Moments that make it worth while.

I’m a senior alumni of team 1230 the lehman lionics and i’ve been mentoring the team since i graduated and my team won NYC playing triple play in 2005. This season has to have been the best season so far that my team has been through, placing 2nd seed in the new york regional and making it to the semi finals of the Long island regional. Our season just ended last weekend and I would like to share a quote that one of my students posted

“we should definitely look back on this day an be proud of what our team accomplished, that even though we didn’t make it to the finals, we graduate knowing how far we brought 1230 and how well we worked with each other to carry the team as far as we did. Though a small team, we were a threat with a roar that was heard by the sea of competitors. What time is it? 1230!”

“What time is it?! 1230!” is our slogan and we have used it for years

The most amazing part about this quote is who it came from, it wasn’t someone from the drive team or the scouting team, just a student who has helped anyway he can and has always been in the stands to cheer or has ran for a battery or has tightened a bolt or has just been there when the team needed him.

Aside from this quote there was one other scene that I would like to share with the community that I was witness too while packing last Saturday. I witnessed my teams main driver and one of the scouts sad but happy, practically crying, not because they lost but because they have been with FIRST since 10 years of age in FLL and getting invited to Japan for a special event in FLL. they had joined my high school specifically for FRC and had been apart of FIRST for 7 long years and now their journey had ended as they hugged each other and said goodbye as “Robo-Brothers”

I Just wanted to share these moments with the rest of the community Just to show exactly what joy that FIRST has brought me and to now 3 generations of teams that I have had the luxury of mentoring. I also wanted to see if anyone else has had any moments like this that have, win or lose, made it worth while.

I’m glad to hear members of your team have been so impacted by FIRST. Honestly, that’s what makes it worth while for me. When the kids love FIRST with all their hearts and cherish every moment they have being a part of it, that’s what makes me love what I’m a part of.

I had a similar experience last year. I had been in FIRST for 7 years, starting in FLL. It was my senior year, at my last official event (though I competed in an off-season event, too). It was also my second year as Human Player, so I was on the field as well.

Final match at Buckeye 2011. My team, 1126, and our alliance partners 781 and 1241, against out FLR colleagues, 1559, with 3138 and 3010. We had each won one match, and were going back and forth in the very final match. Well, after some unfortunate luck, we lost by a heartbreaking 3 points. I immediately went to retrieve my teams cart so our robot could be taken off the field, shook our opponents hands, shook the hands of some of our alliance partners, took off my bandanna and field team button… and started crying.

I didn’t cry because we lost. I cried because it was time to step down. It was time to let the next generation step in while I moved on with my life. I cried because it would be the last time I looked at my second family after a match, coming off the field, seeing them at the sidelines cheering. I hugged and shook hands with all of my team, thanked everyone I could for everything (choked out between sobs), and went off to the pits with the field team to rest.

What made it all worth while was seeing my team doing the exact same thing. Everyone was hugging and shaking hands, some were even crying. Seeing the kind of emotion the whole ordeal had brought out in my team told me I was leaving the team with a group of kids who poured their souls into what they did. I’m more proud of the students who passionately cry over robotics than those who cheer loudly for it. That’s how I know what students really put their heart and soul into it.

I watched students who I had joked around with and practiced with for weeks start crying, and I had never been so happy to see tears. That’s what makes it worth it. Seeing the students shed their emotions for it. It how I know we really do something good. We’re not just a game, or a robotics competition. We change lives. We change people. For the better.

That’s the scene that tells me this is all worth while. That’s my story. And I’m getting a little misty eyed just thinking about it.