Losing focus on the purpose of FIRST.. someone bring me back

Posted by colleen.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Coach on team #246, a FIRST-aholic, from John D. O’Byrant High School/Boston Latin Academy and NSTAR/Boston University/Wentworth Institute of Technology/MassPEP.

Posted on 4/28/2000 10:23 AM MST

Somehow in this wonderful millenium year of FIRST, my love for the game and the goals of FIRST are seeming to get stomped on and wasted away by various things… maybe someone can re-focus me…

I’ve been in FIRST for 5 years… I love it… I know deep down in my heart I still do… and always will… It honestly changed my life and made it better in so many ways… it’s the reason i’m studying to be an engineer…

But this year… the attitude seems to be a little different, less coming from teams but, more the people on them. We’re all in this for the same reason, we are all here working towards the same goal: making the future of America a little brighter & prepared to handle the fast-paced technology advancements of the world… we’re here to make the next Dean, Woodie, Mike Bastoni, Andy Baker, Rick Paulino, Mike Martus, & Moe’s of the world… But the only way to make us all as great as them is if we join forces, create a little ‘co-opertition’…

And as this year began, I luckily came to a college with a team in progress. Small as it may have been - they were a team with a will, and i was happy to join them. We could have well just been rookies; the team filled up with new faces, new sponsors, and new schools despite the only dozen or so people who made it happen the year before…

it started out innocently enough- lots of energy but a definite lack of focus… the more i worked to try and keep us on track, the further away we seemed to steer. People were focused on getting their ideas across rather than doing what was best for the team… people started working in spite of others rather than for the kids… it was disheartening… the only thing i could do was stick with the great group of kids we had and do my best to teach them all i had learned in my 4 years…

at competitions it happened too… some were less worried about doing everything we could to get that robot working for our matches and for the kids and were caught up in what they got to do… we wouldn’t have been able to make it out for every practice and every match, or even pass inspection if it wasn’t for the great assistance of the FIRST staff and our friends on other teams… being head of controls, i had to rewire the entire robot thursday night to pass inspection… i needed experienced help that could work quickly besides the help of the people on my own team… a good friend, Kate Leach from 190, knew i needed help and offered, and i so greatly accepted… i later on found out that people were ‘mad’ that there were people from other teams working on our robot… last i knew, what katie did was in the entire purpose of FIRST, and exactly what I would do to for any friend in FIRST…

and throughout nationals and even know i see it happening, not only or necessarily with the people on my team, but with many other people in FIRST… the focus has moved off of doing this for the kids, educating them and making their future better and has reverted to making ourselves and our teams ‘elitest’ among the group… maybe it’s just me, but we should all be in this together…

for that reason, when people do great things, team do good things, we should support them and thank them for their efforts… here in massachusetts, focused in boston, we’re trying to start a collabortive of the area teams to focus and promote the goals of FIRST and ‘co-opertition’. We have a lot of high hopes for the organization… and the original idea behind the entire thing was making a database just like Buzz has… (please go to it and register if you’re going to/in college/alumni… www.buzzu.org)… however, they did it first… and we’re not going to try and build a bigger or better one, we just hope we can work together with them now and make it better and promote it (email about it is forthcoming any Buzz members reading this)… as well ('nother email to write)… we were interested in starting discussion forums… but Delphi has a wonderful thing going here, and there’s not reason we can’t work to get the people to come here… 47 has put a lot of work into making this, and we’re just going to keep running in place if we’re competing against one another on something great that one team has already done… instead…we should work together to promote it…

i guess where i’m lost is that i’m hard-pressed to find people who share my attitude these days… that FIRST is fun… and with a little cooperation we can bring this thing forward at a faster pace than anyone’s ever imagined… but to talk to people these days, it seems that very few of us are left and focused… people just want to brag about their bots and how much ‘better’ they are then don’t want to listen to constructive criticism or if someone else does the same… people have come to have an ‘i’m better than you’ attitude, and that’s the last thing that should be there…

we need to find the common place, and remember that we are all in this FOR THE SAME REASON… we are all going towards the same goal… and we can’t work against each other or we’re never going to make it there…

so i am honestly lost as to what move to make next… i can never/would never leave FIRST… i will not do anyone that favor ;-)… but i don’t know how to make people see what i do… to understand where i’m coming from… how a girl whose life has been consumed by FIRST for so many years could begin to wonder of it’s purpose after my heart and soul being in it for so long… maybe it’s me seeing something that’s not there… but i know how i feel… and right now i need someone to pull my heart back into this…


p.s. i just want to say a great thanks and a love you to the people in know still think like me… Kate 190, Lora 69, Kate Amy Jack Timmy Rick Morrison T1 Lishy Buzzy from 126, Andy B 45, Andy G 42-126, Liz Erin Joe 246, DJ Aaron (former 42s), Moe 88, Mr.B Ron 23, the FIRST staff, L2 from Autodesk… thank you…

