Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wrapping up Odyssey of the Mind

Tournament day was a whirl of action. Most of these notes are for me to look back next year. Yes, NEXT YEAR!

Huge kudos to the team. The things that went right went really right. The team placed 5th. Their total score was 291.78. This was 2 points less than the 4th place team, and 27.58 points less than the first place team. The 6th place team was 13.81 points behind our team. So I'd call that pretty close to a tie for 4th.

In the long-term problem, the students had time called before they could complete steps that had a total point value of 30 (which adjusts to 35.87). Their long-term score was 160.24 - so if they had continued picking up points at the pace they were picking them up - they would've had a total score of 188.52. That would have put them in 2nd place (yes - they picked up 88 percent of the points they could - amazing). They would not have reached 1st, which is the only place that moves onto the state meet. So, effectively, not completing the problem didn't mean much. And, I am extremely delighted that their CONCEPT was so well received and they even had a chance to be 2nd place.

I had asked one of the team members, who had always been reluctant to take on any responsibility, to time the performance and make sure it got going fast, but she declined. My guess is she's one of the more disappointed people at time being called. But, of course, I don't have a lot of sympathy for her since she could've easily bought them 30 seconds off the top - which might have been enough to collect about 20 more points. In addition, she set her prop incorrectly, behind another prop. This meant the team had to maneuver their vehicle - an only barely controllable hovercraft - around an additional prop that they never had to maneuver around before. This cost them several more seconds, which again - could've been enough to make up the time. I hope she takes away the lesson that it's important to work as a team - and that not doing so is to the detriment of the whole group. I fear she took away a "well, I did what I was supposed to do and nobody else got it right" message. That message would be incorrect.

Connor worked his heart out. I was the coach, which put a lot of extra pressure on him. He delivered. His friend, Aaron also worked many extra long hours, spending an afternoon practicing driving their vehicle. They experience a LOT of failure in this process and they kept coming back. Both of them had down moments at times, but when it mattered, they delivered. I really hope Aaron comes back. Connor's friend Griffin also went the extra mile - even though he had multiple commitments that day. These are the two people Connor had the most fun working with, often combining playdates and work. Again, hopefully G will be back next year. The three of them could form a solid core for a team.

One of the girls on the team was a fountain of creativity. However, she totally balked over the script at an important moment. I wasn't at the meeting so I don't know all the details, but it was very stressful and my takeaway is that in the future - nobody gets to say they aren't part of the performance and just work behind the scenes. You've got to be willing to be all in for the big event.

One of the team members was completely absorbed in making one thing, that ultimately kept breaking so we didn't have it scored. This ended up being a lot of deadweight for the rest of the team to carry - something I'll work to keep from happening in the future. He had a ton of great ideas, and was our best team member when it came to particular spontaneous problems - so we did really need him. But as a coach, I needed to find a way to tell him to stop fitzing on move on! Lesson learned on my part. His dad, however, told me what a great experience this had been, and how he'd already seen some really positive benefits come out of it, and for that I am very happy.

After the competition, the problem captain wrote me a note letting me know that she had coached for 9 years, and she and all the other judges were completely impressed with the team's solution. She told me she could not even tell me how much she was bragging to everyone about how creative the solution was - and her kudos were echoed by another judge who didn't know I was the team captain and was bragging about the solution in the hallway. My heart just burst with joy when I heard this. Another coach came up to me and said she was blown away by the team's solution. I'm not exaggerating when I say these comments were all very meaningful and I absolutely love the community of OM people. Lots of fun, lots of encouragement, and a real attitude of let's be great together.

The team was 4th place in spontaneous, so my best guess is that they repeated each other a few times, because they really are a clever bunch. The team that was 4th overall beat them by 5 points here. They also beat us on "style" by several points, and we beat them by quite a lot of the long-term solution.

My overall takeaway is that the team nailed it. Technical problems can be cleaned up in future years. The team had great ideas and clearly delivered what the competition was asking for. We're coming back next year with the 3 - 4 core team members, and we'll add up to 3 - 4 more members, hopefully addressing weak spots in the current team.

I had a couple of friends with OM experience who were willing to talk me through stress. I lost a LOT of sleep. I really wanted to solve some problems for the team, but a coach cannot do that. I was very proud that I declared the outside assistance I provided, it was deemed legal assistance, and my team lost no points. Not bonking them over the heads and screaming a practical solution was hard for me at many points.

In the end, Connor had a fabulous time which is the thing that mattered most to me. He wants to continue on next year, which I am absolutely willing to do. I'm hoping there's a photo or two of the team out there that I can add to this post. I have a video, but I haven't sat down and watched it yet.

I'll post more about Helen's experience later, but the preview is that it was superb.


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