HALLS (WATE) - The Halls High School Robotics team recently hosted members of the Hardin Valley and Oak Ridge teams and relived the moment at regionals when they found out they were headed to St. Louis.
"It was like being at the Super Bowl when your team wins," said Bryan Sharp, a Halls High School sophomore. "The entire crowd exploded and it was amazing, It was great. Really good."
The robot was built from scratch over a six-week period and designed to perform specific tasks against a field of competitors, in this case, throwing Frisbees, playing defense and scoring points.
And like humans, the competition has taken a toll on the "bot."
"It's a contact sport. The idea is not to damage other robots, but they come into contact in the arena and we've got some repairs to do once we get there. But we can't do that 'til we get there," Morgan Everett, the Halls Robotics Coach said.
But it's not just about the engineering or the computer programming. It's also about developing a plan and raising money to cover the costs of the program.
"I'm on the marketing team, so the most fun is when someone actually says yes. Most people just hang up," said Halls freshman McKenna Snyder.
For Halls, this trip might not have happened had Hardin Valley and Oak Ridge picked another school to partner with.
Under the rules of the competition, schools work together, forming alliances. The goal is to make a good team a great team.
Halls' robot was solidly built, perfect for defense.
"One of the first matches, a robot actually rammed into them and the other robot broke and they weren't even moving. We knew right off the bat that was something we wanted in our alliance," said Sydney Buckner, an Oak Ridge High junior.
"You just want to help build them up so you can have really strong competition because you really don't want anybody to lose," said senior Matt Love of Hardin Valley Academy.
In St. Louis, the schools will face fierce competition. They have no delusions about the odds of winning. Their goal is to have fun and compete hard.
And along the way, they'll be role models for their schools.
"What this team is about is inspiring young men and women to work in the field of engineering and science," Everett said.
"All the students take away so much, not just technical skills but designing something from scratch, doing it really fast, prototyping, designing, learning all the integrations and learning about leadership and not underestimating yourself," Buckner said.
And that is very much the Spirit of East Tennessee.
Halls High School is looking for help to get their team to St. Louis. If you're interested in donating, visit their fundraising page.
If you know someone who you believe is an example of the Spirit of East Tennessee, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.