2014 South Florida Regional

This will probably be more of a recap of my last four years than just this weekend. Because this wasn’t just the end of a weekend, or a season. This was the end of four years of our team becoming what it is today.

On Thursday, we gathered and drove to the Broward County Convention Center with our eyes on the prize. All the seniors would be taking a lesser role at this competition, due to Grad Bash being on Friday night. This included forming an all new drive team. Obviously, I had my reservations about how these younger students would perform. They were all extremely capable, but they had little in-game experience and I didn’t want a repeat of our performance at Orlando. We tried to get as much practice as possible on Thursday to finalize the drive team. In the end we pinned Andrey as driver, Mayuri as coach, Prajesh as operator, and Damian as human player.

Friday morning began the real test for this new crop of drivers. We barely scraped by with wins on our first two matches, but they were wins nonetheless. After these, the seniors had to leave for Grad Bash. It was weird saying goodbye to everyone in the middle of the competition. It was like we were graduating already, and handing off the reins. But for everyone else, the day wasn’t done. With the seniors cheering on the team while watching the livestream on the bus, we finished the day 5-3. There were some amazing matches, and some terrible matches, but we were extremely proud of these rookies for their performance. And on Friday night, we took home another Team Spirit Award. For the older kids, it seems pretty commonplace to win these now, but I love winning them because it is an effort mostly led by underclassmen. It really signals the passion of our members and the bright future we have!

On Saturday, we had a decision to make. We could continue with the younger drivers or go back to the seniors for our last competition. The underclassmen took the first two matches of the day, and we took the next two. After similar performances, we decided that the seniors had more experience and should take the elimination rounds. We were picked by teams 3410 and 539 for the 8th-seeded alliance. Unfortunately, we were pitted against the eventual champions in a rough quarterfinals that ended our competition. It was a sad moment as I got our cart from the sidelines for the last time, and rolled the robot off to the pits.

This was our last competition. This was really the end of an era. During my freshman year, I was just looking for clubs to join and I joined this club because I wanted to be an engineer. The first time I saw one of our robots driving, I thought it was so cool. In the past four years, our team has gone 58-50-1, won 8 awards (including 5 Team Spirit awards), made the elimination rounds in 6 out of 8 regionals, and competed at the World Championships. Before the class of 2014 started, we had zero awards and zero elimination appearances. We are on the brink of becoming an elite team, and I know it. This year we were so close to qualifying for the World Championships on our own performance. While our team won’t be in St. Louis this year, one of our members will be.

Yesterday at the awards ceremony Mayuri, our co-president, won the Dean’s List Finalist award. This award is given to two students at each regional who exemplify the principles of FIRST and have a great impact on their team. It is an honor to even be nominated by your team, and we were absolutely ecstatic with Mayuri’s win. One of the components was an essay nominating the student. I had the privilege to write the essay nominating one of my best friends. From the essay:

“[Mayuri] is an influential leader on the team and has inspired countless students. She has helped grow our team beyond the robot, because FIRST is not just about building robots. She has helped make our team into a family where students of any interest can come and find a place immediately. Her passion and commitment to FIRST are clearly evident in the long hours she puts in willingly to make our team and students better. Mayuri will be a lasting influence in FIRST for years to come, as I am sure that she will mentor teams in the future. When I asked a few students what she did to help them grow, they replied that ‘she did everything.’ I think that sums her up influence well.”

Mayuri will now be competing at the World Championships for a spot as one of 10 Dean’s List winners.

I don’t think I’m really ready to move on from robotics, but it’s time. I know that the team is in good hands, and that it will continue to be better every year. Mayuri winning the Dean’s List Finalist award just reinforces this feeling, as she (and others) will continue to impact our team in the future.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Ninjineers. Thank you to the mechanical team. That’s where I did most of my work, and became close with my best friends like Cody, Michael, Ryan, and Bri. Thanks to my awesome Co-President, Mayuri, for doing a lot of the stuff I didn’t want to and always being a friend to talk to. Thanks to Damian (because I know he’d be mad if I didn’t mention him) for all the crazy ideas and shenanigans and a great website. And especially thanks to Massimo. Because of him, I’ve learned so much about engineering and life. The team would not be anywhere close to where it is without him.

This team has been my greatest second family during high school. All of the long hours and hard work has been absolutely worth it. I’ve become friends with the greatest peers and mentors. I’m so thankful for everyone that I’ve interacted with in these past four years. Even though I’m moving on, I’ll always be a Ninjineer and I’ll always be a member of FIRST. I want to continue to help our team grow in any way possible, and I want to inspire students in the future. I know that the Ninjineers will be better than ever next year and every year after that, and I’ll always be a part of that.



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