Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose


You haven’t shared any data yet. Please share it. If you have data that supports WHY teams fail and how many reform, why hide it?


In my experience, he has consistently refused to acknowledge that the problem has been properly defined because he would then have to acknowledge that he is wrong on a topic. This has extended across a number of threads in the past.



And alluded to it here:

And here:

Multiple allusions to data or percentages or rates of failure with no evidence to back them up. I would very much like to see your evidence. Not just “I think it’s about a dozen or maybe a half dozen because I’m a volunteer in California.” Actual data.


What if we had a requirement that a rookie team must have contact “X” number of months before the build season, and at regular intervals during, with a senior mentor, or other qualified person, where they discuss necessary goals, how the team is doing, and what the teams particular struggles are. Then we would have both objective data (are they meeting the goals) and subjective data (does the “official” feel the team is capable of meeting the goals). The team will benefit by learning what resources are available for their individual issues. And the “official” can make a determination at the end of the season to let the team continue the next year without having continued contact, or that the team needs extra help (depending on situation), or talk to the team about switching to a diffrent program. (So like a temporary team for a year)

I think that personal contact is key. Each team is diffrent and each needs diffrent help to reach sustainability. Many will probably not reach out for help when they need it. They may not even realize they need it, or they might think it will “work itself out” or they may not know who to reach out to, or a hundred million other reasons. By having constant regular contact with someone experienced that may be able to catch issues (especially more common ones) we should be able to keep teams a lot more informed and guide them towards a sustainable future no matter what program they’re in.

This will also allow us to keep more accurate records (the “official” can make reports) of what the most important issues are. And who is just moving to a diffrent program and not really “folding”.

This idea will, however, require a lot of manpower. Volunteers willing to make a commitment to have the regular contact and more if necessary. But I think it may work on many diffrent levels.


What data is needed to determine how to best help rookies? How can we collect that data and ensure that it is collected evenly?

@jaunvie’s suggested of requiring contact is interesting, but I’m not sure how it would be enforced, considering the anecdotes of overwhelmed founding mentors not responding to emails during the pre- and build-seasons.

The idea of exit interviews was proposed, which I would also agree would be vital to know if a team is retiring or aging out due to graduation, etc. versus flaming out in a ball of burnout and stress or under duress from lack of resources. However, I again don’t see a way to collect this data consistently and evenly.

Any ideas?


While I admire the sheer will of the FIRST community, but the only unilateral change that can happen and be useful and effective long-term is from the top; FIRST HQ has to want to collect this data. They don’t have to provide us in the community with said data, but just collect it and use it. I’m not sure if any data we collect on a local or district scale would be an accurate or useful impression of the full story, or would be used by HQ. After all, if it’s good, they gain nothing by collecting it. If it’s bad, they just made themselves look worse…


I just want to point out that personal anecdotes are still data points…they may not be significant, or a good sample…but they are still data points. They have not been aggregated or collected in a controlled manner.

For what it’s worth, I have mentored a rookie that folded and never came back(3553), a young team that has been close to folding (3929), and am currently on a young team (5686) that is a resurrection of a folded team (1059)…that may be once again close to folding.

In each team’s case, I can safely say we all said “We should have done FTC or VEX”

You may not consider that data, but it’s been the case across 3 teams I have experience with. The common themes among them were mentor burnout, lack of students, lack of outside funding, and lack of community support.


I consider it data, but its not actionable data without more consistent collection. Yes, data would need to be collected by FIRST HQ, but if we want data it would seem to be a stronger case to present to HQ if we could name what data is desired and how it could be collected.


Agreed wholeheartedly.

But that would also require FIRST to acknowledge there is a problem.

There doesn’t currently seem to be effective feedback mechanisms, which in my opinion, is causing this discussion to unravel.


It’s actionable data on a local scale. A RD could take it upon themselves to place some of these restrictions in place. CHS has avoided actively expanding their numbers because they want to help their current teams become more sustainable first.


Now getting to the bulk of this post following the attack on my credibility at the beginning of his post.

I suspect you are at least partially right, but as I’ve stated multiple times in this thread, I don’t want to base decisions on assumptions or suspicions. Better data is needed, and I think both of us can agree o that. I know 1678 wouldn’t select their alliance partners without data and first hand knowledge (as I can attest to when you swung by our pit at Championship in 2016 to evaluate if we’d make a good partner), I’m not sure why we’d rush into action here without at least the same due diligence.

That being said, I do know of teams in the FMA area that have reformed as FTC or VRC teams after ceasing to participate in FRC, such as 357 (VRC) and 2753 (FTC). I know of another that may switch to FTC next season. This is an area I think we need much better data collection in.

