Never Touch The Carpet and lost $9000

To start this post is not rant, and if you disagree with anything I say in this post, show your GP, move on, and don’t argue. The moderators have had enough work to do this week already.

Okay, so I am a FIRST fanatic and have been since my parents took me to the 2010 FIRST World Championship. I have been watching FIRST games and matches in my free time since I can remember. I was part of an FTC team that went to worlds in 2017 and, in 2018, unofficially joined an FRC team since I was not yet old enough. In 2019 I became a driver on my team, and going to world champs again was one of the greatest expenses of my life. But FIRST has not been perfect, and I have had my ups and downs.

Every year we build an amazing robot, but at competition, we are outclassed by teams who have more money, students, mentors, and resources. In Alabama, there are not many FIRST teams, and our states regional has only been won by Alabama teams twice. People here just don’t care as much about robotics as in say FIM or Cali. Nevertheless, this year I was able to raise $5,250, which helped our team pay to compete in two regionals for the first time in years, which was a great way to celebrate the team’s 20th season. I had been looking forward to competing since we had built one of the best bots our team has in years. Our future was bright, and even if we would be outclassed, it was still going to be fun, and we felt like we did have a shoot of snapping our 19-year blue banner drought. We got the news Wednesday that our school (the team’s school I do not go there) was banning us from out of state travel, so no Memphis Regional or FIRST Worlds. We were all devastated that we would not be able to attend and get to enjoy the experience we were all looking forward to. Then it got worse yesterday FIRST canceled all events. Thus, we would never get to see the carpet in official 2020 competitions. Not only that, with the no refund policy, we are also now down $9000, which for a team that did not have a whole lot to start with is a great deal. So, basically, all the money I raised is gone, and we have nothing to show for the money we spent on entry fees. To add to that the response, I have gotten from the FRC community when I have brought up refunds has been (FIRST has already spent your money, it’s gone, deal with it!).

I do not blame FIRST for canceling events because of COVID-19 (but canceling week three after teams where already there was not cool), and I know FIRST HQ is under a lot of stress right now. But this is not my first bad experience with FIRST. So, naturally, I have considered leaving FIRST for less expensive robotics competition options VEX (who is refunding 6,300,000 in champs entry fees), RAD, BEST, etc., but FIRST offers such a unique experience that no other competition has. Form what I know, it’s much more technical than other competitions, plus I was planning on entering Dean’s list next year; also, the competitions I’ve attended have been so much fun.

So right now, I’m in this weird limbo where I am waiting for more information from FIRST and my team and to see what happens in the next few months. For now, I just hope there is off-season, and we could take our bot to GRITS or an event like that to see it perform. If you have any advice for me team about getting our money back refunds (probably not happening), fundraisers, etc. or for me, let me know.



What I would suggest is look at what you have gained, not what you feel you have lost. We are a 21 year team, and due to lack of student interest, this may have been our last season for a while.

When the inevitable announcement was made, our kids came in and began improving our robot. They continued to refine our scouting app. We began preliminary brainstorming about locations near us to host an event and who might help us run it.

See FIRST is just the vehicle in which we take our journey. Competitions are a fun way to interact with other like minded people, that experience can be had at off season events too. What you learn along the way is the reward that serves you through life.

As an athlete I won two national titles in my sport. While that experience was great, the memories I hold closest and the lessons learned that I carry through life are not from those championship events. These things come from the time I spent training, the things I learned about life from my coaches, the time I spent with teammates who shared a common interest. It is the journey, not the destination, where you gain the most.

No one can tell you how to feel or if it’s all worth it to you. I will suggest you evaluate the growth and experiences you have had and decide if those are worth the $9000 your team spent this year.


You make a great point and this is the reason I left my FTC team. They cared more about winning then having a good time and making sure all the students learned skills. I love robotics and no matter what program I’m in, I will learn skill that will help me through life. Right now if my team stays with FIRST I will as well, but only time will tell what happens.

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I kinda see this is as some sort of “jab” at FIRST for not refunding regional registration fees, but you know FIRST is doing the same as VEX with refunding champs registration fees, correct?

Many teams are in the same boat, not to diminish your issues. This isnt going to be a unique problem, everyone had their seasons cut short, and it sucks.

No robot? It may not compete officially, but if the bot has been built, then there is something.

I think @waialua359’s post in a very similar thread yesterday rings true here.


I am aware but VEX is refunding hundreds of teams not 50. I never said VEX was better I was just stating what was true.

Yes, we are not the only ones and millions off people across the country are having events canceled as well.

You are correct poor wording on my part. We have a robot that we built and it works. We learned valuable skill that we will carry with us. And we had a great build season with lots off amazing memories.

