I was a member of an FLL team for 3 years, am captain of an FTC team for 5 years, and co-captain of my FRC team for the past 3 years. My FIRST year (pun intended) was in 6th grade. When I was introduced, I wasn’t totally into it. That’s saying it in a nice way. I tried to quit my FLL and FTC team for about 2 years until I realized that there was no way of getting out of it, I was going to be forced to participate until… well I graduate. My FIRST year in robotics, the year that I wanted to get out and have my way, was the year I met my best friend.
Miraculously, my brothers FTC team somehow made it to the Pennsylvania State Championships in 2010, when I was just participating as team marketing with my sister. I ran a booth outside the gymnasium that the competition was being held in and was giving out flyers and dancing robots (you wind them up and they do a funny little dance). The reason I picked to set up in this position is that the pits were in a different room, so you had to pass my table whenever you went to a match or left a match. It was perfect! I talked to a lot of people that day, and a lot of the same people multiple times, including my soon to be best friend.
He was scouting for his team with a few other members, and they seemed just as young as me. He was super nice and outgoing, and we had so much in common from the first conversation to the end of the day. As soon as I was done at my booth, I went to hang out with him in the stands. His team was in the finals… and so was mine… against each other. It happens, and we couldn’t have cared less how the match would have played out, because we were just happy talk to each other about anything and everything.
By the end of the day, his team had be the winning alliance and mine was awarded the prestigious inspire award. We were going to championships together! While cleaning up, he asks me for my phone number, and me being in 6th grade I didn’t have one… so we exchanged emails. That is how we kept in contact for about a month and a half until St. Louis, alongside of skype. I knew from the beginning that this kid was going to be my best friend, just from the way he wore his bowtie the day we met.
His nerdiness and the way that he wasn’t perfect made him so fantastic in a way that is indescribable. FIRST makes it so easy to make friends, because nobody has expectations so there are no disappointments. Everyone is smart, caring, open, and a joy to be around. As stated before, the entire FIRST community is somewhere that I would not give up the experiences for for anything. I know that this may be over stated, but robotics really isn’t just about the robots. It’s about the team work, learning, and relationships that you make over the years.
And so this article is for my best friend in the entire world, who has been there for me, in and out of FTC and FRC seasons, who is perfect in an imperfect way, and doesn’t mind showing off his nerdiness every once in a while (or every day). Connor, this is for the 5 years of fighting over robot designs and whose CADD is better.
FIRST should be recognized for building more than robots, but dancing robots that start new friendships.
This blog was written by Sarah Fogwell from FTC 4856 Minnie Mash. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, sign up on the schedule.