Our head mentor has essentially quit. Her husband who was also heavily involved has also quit. We are left with an alum and our teacher sponsor, who I adore, but cannot really help us with making a robot.
Context - I am the team captain. The head mentor had a son who led the team a couple years ago. She allowed him free rein of the team with no concern about involving underclassman (my class) and essentially let him do whatever he wanted. When I took over, we had a rebuilding year last year while I had to bring everyone else on the team up to speed. After a large amount of success, we decided we really wanted to go for gold this year. I have been clashing with the head mentors after wanting to install practices that I have learned from watching and listening to good teams. I was pulled from robotics in the fall because of college apps and other reasons, and the head mentor took it upon herself to spend the vast majority of our money, we had a really large grant we weren’t expecting, on managerial things like a new tool box and an upgraded pit. This might seem great, but now we are left with ~$7K for everything on the robot + an identical practice drivetrain. The head mentor now has a freshman son, and I feel like she is doing everything she can to make sure he has a team when we leave. The is a lot of toxic culture between me and the head mentor, and it has finally come to a head. I know this sounds bad, but all of this conflict has come from me not following exactly what she wanted to do or fitting in with her plan. I have my own vision for the club, and my fellow teammates have the same goals and agree with my leading style and priorities. However, most of them are too afraid to speak up against the head mentor because she essentially imposes her will on everyone in the team.
The team is essentially all seniors + 1 sophomore. There are ~50 people registered for the team, yet only the seniors + 1-2 other people show up to meetings. The conflict came to a head when me and another student, the intake lead and sophomore, were having a genuine discussion on the pros and cons of different intakes. I wanted to do something, he wanted to do something. The head mentor’s son has taken a very active role in the team even though he has graduated 2 years ago. He is essentially acting like he is on the team and still in control. The head mentor always differs to him in discussions and favors his opinion over mine or the other people on the team. In the discussion, the son kept telling me listen to your lead, listen to your lead, stop arguing listen to your lead. He is only a sophomore who doesn’t have much frc experience, and we were both having a communication disconnect. He didn’t see what I saw and I didn’t see what he saw. We were both kind of digging in our heels, and the discussion was going in circles and nothing was coming from it. Eventually this was rectified with an in person discussion, but in the conversation the son finally said
“Well I’ll say this for the last time, listen to what your leads want to do. Your job is to listen and encourage. I’m hearing a lot of side discussions and executive decisions between you and certain members.”
This really me off because he basically perfectly described himself. As a mentor he is supposed to help us do what we want to do even if he thinks what we are doing is wrong. Throughout the whole build season, he has leveraged who he is, his longer time in frc, and his family to influence design and team discussions. I fired back a quip,
“i’ve also heard alot of decisions made by a mentor whos role is to enable the students”
And he promptly rage quit the team. His mom refused to order parts when we had just spent all day making a shopping list and threatened to quit.
Just clarifying, I talked to other people on the team, and they didn’t see the problem with the discussion between me and the intake lead. In fact, the intake lead dm’d me after this whole debacle and said he thought I was doing a really good job leading the team and listening to everyone who wanted to give input.
The head mentor has essentially quit today. She said she will work on awards and tournament logistics but nothing else. She has been present at the school this week for FRC meetings, but chose to ignore the team the entire time.
On a related note, I realized today we had grossly overestimated our abilities based on our prototyping adventures today. We had set goals and priorities that exceeded that of top teams (referencing the #openalliance). We (the senior leadership + the sophomore lead) are going to hold a meeting tomorrow about redirecting and salvaging the season.
Because of all this drama, and the fact that we over reached, I am truly at a loss for what to do. I cannot do everything. The other senior leadership is committed to the team, but few work on running the team or contributing when meetings end. Since now the adult mentors have quit, I really don’t know if I can keep the team alive and running.
The super selfish part of me just wants to say screw it and invest everything (I’m talking about time and manpower not money) into building a competitive robot. However, I know the underclassman will be excluded, but they have never really shown that much of a demonstrated interest either. The better part of me still wants to do that, but I want to make sure that the team will still retain some knowledge and skills for next year. However, our club has never done any offseason training or camps because noone was interested in actually attending and learning.
What do I do? I don’t really know what I expect from posting this, but I am in need of some direction or guidance.