Billfred's FIRST Travels
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EventVenueCity/StateI was there as...
Distance (One-Way)
The storyLifetime Mileage74541.8
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2004USC KickoffSwearingen Engineering CenterColumbia, SC1293 Student11.4
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Palmetto RegionalColonial CenterColumbia, SC1293 Student10.6On Thursday, I was scouting (because we totally had any business worrying about that with a rookie window motor drive robot...) and was supposed to be watching SPAM. I glanced down for a minute, and by the time I looked back up their climber had them four or five feet off the ground. I credit this moment with getting me hooked on FIRST.
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GAVolunteer214
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Robot RodeoUniversity HSOrlando, FLVolunteer434
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2005Manchester Kickoff
Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, NHVolunteer962Do you remember Independence Air? They were a low-cost carrier whose costs were too high, so they only flew about a year and a half...but they had a wicked cheap flight between Columbia and Manchester.
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Florida RegionalUCF ArenaOrlando, FLSpectator431
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Palmetto RegionalColonial CenterColumbia, SC1293 Mentor0.5
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GAVolunteer217
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Capitol ClashWashington Convention CenterWashington, DCVolunteer479
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2006USC KickoffSwearingen Engineering CenterColumbia, SC1293 Mentor0.6
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FVC OrangeburgSC State UniversityOrangeburg, SCVolunteer41.6This was the first full pilot season of FIRST Vex Challenge, as it was known then, and one of two standalone tournaments (two others were held alongside FLL events, and two more alongside FRC regionals). All were known just as "FIRST Vex Challenge [city]" at the time.
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Florida RegionalUCF ArenaOrlando, FLVolunteer431
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Peachtree RegionalGwinnett CenterDuluth, GASpectator217
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Palmetto RegionalColonial CenterColumbia, SC1293 Mentor0.5
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GAVolunteer217
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Mission MayhemDeVryMiramar, FLVolunteer633Yeah, the one that flooded.
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Exploding Bacon Vex EventUniversity Presbyterian ChurchOrlando, FLVolunteer435The only event on this list that wasn't an official or unofficial FIRST event. But back in those days, Vex was still very new and very much under the FIRST umbrella--it was called FIRST Vex Challenge, after all. I put it on here when I first started tracking my mileage, Bacon hosted it, they're a FIRST team, so I'm keeping it.
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Duel on the DelawareSalem Community CollegeCarneys Point, NJVolunteer590
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CalGamesPioneer HSSan Jose, CAVolunteer2,643Sometimes, you just find a cheap flight.
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2007USC KickoffSwearingen Engineering CenterColumbia, SC1618 Mentor0.6
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Florida RegionalUCF ArenaOrlando, FLSpectator431
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Chesapeake RegionalUS Naval AcademyAnnapolis, MDVolunteer513
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Palmetto RegionalColonial CenterColumbia, SC1618 Mentor0.5First time making elimination rounds, the beneficiary of the god-awful match scheduling algorithm that kept pairing us with a fabulous 1251. We eked into the 8th alliance captain slot, the only time any of my teams have been one, and then promptly got stomped 264-0 by #1 seed 1251 in quarters.
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GAVolunteer217
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BattleCry @ WPIWPIWorcester, MAVolunteer885I had been working summers in western Maine, and that year BattleCry was the weekend before I was due to start. So it was easy to leave early, do BattleCry, and then roll around Boston for a few days.
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Mission MayhemStranahan HSMiramar, FLVolunteer614
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Brunswick EruptionNorth Brunswick Township HSNorth Brunswick, NJ
1618/2458 Mentor
676I borrowed 1618's robot, stuffed it in the back of my car, and was a one-man army trying to give the newly-formed 2458 a taste of FIRST. Won the Future Glory Award for being the top-seeded prerookie, first time I'd ever done the awards walk!
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2008Clemson KickoffClemson UniversityClemson, SC1618 Mentor138
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Chesapeake RegionalUS Naval AcademyAnnapolis, MD1618 Mentor513
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Palmetto RegionalLittlejohn ColiseumClemson, SCSpectator138
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GAVolunteer217
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INSpectator615
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Tempest 'N TampaUSF Sun DomeTampa, FLVolunteer485
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2009Greenville Tech ScrimmageGreenville TechGreenville, SC1618 Mentor94.8We moved about six feet in the very last match before tear-down. Check your battery wiring.
