Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose


Citrus Dad isn’t claiming that there are no rookies- you’re making a bit of a strawman here. He’s simply stated that the absolute number of rookies teams each year isn’t growing (which you can roughly see from the list you posted), and that the quality of rookie teams in CA at least hasn’t changed considerably in the past 6-7 years. 1678’s scouting data is extremely good, so I would be surprised if this was shown to be incorrect.
I’m not sure you realize how much 90% is. 90% of mentors being alumni would mean that for teams with fewer than 5 mentors, there’s good odds that all of them are FIRST alumni. Or more realistically, if a teacher is the head mentor of an FRC team, they would have 9-10 more mentors before finding another non-alumni. I know plenty of teams that don’t even have that many mentors (1072 included).


Keep in mind that a lot of mentors are either teachers or parents. 90% being alumni seems waaaaaaaay too high.


Re read my
post I said 1.) it’s not a proven statistic rather a significant majority
2.) I said new mentors


Can you cite your data? Cause per
I can sort by program type (FRC) and by season and I pull a different set of data.

2018-2019: 4763
2017-2018: 4517
2016-2017: 4454
2015-2016: 4239
2014-2015: 3791
2013-2014: 3664

Still shows what you call “growth” but the complete lack of substance in all your posts is alarming. Also correlation and causation are two different things blah blah blah the basic thing everyone who took a psych class should know.
The way you try to pass off numbers (that as far as I can tell you have generated) as fact is bad and you should feel bad. I’m all for memes and having a good time but this insertion of bad info is very damaging to a serious discussion.
You would think someone with a profile picture of a “Make First Great Again” hat would take this kind of discussion a little bit more seriously.


I have been watching this thread for some time and gauging my response. This is in my opinion the most incredible thread for some time.

That being stated, I am trying to put together a paper on how we have worked with our teams. What follows is the base for said paper.

FRC 4607 has worked with over 33 teams in the last 5 seasons and only two of those have folded. 6176 (MTS) was based out of a Charter School in Minneapolis. The team was formed under auspices that it could transform the students attending and involved in the program. After two seasons the burden of the build schedule, lack of funds, and having no true lead mentor, the team folded. The other team we mentored that folded was 6663 from Onamia, MN. Their STEM funding dried up and one of the two coaches (a married couple) position was cut due to funding cuts. Another team we work with and is in our CMNRH took one year off and has gone through 3 different mentor/coaching changes. However, this past weekend that team made it to elims at their regional - for the first time ever.

I commend Caleb on getting this discussion going - and not to offend you Caleb, but the premises that you based most of this on were not spot on. The biggest concern for teams is not funding, sponsors, space, or materials/tools. The biggest concern, in terms of a team’s success is actually the mentor base and if the team has a champion in the mentor ranks. The teams that I listed earlier are anecdotal in this claim, but the trend holds tight for most teams that fold (at least in Minnesota).

What we learned early on in our mentoring of our teams is that they were heading into the season without any solid information that they could build upon to succeed. Early on we created the ‘Enchiridion for Rookies’ - a booklet that we put together that detailed all of the lessons that 4607 learned over the short time we were involved in FIRST. It was a bust at best (we still have the document, but it is pitiful and I look at it from time to time to help encourage me on how we need to do better).

In order to provide our rookie teams a leg up, we started to provide them with a robot and registered them at one of MN’s off-season events. We find any robot that they can use whether it be our practice robot, GreenHorns Ri3d Robot, or another robot from our hub teams. We put them into competition at these events so that they get real experience in a competitive event. None have found great success at these events - in fact most are faced with many trials and failures. However, the lessons they learn at these events provide the basis for their success later in the build season.