Posted by Anton Abaya.

Coach on team #419, Rambots, from UMass Boston / BC High and NASA, Mathsoft, Solidworks.

Posted on 4/28/2000 1:25 PM MST

In Reply to: Losing focus on the purpose of FIRST… someone bring me back posted by colleen on 4/28/2000 10:23 AM MST:

Dear FIRST Community,

Starting your own team is the biggest mistake anybody can ever do in their lives. Yet at the same time, it can be BEST thing that anybody can ever do in their lives. Yes, THE BEST THING.

After only one year of FIRST, my senior year, I was hooked. I could not let go of FIRST. The addiction to it ran through my veins and I felt its power, spirit, determination, enthusiasm, and drive inside me.

Little did I know that starting a team was going to be the BIGGEST headache I’d ever have. Yet each step of the way, I knew I was growing, learning, and spreading my wings. I have grown so much ever since I started my team. I had to deal with people 20 years older than I, ask for money from over 100 major corporations and get rejected, and persuade high school students to feel FIRST the way I did, through experience and interest.

Starting a team was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It has brought me happiness, experience, mentors, friends, and it has kept me away from boredom. FIRST is now an organism inside me, and my body decided to keep it inside to coexist with it.

I had tons of problems with starting a team. I was the only one who knew what to do, and the hardest part was getting people to listen (especially when they’re all 5 years and older!)

Problem after problem, I faced it! I worked around it! I fixed it! I dealt with it! I apologized for it! I lost it! I patched it up! I covered it up! I got hurt, I got stressed, and I had regrets for starting a team in the first place. But I knew that I started it, I was going to finish it. I was building a team-- A GREAT TEAM, building a winning robot-- A GREAT robot, and I was going to make it the end-- FLORIDA, with all my kids for this is all for them.

I WANTED TO GIVE BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHAT I GOT WHEN I WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT. The whole experience cannot be put into words. It can only be felt, cherished, and remembered for a lifetime.

FIRST is not easy. But it’s not impossible either. But it can be difficult. Sometimes we forget beneath all the crap, beneath all the hardships, beneath all the stressful situations, beneath all the problems, beneath all the people who try to hurt you, beneath all the conflicts, ---- that we should still have FUN.

That’s the spirit of FIRST. Next year, I am afraid to leave the team I started as I am changing schools most probably. I would miss my team of course, but I’ll still be around to start another, spawn even more, and share the great feeling I get, that tingling sensation that uplifts my mind, spirit, and soul when I see that word…FIRST.

Team Leader
Rambots, #419
UMass Boston / BC High

ps. I’ve even found the girl of my dreams in FIRST. If you’re reading this, YOU know who you are. :wink:

Posted by Elaine Anselm.

Engineer on team #191, X-Cats, from Jos Wilson High School and Xerox.

Posted on 4/28/2000 1:31 PM MST

In Reply to: Losing focus on the purpose of FIRST… someone bring me back posted by colleen on 4/28/2000 10:23 AM MST:

Colleen - In reading your post I am reminded of a discussion I had with one of our team members back in 1996 who was on our team from 1992-1995. She had some of the same fears that you have expressed and I think the same can be said now as I said back then.

FIRST is changing, there is no doubt about it. When things grow they change. There have been people involved in this fun and awesome learning experience called FIRST who shared the vision about changing the face of education that Dean and Woodie so eloquently communicate since 1992. There were also people involved back then who wanted bragging rights about how good they were and didn’t care so much about a shared vision. Most of them are gone now because they were in it for the wrong reason, but there are others who have replaced them. I guess I don’t think proportionally there are more, there are just more. From where I stand, I think that there are enough people in FIRST for the right reason that as things change, while it may be uncomfortable, they will be in the right direction. When I think about it, since 1992, many of the people that I have admired most are or were involved in FIRST.

