More than 6 years ago, our son Jackson wanted to join a FIRST robotics team in high school. We had heard about the team through friends and were told it was a “big commitment”. We advised Jack to not join in 9th grade, but focus on school, not on an extracurricular. When he asked again in 10th Grade, we had heard more about the team from some of Jack’s friends that had joined the previous year, who were ecstatic about their experience, so we encouraged him to join.
When we met the Coach, Andrew Spiece for the first time, I knew immediately he would be one of the greatest influences in both our sons and our lives. He is an endless well of positive energy and enthusiasm. If you meet him, you will believe, anything can be done with a positive attitude and hard work. If you think something can’t be done, just talk with Andy, his personality will change your mind and fill you with the confidence it can absolutely be done!
Based on Jack’s amazing first year experience, the very next year Matt joined the team in his 9th grade year. He has been on the team for 4 years now, Jack was on for 3 years, but this era is now drawing to a close. The team is headed to Michigan State Championships next weekend, and if they are lucky (and work hard) they will qualify for the World Championships in St. Louis at the end of April. The reason I am writing this now, is I had a “moment” this last Saturday at the Howell District.
I took this picture of Matt, standing next to the field, his team (FIRST Team 68 – Truck Town Thunder) was the 2nd seed and he was going to
walk out on the field in a few minutes to help pick his alliance. The past 5+ years of FIRST robotics experiences went through my mind. The amazing fun our kids (and we) have had, the influential people we met, and the myriads of dedicated volunteers in the organization will never be forgotten. All of it, everything that has happened has transformed our boys into intelligent, driven, focused student athletes and prepared them for success in college and in life.
My advice to anyone that reads this is, if you have an opportunity for your kids to join FIRST Robotics, do it! Remember that “big commitment” we heard about before Jack joined the team? We didn’t realize then the commitment was not about our time or our kids time, but it was the commitment that FIRST makes to your child to transform them into amazing people. You will not be disappointed!
Kellie Determan But well deserved! It takes individuals like you to make a difference in what education IS! You have dedicated so much and made an impact like no other! Cheers to you!
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Shawnee Mangett You’ve always had that spirit Andy! It’s so nice to see through all of life’s struggles it hasn’t been extinguished but instead is spreading into the next generation! Kudos to you man!
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