By SUSAN MCALINDEN, Contributor
This year Vandegrift Valor 6800 was expected to quietly recover what was lost during COVID-9 and lay the groundwork for a stronger team next year. Instead, this hardworking, determined, and talented team found themselves competing in the division semi-finals at the FIRST Championship world competition in Houston recently. Never underestimate the power of those who are passionate and dedicated.
Their first district competition was held in Dripping Springs, and Valor went undefeated in the qualification matches, seeded first, and won the tournament as the captain of their alliance.
Instead of relaxing, the team fine-tuned their robot, stayed focused and hosted the second district tournament in Austin. Despite losing a couple of matches, they again seeded first, became an alliance captain, and won the whole tournament.
Then it was on to the state championships in Houston. 6800 Valor went undefeated in all twelve qualifying matches and advanced through four rounds of playoffs where they had two very exciting semi-finals and finals matches. The final tie break match to determine the state champion was particularly thrilling. One of Valor’s alliance partners fell over, creating a huge scoring disadvantage for the team. Valor chose to push their alliance partner back up, which damaged their own ability to earn climbing points. In the end, their alliance partner was able to earn points by hanging, causing 6800 to win the state title.
Cooper Nelson, incoming Valor team captain said, “One of the most exciting things to happen this year was our team winning the state championship and seeing all of this year’s hard work show in some results.”
Indeed. Throughout it all, gracious professionalism and teamwork were showcased, especially in the match that resulted in the state title.
Back in Houston just two weeks later, 6800 Valor represented VHS and Texas in the Robotics Worlds Championship. They lost by one point in a closely fought tie break in the division semi-finals, 143-142. Although they didn’t perform as well as they hoped, they left with a reputation as the “new powerhouse in Texas.” Previously, they were unknown on the world stage. As a year that was meant for re-building, Valor showed how teamwork, dedication, and commitment can be a wildcard that catapults a previously unknown team in the history books.