Winning the defeat: The Atlanta FIRST Championship

Two weeks ago, I led a troop of 21 students and 11 parents on a quest for glory, the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Event in Atlanta. Seven weeks earlier we faced some worthy competitors in the Manchester NH Regional, and placed 29th out of 51, winning 5 of 9 matches we were in. These results were consistant with how we did last year at Manchester, and when we went to Atlanta last year everything seemed to fall in our favor: we were 5-1-1, finishing the division preliminary rounds in 7th place (out of 75 teams), were seeded into the finals, where we won most of our rounds, winning a Division Finalist trophy and missing Division Champion by literally a hair’s breadth. It was wonderful.

This year, however, our robot had a few more issues to contend with, and our team was missing a critical spark that was present in previous years. To say we had our cybernetic posteriors handed to us would be diplomatic. Fate had us scheduled to compete in the first of the 100 preliminary matches, and in it we set the standard for losing. Two minutes and fifteen seconds into the weekend, we lost 123-7, a point spread that would go unsurpassed for the rest of the 460-something matches over the weekend.

One could point out that our division (85 teams, roughly a quarter of those present) consisted of 14 first place seeds from regional competitions and 21 regional competition winners, and thereby say that we were extremely outclassed. However, when our scores for the remaining matches was 36-38, 8-0, 22-35, 21-55, 35-45, and 10-46, thus winning only one of seven, there’s not much that can be said to sooth our egos.

Of course, we did do better than home-town rivals Nashua High, who didn’t win any of their matches and ended up in 83rd place!


So why did I title this piece "Winning the defeat"? I remain extremely impressed with our team of students. Overall, they carried themselves with dignity, even in the face of such disasterous results. Somehow they remained mostly cheerful and upbeat, cheering the team on even when things went awry. Add to that the fact that many of the students and adults attended conferences during the weekend that taught how to improve the team, the robot, the design process, etc., and you see why I remain extremely confident for the future.

(Plus, as the only BG teacher on the team, I have inside information about the incomming students arriving in the fall, and I know what our prospects will be: sweet!)

Maybe, if I stay consistant in this blog, you’ll see what I mean next year!


About Mr. I

After 17 years as a PC Software Engineer I gave it all up in 2000 to become a High School Computer Teacher
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