Fortunately FIRST at least seems to have started the process rolling with the initiative that @Nate_Laverdure quoted earlier in the thread. Hopefully it returns useful results.

This goes back to my earlier post, and in fact echoes the point I made that if FTC were as effective as FRC we wouldn’t be here doing FRC instead.
I’m not sure that a mere calculation of student-years is the best evaluation of team efficacy, either. And I don’t think you are entirely sold on that, either, given your later response to the point about 330. Teams should be allowed to “retire,” and I don’t think they must necessarily reach the level of 330 to be allowed to do so. For one example, see the tangent in this thread regarding teams created by parents for their children.

As mentioned, I’d like to see your data here. I also don’t think that simply tabulating it via which team#s become inactive and then reactivate on TBA is a good way of doing this. While that does happen (225 didn’t compete in 2007 or 2008 and then came back in 2009), that ignores teams that reform with a new number (such as 869 becoming 747, 2949 becoming 2451, 1033 becoming 1080, etc), teams that are born out of the ashes of other teams (5818 out of 1717) and teams that transition to new programs (VRC, FTC, entirely different STEM programs like 1717).

I provided my personal experience with the issue, as did you. I’m not arguing FOR or AGAINST either way here. I’m stipulating that we simply don’t know enough on this front to make any large-scale decisions. In fact, I included that on the assumption list of assumptions being made in this thread specifically because you raised it as a potential issue.

MUST every team be sustainable? Why can’t teams retire when they achieve their core mission? Is it acceptable to have a core mission that is serving a smaller group of kids rather than an indefinite period? Does the simple calculation that no more students are served after that core student group goes to college mean that those teams are failures? Must every key parent mentor that wants to provide an experience for their children stay onboard after their child graduates?

Those are valid qualifications and I don’t reject the mechanisms you propose. But I’d still like to see more widespread data to this effect than basing it off of the experiences of one school board and one county. It should be painfully obvious to both of us (and most anyone reading in this thread) that your experiences in California do not align with mine in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I don’t understand why getting a broader picture is so opposed.


See post 43 earlier in the thread. FIRST has a sustainability study in progress.



Folding teams do hurt other area teams. In my experiences in NJ and in CT, I have approached sponsors who had a bitter taste in their mouths due to a relationship dying with a folding team. Sponsors do this not just for philanthropic purposes, but also to get solid students as interns and community members. I can personally account for at least 5 such companies who have declined funding a team because of a negative prior experience with a defunct or poorly functioning team.

I have seen Board of Ed meetings in which failed teams are called out as examples of why FRC isn’t the right STEM program for a district because “So and so couldn’t afford to keep the team going.”

I would say that all teams should keep this type of relationship in mind if/when they do end up folding or moving to FTC/VEX. I don’t think folding is necessarily a bad thing, but it usually doesn’t happen in a peaceful and low impact manner. It can cause ripples in the community they are in, even when they don’t intend to cause harm.


Will throw more fuel on this fire - the folded FRC teams from the Durham area did hurt the overall reputation and perceived value of FRC in this area for a long time among the various school board members that I had spoken with - it is finally on the road to recovery and teams seem to be sustaining themselves now - was far from a straight line to get here though and there are still some unpleasant discussions when it comes to perceived resource requirements for sustaining an FRC team as well as the perceived value of the team to the local community.


What do you feel is the right way to handle teams that are built by a core student or parent group that may not be sustainable after that group graduates? Does the potential ripple effect to other teams mean justify denying their right to exist in the first place? Or should more resources be developed to help teams fold gracefully? Other ideas?


The transition program idea sounds like a good one to me personally. A resource in place for a team to easily transition students/mentors/sponsors over to FTC. It could also include documentation that emphasizes that the team didn’t fail…they just need something that fits for them. Maybe trade in programs for control system components to offset/re-coup costs that were spent on FRC.

I also think FSM’s and RD’s need more hired positions to help advise and facilitate teams.


Go into thebluealliance. I like to look up random numbers I see and see if they are team. The amount I have found with a gap year is low. The only one I can even name is bomb squad who took 2001 off. No one is saying we have actual numbers, he is just speaking from experience.


As I mentioned in another post, teams keeping their own numbers are far from the only way in which teams restart. There are a non-trivial amount of teams that “fold” and old number and are re-incarnated with a new number. So, unfortunately, that type of TBA analysis is lacking.


If a team goes defunct, it is rare they start again. I can only think if two off the top of my head but I’m sure we’re in the upper twenties, right? There are nearly 8000 team numbers and according to last years stats data, only around 4000 are still around.