I usually find time near the end of the season to pen a few words to help express where I find myself and my team.
This year, I was honored to be selected as a Woodie Flowers Finalist at the Bayou Regional. Many of you do not know that this is the only award at the regional level that is not chosen by regional judges. It is chosen by people in Manchester. It is also award that is completely dependent on student writers without any interviews. As a result, it is the most important award that I’ve ever been presented with.
This is not the subject of my post, though. Due to being presented with the WFFA prior to attending our second regional, I had the honor of accompanying a group of other winners at the Rocket City Regional to induct a new mentor into this group. I’ll be honest - I’ve never had to deal with Imposter Syndrome quite so much as when faced with these men and women, some of which who have given over 20 of their years to this amazing organization called FIRST.
There was something that caught me while listening to these men and women converse. No one was talking about their robots. I heard them laughing and joking, discussing some members that they were proud of and some accomplishments that their various teams have made. I watched the pride on their faces as they saw another person take the trophy and accept the banner.
It was like being part of some secret club - with a secret handshake that was merely gracious professionalism defined. None of them had won their award because they had brought their team to a World Championship or had seen their awards crew win a Chairman’s Award. I’m sure their applications read something like most - they had somehow been given the spark of magic necessary to touch the lives of their students. They had helped them cheer when all seemed lost. They had provided support and turned shy students into proud promoters.
All of this to say that I could not have been more proud to be considered even the newest and least of their ranks. When our robot continued to break and our final chance at Chairman’s passed, I had to stop and remind myself that all was not lost. Though the magic had passed us in one area, it had not left us bereft of hope. Later, when I called my Build Coach and told him we had won the Judges Award, he commented, “Well at least that’s one bright light.”
The only response I had, still sitting in the stands, looking up at a bunch of tireless but exhausted students was, “No. There are plenty more where that came from.”
Thank you, FIRST Robotics for another amazing season. Our legacy is still being established and our hearts are still being changed. From one mentor to every student and mentor that reads - it is not your banners that make you nor the trophies that line your walls. It is the willingness to be brave in the face of defeat and compassionate in the winds of victory that create you. You are all amazing.