REGION — On June 24, Blue Crew FRC team 6153 attended the Summer Heat offseason event in Falmouth, allowing members to gain experience for the upcoming competition season.

Blue Crew, a FIRST Robotics Competition team comprised of students and mentors from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington and Spruce Mountain High School in Jay competed in Summer Heat, an offseason event June 24 in Falmouth. The Blue Crew FRC 6153 robot is seen getting on the charge station with team 1473 Delta Prime from Richmond. Photo courtesy Sam Knight 1473 Delta Prime Robotics head mentor

Blue Crew is part of FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] Robotics Competition [FRC]. Students and adult mentors from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington and Spruce Mountain High School in Jay make up the team.

The Summer Heat event was hosted by Team 58 The Riot Crew, Team 5687 The Outliers, and Team 172 Northern Force.

“This event was a really good experience for us because we were able to train new drivers for next year as students who were previously on the drive team are taking on new positions within the team,” Mason Labonte, the team’s spirit and imagery captain wrote in an email Friday, July 7. “In fact, we had one main driver and one auxiliary driver who were also new to their positions. We also had a new recruit in the position of the human player for this event.

“The human player is a person who interacts with the game in some capacity, in this case, loading cones and cubes. Cones and cubes are the two game pieces we had for this year’s game – Charged Up. This person is responsible for loading the cones and cubes into a dropper, which then drops them onto the field for the robot to receive.”

Labonte noted Blue Crew had some difficulties during the qualification matches,  had a few issues with mechanical components of the robot.


“The way our claw works is that it’s on an elevator mechanism, so it’s able to move up and down,” he wrote. “However, some of the mounting for the elevator system had fallen apart when we took a pretty tough hit while trying to place a cone. Fortunately, we were able to repair it in the pit later in the competition. Two qualification matches later, our arm unfortunately fell off mid-match, and we were unable to repair it. As a result, we played defense for the rest of the qualification matches.”

During selection for playoffs, Blue Crew was chosen as the eighth seed alliance.

“Our alliance included Captain Delta Prime Robotics and Team 1640 – Sab-BOT-age,” Labonte wrote. “Unfortunately, we lost our first playoff match against the first seed alliance, and our alliance then got put down in the lower bracket against the fifth seed alliance which we unfortunately lost. With the loss of this match, we reached the end of the road for us at Summer Heat 2023.

“However, most importantly, the offseason is the best way for new people to get involved with the team, especially through these offseason competitions and most importantly have fun.”

Lucy Knowles from Mt. Blue High School works mostly with build and scouting on Blue Crew. In an email Sunday, she wrote, “I decided to join the Blue Crew after hearing about it through my mom, who was a mentor for the First Lego League program at Mt. Blue Middle School. I’ve always been interested in programming, but when I went to a camp for Lego robotics at University Maine Augusta with two of my siblings, I became more interested in robotics as a whole. I didn’t know much about FIRST or the Blue Crew, I just joined to learn more about engineering and robotics.”

One thing Knowles loves about FRC, and noticed as soon as she stepped foot at an event is the community. “FIRST creates a supportive environment focused on teamwork,” she wrote. “Everyone does their part to make sure others are having fun and learning. Teams will go out of their way to be helpful, whether that be giving an extra part to another team or giving up their seat to someone who needs it.”


Knowles finds FRC unique compared to other school clubs because of the different learning opportunities. “When you join the robotics team, you aren’t just signing up to build robots,” she wrote. “There are a multitude of components making up the team, such as engineering, graphic design, fundraising, programming, data analysis and so much more. This allows a wide exploration of interests through just one after school activity.”

Knowles served as a driver-in-training at Summer Heat. “During the event, I switched between the main driver, which mainly controls where the robot goes, and the auxiliary driver, which controls the arm of the robot,” she wrote. “Summer Heat was one of the first times I had ever driven the robot, and the low-stakes event was a good way to show what being on the drive team meant. Offseason events such as Summer Heat serve as good training opportunities for underclassmen who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to practice driving in a competition.”

Something major that stood out for Knowles during the event was other teams’ understanding when it came to Blue Crew’s driving. “While using Summer Heat as a training opportunity is important for us, it could also be frustrating for other teams to work with new drivers,” she wrote. “Despite this, all the teams we worked with were more than understanding and didn’t get frustrated with our lack of experienced drivers.”

Avery Ryder of Spruce Mountain High School joined the team because she had a lot of friends on the team. “Plus some of the teachers I worked with for other clubs or classes are advisers and they suggested I join and ever since it’s been great,” she shared in an email Sunday.

Summer Heat was Ryder’s first robotics competition so it was really interesting for her to see what to expect for the rest of the season. “My least favorite thing was probably having to wait in between each match for so long but that’s something that needs to happen so it’s not a problem,” she noted.

Ryder thinks Blue Crew is unique compared to other school activities because in sports or other clubs most of the time the whole team has the same goal whether it’s winning or creating something. “Yes the team wants to win but each individual can have different goals which could include driving the robot the best or having the most spirit,” she wrote.


Ryder’s job at Summer Heat was to learn what a robotics competition is like because she had never been to one. “This year I’m taking on the role of spirit captain so I was able to see some of that as well,” she noted.

An aspect that stood out to Ryder is how nice other teams were to her team and vice versa. “I have played competitive sports before where the teams are not willing to support or help other teams so this is really cool and different,” she wrote.

When Jack Cramer attended Mt. Blue Middle School, Blue Crew did a presentation for incoming freshmen.

“I knew I wanted a career in STEAM [Science, technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics] after high school, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” he wrote in an email Sunday. “So I figured I would give robotics a try. It’s been almost four years since then and thanks to FRC and the Blue Crew my confidence improved drastically along with my leadership and engineering skills.”

