Friday, April 1, 2016

FIRST Colorado Regional 2016

Abe's mom gave him a Dr. Seuss book called, "Oh, the Places You'll Go".  Originally given as a graduation speech it's about dealing with the ups and downs in life.  Here's a little excerpt.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

Last weekend our robotics team had just such a bang-up and hang-up.  They traveled to Denver for another regional competition.  The Utah regional took place the weekend before and it was very disappointing to the team.  Their robot was plagued with difficulties and they didn't have anywhere near their best performance.  That's how life goes sometimes.  It stunk, but we were beat fair and square.

It was a different story in Denver.  Our robot was SPECTACULAR!  I mean, really, really, consistent, every single qualification match.  Out of 48 robots, we ranked a solid 2nd place.  Oh, the cheering!  Oh, the hopes!  We were on the top of our game.  
At the risk of  sounding like a spoiled sport, we were WRONGED!  In the quarterfinals of playoffs we were very suspiciously disqualified.  A robot playing very aggressive defense to our alliance got tipped over twice.  We were yellow carded each time, which resulted in a disqualification.  I've sat through A LOT of robotics competitions and I've never seen it happen before.  In fact, other robots in other matches were tipped and no one was yellow carded.  I could go on and on, but it's rather depressing.  Our team had been warned by others higher-ups in FIRST that the Colorado Regional is known to be very unkind to out-of-state teams.  Evidenced by the fact that although there were plenty of deserving teams from other states, only Colorado teams won any awards.  We've never been shut out of awards before.  The regional director happens to be a team manager of the team we were disqualified against.  She was consulted when we appealed to the refs with rule book in hand, but quickly became defensive and angry.  
Granted, this is all second-hand, as I was not on the field.  However, our normally exceptionally level headed coaches and mentors were incredulous.  A formal complaint has been filed about the corrupt judging and favoritism to Colorado teams we witnessed.  We're quite sure that will not change the outcome for us in Colorado, but hopefully, it can improve things in the future.  We now join the list of teams who have gone, but will never return to the Colorado regional.

That's the bad part--And it was shockingly bad.  But there were so many good parts of the trip, that I cannot solely dwell on the horror of the last 4 hours.
To begin with, my dear friend, Camille (wife of the coach and mother to two team members) and I decided to take a mom's trip and drive out to support and cheer the team on, without the distraction of little people.  That was GLORIOUS!!!!
It's an 8 hour drive and we just talked, talked, talked, talked, talked!  Talk about therapy!  We have much in common with children in similar stages of life, homeschoolers, piano moms, robot moms.  She's wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.
I suppose our enthusiastic chatting contributed to this unfortunate moment.  Oops.
The time spent with Clark in the stands watching the games had to be my favorite part.  I'm sure I'm pretty much a drag to him in a lot of ways.  And even if that is a healthy part of separation into adulthood, it's a hard thing.  But he willingly sat by me.  He shared with me what was going on with the robot.  We celebrated together. We ate together.   I will treasure that time, even if the joy of the trip came to a rather screeching halt at the end.  Let us pay no more mind to that.
I am completely selfie challenged.  I don't know why I continue to try.   But I LOVED being with my fellow robot moms.  How many hours have we sat together at robotics competitions over the years?  I don't know, but they have been happy, happy hours and I love these ladies.
The drive team on their way from the pits to a match.
The swag I collected from the other teams to take home to George.  He loves collecting it.  I felt a little silly-- trick-or-treating for pins from all the teams, but anything for my George.
Sometimes it is worth it to go out of your way to try to save a few bucks.  
And sometimes, it is a terrible lapse in judgment that might cost you your life.
Case in point, Camille and I opted to not stay at the same hotel as the team.  We decided to do the trip on the cheap as much as possible.  Our hotel/room was... shall we say... not nice.
Completely bare walls, save the hooks and wires left from where horrible art work might once have been hanged.  Smoke detectors removed with exposed wires.  Smells throughout the premises that were so horrific, I couldn't even identify them.  Consider the assault this was on my pregnant olfactory senses.  I had to breathe into my clothing.  Ketchup spilled in the elevator that resembled blood on first sight.  How alarming!  A sign in the "lobby" (paint peeling glorified cubicle) that welcomed guests with the plaque, "We will cooperate with law enforcement". 

Well, that's a relief!
The elevator floor lights.  Is this concerning to anyone else?  And last, and probably least, where was the safety certification in the elevator?  Is that not to be posted in the elevator?  Perhaps this will show my naivete and sheltered life, but the clientele made me uncomfortable.  
Needless to say, we did not sleep well our first night.  I suppose the second night we were so tired, it didn't matter that we felt our lives were at risk.  For the record, there were sirens heard both nights.  Probably the front desk cooperating with law enforcement.   

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