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Bayou RegionalUNO Lakefront ArenaNew Orleans, LA2815 Mentor672
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Palmetto RegionalLittlejohn ColiseumClemson, SC
1618/2815 Mentor
128
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GA2815 Mentor214
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INVolunteer615
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GRITSMuseum of AviationWarner Robins, GASpectator206
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Tempest 'N TampaUSF Sun DomeTampa, FLVolunteer479
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FLL Columbia QualifierKeenan HSColumbia, SCVolunteer8.1
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2010Bayou RegionalPonchartrain CenterNew Orleans, LA
2815/1398 Mentor
689Yeah, the one that caused "you must pass inspection to get points" to become a rule.
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Palmetto RegionalLittlejohn ColiseumClemson, SC
2815/1398 Mentor
1391398 won, playing with 343 and 1261
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ChampionshipGeorgia DomeAtlanta, GA1398 Mentor217
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INSpectator625When you smash your rental car up after the event, it kinda robs you of the funds to go after more events.

Oh, and Breakaway was the worst game of the first 25. (Before you say Recycle Rush: at least that game invited interesting designs like the factory robots, 148's Batman and Robin, or 900's cheesecaked harpoons. Breakaway was a snoozer with a flawed ranking system AND the robot and bumper rules made 97% of the robots look identical from the stands. I was at IRI, the highest level of play generally, and was bored.)
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2011Citadel KickoffThe CitadelCharleston, SC2815 Mentor114
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Peachtree RegionalGwinnett CenterDuluth, GA2815 Mentor218First regional win! We had no business getting picked by 2415 and 1771, but we were able to keep the heat off them and hang banner number one.
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Palmetto RegionalNorth Charleston Coliseum
North Charleston, SC
2815 Mentor106Literally the week after Peachtree. Somehow, we won that one as well with 180 and 2363.
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ChampionshipEdward Jones DomeSt. Louis, MO2815 Mentor747
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INVolunteer625
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Tempest 'N TampaUniversity of TampaTampa, FLVolunteer486
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SCRIW IColumbia HSColumbia, SCVolunteer9.3SCRIW I probably shouldn't have happened--low team count, couldn't secure a venue until late in the game, learning the world of insurance...but it did. And if that's my legacy in South Carolina, I'm darn proud of it.
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2012Citadel KickoffThe CitadelCharleston, SC2815 Mentor114
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Peachtree RegionalGwinnett CenterDuluth, GA2815 Mentor218
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Palmetto RegionalNorth Charleston Coliseum
North Charleston, SC
2815 Mentor106Don't ask me how we got into the first backup position, got called, and then won Palmetto again (to become the first back-to-back champs ever), but we did. 2815 has yet to lose an event in North Charleston.
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ChampionshipEdward Jones DomeSt. Louis, MO2815 Mentor747
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INVolunteer625
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SCRIW IIIrmo HSColumbia, SCVolunteer12.7
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FLL Columbia QualifierKeenan HSColumbia, SCVolunteer8.1
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2013Chapin Kickoff
Center for Advanced Technical Studies
Chapin, SC2815 Mentor20.4
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Palmetto RegionalMyrtle Beach Convention CenterMyrtle Beach, SC2815 Mentor152
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South Florida RegionalBroward County Convention CenterFt. Lauderdale, FL2815 Mentor618
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ChampionshipEdward Jones DomeSt. Louis, MOVolunteer747
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INVolunteer625It was at dinner after the event that starting a 4-H team was first discussed and John Fogarty first uttered the name "Garnet Squadron". What a wild trip that would become.
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SCRIW IIIIrmo HSColumbia, SCVolunteer12.74901's first event. They first met two and a half weeks prior, and competed with a frame borrowed from 1293, some wood parts bought out of pocket, and hopes and dreams. I think we had three kids at that point.
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FLL Columbia QualifierBen Lippen SchoolColumbia, SC18486 Mentor7.6Our team put up a 232, about 100 points ahead of the next team. The AP was there and was a little slack-jawed, same as me. Only time any team I mentored made state.
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2014Chapin Kickoff
Center for Advanced Technical Studies
Chapin, SC4901 Mentor20.4
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South Carolina FTC Championship
Russell HouseColumbia, SCVolunteer0.4
Hosted by 4901, because if we didn't it wouldn't have happened at all!
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Palmetto RegionalMyrtle Beach Convention CenterMyrtle Beach, SC4901 Mentor152
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South Carolina FLL Championship
River Bluff HSLexington, SC18486 Mentor11.5
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Orlando RegionalCFE ArenaOrlando, FL4901 Mentor432First rookies since 2005 to win the Orlando Regional. Ironically, that team was 1592 that picked us (along with 180, who you can't hate).