For your first 4 years you were involved in an awesome team that was in it for the right reasons and happened to have that magic touch that allowed them to shine technically as well. Like Clinton/Nypro, my team (Xerox/Wilson X-Cats) has been in FIRST since 1992 and along with Clinton/Nypro and a few other teams we helped set the standards for FIRST. It was pretty humbling when along came a few new teams that raised that bar even higher. Did it change us? Not really. If you are in FIRST for the right reasons it should not matter. Sometime I think it would be nice for someone to recognize what you do (that is why I like the idea of Mike Martus’ ‘Dean’s List’ so much), but awards are short lived. From where I sit, there is some awesome cooperation happening among FIRST team, but because FIRST has gotten so big, people are not likely to see it if you don’t win an award. It’s not bad or good, it’s just the way it is. You said that ‘…the focus has moved off of doing this for the kids, educating them and making their future better and has reverted to making ourselves and our teams ‘elitest’ among the group’. The experience you described in your note with others helping you and your team sounded just the opposite to me.

One more thing, like I told the student back in 1996, while FIRST is changing, you are also changing. You are beginning to look at FIRST from the perspective of an adult. You are outside that awesome team family you called home for 4 years. They made FIRST values part of the day to day operations of your team. Those values and sense of team are something that your team worked very hard to develop and maintain. Those values are part of you and now you are not a member of that team any more (my guess is that you will always be part of the team however). Other teams don’t have the same set of values, not because they are bad, maybe they did not have the time, or they’re new, or maybe they didn’t realize what they were getting into when they started, or maybe they are just different. That is where you can help. I am sure it is going to be hard and frustrating, but it sounds like you are getting involved and sharing the values you’ve developed. I’ve never been a student on a FIRST team so I don’t know what it feels like to make that transition, but it sounds like there are a lot of students out there who recently got their wings and are testing them out. This too will contribute to the change in FIRST as it grows even bigger. Try not to get discouraged.

Best wishes.


Posted by colleen.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Coach on team #246, a FIRST-aholic, from John D. O’Byrant High School/Boston Latin Academy and NSTAR/Boston University/Wentworth Institute of Technology/MassPEP.

Posted on 4/28/2000 10:57 PM MST

In Reply to: Losing focus on the purpose of FIRST… someone bring me back posted by colleen on 4/28/2000 10:23 AM MST:

OK- a little more justification to what i said…

seeing the responses and ones i’ve gotten in email… i’d like to say this…

i do have fun… through all the hardships, i do… this has honestly been 5 years of hardships for me… no need to air any more dirty laundry here… just understand there’s more than meets the eye in what i do… you’ve all seen me happy as crazy, driving the robot on stage… that’s what most of you see… not that i would expect anymore… but just know that all that fun happened through hardship… lots of hardship… in any case… not the point… i wasn’t lucky enough to have the opportunity to start a team, and grateful as well that it was done the year before… in any case, i did my best to have fun and bring that attitude to our kids… and i think it shown through considering the praise they got at Jersey for their spirit and determination despite the fact that we never rose out of last seed… but scores don’t fairly portray ability often, and even more importantly, it can in no way represent determination… we were out on the field every practice and every match… we accomplished great things that i was proud of… as proud of a last place finish as i was for the gold medal the year before… i had fun…

but it doesn’t change the attitude of some… some that made me feel as if there was something wrong with your best efforts resulting in 40th place… i see nothing wrong with that… i was proud, and that was slapped in my face…

as for the transition… and not being back home… i’ll be the first to admit that it’s different, it’s hard… but i came to this team looking for that… looking for a challenge… and i would never never ever think or look or ask for a team to fill the shoes of 126… the gold lightening bolt on my neck doesn’t bear the name ‘Gael Force’ because i was looking to replace them… nothing, or no one, could do them justice in my heart… i will always remain true to my hometown team… but i am on a new one now, and simply feed of my experiences from their and make a new place for 246…

and know there are tons of good things going on, that people don’t see because they don’t win awards… i see all the good things up-coming… but then i also see other teams trying reach those same goals faster, or out-do the others… that’s where i see the point being missed… imagine if another team had tried to do a one-up on delphi with these forums… we’d be split… half talking there, half here… when there’s no reason our voices shouldn’t be joined all together… that’s all i’m saying… we can’t work against each other…