The thing Cramer likes about FRC is that it’s not just about robots. “There’s something for everyone in FRC, you can learn anything from design principles to design a competitive robot to business skills to raise and keep track of funds for the team,” he wrote. “It’s amazing that FRC gives every student a chance for success, even if they’re not interested in building robots.”

Something that makes FRC unique compared to other school activities for Cramer is that every student has the potential to “go pro”.


“One out of 4,316 high school football players makes it to the NFL,” he wrote using information from Ohio State University and a 2016 survey. “On the other hand, every student in FRC can be a professional in their field after high school. Another thing that makes FRC unique compared to other school activities is how much hard work it takes. I can’t think of another school activity where students meet every day from 2 to 8 p.m., even on weekends.”

Blue Crew’s team captain wasn’t at Summer Heat so Cramer, who is junior team captain, served as captain.

“Summer Heat was a lot of students’ first event on our team, so one of my jobs was to help them understand what an FRC event was like and what to expect,” he wrote. “Another job that I had was drive coach. There are three major jobs involved with driving the robot during a match. They are driver, auxiliary driver, and drive coach. The driver controls the driving wheels of the robot and other minor parts of the robot, they control where the robot goes during a match. This is what I have the most experience in being the driver for the Rapid React and Charged Up FRC seasons.”

Cramer noted the auxiliary driver controls everything the driver doesn’t.

“This year, the auxiliary driver was in control of all the mechanisms involved with picking up and scoring game pieces,” he wrote. “Finally, there is the drive coach. Arguably the most important of the three, the drive coach is responsible for strategizing with our teammates before a match. The drive coach is also responsible for telling the driver and auxiliary driver what to do during a match, relaying any vital information to them when needed.

“If anything goes wrong during a match, the drive coach is also responsible for making on-the-fly strategy changes with the other drive coaches.”


The aspect of the event that stood out to Cramer was that Blue Crew had a completely new drive team.

“I’ve been on the drive team for many years, but never in the drive coach position,” he wrote. “For everyone else on the drive team, it was their first time ever being on the drive team. This led to our team not performing as well as we usually do. It’s alright though because winning wasn’t our objective for this event, it never is.

“Our objective was to train new drivers for the next season and to show new students how much fun FRC is, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Mason’s dad, Daniel Labonte has been working with the team this year. While not technically an official mentor, he has accompanied the team on all their trips.

“The team would use school vans so I spent the time driving students and helping out where I can,” he wrote in an email Friday night. “From everything I’ve seen this year, the group and the organization are well run. The kids are busy with all the different parts of the team and work together to create a great experience for them.”

Daniel noted each FRC has its own uniqueness, but one thing this team really works on is being a student run organization.


“This is important to the students and the mentors that the students take the lead in communication within their own organization and also being able to talk to other FRC teams at the competitions,” he wrote. “Teams represented in these competitions in New England could stretch down the eastern coast down to New Jersey and other states. Teams will discuss robots and other projects the teams are working on within their own communities including community outreach with support and education.”

From Labonte’s perspective, Summer Heat was an opportunity for many teams to compete against other teams without a lot at stake.

“This is just a robot competition without all the other details the team works on all year,” he wrote. “It’s a good chance to bring in upcoming freshman into a competition to get them interested and also to see how the team works without the seniors who just graduated. It gives other students a chance to interact with the robot who may have not had a chance. Also like all the other competitions it’s a chance for the our team to talk with other local teams in the New England area.

“Blue Crew is absolutely a well run organization that gives back to its community!”

Ron Holmes has been a mentor for the Blue Crew since the beginning of the 2017 school year, he wrote in an email Saturday morning. “Our daughter was on the team since 2016 but I didn’t become a mentor until the following year,” he noted.

Holmes had many reasons for choosing to be a Blue Crew mentor.


“My background and profession is in electrical engineering, and as I observed how the team worked together to build the robot I wanted to lend my experience to help them succeed,” he wrote. “Watching the students grow and develop leadership skills, problem solving skills, understanding time constraints and meeting deadlines, and becoming more confident in their leadership abilities is very satisfying. It brings together students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and talents.

“The team has an inclusive attitude:  the team welcomed the Spruce Mountain team from Jay seamlessly. Every team member is able to use their strengths to contribute to the team’s success, regardless of any restrictions. The team is also encouraged to have an attitude of helpfulness. The competitions are friendly and teams are known for helping teams from other schools, even while competing.”

“During the Summer Heat competition one team was short two members,” Holmes wrote. “Two Blue Crew members volunteered to help the other team by competing with them so that team could continue with the meet. The Blue Crew robot was damaged during competition but was still chosen for an alliance by the other teams for the playoffs.

“Summer Heat seems to be a platform for building skills of all the participants in preparation for the upcoming season. The students do all of this while having fun at the same time!”

Holmes noted materials for building the robot each year, entrance fees and travel expenses to the competition matches can become expensive. “We are in full fundraising season and we hope to see you at our next fundraising event, Farmington Summer Fest on Saturday, July 22, where we will be offering delicious root beer floats at our booth!” he wrote.

Visit, Instagram: @bluecrewrobotics, and Facebook: @FRC6153 Youtube: Blue Crew Robotics [FRC team 6153] to connect with and stay updated about Blue Crew.

Blue Crew would like to thank its sponsors: NASA, Central Maine Power, Raytheon Technologies, Ranor Mechanical, Franklin Savings Bank, Ron’s Market, Ronald Holmes, Richard Wilde, MEMIC, Jay/Livermore Lions Club, Spruce Mountain High School, and Foster Center & Technical Education Center, Spruce Mtn pharmacy, Northern lights, LT trading, Otis Federal Credit Union, Hammond Lumber, Shelly’s Hometown Market, and Sandy River Builders.

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