Positive Experiences with Dominant Teams

To preface this:
I did some searching for a thread like this, but did not see any. If there is a similar thread, I apologize for creating a new thread.

After reading a recent thread from from Team 341 (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=116527) on stereotyping “powerhouse” teams, I had the thought of creating a thread to document all the positive experiences teams have had with dominant teams.

My example would be my team’s experience at the 2012 Championships. For the first time we were able to go (we got in off the waitlist). There, we had numerous issues that primarily stemmed from having a control system that had not been updated since 2009 (and the joysticks and C-RIO were starting to fail). We were in Newton, and one of our matches was against Team 68. Before the match, 68 came up and talked to us about spending most of the match attempting the coopertition bridge balance. After discussing it with our alliance, we agreed. During the match*, we finally succeeded in balancing for the first time all season (in a match). After the match (which we lost 17-88), a mentor a few students from 68 came over and congratulated us succeeding with the balance. Although it seems like a small thing, we were having a rough time, and the attention and praise for the small success stuck with me and the rest of the drive team. Even after another pretty lousy year (robot wise) this year, the simple congratulations still sticks with me as one of the best personal experiences I have ever had in in FIRST.

I would also like to thank Team 1717. Our one match with them was our only win at the Championship, and the entire way they reacted to us was fantastic (we had some teams put us down because we were waitlisted).

*As a sidenote: In 2012, we had two mentors who had been with the team since it began leave. They said that the one two things they wanted see in their last year with team were balancing at least once and scoring both shots during autonomous. In that match, we were finally able to do both.

My general experience with teams I consider to be great is quite good. I really loved going to the pits at the championship this year and talking to teams such as 118, 341, and 254. Everyone was very friendly and informative.

Overall, though, teams 1114 and 2056 are very important to 610 in a positive way. Last year, when 1114 became a Hall of Fame team, GM made a video for them (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAlMk9kTp1w). They took in video submissions from people all around the world and compiled them into a video. I am the person from 610 who appears near the beginning (about 18 seconds in) and says, “Thank you 1114 for reminding us how hard we have to work”, and I truly meant it.

1114 and 2056 are almost certainly 610’s biggest inspirations in terms of particular teams. If they weren’t around every year to remind us that winning a regional in Ontario is no piece of cake, we might not put so much effort and care into making our robots.

(I do make some generalizations about 610 in this post. This is definitely how I feel, and I assume many of the other members on my team have similar feelings, but I can’t actually speak on behalf of the entire team.)

To every team who puts in a great effort every year: Thank you for always reminding other teams about they effort they need to put in themselves!

I have too many great stories like this to write here, but this one stands out:

In our second year as a team, at a distant reqional (Palmetto), Team 16, The Bomb Squad, chose us for their alliance, and we made it to the finals (and soooo close to winning…). Their kind advice, encouragement and explanations of the “why” behind the strategies we used were awesome, and we really grew as a team that day. We were treated as an equal (which we weren’t), and we learned the real meaning of GP that day.

This year at championships, I did not have a team, I was basically walking around spectating. On Thursday afternnon, I had been evicted from the seat I was sitting in a couple times by teams who were having teammates fill up the area. (I did not mind, they were gracious for letting me sit there for a while, as I was not an active participant in champs, I figured I should let teams sit together.)

Now, after moving away from one of the teams, I was looking for a place to sit, and saw that 610 had an open seat. I asked if I could sit there, and, much to my pleasure, they said I could (Thanks Edwin). Now, after I had been sitting there for a while, another member of team 610 came down and proceeded to sit next to me. This member, who later would become one of my best friends, offered me, a complete stranger, some of his popcorn. I never left that team that whole weekend. Everyday, I would go in and sit near my friend Adam. Saturday, when his team was taking up their spots in the bleachers, he moved to sit next to my dad and I, in the middle of team 118, whom they beat soon afterwords. Once their team advanced to Einstein, he allowed me to sit WITH HIS TEAM while they competed. I was with them when they won champs. It was the second best moment of my life.

610 was so great to me, I thank them so much.

To continue in praise of Simbotics, team 1114, a few of our team members were trying to find something to do this upcoming Saturday night after IRI is finished up. We aren’t going with our team, so we were browsing around for some activities to entertain our evening. After contacting, Graham, (The President of Simbotics) he invited us to spend the evening eating with his team at their team dinner, as well as going go-carting with them! As little of a thing that seems, it means a lot to us to get to spend time with such an inspirational team, and hopefully learning the ins and outs of their program to pass on to our team in the future!

