JVN's Reflections on the 2011 Championship

The 2011 Championship was an incredible one for me. It had incredible high moments, and incredible low moments. Overall it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

I’m so proud to be a Robowrangler, and extremely happy with our team’s performance this past weekend.

I took the time to post a few thoughts and memories:

I hope your experiences were as powerful as mine. Enjoy your off season.


John, as cheesy as this sounds, 148 and 234 are both two giants who’s shoulders our teams are attempting to stand on. The win against you meant a lot to the team, not because it was just another win, but because you guys are their role models as well as for the teams in the EWCP.

I can’t wait to see your 2012 machine, and be pushed even more in the pursuit of excellence the way 148 constantly is. Because of you and Team IFI, our adopted mantra was also “continuous improvement,” and I hope we achieved that to a level that even you can be proud of. Thanks for being the epitome of good engineering in FRC.

Another great blog post by the great JVN. If anyone is reading this who doesn’t keep up with it, you’re really missing out.

I stopped by your pit, and got a very detailed thorough tour of the robot by a few students, that thing is sick btw

I can never really understand all the technical jargon about robotics or the systems, subsystems, and programming aspects of the teams. I do understand when the students and their mentors get excited about all of that and I respect it. On 148, I always respect that part of the team because it is so much a part of 148’s standard of excellence and reputation. But - the part that I really understand and appreciate about 148 is the heart of the team. This blog entry showcases this heart which is the size of Texas. And this blog entry made me cry from paragraph to paragraph and overall. Inspired tears are made of something precious - appreciation of Herculean efforts, long hours, beauty, power, respect, going the distance, and honor.

It’s easier to smile and laugh at your blog entries, John, especially when the students take over and entertain all of us. It is much harder to be inspired by the journey of the team as seen through the eyes of a lead mentor with a big heart. Because then we are inspired to tears.

Thanks for inspiring teams everywhere, especially in Texas,


Amazing read. I loved seeing 148’s bot up close. It was very well done!

While our team had issues with pneumatics, I’m highly curious about the one way pneumatic valve/fitting. Is there a chance a robowrangler or anyone could give more information about this?




You may not know it, but the Tators made a trip down to San Antonio on week one, largely to see the Robowranglers run. On that trip I had a chance to talk with Andy Baker and told him that we would have to work at least more 6 weeks to even get close to your team’s week one performance level.

Your team set the bar for us this year, and inspired us. It was a priveledge to play with and compete against the Robowranglers and we hope to be able to make it to that level again in the future. Thank you for setting the bar - in so many ways.

Best regards,

Mark Wibbels

Hi Mark,
Thanks for the very kind words. You guys have a fantastic team and were certainly playing at a high level last weekend.

We really enjoyed our qualification match together, and enjoyed our QF showdown (less so).
I promise we’ll make it harder for you next year. :wink:

Please pass along my compliments to the rest of your team!


PS - Love the team name & image…

I don’t contribute much in the way of posts on this forum, but I felt compelled to share some of my thoughts after reading your musings this season. The reflections you have shared through your blog has been most enlightening to me and other members of my team. Your team’s success and quality has encouraged me to work harder as a mentor to provide greater opportunities for my students.

Your team’s formidable robot is only equally matched by your capable, respectful students. I stopped by with my son to check out your robot and we had our questions answered in detail by a kind young man.

Thank you for what you and your team bring to the FIRST community.

Darren Collins FRC2046


Your team is one of the ultimate Class Acts of FIRST. You inspired our team to try an entirely different way of designing a robot. We read and absorbed your work from last year and put it to use in our prototyping this year. It made a huge difference for us. Thank you for putting your self out there over and over and helping FIRST become a better place.

Like many mentors including me, you wear your heart on your sleeve for your team. How can a Coach/Mentor not do this? I salute you it was an honor to be in the same Dome with you this past week. Congratulations to you for what you do… you and your team inspire us all!!

thanks Bob Steele and Skunkworks Robotics 1983…

“HEXBUGs are just a part of that VEX thing. Don’t be impressed.” Having a product show up in Target toy departments and at Michael’s checkstands is not impressive? Hmmpph. I guess that person isn’t a businessman.

On to the important topic:
If you gotta lose, it’s great to know your team did their best. Happened to us, too. I don’t know how our students feel about it, but I’m proud of them.

You forgot Mrs. Z to make it mega epic…

Congratulations on the successful season. 148 was fun to watch some of your matches during qualifications. Its unfortunate to see you guys lose at quaterfinals but both alliances were super awesome. Keep up the awesome work and I hope 280 can play with 148 next year.

And on tetrix motors being the next year game piece we have about 8 of them that we burned up. Plus two that might not make it through off season.

Very nice post! Thanks for the kind words and don’t beat yourself too bad. You guys did very well and I like watching your students working hard in the pits. It is what we should all be doing at Champs. I hope your students had a great time.

Great blog post. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say in your blog.

I was upset to see you guys exit in the quarterfinals with so much potential. I was also surprised that you didn’t win a design award (though the teams that did were very deserving).

Unfortunately there are some people in FIRST that don’t understand what it is all about. J

John, you and 148 truly exemplify what a FIRST team should be. You’re an inspiration to all of us. Your team operates on a high level of competition and an even higher level of gracious professionalism.

John you’re the Rock Star!

Pretty sure that is evident walking through the pits with you. You can’t go 5 steps without someone stopping you to comment on the blog or interviewing you.

I just want to be behind the scenes, work with my kids, and win matches. :cool:

Robowranglers should be a role model for all teams. I know they are for HOT! Your kids should never have to deal with all the “junk” that comes from the small sample of know-nothings out there.

Your a great friend and the Championships would not have been as cool without you.

Actually, when I started in FRC all I cared about was robot performance and results. Now I would probably just prefer to hang out with friends and watch their teams play, because I am a fan of so many teams…this all started with JVN @ IRI2007 being friend #1.

Keep up the hard work. Lets go break the 67+148 SF curse at IRI!

I am glad the term “buzzsaw” is sweeping the nation. It seemed appropriate when I told it to Paul after they got knocked out by another 111 buzzsaw alliance again.

BTW, I have no idea what I did.


Your blog has been an inspiration to me all year long. I look forward to reading new posts, and seeing things from your insight. Your openness and honesty along with your technical insight are models for all of us to follow. Thank you.

You mentioned that some teams say hurtful things about other teams. I agree.

I worked as an inspector on Wednesday and Thursday in Galileo, and I got to hear some comments from some teams about other teams (148 was not involved). A lead student and I had an interesting conversation after this student briefly saw another team’s robot come up to the inspection table.

Lead student: “no way that’s built by the students”
Me: “how do you know that?”
Lead student: “it looks wonderful”
Me: “It’s amazing how a combination of simple engineering and powder coating can make someone think that no students are involved in the build. I know people on that team, and I know that students are very involved.”
Lead student: “yeah, powder coating does make it look great - you’re probably right”

I truly believe that I saw no robots this year that had no students involved in the build or design of the robot.

Please keep this up, John.

Andy B.

John, what you’ve done with your team is something that every mentor can be inspired by. Your entire team gave me the impression that they’re professional, driven, and can still have fun. It’s obvious that your students learned ALOT this season.

I was one of the random people who came up to you, asking about your robot.

Thanks for sharing your season with us! I’m giving some small talks to some local teams, and your blog and your white paper are on their ‘required reading’ lists.

I just posted an edit & correction.
Apparently our loaned out minibot DID climb the pole for points in Newton match 147 against our friends 217-- the fun part about this? Those 20 points helped keep 217 in the top 8.

Funny how these things happen.