As a member of a rookie team, Gracious Professionalism was an astonishing thing to come across in our first FIRST competition. By the beginning of our second regional, we had taken the concept to heart. We found a rookie team at Vegas that had misunderstood the rules and basically had tried to lift themselves, not another robot, but they couldn’t even do that very well. They had a lot of issues, but since our robot was actually done, unlike in the PNW regional we decided to help them out. We had at least one mentor and 2 or 3 students in their pit at all times, we made them a list of parts that we didn’t have that they would need to find or go and buy, and helped them completely redesign their robot and make it fully functional and inspection worthy by the end of Thursday. We ended up going on to win that regional, as well as the rookie all star award, but that didn’t make us feel nearly as good as when they were seeded ninth, and were called into the semifinals when another team broke down. It was amazing when they broke down during their first match of the semis, and since they didn’t have a pit on the field, we took them into ours, found the problem, and gave them the parts to finish. Their matches were just as exciting, maybe even a little more than our own! At that point is wasn’t about winning, it was about getting them on the field, and trying to get them to move onto the finals. We didn’t even stop to think about how if they did, we would have played against them in the next match.
As a rookie, it is stories like these, which I have heard many of, that makes Gracious Professionalism. It’s the constant announcements of teams that need a part, and then the fact that they actually receive it, so you really only hear the requests once. It was funny because our coach’s name is Robert Steele, and so we requested a piece of “Roberts Steel” in the pits in Vegas, and three teams came up to us and asked if what they had would work.
Gracious Professionalism is the better-than-real-life environment that is created when people of all ages get excited about science, math, and technology in a competitive atmosphere, and want to do anything to make everyone else enjoy it just as much as they do, and to perform at the best of their abilities and beyond.
I would really love to see what you come up with for your article. Could you maybe post it? Or just email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org? That would be great! I think this is a great topic, and a great way to get the outside community excited about FIRST. I am definitely now thinking about ways to incorporate a GP aspect into our recruitment and fund raising plans and presentations…