Junior year, I was so pumped. This year, I was the student lead of the Chassis/Drive Train CDT. But some things happened that changed a lot of that.
First of all, the team grew again, it was HUGE. I believe the total came out to 38 or 39 girls. So instead of having 7 girls under me, like I had original though I would, I had 12. An additional five girls might not seem like a lot, but it really is when you have to find tasks for all of them, most of them act like A.D.D kids without meds, there are only four mentors to help teach, and the girls don't get along/ refuse to separate from their friends. The main problem ended up being that they had serious communication issues, and lacked the ability to work with people they might not like all that much. The worst part for me was that they all complained when I would ask them to do a job. It never mattered what the job was, they always complained and made a huge deal out of it. Bill had been moved from my CDT to software. Two mentors were completely new, and the other two had only a year of experience. None of them ever backed me up. One of my close friends, whom I thought would try to help me when things go tough, ended up being the leader of the rebellion.
Secondly, because of the number of girls on the team, the head teacher felt it would be a good idea to build two robots, then send one of them to competition. It wasn't a big deal at first, especially since the chassis design was to be the same for both. We just needed to build two identical chassis'. The hard part was that I had to be in fifty places at once. We had a trailer hitch that needed to be so high off the ground, made of a specific material/provided part. The hitch was in the way of everything. If something was wrong, it was my fault. No one was double checking me, and I had so much to worry about. I had to constantly be checking everything, drawing diagrams so people could visually understand why things would/would not work. It was hell. Trying to make sure everything got done was almost impossible. Making sure everyone had a job to do seemed impossible when we were waiting on ordered parts to come in. Finding the parts is also god awful, and it was the first year they had us students do the ordering.
I went home and cried every night. It was only two weeks into the season. I felt like everyone hated me, and the worst part was that it felt like I failed them. It wasn't until I broke down in tears at robotics one night, that anyone really noticed there was a problem. One of the mentor captains, EC took me side and asked me what was going on. In between fits of sobbing I explained all of the above to her. She talked to the student captains and the head teacher, they all tried to help me, but it didn't really do a lot of good. We had some chassis cdt meetings to talk about the problems we were having. While, it did improve a bit because a bunch of the girls really do mean well, the problems continued.
It had gotten to the point, where I thought (and still think) that girls who don't try to be involved, or the ones who can't ever seem to get any work done, should be given an ultimatum, get focused and do the work, or get out. But somehow I don't think that will ever happen (though it should).
My least favorite part of the year, was that I seriously wanted to work on the robot, but every time I came was doing work, the head teacher asked me why I didn't have someone doing the work for me, and then made me get someone to do it. I couldn't even file down a sharp corner. So most of the time, I ended up sitting in the corner of our workspace sorting the draw of bolts, washers, nuts, and other miscellaneous things. Frequently, I would tidy up the place, putting tools back where they belong and such.
But I was still dedicated to my job and the team. I came in many extra nights just so I would be there for the other cdts to consult with. It was one of these nights that I noticed how much some girls really just want to work. Since no one else from my cdt was around, I was free to do any sort of touch up work on the chassis I felt was necessary. Two girls from a different cdt had nothing to do, and asked me if I had anything they could do. It wasn't much, but I said they could help me file these edges down so the safety people at competition wouldn't have a fit. They didn't complain, in fact they jumped at the chance to help. They asked me to inspect their work (they were new to the team and on software so they had never filed metal before), and eager to please. It kind of reminded me of myself.
The final blow came on one of the bus trips. It was pouring ran as we loaded the bus. I grabbed all of my stuff, and managed to be one of the first ones on. I wanted to sit as far back as possible. I counted out enough back seats for the mentors, and put my stuff in front of their section. Then I fought back through the crowd to get my big bag, the mascot costume and stick horse, as well as the buttons I had made to pass out at competition. After I got all that under the bus, I was the last one to board. I headed toward my seat, drenched, but still content and ready to relax with my friends. It was anything but. The seniors on the team had decided out of the blue to take the back most seats, moving the mentor seats forward, and therefore displacing me. I had considered them to be my friends, and had dealt with some of the s**t they had given me during the season. But the way they told me to "move my stuff" was the last straw. Everyone else was already seated at this point. Luckily, one of my friends nearby noticed how upset I was. There were only enough seats on the bus, no extra seats. I was going to have to sit wherever the last seat was. My friend got up and helped me move my pile of stuff, up to the front where the only seat was, next to the most obnoxious girl on the team. The one girl I really couldn't stand. I had to endure the next six hours, seated next to a person I couldn't stand, with no friends nearby, at the front of the bus near the teachers. I buried my head in my pillow, and cried. I had done so much for the team. How many hours had I put into making all those buttons? No one helped me with them, or with carrying it or the costumes to the bus. No one even thanked me, not once. All I had wanted that day was to sit in a seat of my choice, with my friends; was it really so much to ask?
At the banquet that year, the mentors gave a crappy couple sentence speech on me, and I received no awards. I felt under appreciated in so many ways. I had given so much of myself that year and gotten nothing in return, none of the girls ever expressed any form of thanks to me for at least trying to be a good leader. I put in so much extra time and effort that I had to take three incompletes on my report card that quarter. I cried so much that year, and felt completely alone. And they couldn't even give me a decent speech.
It was one of the worst experiences of my life. And I bet many people would quit the team after that, but I'm not going to. I plan to try even harder this next year. I know there are girls on this team who look up to us older girls, and I don't want them to see a quitter, I want them to see someone who perseveres through it all and comes out on top. I'm going to work to make sure no girl has to go through what I did. And then, when I'm in college, I'm going to be a mentor for the team and continue to help out. This is my resolve.
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