The Botcats started as Team TOGA in the fall of 1996 as a partnership between our Grandview Heights High School and The Ohio State University. When our partner's enthusiasm waned, we leapt out on our own for the 2001 season, and we've never looked back! We were greater than ever that year, becoming National Division Finalists. In 2002 we started recruiting engineers who shared our philosophy that the students should truly learn engineering by being the real dreamers, leaders and problem-solvers during robot design and construction. We rose to the 2005 challenge of losing all three of our engineers during the same season, by pulling together and designing a great robot, which won the Pittsburgh Regional! Since that victory we've successfully recruited three engineers and a machinist in 2006, and two more enigneers, plus three assistants, in 2007. In 2008, we started to see our team alumni joining the ranks of team mentors. All our adult team members are true mentors: teachers, guides, role models. They're all great and with their help, we're greater in turn.
We spread the message of FIRST through Open Houses and community events such as the Memorial Day parade. The community has a national bike race every lear; last year we started a great new tradition: selling water to the crowd, raising money and spreading the FIRST word to a large thirsty audience. During the bike race we distributed homemade fans, thick paper sheets with the story of The Botcats' mission, history and acocmplishments as well as advertisement for our FLL Regional. These were mounted on wooden sticks so people could learn about us and stay cool during the race. Gracious professionalism paid off for us as well; we agreed to staff the city's water booth and to keep half of the profits. Halfway through the race, the city staff who were manning the booth selling soft drinks had to leave, and our team members manned their booth for them. Afterwards, the organizers said we could keep all the profits and that they'd invite us back next year.
We partner with great sponsors, including AEP for fourteen years. We were AEP's first team that they sponsored and they now sponsor 66 FIRST, FTC and FLL teams in nine of their eleven operating states for a total contribution of $200,000.. Our great relationship with them has inspired them to keep providing financial support to FIRST teams throughout their service areas.
Our links to FLL are a great source of pride to our team. Our district has ten FLL teams started by a FIRST parent to provide a base for our high school team. For six years we've volunteered to help a local state qualifying tournament where we've been Teamwork lead as well as judges and referees. This year we hosted our fifth FLL state qualifying tournament and ran all aspects with the team, family members and alumni.
In our 21 years we have won many FIRST awards, including the UTC Teacher Pioneer Award, the Western Michigan Johnson & Johnson Sportsmanship Award, the Pittsburgh Judges' Award for FIRST Attitude, the Pittsburgh Woodie Flowers Award and the Western Michigan Regional and National Daimler Chrysler Team Spirit Awards, among others. In addition we have been National Division Finalists and most were Pittsburgh Champions in 2005 and 2013. In 2013 we were also recognized with the Chairman's Award at the Pittsburgh Regional..
This year, FIRST is again being offered as a FLEX credit course. The State of Ohio is now permitting school districts to offer full course credit for educational experiences outside of the classroom. The students on Team 128 will receive a full credit for FIRST Robotics with an accompanying letter grade. This truly demonstrates the opinion that both our District and community have of this program.
This year, we also received a grant from SolidWorks. We were also proud to be Beta Testers for FIRST/NI for the third year!
With the number of teams in our very small school district, we have over 10% of the student population involved in either FRC or FLL.
We truly are appreciative of our sponsors. The Grandview Heights City School District has given us another room to use for the engineering of our robot. Living in a community without an industrial base makes it very challenging to maintain a team. A special thank you to all of you who have instilled your trust in our team.