We also require the rookie team to attend two different events - JUMPSTART Training at SCSU and JUMPSTART for Mentors. What follows is a little bit on the formation of the JUMPSTART Initiative:

When we started JUMPSTART Training Initiative back in 2015, I had two reasons for this event (always have two reasons, or at least 1 goal and 1 way out if things go sideways) - the first reason was to prove to MNFIRST that St Cloud, MN could support a regional. The second reason was to bring together all of the great teams we have worked with - both ‘metro’ and ‘outstate’ teams - to share information in a potluck style of program (a la carte for those of you outside of MN). JUMPSTART has been a wild success - the numbers are astounding. We have had over 120 teams and over 2300 attendees at these events in four short seasons. What people must know about the JUMPSTART Initative, it is based upon the ideals of access and opportunity. We hold dear that JUMPSTART events are always free for attendees. We also believe that the more teams involved, the more impactful the events will be. Finally (for some anecdotal evidence), at the 2019 Lake Superior Regional, 18 of the 24 teams that made it into elims were JUMPSTART teams. 4 of the 6 finalist teams are JUMPSTART teams and 4 of the alliance captains are JUMPSTART teams. Yes, I know that correlation is not causation - but something is going right with the teams attending these events.

With the teams that we mentor, we also require they submit for Chairman’s. No, the rookies cannot present at MN Regionals. However, the practice of submitting does help the team consider what is important, what they need to consider in order to succeed, and provides guidance on growth areas. We also expect them to build their 1, 5, and 10 year goals - a practice that is tried and true no matter what organization a team attaches themselves to. What we have found is that the teams that actually follow through with submitting are the teams that succeed early on and have fewer concerns later in their team’s existence.

Of the teams we have mentored and followed through with both expectations (JUMPSTART and Chairman’s Submission), all have won different accolades in their first, second, or third years. We have six Rookie All-Stars, two Rookie Inspirations, 12 that have made it to eliminations, two that have been regional finalists, and three that have won a regional event. Last year one was a MN State Champion!

A third item that we have found to be very beneficial is partnering with COR Robotics (@Ginger_Power’s summer camps). By providing off-season training for both the team and for younger students, the team is building toward the future.

A final aspect of our mentoring is striving to pair the mentored team with a HAC (Hub, Alliance, Coalition). There are 10 identified HACs in Minnesota where teams in a geographic area work together to provide proper guidance, training, and support to increase success in new and existing teams. In Northwestern MN there is the NMRC that acts similar to a HAC but requires a fee to join - this fee also allows the team to compete at the NRMC Conference Championship (first of its kind in FRC). We work hand in hand with Jesse, Andrew, Curtis, etc in many events and they have a very successful track to keep new teams sustainable.

What has grown from the JUMPSTART Initiative and the HAC model is the Minnesota Robotics Coaches Association (MRCA). This organization files under the Minnesota High School Coaches Association and is in it’s inagural season. We are working to provide coaches with more support, a Robotics Coaches Hall of Fame, and awards for our member teams and students (All-State, Academic All-state, etc).

Beyond this, Ginger_Power and I met with reps from Carnegie-Mellon last year at Detroit Champs. We are hopeful that this will be fruitful in coming seasons as we roll out more training and events state side and world wide.

To finish this off, I again applaud Caleb on getting this discussion going. There are many great ideas in this thread that could be implemented in helping to retain teams. However, my team and my ideals are based off of opportunities and access. For me FIRST is truly about these two ideals and we all need to work to figure out how we can provide these to more people and more teams.

And now I will step off my soap box.


Again must I repeat myself For the 3rd time, 90% was a generic number as I stated in my first post, just to make the point that I belive to be factual that the majority of NEW first year mentors are or have been involved on a first in some capacity prior to them mentoring a team. Im not standing by the assumption that 90% are, just My hypothesis that the majority will be, and attrition isn’t the issue here’s because the number of teams continue to grow year to year if attrition was an issue this wouldn’t be the case. And the numbers wouldn’t be add up the way they do, I seriously don’t understand how my math a logic is being misunderstood here, it seems very simple and obvious. And the source for those team number are from actual fact sheet s that have been posted in blog post not just the first inspired website that dornst always give accurate info.

Here are two just to prove my fact on this matter are facts.


