There were 277 high school robotics teams in Michigan in January, when the First Robotics District Tournaments began throughout the state. Every team was required to compete in two district tournaments, and the top 64 teams from those tournaments qualified for the state tournament recently held in Ypsilanti.
A few weeks ago, an alliance composed of robotics teams from Escanaba, Gladstone and Cedarville surprised the competition by winning the district tournament in Traverse City. That win was the beginning of an amazing journey, and earned them invitations to the state finals, where the top 32 teams in the state would be chosen to represent Michigan in the First Robotics World Championship held in St. Louis, Missouri on April 23-26, 2014. This prestigious event brings together successful robotics teams from at least 25 countries for three days of competition.
Fighting through long odds, occasional setbacks, and disappointing and sometimes frustrating competition play, the robotics teams from Escanaba and Gladstone persevered, earning invitations to the World Championship by placing 27th and 32nd, respectively, in the state finals.
Until the recent state tournament in Ypsilanti, no Upper Peninsula robotics team had ever qualified for the World Championship. This is a fantastic accomplishment for two teams from sister cities with limited economic and technical resources!
Teachers Marie Young of Escanaba and Tim Barron of Gladstone should be commended for their immense personal sacrifices in building competitive teams, their commitment to the students and their strong leadership in the face of many challenges and obstacles. They inspired students and mentors to dream big, be resourceful and press on even when things weren't going well. Our community is very fortunate to have them.
Citizens and businesses in Escanaba and Gladstone have a long history of generously supporting students and teams that have distinguished themselves in competitive activities. The robotics teams from Escanaba and Gladstone are among the best in the state, and have an opportunity to distinguish themselves on the world stage. These teams deserve our congratulations and strong support.
An excellent overview of the First Robotics competition narrated by actor Morgan Freeman can be found on YouTube by searching "First Promo Video 2011 Featuring Morgan Freeman."