Bridging the gap between jocks and nerds


Jennifer Kohl

Beeps and electronic creaks escape from the robot as it warms up. The motor begins to shift. Numerous proud smiles appear on the robotics team members and the robotics coach, Instructor Norma Lamotte, has the biggest grin of all. All of that hard work, countless hours spent coding and constructing, had finally paid off. It’s hard, metal body captures the light and reflects it back on its creators. The bot’s ready, and this time, it would win them a trophy.

  It’s common belief that sports and science clash. But, with the West Ottawa robotics club 141, that common belief isn’t true. The members of the robotics team and the members of a sports team have countless parallels. Just like sports, the members of robotics joined because of their friends and the desire for extracurriculars. “I wanted to participate in extracurricular engineering with friends,” said robotics member Jr. Jeremy Elkins.

  Time management is another feat that both share. “Finding the time aside from other activities and commitments to attend meetings,” Jr. Grace Jipping said. Most often in sports, time always is a big part of it. At the high school level, members of sports teams have to find a way to work with both the practices and their studies. The members of robotics have the same items to work around.

  Along with time management, it’s important to be present. If not, one could lose track the dynamic of their team’s ever-changing tactics. The members of the W.O. Robotics team 141 suffers from the same problems when they’re not present for a meeting. “On personal experience, you become utterly oblivious to what is going on. Although, catch up is always available depending what subgroup you’re on,” Jipping said.  

  It’s said that in sports a team is like one big body that needs every member to function just right.  In robotics, everyone has a task to complete when it comes to creating one of their robots. According to Jr. Joey Arner,  another member of the club, whether or not the robot succeeds does well in a competition depends on the hard working group of programmers that took the time to create and record the complex codes that allow the robot to do as the members wish.

  Often in sports, new members are welcomed but it takes time for new members to learn their place. But regardless of how difficult it might be to learn one’s place, the team functions like a family. Robotics team 141 doesn’t vary in this situation. “We are very welcoming to new members as long as they do work; people who avoid or shirk their responsibilities aren’t as well liked,” said Arner. “Everyone here is more than friends, we are family,” said Soph. Katie Hotchkiss.  From an outsider’s point of view, it appears that the two groups aren’t so conflicting.

  With some students that have earned their right to play on a sports team, sports are a part of their future. For a few members of the robotics team, further work in the field is intended for when they leave for college. “I plan on going to college for a degree in product design and manufacturing engineering and continuing on in engineering; I also plan on coming back to the robotics club after college to mentor the team,” said Hotchkiss.

  But the similarities go further. Usually, when it comes to the players of a sports team and how important it is to them, it’s pretty high on the scale. “Almost at the top, up there with school and family,” said Hotchkiss.

With every sport, the feeling of success and the rush that comes from competing can’t be beaten. The members of the W.O. robotics team are on common ground with sports in that area. “Super exciting, and it always makes me feel super happy to see my hard work being put into action,” said Hotchkiss. Although these two groups of people have always appeared to be on different sides, they happen to share many qualities.

  However, the robotics competitions may differ from sports. Occasionally, the success of the team is dependent on another one of the groups that are at the competition. “It’s not like other sports in that you have to work together with a couple teams that you very well may be against in the next match. For instance, at one point we were teamed up with two rookie teams, one a first year and the other a third year. They were able to come up with a basic plan, but we, as a veteran team, were able to step in with our knowledge of the other team, and more general knowledge on what a good strategy is and refine the rookies’ plan. They had a couple questions at first, but in the end were enthusiastic about the plan and carried it out flawlessly, resulting in the win,” said Jr. Duncan Klemm. Although these two groups might not be an exact match, that doesn’t mean that they’re total opposites.  

  A lot of people have been told that jocks and nerds are polar opposites in everything they do. But when all of the facts are taken into consideration, an unfamiliar answer is found. The members of sports teams joined to have fun and the members of the robotics team followed suit. On both sides of the story, the competitions happen to be the part that people enjoy the most and the interactions that people receive are priceless. Whenever someone misses a meeting or practice, the member can become confused as to what’s going on and there’s always one part of the team that’s necessary for success. In both teams, the members are family to each other and what they do is important to them. With all the groups of people, the feeling of success can’t be matched. So, as it turns out taking a look beneath the surface allows for new pieces of information to be discovered, all it takes is the willingness to hear the other side of the story.