Kickoff is next month, and I’ve started planning everything that has to be done for the 2017 season. The one thing that has been circling my mind is what kind of senior I want to be. For the last four years, I’ve worked extremely hard to lead my team, take responsibility for new things, and make my team better. The majority of the things I’ve done, however, were completed with a lot of the work being my own. That was fine when I was an underclassman; I would still be around the next season to do it again. However, a year from now, I’ll be off at college and what I’m afraid of is that everything I worked so hard for will end with me, making my team weaker. If I were to leave now, my team would be without a scouting captain, the head of the Chairman’s team, and a documentation captain. They’d definitely build the same robot with or without me, but they’d struggle to put together a strong alliance, would have no shot at Chairman’s and would have nothing to show judges. If my senior year looks the way the past three years have looked, they’ll be in that situation next year anyway. Which leads me to an epiphany that I’ve found hard to accept: senior year is not a victory lap.
If you want your team to do well after you graduate, your focus needs to be less on you and your achievements and more on teaching underclassmen how to do your job. We all bring different skills to our respective teams, but particularly for those of us who bring unique abilities, it’s important to teach the next generation what they need to know. This is not a job that should fall on the mentors, but on the older students. This year, my team has as many new students as veterans, numbers which are frankly terrifying. Of those veterans, half are seniors. The future of my team depends on how well we train this year’s rookies. It’s not always easy or glamorous or fun, but it’s a necessity.
So here’s my message to all you seniors out there…
Embrace your underclassmen.
Teach them everything you know.
Work for what makes the team the strongest.
Enjoy your final year, but remember that the legacy you leave might be the determining factor in whether your team succeeds in the future.
Good luck with FIRST Steamworks. Stay GP.
-Tristan D. 107
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.