I too have way, way too many stories to share all or even a decent sized fraction. Heck, sometimes I feel as though I’ve been mentored by someone through their CD / FIRSTForge posts. There are plenty of people I’ve never personally met and they probably don’t know how much they have help me. (That’s why I occasionally send a PM that only says something like “Thank you for posting, you are awesome, please carry on in your awesomeness”). But I will share a few experiences that have really, really stuck with me, maybe because they are odd or maybe because they happened to me when I was a freshman.

• Our team qualified for CMP in 2010 and I volunteered on Archimedes. I was talking to my sister when we saw the (super, super spirited) Pink team in the stands blowing bubbles. My sister went to go ask if we could have some, but unfortunately there were no more in the stands. Aw, bummer, back to volunteering. The next day Pink is in eliminations, I think it was the semis and you can just see the look of concentration on every competing team’s faces. In the middle of all of that intensity, the one of the lead Pink mentors, mentor that was / is their drive coach, went out of his way to give me, some random volunteer, a thing of bubbles. it was a pretty minor act, but it made me feel so happy and grateful - I still have the, now empty, bubble container.

• When I was just getting started with web development, I looked to other team’s websites for inspiration and made pages upon pages of lists profiling and describing about two dozen team websites. Of the websites I looked to was the 2010 Best Website at CMP award winner, some team none of us down here had ever heard of - Simbotics. I became a little obsessed with their 2010 website, I read every bit of it like twice, I had all these notes and generally took a lot of inspiration from it. It just had so much information, including their Chairman’s Award essays. Now our team had won RCA once, but we really felt as though we still didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t have, I guess, a model of what a truly excellent essay sounds like. Welp, I had found it. I read it, was completely blown away and then emailed my team “Dude, guys, I found these Canadians and they are awesome and this is what we need to be like.” We studied their outreach programs and essay, and a lot of what we have done has been based off what we read that summer. I really don’t know if we would have won the Chairman’s Award again without having been inspired and guided by them. Since their website shared their written essays with me, I have always put our written essays on our website (and actually as much documentation as possible). The years we won ‘Best Website’ at our regional we were commended for displaying all our award essays - and I was just sitting there thinking, don’t give me the credit for that, I did it because 1114 did it. I can pretty confidently say that this whole ‘experience’ shaped my FIRST experience in a major way, and the interaction was not with a team member or mentor, but with their URL.

• Along the same ‘inspiration for outreach idea’ is a story I have already told - http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1182222&postcount=18

If I listed every positive interaction I’ve had with a dominant team this would be my longest post on Chief Delphi - and I have made way too many long posts. I’ll mention a few highlights here - if I left you out, I’m sorry.

1114 - Only positive experiences. A tour of their school in 2010 as well as email correspondence taught me a lot about how a successful FRC program can grow out of a high school. These experiences helped shape what 2791 is today.

In 2010, I went to Atlanta, but then realized I had no idea how to navigate the subway system. Luckily I was on the same train as many 1114 students and parents. They help point me in the right direction to the dome and hotel.

But wait, there’s more! At the 2010 IRI, one of the (now former) 2791 mentors volunteered at the event. I talked to him about my positive experiences with 1114 and he didn’t quite believe it. I think he had some small grudge against them for some minor interaction years ago; I honestly can’t remember. What I do remember is that he then went and had a conversation with some of their parents and mentors about competing in Canada. An hour later, I find him and he looks super excited. He’s telling me that we’ve got to compete in both Waterloo and GTR next year, since Canadian teams like 1114 are so nice. I still wish we ended up doing that!

20 - More of a local powerhouse than a global powerhouse, but 20 has been nothing but incredibly kind to 2791. In the 2010 season, we basically built half our robot in their shop the weekend before ship. At our first regional, they helped us debug part after part, and when our scouting fell apart they gave us their data no questions asked. We used that data from the 5th AC spot to make two good picks - both to the detriment of 20. Excellent gracious professionalism.

The GP has only continued since then. We share a practice field along with the other Albany region teams. Whenever we’ve needed help with software or finding a random part, members of team 20 are always ready and willing to jump in and help us. In 2013, as 20 switched to a west coast drive, there was open design discussion between the teams to better both our robots. All of this gracious professionalism and collaboration peaked at the 2013 WPI Regional. We scouted the event together, and 2791 ended up as the #1 seed, selecting 20 as the first pick overall. We got within literal inches of our first regional win, and it’s all thanks to Shaker’s sports rivals down the road in Clifton Park.

I could go on forever talking about how 118, 2168, 176, 229/4124, 610, 177, and 1519 have all been excellent and friendly competitors, but this post would get far too long. Unfortunately we will probably never compete with a lot of them again due to districts.

