board and his daughter will be starting high school next year. You guys should recruit her for the team next year - it’s always good to have supporters on the school board with a personal stake in the team.

Another side note…

Sunday Evening late before we left for St. Louis ( past 9:30 is late for me) Ricky called to say " I’m ready Martus, you can put me in". My response was that Daveonna run the arm all season she was the first choice…

Did he know something?

Boy was I glad he was prepared! Thanks Ricky!