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FIRST® Tech Challenge Robotics Tournament at Central Catholic Qualifies 4 Teams to Advance to State Tournament!

Lafayette Central Catholic’s CC Sparks Robotic Team hosted a FIRST® Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament on February 10th for teams from across Indiana. Titled Light the Spark – 35 teams traveled from Elkhart, Gary, Greenwood, Shoals, Crawfordsville, Mishawaka, Goshen, Griffith, Indianapolis, Hobart, Kokomo, Denver, Delphi, Bloomington, Dyer, Rochester, Wallace, and Greensburg. Lafayette Central Catholic opened both of their gymnasiums for the event to setup arenas and pits for the visiting teams.

With the event starting at 8:00AM, all teams completed field inspections and interviews before the opening ceremonies at 10:15AM. The tournament raged throughout the morning and afternoon until alliance selection and the final heats of the competition in the early evening. Ultimately, the winning alliance was composted of the BrazenBots from Mishawaka, WarriorTech from Denver, and Greenwood’s MechaHamsters. Each of these teams will advance to the State FTC tournament to be held on February 24th in Crawfordsville. Central Catholic was one of the few teams recognized for a special award and also will be advancing to the State tournament.

Keeping the tradition of supporting a local charity during each competition, Light the Spark collected baby food, formula, infant clothing, and diapers for Lafayette’s Matrix LifeCare Center. Members of Star Wars Indiana’s Bloodfin Garrison also rallied interest for the competition when marching at the opening ceremonies. Star Wars Indiana is comprised of the Bloodfin Garrison of the 501st Legion, the “bad guys” of the Star Wars universe, as well as Mos Espa Base of the Rebel Legion, the “good guys” of the Star Wars universe. The legions are international charitable costuming organizations whose members create and wear screen accurate Star Wars costumes for the purpose of participating in charitable and community events. Indiana’s Bloodfin Garrison and Mos Espa Base partner with Lucasfilm Ltd. and represent the finest in Star Wars costuming around the globe. The 501st and Rebel Legion never charge appearance fees, but seek opportunities to connect with the communities they serve and support charitable and educational causes while sharing the love of Star Wars.

This event was sponsored by FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) which was founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST® Robotics combines the excitement of a sport with the rigors of science and technology. These competitions are the ultimate sport for the mind. Under strict rules and limited resources, teams (typically composted of 15 students) are challenged to raise funds, design a “brand,” hone teamwork skills, build and program a robot to run a difficult field while opposing like-minded competitors do the same. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.

“FIRST is more than just robots. The robots are a vehicle for students to learn important life skills. Kids often come in not knowing what to expect. – of the program nor of themselves. They leave, even after the first season with a vision, with confidence, and with a sense that they can create their own future.” Dean Kamen, Founder

This is the CC Sparks 4th year with a team composted of both junior and senior high students with three founding members about to graduate. Initially, working out of the basement the school, the team was forced to move due to constant battles with Lafayette’s high-water table. After several years of fundraising, the team has been able to secure equipment, including a 3D printer, for use in fabricating their robot. In the future, the team hopes to secure permanent space for its workshop and practice arena.


Spectators Gaze at the Start of a Tournament Heat (photo by Michael Ringor)

Colin Vinarcik, Drew Ortner, Calvin Held, and Yihen Li of the Central Catholics Sparks Work on Repairs between Heats (photo by Michael Ringor)

Teams test repairs in the Pit area arena between heats (photo by Michael Ringor)

Abigail Vinarcik of the CC Sparks, and her little brother Nikolas, visit with the Star Wars Indiana (photo by Michael Ringor)

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