4607 is now in it’s 7th year. We have 3 mentors that are FRC alum. We have had over 30 different mentors. I feel that we are very fortunate in these numbers.

Of the 33 teams we have mentored, only two have FRC alum. If I extrapolate that out, it comes closer to 0-5%, not 90%.


1339 has had, I think, 19 mentors since we started competing in 2004. Three have been FRC alums, and one of them quit after two meetings. True, the other two are with us now, but they are both graduates of our program. I think Steve is incorrect on lots of stuff, including his 90% number, and his method of finding it.


Does the 33 teams you helped MENTOR represnt the entirety of FIRST cause alittle math says that 33 is close to .8% of FiRst teams, and again 90% is not the point I’m trying to make its simply majority stake is what I belive in. For the 4th Time now I have stated that.


Gotta read the post before you post 5th Times now, as I stated I don’t belive 90 percent


Sure you believe in it but where is your evidence for the majority thing? I haven’t seen any so far.


Steve, what device are you typing on? You’ve got a large number of misspellings for just about any contemporary device. It’s distracting.


Can we not have this devolve into 2 people arguing about useless things please.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


I enjoyed reading this thread because people were actually posting useful and insightful things here. This was a discussion I hadn’t seen on cd before and plenty of people made great points/counterpoints. Please don’t let this devolve into people arguing needlessly over useless things. @who716 I’m genuinely interested in why you believe that it is a majority of new mentors who were alumni previously and what sort of data you have for that.


I’m not interested in the belief, I want backup.


That’s why i also asked for the data.


Of the mentors on my team…
3 alumni mentors from the same team (1 still in college)
2 alumni mentors from other teams
3-4 alumni drop-in advice sources (as in, we see them or talk to them about once a build season)
I want to say about 10 current non-alumni mentors as of now.

The trend is about the same year-to-year, but the number of non-alumni mentors grows as those tend to cycle through while the alumni mentors aren’t really growing as a corps.

So about a 30% for us year-to-year, probably closer to 20% or less overall. Definitely NOT a majority.

Running through the memory banks for teams in my area… Same thing. I’m coming up with no more than 30% and that’s pushing it a LOT for most teams. If we’re lucky they’re >0% alumni mentors.


I don’t have specific numbers as support as I haven’t taken a survey or performed and experiment that’s why it’s a hypothesis, you hypothesis before you experiment to determine the outcome of your hypothesis. I have a notion that supports my hypothesis that the rookie teams have increased there level of play more recently then they have in the past this can be shown by the number of rookie teams that are making elims and winning events on a yearly bases. I (hypothesis) That this is due in large part to a large number (majority) of mentors joining the scene having prior first experience (alumni). Wich will increase there competitiveness out the gate due to a much quicker learning curve.
2.) there have been over 20 years of first robotics, that’s gives more then enough time for (Alumni) to go through college and either join and already existing team or start a team fresh this was not the case 10-15 years ago when the pool of potential alumni candidates was much smaller.
This is broken down about as simple as I can get for you again it’s a hypothesis and I am not interested enough into it to determine whether or not I am correct, it is simply a hypothesis based of the notion I stated. I belive this is a fair hypothesis, ( not an assumption) given the notion I stated, feel free to go ahead and provide number otherwise or an argument otherwise, I would be the first to agree with you if I see validity in the argument.
This ties back to the OP simply by saying I don’t belive all the REQUIRMENT. He listed is needed as alumni as there are more and more every year are are joining teams and having more influence over rookie teams therefore they already know what to expect.

Seems very plausible to me…


Plausibility doesn’t really matter in these sorts of cases. It happens incredibly often that in sociology people will deviate from what you think should logically happen for another reason. For example maybe the alumni are just too young right now. FIRST is a fairly new program so maybe alumni choose to focus on their careers more than mentoring teams. If your counterpoint to that would be that a lot of mentors you know choose mentoring over their careers that’s pretty clear survivor-ship bias.