@SergeantSpork5853, here is the next part of the story.
It was the morning of the Navajo Code Writers first competition, and everyone was a bit nervous. The team agreed to meet at 4:45 AM at the school so that their bus could leave for Flagstaff by 5 AM. Everyone was there except for one notable absence. Where was Jeanette?! She wasn’t answering her phone. Perhaps she didn’t have any reception? What if she had slept in? What if she wasn’t able to get a ride? At 5:15 AM, the team had to leave with the students who were able to make it…but it was a long drive, made longer by thoughts like, “Where is she?” The team checked-in at the competition and were relieved to see that Jeanette had arrived after all! Her family had decided to drive up together so that they could all support her and the team. Their relief was short-lived as they scouted the other teams’ robots. “Our robot is so much smaller than the others!” It was true. Their robot F.R.A.N.C.I.S. was considerably undersized and underweight compared to these Goliath-esque competitors. However, the team proved that size isn’t everything as they won their first match! As the day went on, they slowly built up more and more confidence in F.R.A.N.C.I.S. as well as their own abilities. With a lot of hard work, they made it all the way to the semi-finals! Their first semi-final match was rough. The size and weight disparity between F.R.A.N.C.I.S. and its competitors started to take its toll. The other robots ruthlessly smashed into F.R.A.N.C.I.S.! Towards the end of the match, a wheel fell off, and then another! As they pulled pieces of their robot off the field, the Code Writers were told that they only had a few minutes before their second match. Without saying anything, Jeanette carried F.R.A.N.C.I.S. out of the auditorium, found an empty table in the foyer, grabbed some tools, and got to work. F.R.A.N.C.I.S. was in bad shape. Everyone crowded around her, team members, family, and even judges. The referee was constantly reminding her that she only had a couple minutes, and then one minute, 30 seconds! The team was holding their breath, there just wasn’t enough time to attach both wheels! Jeanette knew it too, so she did the only thing that she could.
The auditorium was silent. The second match was about to start. Where were the Navajo Code Writers? Where was F.R.A.N.C.I.S.? The door opened and the audience cheered as they saw Jeanette carrying in F.R.A.N.C.I.S., but missing one if its wheels! Knowing that there was not enough time to attach both wheels to the robot, Jeanette converted F.R.A.N.C.I.S. from a four-wheeled robot into a three-wheeled one. But would it work? Jeanette placed the robot on the field and turned it on. The match started and F.R.A.N.C.I.S. whirred to life! Off it went, scoring points just as it had before. While the team still ended up losing the match, the students walked off the stage proud knowing that they had given it their all.
During the award ceremony, the judges announced a variety of different awards. Before announcing the winners, the judges described each award and the qualifications for it. During each description, the team thought, “Hey! This sounds like us!” And each time they were passed over for another team. After countless disappointments, the judges announced that they had one more award left. And this wasn’t just any award, this was the most prestigious award offered at the competition, even more prestigious than the award for having the best robot. The winner of this award earned a place at the Arizona and New Mexico States Championship! This was the Inspire Award!
The judges had this to say about the award, “The Inspire Award is given to a team that the judges saw truly embodied the challenge of the FTC program. This team serves as an inspiration both to this program and the young minds of all. The team that receives this award has performed well in all judging categories, and was chosen by the judges as a model of FIRST Tech Challenge teams. The judges used match performance, observations made in the pit, observations made during interviews, the team’s engineering notebook, the performance on the playing field, all these things to help determine the winner.” At this point the team was thinking, “We may have had a chance at some of those other awards, but there’s no way we could win this one. After all, we’re just a rookie team from the “rez” with a robot that is falling apart and made from parts from an old fax machine. What do we know about robotics?” The judges continued, “This rookie team never gave up, even when things were breaking down. Their doors are always open to anyone, helping others to prepare, embodying gracious professionalism both on and off the field. They built some of their own parts, as well as building inspiration. The first place Inspire Award is presented to 11529, the Navajo Code Writers!” Confusion! Shock! Joy? No, not joy! Exhilaration! In an instant, a flurry of emotions swept over the team as they slowly stood, not believing what they had just heard. Immediately after Jeanette walked across the stage to accept her medal along with her teammates, she was surrounded by her family, tears in their eyes. The team had originally planned to only attend one competition, but fate had another plan in mind. The Navajo Code Writer’s season was just beginning, but that’s a tale for another night.