What we have nothing to show for is the 9 grand we spent on entry fees. No comp record, no chance at snapping our drought, no memories, etc.

Keep in mind: at the moment, the season is suspended, not cancelled. Your robot will play in official matches in 2020, just not right now. I would also look for summer off-season events on your area so you can compete on a real field as soon as possible.


Everyone is in the same boat here more less. Take a step back, relax and let this play out. There’s nothing any of us can do right now while FIRST navigates this next month or so. They’ll provide updates and guidance at some point. 442 isn’t going to get answers now and you sure won’t get them from Chief Delphi.

Infinite Recharge isn’t over, just delayed. Focus on non-robot stuff right now as a team because that’s more important for this next month.


My heart just breaks for you, friend. I felt like my team had a good shot this year too, even though we’re not elite by any stretch.

For what it’s worth, I’m super proud of you for raising that money for your team. That took spirit and guts. All coaches would be so lucky to have someone who can do that.

Yeah, that money’s gone. And there’s nothing that compares to being down at the field at the drivers station and hearing that bell. And through no fault of yours or anybody else…competition season is cancelled. You’ve got every right to feel sorry for yourself for a little while. We all do.

But listen to me dude: stand back and look at what you made possible.


I sure hope so.

As I stated in my original post we are looking to complete in some like GRITS this summer/fall.

@coachpaul Thank you for your words of encouragement!

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Don’t know if this counts as non-robot stuff but we want to start working on a t-shirt cannon. Could you link to thread for one?



Emphasis mine. Do you see what you did here? Not only that, your post suggests you personally were able to convince people/businesses to give a high schooler over $5,000? Like you have those kind of business and marketing skills? I’m willing to bet you got more out of this season than you think.

I’m gonna cut to the chase here: I think you might benefit from reaching out to teammates, teachers, mentors, etc. about everything YOU are FEELING because of this. In looking around I’m seeing a lot of people going through the various stages of grief. It’s gonna take time and work to cope, and for some it will take more than others.

There’s also a lot of other people in the world right now who are dealing with similar grief. I’m betting a classmate you’ve never talked to before whose never seen a robot competition is just as sad/frustrated/confused because their {INSERT IMPORTANT THING} got cancelled too. That person needs you, and you need them.

I’ll close with something I know you’ve heard plenty of times and you probably don’t want to hear now: Its about the journey, not the destination. I was a student on a team back before you were born. I still stay involved by volunteering. I’ve been in this a long time, and I promise you that one day you’re gonna realize just as I did that there are things a whole lot more important than winning. You might see that in the coming weeks and months, but that’s really up to you.


And outside the country who had already spent the money for the travel, way more money washed away than the registration fee


I was replying on mobile meant to say “lots off amazing memories” as I had a great time during build season and we all learned a lot.

Good a place as any to drop some wisdom.

We all grieve differently.

Some of us get angry.
Some of us get snarky.
Some of us get sad.
Some of us laugh.
Some of us cry.
Some of us post our thoughts for others to read.
Some of us seek leadership and council.
Some of us blame a lack of leadership.
Some of us sit quietly in our offices and hack on kernel code while contemplating the things that never were.
We are all coping differently.

None of these emotions are un-GP. They are emotions. Compassion and empathy for others as they go through their own grievances is what is GP. Not saying I’ve seen anything other than that here but this seemed like a good place to post this.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.


Probably my favorite post so far this season, well said.


Just a mild moderator note: we locked grumpier topics talking about some of the same topics around event suspensions.

Pandamaniacs had an event suspended too, and we are itching to play just as badly as anyone. This suspension is new territory for FIRST, and I’m going to continue to urge patience and a little space for them to figure out a game plan. I know sometimes we beat on HQ for things, but I know enough individuals in that organization to trust that they will do as much of the right thing as they can.

But this thread is trying to keep the momentum up, and let’s keep it on the positive track. :slight_smile:


Oh I know, don’t sweat it. My point was you said you made lots of memories this season, but later said you had no memories. Like I said, you got more out of this season than you think.


no memories

Looking back on my years in FRC, some of the best memories were from build season. Don’t get me wrong, tons of great memories from comps, but a lot of that built off build season. The late nights, daily trips down to the corner store to get snacks before meetings (along with “last call” at 9:40 if it was going to be a long night), the random things we did to take a break like riding a robot down the road, trying to get the high score on the 2017 FRC simulator game, playing our “Fab-N-Weld” playlist 24/7 (classic rock), watching reveal videos and feeling that motivation to go out there and beat the best, etc.

The memories during build season seem to drive competition season’s memories, building off of it. You need to enjoy the journey, the progression, and the people you work with. Comp season was great, but build season is where it’s at.