By Tamara Kawa, Class of 2016
On October 2-3, the Notre Dame Robotics Team attended CalGames, an annual off season competition held in the Bay Area. A replay of the 2015 FRC game, Recycle Rush, CalGames gave the Janksters an opportunity to improve their 2015 robot and relive their last season, while also introducing their newest members to the FIRST Robotics experience. The Janksters spent several weeks preparing for this event, repairing the robot’s mechanisms, programming new functions, and training the robot’s drivers until, finally, October 2 arrived. The Janksters could hardly wait to get back into action.
On Friday, Team 1967 arrived at Lynbrook High School and set up their pit alongside 35 other FRC teams, eager for the competition to begin. From Friday evening to Saturday afternoon, the Janksters competed against other teams to see who could stack the most gray totes and recycling containers in two minutes. The hours of robot repairs started to pay off; Emma Ryan, ‘18, noted that “It’s amazing how fixing some little things made the robot much better…our point average [was] way better than at some of our regionals.” By Saturday, Team 1967 had risen to 8th place – an all-time high for this season! – and progressed into playoffs. With Team 1868 (the Space Cookies) and Team 1072 (Harker Robotics) on their alliance, the Janksters blazed through the matches, making it to quarterfinals before being eliminated. Despite not winning, the Janksters couldn’t have been more proud of their robot and their hard work.
Then, the Janksters received a surprise – their mentor, Alvin Cheng, received recognition as “Volunteer of the Year”! One of the longest-standing mentors, Alvin is one of the team’s biggest supporters and motivators, and the students see him as a big brother. To all the students on Team 1967, Alvin is a hero who deserves recognition within the community. “Alvin getting this type of recognition is long overdue” said Tamara Kawa, ‘16, “because he’s been with our team almost since the beginning. Actually, he should get ‘Volunteer of the Decade,’ because that’s how long he’s been with us!”
By the end of the competition, everyone on Team 1967 had been able to try something new. Many of the returning students had taken on new responsibilities, such as drive team or teaching students. Nikita Jagdish, ‘18, tried drive team out, reflecting that “when I first joined robotics last year, I had no interest in joining, but now I’m proud of myself for trying it out.” The rookies, for their part, found themselves in an entirely new world, learning about game strategy, engineering and business, and how to dance the Cupid Shuffle. As Tani Pham, ‘19, said “I’m really tired, but it’s a good type of tired…I feel accomplished today.” No one left CalGames without a new story to tell, and the Janksters eagerly wait to see what the 2016 season has in store.