By Alizay Rodriguez

It started off like any normal-dreadful day of school, on an average Thursday. But it wasn’t any average Thursday, because this Thursday, the 16th of March was competition day.

Once school was over everyone part of Umatilla High School’s robotics team either rushed home, continued their work, or went to sports practice. One and all were waiting for the clock to reach 6 o’clock in the evening and only then would we head to Ellensburg.  

Once the time hit 6 o’clock everyone loaded their stuff on the bus and quickly reserved their seats.  Any outsider watching this could see that all of the students ran about like chickens with their heads cut of because of all of the chaos. I tried to walk past all of my teammates that were just as excited as me, hoping that with this competition we can qualify for the Pacific Northwest regional competition.

Previously in our last competition in Spokane our team did not make it in first place neither did we win “Chairman’s”, the most prestigious award any team can get at a robotics competition. That means they automatically go to the next level of competition. Since our team didn’t achieve any of these things in the first competition that means that we have to work twice as hard for what we want.

We finally settled on the bus and attendance was taken, we left with determination in our hearts, or at least that’s what I had left with. I was sitting with Elizabeth (Loera) by my side and Yarectzy (Carrillo) sitting across from us and right as our bus hit the road we all played Heads Up on Elizabeth’s phone.

The bus was full of people’s music playing out loud, laughter, and the crackling sounds of chip bags being opened. Once we reached Yakima we stopped stopped at a restaurant called Miner’s, which was home of the Big Miner Burger, we then all departed of the bus and rushed inside to receive our meals. Later we checked into a Days Inn.

The next day there was excitement in the air with everyone wearing their robotics shirts and fedoras, we were all ready to give this competition our all. We arrived at Central Washington University in about thirty-nine minutes and once we reached there we all departed off the bus and entered the building. The CWU Gymnasium was already set up for the competitions and the live stream was ready to go. Our team made it’s way up to the second set of bleachers which gave us all the whole view of the competition arena.

The arena is massive, with lights blinking on and off and “the station” – the central scoring area on the field – ready for the matches. It was around ten o’clock when the practice matches started, the reason why we have practice is because teams want to get the right measurements for their robots autonomous mode (that is where the robot is controlling itself). Finally when the qualification matches started our scouters gathered and were giving the robots they would watch.

What a scouter’s job is that they have to watch ten robots with one in each match and look for what their weakness are or their strengths are.  

We all had our roles and the competition was on. We didn’t know on that mundane Thursday in class, on the bus to Yakima, in the dinner with the big burger, in the hotel lobby nor even during practice that later that weekend we, 4125 Confidential, would win that prestigious Chairman’s Award and earn a spot in the regional championship.