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ChampionshipEdward Jones DomeSt. Louis, MO4901 Mentor747
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MidKnight MayhemWest Windsor-Plainsboro North HSPrinceton, NJVolunteer661
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SCRIW IVSpring Hill HSChapin, SCVolunteer20.7
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FLL Lexington QualifierCarolina Springs Middle SchoolLexington, SC
7016/7017 Mentor
16.7
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2015USC KickoffSwearingen Engineering CenterColumbia, SCVolunteer1.2
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South Carolina FTC Championship
Gaffney HSGaffney, SCVolunteer118
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Palmetto RegionalMyrtle Beach Convention CenterMyrtle Beach, SCVolunteer152First time game announcing at an official FIRST Robotics Competition tournament.
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Orlando RegionalCFE ArenaOrlando, FL4901 Mentor432
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ChampionshipEdward Jones DomeSt. Louis, MOVolunteer747
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence North HSIndianapolis, INSpectator625
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THORReidsville HSReidsville, NCSpectator210I wasn't scheduled to go to this, and it would've been the first time 1293 competed at an event I didn't go to. But with flooding in Columbia causing USC to move a home football game I was supposed to work out to LSU, I had my day cleared up. (My 1293-event-attendance streak would be broken at THOR the following year.)
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SCRIW VDreher HSColumbia, SCVolunteer1.4
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2016Chapin Kickoff
Center for Advanced Technical Studies
Columbia, SCVolunteer20.4
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FLL Lexington QualifierCarolina Springs Middle SchoolLexington, SC
7016/7017 Mentor
16.7
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South Carolina FTC Championship
Gaffney HSGaffney, SCVolunteer118
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Palmetto RegionalMyrtle Beach Convention CenterMyrtle Beach, SCVolunteer152It was here that Jerry Budd first really planted the seed of working at AndyMark in my head.
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Orlando RegionalCFE ArenaOrlando, FL4901 Mentor432I interviewed for that AndyMark job the day before we left for this event. I got the offer standing just outside the pits on Thursday. Oh, and I was coaching while sounding the idea off friends.
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UNC Asheville District EventKimmel ArenaAsheville, NCVolunteer161In the couple of days between getting home from Orlando and going to this, I squeezed in a last-minute flight to Indiana to scope out Kokomo. Not logging it because it wasn't an event.
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ChampionshipDome at America's CenterSt. Louis, MOAndyMark747The Tuesday after UNC Asheville, I accepted the job. I wouldn't move to Indiana until late May, but they wanted me in the booth for Championship and since Garnet Squadron didn't qualify...
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Indiana Robotics InvitationalLawrence Central HSIndianapolis, INAndyMark44.7
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FTC KickoffiSPACE CenterCincinnati, OHAndyMark158
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Boiler Bot BattlePurdue ArmoryWest Lafayette, INSpectator43.3
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SCRIW VIDreher HSColumbia, SCVolunteer667Yes, the same event in the same venue was now 665.6 miles further away. That's longer than the longest NASCAR Sprint Cup race on the schedule by a good 50 miles, and that's if you count the pace laps. Garnet Squadron got silver, in what would ultimately be their final FRC matches before moving to FTC.
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2017West Lafayette KickoffArmstrong Hall of EngineeringWest Lafayette, IN5402 Mentor65.7
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Tippecanoe District EventWilliam Henry Harrison HSWest Lafayette, IN5402 Mentor47.3Tippecanoe was my first district event as a competitor, and we brought a knife to the gunfight. We were one of maybe two robots to play fuel there (the other was the vastly superior CyberTooth) and were plagued with drive issues from bad wiring crimps. The poor performance stressed me into a cold sore, my first robotics-induced one since 2011 (when the load of finals kinda pushed me over the edge--but that's a different feeling).
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Orlando RegionalCFE ArenaOrlando, FLVolunteer1038
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Perry Meridian District EventPerry Meridian HSIndianapolis, IN5402 Mentor64.45402 played much better with the radical additions it sprouted (namely, a gear pocket). We seeded worse than the record showed because the climb was iffy and we couldn't align the four-rotor planets, and missed playoffs again. These were the last FRC matches 5402 has played to date.
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North Carolina State Championship
Campbell University - Gore ArenaBuies Creek, NCVolunteer676
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