Lessons from a rookie

As the captain of team 4334 I thought I would like share the experience of our team in our rookie year. This year has been a roller-coaster ride for our team. We have learned many things about the world and about ourselves. I’d like to think we did a good job as a rookie, building a simple bot that carried us all the way to Einstein. I learned so much this season, but I’ll save most of it for later. There were however some really big things that I think everyone can learn from our season.

You don’t need start with much of anything to create a successful team, not money, shops or even time. We sure didn’t! As you can tell from our number we registered literally weeks from the deadline, only thanks to a grant from FIRST Canada (Thanks Mark!). In fact for a good portion of our existence as a team my lofty objective was just to run a season; it was only in the last few hours of our season that we dared to imagine a finish like we had. What you do need is dedication, this team has been all-consuming for most of us for the past 8 months. And one of the most incredible things I learned from those 8 months is that you can overcome ANYTHING!

The second lesson is that its not enough to know the principles, you actually have to follow them. So many teams rookies and veterans alike know that you should build a simple robot, but we all get sucked into the “wouldn’t this be cool” trap. When you hear yourself say something would be “cool”, that should start alarms going off in your head, what you want to be is “simple” and “elegant”. We had a strategy discussion early in this year and being simple and defensive only won by a hair, but I’m awfully glad it did :).

Another strategic consideration is to know your meta-game. You aren’t playing the game in a vacuum, so it is important to know what context you are playing in. We might have gone with a fender shooter but we knew we were showing up at an 1114/2056 regional so our best shot was not to try and outscore such incredible teams, we had to find a way to complement them rather than face them head on. Next year we will hopefully be attending a Seattle regional (and the brand new Calgary regional) so going offensive may play more into our strategy.

Simple lessons but hopefully this will help reinforce them,

  • Alex

Good post Alex… I thought it would be hell of a lot longer than that though. I’m surprised you didn’t even bring up Einstein, come to think of it, I don’t think we’ve really talked about it yet.

Hoo-rah - here’s to ATA.

Thanks everybody (if anyone else reads this) for all your support this year, it’s great to become part of such a receptive community.

2013, here we come.


Please come to Seattle. We welcome you with open arms. We miss our canadian friends from a few years ago, and we had a great time in our match with you in st louis.

Buddy, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are flat out wrong in your thinking. Your team, as a rookie, won an entire 100 team division at Championships. You stand atop 97 other teams as the best. You alone bested 75 other teams as the 23rd pick. You were part of an all Canadian super alliance, and were a vital member to their scoring potential. You stepped out on to the world stage and showed that one of the best alliances do not require 3 offensive robots. You’re team did absolutely amazing. You did the impossible. The impossible that 2056 did their rookie year, winning 2 regional victories, with 1114.

Are you sure you’re not a veteran? :rolleyes: Those all were all well past some veteran lessons. As a certain 2012 CCA team said (somewhat): Good teams build robot. Great teams build teams. Amazing teams build families. Overcoming the build seasons issues that arise is something that carries on throughout your life. Building something simple that plays the game. But that’s clearly not what you did. You guys didn’t play the game. You played the opponents. And it payed off big.

These lessons are lessons anyone, rookies or veterans will benefit from, and I hope that I will get the chance to see your team again. I can’t wait to add your team to my watch list. The most inspiring FIRST value is watching teams grow up, become elites, and overcome everything the world throws at them.
Good luck in your 2013 season!


I heard rumors that there’s going to be a regional here next year, but has that been confirmed? Where’s it being hosted?

They are still just that, rumors. It has been OKed by FIRST Canada, and FIRST HQ, but we still have a massive undertaking of getting sponsors and starting teams before the potential becomes a reality. If it does go down, the regional will occur at SAIT.

  • Alex

Some unknown rookie team by the number of 4334 was picked #3 on my Fantasy FIRST Archimedes alliance. Right alongside 2056, 1868, and 2815. Of the 16 teams on my Championship alliances, they scored in second–right behind their alliance partner, 2056. That’s how “rookie” they are…

That’s not a rookie team, folks. Not after GTR East. Not the way they performed at Championship. Not the way they’re trying to bring a regional to a place with only two teams in under a year. Not the way they learn from successes and failures. Not they way they post those lessons.

Welcome to the ranks of the veterans, ATA. Keep up the good work, and we’ll see you in the “regional powerhouse” ranks soon enough.

Thanks man, we really appreciate it. It’s neat to see someone so informed about what we do. again, we really appreciate it. Kinda puts all those hundreds of hours of work into perspective.

Congratulations… it’s great to see FRC doing well in Calgary. You’ll love Seattle next year… our team played there many years, and I’ve been able to return to inspect and judge the past two. I’ll be looking forward to meeting your team… do you have any mentors/members from other teams working with you?

We’ve talked about getting an FRC regional going in the west for years… it is a huge task and nice to see that it has some fresh momentum. Keep pushing… it won’t happen by accident.

Keep up the good work, and remember that you’ll be elegible to compete for Chairman’s next year… document all your work in the off-season with photos, and videos… keep your thank-you notes and correspondance. You’ll find you can learn a lot more from 1114 than just how to win matches!

Well done! That’s the best finish yet for a team from Western Canada!


Here is our Rookie All Star video.