and i know there are new people, new ideas, new approaches every year… it’s what i thrive off of… it keeps me awake and alive… trust me, this year i throw out every old idea i knew to work with others…

alls i know is that ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’ (Ghandhi maybe)… i’m trying to be that change… i have these past 5 years and will continue in the future… but some are too big for anyone of us, or any one team, to tackle on their own… that’s why we have to work together… not all teams have the same funding, same skill, same experience… so we have to feed off each other, just like we do in this forum…

basically, i see many of us focused on the same thing, but battling against each other in some respects… and i want that to change… some of the times i’ve tried to change it, it’s just fail miserably…

but i have not failed, and i am not ready to stop… and i will keep working until FIRST is a worldwide source of inspiration for generations… my life will never be without FIRST… i just want to help it move in the right direction…

so maybe that wasn’t ‘little’ but you all know me better than that… now i’m off to attack the government 'bout this craze FIRST…

Posted by Kate.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Engineer on team #190, Gompei, from Mass Academy of Math and Science and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Posted on 4/29/2000 9:45 AM MST

In Reply to: A little response to some that have been given to me… posted by colleen on 4/28/2000 10:57 PM MST:

FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

Or in Jon Abad’s words, ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Sillyness and Tragedy’

Both of these work well standing for FIRST. The first one is obvious as it is the actual. I mean, come on, this is a robotics competition after all. The second one I think stands just as well for FIRST. I’m sure at least a few of you are scratching your heads about it. Think about it. Sillyness. Tragedy. How much more exact can you get than this?! Yeah, I’m sure you’re thinking about how those words lack any and all relation to a robotics competition, but these words just SO work for it.

Yeah. Sillyness and Tragedy. Where do I start with this? Okay.

I’ll start with Tragedy first since that would be the one that sounds more anti-FIRST-like. Tragedy. Every team goes through this. Mind you there are many different levels of this for all teams, but everyone has at least a little. It could be anything from missing a bus over to competition in Florida meaning you missed opening ceremonies to losing a corporate partner to having to not let someone be on the team because of grades to losing a match to not having something on your machine work to… to… to… I’m sure you can think of many more than this. I have faith. :slight_smile: Just please don’t work too hard on this and come up with too many Tragedies.

Or maybe you should. Work with me on this one. Only reason I say this: the Tragedy can be solved. If you’ve had a Tragedy this year, then it’s given you something to work on for next year. In doing to, if you can fix it, this makes your team stronger. So, in a way, having a Tragedy is a good thing.

Now I’m really hoping that made at leasta little bit of logical sense to someone out there. Because before I started writing this thing, never once had I thought that I would be calling a Tragedy a good thing. So now that I’m hoping that I have at least a little bit of sanity left… (Wait, is that possible?? I do FIRST…)

Sillyness. You and I both know that there is a wicked lot of this in FIRST (please pardon the New England terminology). One thing comes to mind from Nationals. A certain team and a certain sign around the time of picking alliances. And everyone has fun on their team as well. Be it working on the robot at 5 am for the third day straight laughing about someone saying ‘toaster over’ two days ago or the silly team cheers that are brainstormed or getting stuck at Pleaseure Island at 2 am for a half hour waiting for a bus and then walking back to the hotel anyway or the team spirit your team has during one of your matches even if it is just a practice one (it’s still Thursday, of course you’re going to get odd looks) or the huge amount of pins that’s on your shirt as you wonder why you’re so hot or the body paint and hair dye that you use at competition or the team party or… or… or… There are many more Silly things that have been done by teams. Some of them will never be lived down. You’ve had fun this year at some point. And yes, you’ve had fun with your team.

You know why? Because the whole FIRST community is your team. There will always be someone there for you when you need someone.

And to quote my buddy Steve Shade, ‘Think of it as things aren’t always what they seem.’ No matter how bad it seems things are, it will get better. It’s just a matter of time and effort. Most, if not all, Tragedies can be resolved. Now always can you do it on your own, but you will always have help.

You know the places to start looking for help. But don’t ever assume that it’s the only place to get help. Everyone knows the definition of assume: it makes and ■■■ out of U and ME.

