Kickoff, Stronghold, and the Troubles of Mentoring Long-Distance

As everyone knows, this past weekend was the 2016 kickoff for FIRST Stronghold! I’m excited as can be about seeing this game play out, and my teams are as well.

I decided to attend kickoff with 5254 this year to help them through the early stages of game analysis. On the way there the night of January 8th, my car broke down about an hour and a half outside of Trumansburg (the home of 5254) and two hours from home. My insurance towing service apparently couldn’t come onto the interstate for some reason, and I was stranded until the lead mentor of 5254 came and picked me up and used his triple-A to get my car towed.

Getting my car repaired cost me $400, in addition to the money($1300) I had recently spent to repair other parts of my car.

I’m not saying this to garner sympathy, but instead to direct attention to the other costs of mentoring a team long-distance, especially in college, when the average college mentor doesn’t have the disposable income to make these repairs. I’m lucky enough to have the support of my parents, who allow me to take loans from them when necessary to pay for unforeseen costs like car repairs, to be paid back later.

Back to the fun stuff- STRONGHOLD!

It’s been a while since FIRST has had a drivetrain-intensive game, which is a nice change of pace. In addition, any time a game has shooting balls and tons of strategy, it’s bound to be a favorite. I hope Stronghold doesn’t disappoint!

Stronghold is a difficult challenge to accomplish everything well, but not too difficult that teams can’t be successful with a simple approach, and even accomplish most game tasks at a high level.

5254’s kickoff went exceptionally well, and the team is on a fast track to success right now. If the team keeps up the current pace, I expect 5254 to have a working, driving, and shooting robot done by Week 3, such that the team can build an additional robot as well in the subsequent weeks while ironing out the kinks in the practice robot.

I was not at 20’s kickoff, but from my understanding the team went long into the night discussing strategy and developed a different priority list than 5254, which makes sense given the teams’ differing resources.

In discussions with other teams during the weekend, a few came to similar conclusions as we did, and almost everyone looks to have a promising start right now for Stronghold.
Good luck to all teams in 2016!


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