[Cross-posted from the Facebook group VEX World Coaches Association]
We just had our end-of-season VEX team banquet. We had a lot of awards to give out this year, and some good things to celebrate. One of the biggest deals, to my mind, is that our Coach, Jason Neagle, was named Coach of the Year at VEX Worlds. I feel honored to help mentor his teams, and I’ve learned an incredible amount from him about analysis of games, and teams, and alliances. He can break down a competition like nobody I’ve ever heard. He makes it sound simple, and clear, and obvious. After a good session of chalk-talk, it always makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it myself. But I don’t, because I don’t have his vision.
By watching him interact with his kids I also learned about students, and motivation, and drive. I sometimes can’t believe what he gets out of these kids, and how hard they’ll work to meet his standards. And I know they’re better off for it.
Another thing to celebrate is that EC3’s program was chosen to serve as one of two inaugural schools for REC’s International Robotics Honor Society. The induction requirements cover Scholarship, Leadership, and Community Service. I’m pleased and proud we had 29 students qualify.
And, while we had many good teams this year, 6135W was our stand-out best. They won the Design Award in Technology division. Their alliance also came closer to beating the World Champion alliance than anyone else in the tournament, losing to them in QF 132 to 128. I know “if onlys” don’t count, but I remain very proud of them.
All three of our high schools were finalists in the Online Challenges. Both 2886 and 4104 (John Hardin and North Hardin High Schools, respectively) for the TI Electronics Challenge, and 4104 and 6135 (Central Hardin High School) for the Dell Website Challenge. We had never had a finalist before. And beyond that, 4104 won the Dell Website Challenge, earning their spot at Worlds. I am very gratified to have mentored them.
We had 17 seniors in the program this year, including four of the five members of 6135W. We have a lot of talent left in the program, with some strong Juniors and Sophomores, and a great team of Freshmen. And our feeder program of Middle School students has some experienced kids in it. But the next jewel in the crown can come from anywhere; it could be a student that hasn’t ever come out before. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jason Neagle can do next year.
I’ve attached a few pictures from our awards table. Missing are the sashes from the International Robotics Honor Society; they were hidden away when this picture was taken. We did hand them out for pictures but took them back to be given at graduation.
You may notice the VEX Worlds medals. We pick those up from Pit Administration at Worlds and give them out at the Banquet to the team members who attended. Other medals were for State Qualifications and similar significat achievements.
Some of the other medals are for Snarky Superlatives. Things like “Team most likely to go to a competition without their robot” and “Most likely to cut a wire believing it’s a Ziptie.”
We handed out trophies earned for things like “Best Engineering Notebook,” “Top Rank at Worlds” and “Best Online Challenges.” We had 11 of those. Also, we gave out Senior Awards to the kids who are moving on.
Thanks to Jason Brett for the basic two-layer bent acrylic trophy design. He provided the planetary gear layout, the cone and mobile goal graphic, and the outline of the trophy parts. I converted the VEX Worlds Robotics robot to vector format from the promotional materials. I also rounded up the mortarboard cap graphic; I’ll give credit in a subsequent post as soon as I find the appropriate identifying information again. My wife (who has a background in technical illustration, among other things) sketched the basic layout around those elements, and I did all the digital editing, cutting, bending, and assembling. I think they turned out rather nice.