Texas is switching to the District model in 2019!

Great news coming from FIRST in Texas!

Dear FIRST in Texas family,
These are exciting and heartfelt times. In a short period of time, we have had 317 FIRST Lego League Junior Teams, 1,417 FIRST Lego League teams, 592 FIRST Tech Challenge teams, and 150 FIRST Robotics Competition teams register for the 17-18 season of robotics competition throughout the state of Texas. With record numbers in the Rio Grande Valley, thanks to the great work of the coaches and volunteers at FIRST RGV, and new event locations for teams to enjoy and explore, this season promises to deliver BIG for our FIRST in Texas teams and communities.
But we at FIRST in Texas are not stopping there.
You may know that for some time FIRST in Texas has been working hard to provide more than $1,000,000 annually in financial support to teams and communities throughout the state of Texas. What you may not know is that the FIRST in Texas Board of Directors, FIRST HQ and FIRST in Texas staff, created a strong financial and operational plan to move to the FRC District Model for the 2019 season. We know that this development has been a long time coming but we are delighted to assure you that in 2019 the District Model will become a reality for Texas.
Additionally, in an effort to substantially increase the opportunity for more students throughout the state of Texas to have access to all four FIRST programs, FIRST in Texas and FIRST HQ have developed a five-year plan and a signed Letter of Intent that will allow us to streamline operations, increase efficiency and capacity and create consistency of program delivery throughout the state, with FIRST in Texas taking the lead in the state to do so.
We look forward to sharing more about what you can expect as we transition to the ‘District Model’ in the 18-19 competition season and the expansion and consolidation plans for FIRST in Texas at town hall style meetings during the upcoming competition season.
Lastly, when Hurricane Harvey left some of our teams with diminished resources to compete in the upcoming competition season, the FIRST community stepped in to help, as did our partners at AndyMark who have raised more than $20,000 to support our teams and communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. However, we have received more than $60,000 in requests from those affected by this natural disaster, leaving us $20,000 short of the need. Please do donate to the FIRST in Texas HARVEY FUND at Contribute / Donate | FIRST in Texas : FIRST in Texas and help us bridge the gap for FIRST communities aspiring to compete this year.
As always with heartfelt thanks and admiration, Christine Pollei
President/Executive Director, FIRST in Texas

Original Letter here.

Welcome to the party Texas. I’m especially glad to see the press release includes a comprehensive plan for sustainable growth and funding. I wish them great success!

Great for Texas!

Sad for us, because there goes 75% of our possible second regionals (or first regionals, since we can’t play at our home regional most years).

When are they going to allow teams that are stuck under a regional model but would like to play in the district model into districts? I don’t see our region ever going to districts. In the mean time, the options to play shrink each year.

I wish you all the best! We’ll be in San Antonio this year, but I guess that’s it for us.

I just don’t see how they could let out of district teams buy into a single district event. It’d be too unbalancing in so many ways. How do you handle an OoD team winning a district event? What about the loss of points to district teams at that event? Why would teams ever go to regionals if they could get more plays against a smaller field by buying into district events, but not the district model.

Now what MIGHT be feasible is letting teams from nearby regions buy into the district itself just like any other team from the defined district region. You obviously can’t let so many teams in that they exceed the district’s capacity, but letting some number of teams opt out of regionals and into nearby districts might take some of the strain off the regional system. I mean at some point all the team-dense regions are going to be districts and there won’t be any practical way to run the small number of regionals necessary to support a small number of teams spread across the US.

Meanwhile, Ohio will perpetually be 3 years away…great work Texas!

Both of these already happen with inter-district plays. Winning a district doesn’t carry any auto-advancement, it only rewards points. The points simply disappear. Out of district teams are not eligible for Chairman’s, Engineering Inspiration, or Rookie All-Star.

Mostly meant what does an OoD team get for winning a District event? Presumably nothing but trophies and playing time, yes?

Many of these questions are answered by the current model of inter-district play: the visiting team receives no benefits for how well they do and the points they earn “disappear”. I’m not saying that this is the optimal solution, but this is how FIRST has chosen to handle a very similar problem.

EDIT: Lil’ Lavery beat me to it. It’s what I get for not refreshing the page before replying.

That’s not what I mean. If we could go wholesale in on being part of a district as nearby at Texas, with all the benefits and restrictions, it’s something we’d need to strongly consider. Why let geopolitical borders interfere with kids’ ability to play robots?

As it is, we have one regional in our state (in fact, it’s two mile or less from our school), and we’ve only been able to attend it once in the four years I’ve been here because they keep scheduling it on Easter weekend when we cannot compete. But we’ll figure something out (I’m trying to sell the school administration on the need for us to attend the Hawaii Regional, personally, so maybe Texas is helping me make my case).

That’s what I thought of as well. I think a lot of teams could benefit from that. Since the Ontario district a lot of Quebec teams are limited to just the Montreal regional, I’m sure some of those teams would opt to join our district if that was an option.

Congratulations to Texas on making this step! I hope it turns out to be excellent for all of your teams!

Does anyone know if FIRST in Texas will release that 5-year plan they were talking about? I’d love to see it would likely have great suggestions and guidelines that could be modified for any region. Not just about supporting and expanding districts but about support and expand FIRST in regions as well.

+1 for letting teams buy into being part of a District, even if it means that there is an application process.

Otherwise, teams like BSV’s may have to travel through Districts like Texas to go attend events “on the other side”, say in Louisiana, making travel costs much higher for them.

As more parts of the US and Canada go to the District System, it reduces the choices for overseas teams where there are very few Regionals available. I suspect that one will find that most of the areas in the US and Canada with easy access for overseas teams are already in the District System or soon will be. This again makes the travel costs for those international teams even higher. If they do go to a District event, then “not being able to win anything” would make it more like a scrimmage, a very expensive scrimmage.

One other disadvantages of the District system is that we will not be seeing so many out of state teams. We will certainly miss the enthusiasm that the Mexican teams always bring. It was also fun to see some of the first teams from China as well as teams from Turkey.

No need to fear international teams! Minneapolis and Los Angeles both have international airports!

Sorry, but Los Angeles (and the rest of CA) are busy trying to deal with getting all of their teams into events. Try New York, they’ve got an international airport!


If non-district teams were able to opt-into existing districts then FIRST in Michigan would have to find a lot of new event locations in the UP.

I’m told this has caught a few Texas teams by surprise as well.

There’d have to be limits set by the District, but I have to think a district would be better off adding an OoD team to their district roster rather than selling inter-district plays. Teams on the roster is what drives teams that advance, so you might as well push for more teams advancing, right?