Yesterday was a rough day. We only won two out of six matches, and some of those losses were heartbreakingly close. One of them was a soul-shredding robot fail that left the boys standing there, unable to do anything but watch the clock count down. So sad. And one of the other matches, all three of the other robots failed, leaving our robot hemmed in by carcasses, scarcely able to do anything. We won that one (I should hope so), but it wasn't what you'd call a pretty win.
Everyone is exhausted. They're scraping the bottom of the barrel for parts, disassembling broken pieces to try to jury-rig what they need. Tempers are running a little high.
And yet, when I left them in the pit a little while ago, there was a determined knot of kids around their robot. They knelt around it and fiddled and jabbered at each other. They're still fighting.
I'd like to report that they're winning everything - or even most of the things. But they are pushing forward, on a field that pushes back harder than anything they've ever faced so far. I'm proud of them.
And so, I'd like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the week so far. The first night here, as we were leaving to head back to the hotel, we passed a team that was huddled up, giving a loud, enthusiastic chant about how great their team is for making it to World.
"Hey, guys," I said, "YOU need a chant!"
Volkan, who is club president and one of Tre's very best friends, looked at me, bemused.
"Why would we do that?" he asked. "They're just stating the obvious."
Ah yes. From the robot, to the adorably robot-like, they're winners. Obviously.
UPDATE: Midway through the morning I got a text and a surprise. Look who just dropped by?
Okay, I have a terrible picture to show you of me with Clay's daughter, Jennie, and her youngest son, A.J. It's a terribe picture of two absolutely wonderful people, plus me, and I can't show you because it's on my phone, and I'm having terrible problems with the wifi. Ugh. I'll try to upload it later.
ANYHOW, Jennie drove here to see Tre's team compete! FROM MICHIGAN. She spent eight hours in a car with two little boys (Quentin, age 3 and A.J., 9 months old - I'M SAYING), so she could watch their robot battle. (She also brought her sister-in-law, Margaret.) It makes me teary, just thinking about it. That was an amazing thing for her to do. And those boys. I swear my hands get hungry to touch them. They're just so precious.
UPDATE #2: The boys discovered what was wrong with the robot! It was a teeny tiny line of code, that was causing the power supply to turn on and off rapidly, rather than running constantly. You can imagine what a difference this made. Their last two matches were beautiful, with them performing the way I expect them to. They won, and they won, but in the end it wasn't enough to overcome the earlier losses.
They didn't make it into the finals, which was hard. But when I asked Tre how he was doing, he said, "You know, I can't even be sad about losing. Look at us. Look where we are!"
And we did. We looked around, at the chaos and wonder of it all. They're really winners.