What makes the SOTAbots the SOTAbots? Is it the highlighter-colored gear? Is it the innovative schools we come from? With four years on the team, the culture of the SOTAbots has been thoroughly ingrained into the human being that I am. I’ve never been sure if what we have is just pride of team, or if there really is something different about us. Bright and early on a Monday morning, I started to understand what makes our brightly colored team stand out.
The team was sleepy and yet excited to continue work on the daunting task of building a robot. Every day of the robotics class, we play a game of FIRST trivia to get the team involved and moving while learning about the history of our team. I helped lead the day’s trivia with dividing all of the veteran team members up among the newbies. The challenge for today was to tell the newbies a veterans favorite story from a robotics competition from their time on the team. When the veterans shared, I felt my heart glow with nostalgia. From mentor pranks to amazing matches to fun and companionable times as a team, looking back on what we’ve done makes me smile.
Luthy followed up our heart-warming exercise with a video from our alpha year. Every day our head mentor shares a piece of team’s history with all of us. The newbies looked mildly bored and confused at this grainy and strange southwestern themed video. As a senior on the team, however, I could only grin at the cute production created by members long graduated. Our team started from nothing, an arts school with only a garage, a classroom and a mission to prove the world wrong. The SOTAbots have always been the underdog, no matter how well we do in competition or how much our team helps the community, we have our history and the knowledge that we only got to where we are because of the people that helped us along the way. It’s a culture that we’ve kept from our inception and that students on our team learn from other older team members and the stories our mentors tell us to keep the traditions alive.
We’re not just a team, we’re a family. We have a deep history with old stories passed down generation after generation of SOTAbots, kept by mentors who tell us stories to keep us grounded in our humble beginnings.