Im going to stick up for one of the teams that I feel gets the most flack

148 - This year we had the pleasure of going through eliminations with them for the first time (after palying in quals against each other in 2 nail biters :ahh: ) and their staff was very respectful. They didn’t treat us differently because of our age, and strategized coopertivley with us. They helped get our rookie 2nd pick up to elimination-standard. At worlds we communicated with each other constantly checking in on each other and wishing luck. They’re way more approachable than we had thought in years past and really enjoyed working with them this year.

I have always had positive experiences with dominant teams. Here are just a few from this year.

987- This year in Archimedes and were paired together and faced with the herculean task of playing against 11 and 20. Some of the mentors from 987 came to talk about strategy for the match. They worked with us and even helped us to modify our blocker so we could defend both 11 and 20 at the same time (which worked surprisingly well the first time). They were gracious about everything and didn’t just try to take control because they were the best team on the alliance. Kudos to them. Hopefully we will work together again in future years.

33- This year at champs we had our first qualification match together. They trusted our scouts and student coach for strategy and just like 987 didn’t act as though they were above us. We did the strategy together and everything went according to plan. We won the match 127-63. Thank you to 33 for not looking down on us for only scoring in the low goal and trusting us that we could score the 30 points we said we could.

1241- In 2012 we were on an elims alliance together at Buckeye. They were clearly the best offensive team on the alliance, but they did not use this fact to take control. Our entire alliance worked great together and were even able to create a 6 ball passing auto. They worked as a part of the alliance and that is my favorite memory from that year. Such an elite team being treating everyone fairly is just another great thing about FIRST.

3824 & 4265- they were always supportive of our team and treated us as complete equals (even if we weren’t). It really meant a lot to our team for two incredible groups of people to be so down to earth and kind.

Before anyone knew who we were, 254 and 330 were always pleasant and helpful with us.

At worlds this year I was giving my parents a tour of the pits and we came to 16’s pit. I asked if they were busy, but they were having problems with their climber. Despite this, two students took the time to explain to my engineering-illiterate Mother how swerve worked, how they drove their robot, etc. She was very pleased and walked away with a very positive image of Bomb Squad (as did I)!

I’ve also had very positive experiences with 33!

While I don’t have the energy to recall an anecdote right now, this thread screams 365. MOE is truly an inspiration and a pleasure to compete with and against every year (though I really wish it was more with and less against).

Also, this story jumps to mind as well (though QF4 only lasted two matches :wink: ).

This year at championships, I had some free time (I know free time at CMP? ABSURD), so I hung out with some kids from 33 at the base of a swing-set in the hallway outside the Archimedes stands. Much to my surprise, members of one of the best teams in the division were totally down to earth.
That made me realize that students from “Elite” teams were really no different from students anywhere else.
Seems obvious, but at the time I was in a mindset of “DUDE ITS THE KILLER BEES HOLY CRAP THEY’RE REALLY GOOD AND THEIR ROBOT IS SO SLICK AND…”

Tbh, I’ve never had a bad experience with an “elite” team. They’re usually even more gracious and professional than non-elite teams.

That’s just my two cents.

Being a lead que I more often than not have positive experiences with top teams ( the only issues I ever have with them is they like alot of space to set up for elims. I just ask them to consolidate sometimes). They are good at showing up for matches and they are always professionals. My issues usually come at the opposite end of the spectrum.

this year at championships on practice day i had some time so i walked around and came across 16’s pit and started a conversation with one of the people there about there swerve drive and their 30 point climber (not on the robot anymore). me and this guy had at least a 25 minute conversation even though everyone was busy working. it was great

Our rookie year (2012) turned out to be one of the greatest learning expiriences we have ever come across. On the first day at the Bayou Regional, an inspector told us our robot was 1/4 inch too big on two sides, which meant we had to cut our robot down and rebuild in in less than two days. BUT, based on some great pit location, we made friends with several older, well respected teams from texas. First team 418: thank you for letting us use your space & tools to test our robot. You all tought us a lot about programming on the fly. Second, team 624: after finding out that our code had been lost, your mentors came & sat in our pit for hours on that miserable Thursday evening. Your spirit and guidence made a world of difference to all of our members. We were trully dissapointed when your team wasn’t at the Bayou Regional this year. Lastly, to our friends team 57: i think your years of expirience was the best medicine for a case of bad luck. Thank you for helping us make new bumpers, and for letting us pick your brains on how to make the regional a better place. You all even gave us our first award. It read, “For proving Murphy’s Law, team 3991” it was a bit satirical, but we fully cherished it. That small token of your appreciation, plus the big stuffed leopard are still sitting in our lab. We modeled our second season after you, and went from 35th in 2012 to 19th and a tournament spot in 2013. We trully can’t wait to compete with you all in the future.

