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"Two sides of the same coin" advice:
When in doubt go. Especially if you will have the same team next year, or some of the same members for the next year's team! Going to the tournament teaches you stuff you will only understand once you have gone!  It's kind of amazing.  So from that standpoint, going as rookie coach will really help you coach your team better next year.

That said, I had two teams last year. One team, from a private school, just didn't have their heart into it. They wouldn't do any research (that they talked about looking up and researching. Never, ever, happened). They wouldn't stay after to program the bot & wouldn't show up on Saturdays to make up any time. They were all too busy they said.  We had 1 hour a week, and despite promises from another teacher to step in and help, I was asked to coach a team and teach basic programming to another set of kids at the same time! I ended spending most of my time with the team, and we tried focusing on the skit. We went to tournament, but instead of having fun, the kids felt completely defeated, realized they had not done the diligence it took to create a team, and hated every bloody minute of it.
 
In contrast to that, on my son's first year team, we had several major design changes in the robot and so essentially ended up with just two weeks to program the robot runs.  We used move blocks for every one of our missions and had only one attachment.  They definitely had fun and were excited about what they had done.
  It was a contrast to the my private school team who weren't into the competition and weren't having fun.  
If you're only avoiding it because you feel unprepared, I say go. If you are considering missing it because your kids don't seem to care about FLL, the robot, or the programing, then skip it. But make sure those are their feelings. I think my one private school team would have better served to not go to tournament, but my son's team has never had a season where it would have been better to sit at home that day.  Every year has been growing experience that only encourages them to love FLL and the gracious professionalism spirit they promote.
  Best of luck figuring out what's the right move. You only have a few hours.
Brandy

On Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 6:35 PM, Phil Smith III <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

A final word: worst case, they come to a tournament, have fun, do badly—and have a much better idea of how to approach things next year!

 

From: First Lego League in Virginia and DC [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jeff Lavezzo
Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2012 6:17 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [VADCFLL-L] Fish or cut bait?

 

Hi Folks,

I'm looking for some advice about my team.  

 

Through a variety of circumstances, our team finds itself very behind schedule.  We have yet to assemble a robot and only have one person on the team with experience programming the bot, (though the two coaches are both professional programers).

 

I'm in the middle of finally signing up for tournaments and recognizing that the best case scenario is that we get one more month, worst only a few weeks. I can't seem to get the kids together for more than about 90 min a week. Everyone has something at some other time. Ideally, we'd add a couple 3 hour weekend meetings to get us back on some semblance of a track, but I think I could only get about 3 team members for that.

 

Here's the question: Should we even sign up for the tournament?

 

I have my own ideas about our options, but I'd like to hear advice from those with more experience than me (I have no experience with FLL, haven't even been to a tournament). Especially advice from someone who's been in this position before: inexperienced coach, inexperienced team, hardly any time left.

 

Thanks

 

Jeff


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