Rookies to Veterans

I’ve seen/heard stories of teams going from a rookie to veteran and I wonder how long did it take? How did you get there? When do you know if it’s reasonable or not to continue?

Whether of an upcoming rookie team will play in the 2023 season or played in the 2022 season but don’t have the resources, I’d like to hear how your team got to where it was today.


This one seems really dependent on your fundraising situation. Unfortunately, this program isn’t conducive to teams who can’t keep pouring money in each year. More success in competition can often lead to more funding opportunities, so the question for a lot of new teams is whether or not they can attain sustainability before their initial funding sources dry up.

I’d say if you can see a path forward to success and you have the funding, continue. If you don’t see a sustainable path forward, consider if other programs may be a better fit.


First comes team culture. Mentors are attracted to the team. Sponsors are attracted as well. Team learns and grows in expertise because it is a great bunch of people. Aaand, veteran.


I takes lots of time and effort to be a veteran team. Even tho frc only recognize year 1 as rookies i believe veteran should start at around year 3. Or you stop being rookies once you start making you own components and designing different components. Imo rookies/veteran means nothing It’s what you learn and do that puts you in those categories.

Also many rookies don’t make it back because of funding. Next year will be harder as the fee has gone up another 1k.

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As the other people posting have stated, becoming a mature and established team requires learning
*How to organize and manage the team to meet its goals
*How to attract and retain sponsors
*How to attract, develop and retain knowledgeable mentors
*How to attract, develop and retain knowledgeable student team members
*How to continually improve technical skills, knowledge and capabilities relating to the robot

The list above is illustrative and not necessarily complete.

FIRST has definitions for “rookie teams” and for “veteran teams”.

Unfortunately, there are many teams that are “perpetual rookies” for a variety of reasons. Some of these can limp along for many years before finally entering a growth phase. Sadly, some fade away.

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This is why I firmly believe year 2 is always the hardest on teams. They lose their rookie status and all the perks that come with it, but they’re still too inexperienced to really be veterans. I remember what it was like years 2-3, and it was rough. We still didn’t really know what we were doing, but were kind of expected to have the answers.

It wasn’t until year 5 or 6 that we really started to find out groove. But then, by then the original students are gone. We were lucky enough to have a lot of mentor consistency during that time (I.e. adults that stuck around after their student graduated, or had younger students coming behind), but if we had lost those adults when we lost the original students, it would have been much harder, and we would have had to start over again.

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