Thanks again to all those teams who brought smiles to our faces at some point!

Oh goodness… Well. I got the pleasure to work with 610 for the first time at the 2012 Rah Cha Cha Ruckus. Nick Lawrence, Mr. Lim, and the rest of the team really are an amazing bunch. They are clearly just so excited to be a part of the program.

Um… Let’s see here. I got to work with 118 for the first time this past year at Champs. Their coach, Mason (The Man of the Amazing Mustache, for those of you who don’t know) and the student drive team and the couple of team members I ran into in their pits are awesome. Mason is an extremely friendly guy, and the students are very open. Even as I praised their robot (something they’ve undoubtedly heard time and time again), they seemed as though they had heard it for the first time.

I got to work with 233 and 2016 in the elimination rounds of IRI in 2011, that was certainly an honor. Both really cool teams who obviously enjoy the competition.

I don’t get to pal around with the 1114 crew as much as I would like (they certainly like to stick North of the border; maybe since Finger Lakes is rumored to be moving away from the earlier weeks of competition, to Week 4 I believe, they will finally make the trip to Rochester), but Karthik is fun to hang around with.

Generally, you’ll find most dominant teams to be really friendly. I hypothesize this is true because the foundation of a strong team is getting the students and mentors to really believe in the program. And if you can really get into a program like ours, then you will definitely be excited and having fun at every FIRST event. The closest thing to a bad experience with a powerhouse team I’ve had is most likely me mistaking their professionalism as grumpiness.

Great Thread, thanks for the opportunity to publicly acknowledge these teams:

About a year ago, I accepted an invitation to become the Lead Mentor for 4028, a second year team. The FIRST thing I did was to PM a few other team leaders and ask for advise on how to establish a FIRST culture on a new team. I got immediate, sound and consistent advise from 111, 365 and 1114.

As the build season progressed, I contacted 48 (on several occasions) on several specific questions. Always received timely, direct and wise counsel.

During competition:

at Queen City 379 gave us a pneumatic part that enabled us to pass inspection and compete.

at Crossroads, we experienced an issue with our motor controllers. The LRI a mentor from 45 spent significant time with us trouble shooting, diagnosing and resolving the issue.

Finally, I will share a letter we wrote to 1114 when I was the Machine Team leader with 1038:

"On behalf of FIRST FRC Team 1038, I want to express our sincere appreciation for the support 1114 provided us at the Pittsburgh Regional and beyond, especially the perseverance in trying to help us use your MINIBOT. I’m sure that you are as disappointed as we were that we were unable to get it deployed. We learned at lot from having the opportunity to be pitted across from you and watching how you approach the competition process. It was also fun watching and then competing in the Elimination matches. 1114 continues to set the standard for execution and I appreciate being able to measure our progress against the standard that 1114 has set. You have consistently epitomized the concept of coopertition and live the values of FIRST; specifically, gracious professionalism.

Your willingness to share your MINIBOT drawings combined with your open exchange of information about your deployment system, both during the Pittsburgh Regional and since, allowed us to retrofit our machine to reapply both your MINIBOT and deployment system at the Buckeye Regional. We successfully deployed (y)our MINIBOT in all of our nine Qualifying Matches and each of our five Elimination Matches; achieving first place in at least ten of those matches and never lower than second. We were able to construct three MINIBOTs. We used one and shared one with another team during all of the qualification matches. During the Elimination matches we retrofitted our alliance partner to accept the third MINIBOT. Hence, all three of (y)our MINIBOTs were used in the Elimination rounds. As a result, we earned the Coopertition Award at Buckeye. We also finished the Qualification rounds undefeated.

I know that you are as pleased with our success, perhaps more so, than we are. 1114 may take great pride in knowing how much your support has helped us – this year and previous years, too. I was very pleased to see that you have been recognized with another Regional Chairman’s Award; 1114 continues to earn that distinction and I look forward to congratulating you on a Championship Chairman’s Award very soon."

At the 2012 North Star Regional, my team was back to back with Wildstang. I don’t have any stories of abnormal kindness, but they did let us use their portable bandsaw more than once. And then they wiped the floor with everyone. Seeing how nice and utterly classy they were while still dominating was very inspirational.

Another example would be at champs this year, I ran into some guys from 254 in their Hall of Fame booth. They were scheduled to leave fairly shortly, but we talked for like a half hour about prototyping and team structure. They gave me a very cool insight into how a perennial powerhouse is run.