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VA-DC FLL,

I would like to take a brief moment to discuss scrimmages and other local events - particularly for new coaches.

Years ago when I first started coaching I had the opportunity to participate in a local scrimmage event.  It was both intimidating and exciting for me and the team - and we learned a lot from the experience - both good and bad.

First, it was a great opportunity for the kids to see other teams and how they had solved some of the problems.  In general - we saw that we were just as "early" in the development process as nearly everyone else (we stunk equally).

We saw a few innovative solutions - both in design and programming - all were very helpful for the team.

The bad things I saw?

The scrimmage was 100% focused on the robot competition.  Keep in mind that the robot competition, while the most visible - is only about  of the competition.  We didn't see any efforts on the research project at all and nothing on teamwork (now Core Values) - in other words  of the program was not addressed at all.

I also saw a couple of "teams" where the coach (a teacher) was doing EVERYTHING.  He designed the robot, programmed the robot, and operated the robot!  His explanation was that competing caused the kids too much stress.  Right.

If you decide to participate in a scrimmage keep these lessons in mind.  Also remember that the kids should be doing the work AND that the competition is important.  It serves as a driving force to motivate the kids, keep them on track, push the envelope of what they know and understand, and let them see how well they can do.  Don't keep them from competing.  Imagine a football coach telling his new team that they were going to spend the first season practicing but since they wouldn't be competitive they wouldn't play any actual games.  Watching a competition is NOT the same thing as being in it.

Further - for those of you in Fairfax County Schools - we need your help.  We need venues for real tournaments and could use your support in securing appropriate middle/high school venues in November (we still need about 3 locations).

Look forward to seeing you around the state and at the Championship here in Harrisonburg December 8-9.

Nick



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