As always, look to your friends for help. And remember your ‘friends.’ The whole FIRST community. We’re all here for you. And by posting on these boards, well, this was as good a place as any to start looking for help.

And right now, I wish I could remember the words that Mr. Martus said at the web hug so I could quite him. Everything he says is always very well said. But you were there. You know what he said. And for those who weren’t, maybe Mr. Martus would be so kind as to post what he said at the web hug to tell everyone. Mr. Martus knows what’s up. He’s been doing this for I don’t know how long. But it’s been long enough for him to come up with The Dean’s List (which is an AWESOME idea).

So yeah. I hope I didn’t wander off the subject all too much and I hope I helped out at least a little bit. I actually wrote this last night in response to your first post, but after reading the one you responded with, I decided that this response was applicable to both postings. I’m here for you and everyone else. But you all knew that already. :slight_smile:

Team 190

Posted by Anton Abaya.

Coach on team #419, Rambots, from UMass Boston / BC High and NASA, Mathsoft, Solidworks.

Posted on 4/29/2000 10:26 PM MST

In Reply to: What the acronym really stands for posted by Kate on 4/29/2000 9:45 AM MST:

To Colleen, (note my letter was a general statement and not really a response to yours. but here’s a more direct response)

YES! That is our goal. That was Dean’s goal, to change the spirit of competition and competitiveness and bring it to a higher level and into gracious professionalism! In that, FIRST has boldly tried to incorporate the values of teamwork and cooperation, into a major stressful, expensive, and difficult task of working with people that you do not necessarily have to get along with.

I had my fair share of attitude problems from many people. And in many cases, I tried to not only coexist with them, win their trust, praise them, and buddy up with them, BUT I also tried to change them. To alter what I see as bad character traits by winning them rather than fighting them was the best way I found. Complete change is always an impossibility, but in the end, I was happy to have worked things out with them, and I was happy to have been able to make them better persons. In many cases, I even had to change myself becuase I knew I had some character flaws as well. It’s part of growing up, a process that never ends.

We cannot always choose who we work with. It’s one of the lessons one will learn in FIRST. The next thing to learn is how to get along, or how to change the person you do not like, or even how to change yourself to work with that person. The future will bring a whole variety of people who you wish you never had to work with, have bad attitudes, have rude personalities, and just be plain difficult. But it’s this diversity that makes FIRST so interesting!

Just imagine if everyone was always cheerful, helpful, generous, lively, loving, caring, thoughtful, and non-violent… God what a boring world this would be. I need some arrogant, rude, stupid, annoying, irritating, and ‘full-of-himself’ types of people ONCE in a while. It keeps me sane, it keeps everyone sane from all the goodness in FIRST. A balance so to speak. :slight_smile:

So you lost in a competition. So you lost in the awards. So you lost in pleasing people around you. SO WHAT? Too many factors involved. I mean seriously! We’re learning right? If say we were given 10 years to design and build a robot for this year’s competition, start a team of students, engineers, have giveaways, get sponsors, the works – 10 years would be a lot of time and would allow you to do things perfectly. But nope, that’d be less exciting. The challenge is there to do your best and show it! If you lazily built a robot, then you do not deserve praise. But if you poured your heart out, the hell with a trophy for you know what you are capable of.

Every problem I faced, every hardship I had to go through, and every failure I had, all added to every joy, knowledge, experience, and greatness I found as well. I treated every negative experience as a mere pixels in the entire picture. Without them, there wouldn’t be a picture.

FIRST is a gift that sprouts more gifts. But to get to those other gifts, one must experience those hardships, stresses, hassles, and even those people that have hurt you. But little by little, as we get more people involved, as WE set the ideals of FIRST, as we set examples to rookies and newcomers, then we will, little by little, slowly change the world.

Long live FIRST.

Rambots #419
UMass Boston / BC High

Posted by Erin.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Student on team #1, The Juggernauts, from Oakland Technical Center-Northeast Campus and 3-Dimensional Services.

Posted on 4/30/2000 8:00 PM MST

In Reply to: changing the world. posted by Anton Abaya on 4/29/2000 10:26 PM MST:

Who am I quoting when I say…

‘No award is as great as the successes we have already achieved’?

I think it might not have been those words… but it was making the same basic point.

Sitting at home bored… -Erin