MSS robotic team places well at Mississaga event, co-captain invited to participate in world event

Wiky High coach predicts bright future for fledgling squad

MANITOULIN—Two Manitoulin Island high school robotics teams came home from the provincial First Robotics Canada (FRC) championships this past week weekend with a bevy of team and individual awards!

“With the provincials being held over four days it was much more reasonable and comfortable for all the competitors than the regional championships (held in Mississauga),  which were one-day events. The provincials ran from Wednesday to Saturday in Mississauga,” said MSS team mentor Yana Bauer. “It was a great event and we ended up with a number of awards.”

The MSS Manitoulin Metal team won the provincial “Entrepreneurship Award for its business model,” said Ms. Bauer. “The judges liked our team because it is interested in entrepreneurship and sustainability, not just our financial but environmental business model. Our spirit, team comprehensive business plan helps to define, manage, organize our ongoing objectives to ensure a self-sustaining program.”

Ms. Bauer noted, “when this award was announced, members of our team’s heads snapped up. When they realized they had won, the entire team had to get out of the stands and go onto the field for a victory lap with their trophy and plaque. Everyone was super excited including the other teams that were clapping and congratulating our team.”

The judges “also announced that Jocelyn Kuntsi was named as the winner of the Dean’s List Award,” said Ms. Bauer. Ms. Kuntsi has now qualified for the world championship in this category, which will be held later this week in Houston. The MSS team had nominated her for the award, recognizing she had demonstrated excellent leadership skills  and outstanding contributions to the team and having done well in the judge’s interviews (done virtually). 

“Jocelyn will represent Ontario at the World’s (championship) for the district of Ontario,” said Ms. Bauer, who noted she won’t actually be attending the ceremony (she will watch the awards online) being held later this week.

“When the award was announced, there was a moment of stunned silence. Then she received a standing ovation from everyone in attendance as she took a victory lap on the field,” said Ms. Bauer. “You could hear the Wikwemikong and North Bay teams screaming.  During the provincials, Ms. Kuntsi was announced as the winner of the First Robotics Shad scholarship winner (although not all details could be provided by this week’s press deadline).

MSS team member Lindsay Sheppard “won a Build a Dream Scholarship (one of two who received this recognition) of $3,000,” said Ms. Bauer. “The scholarship award is presented to a student who is dedicated to science, technology and math and is entering a skills trade in post-secondary school.”

MSS Manitoulin Metal team mentor Al Davy had been nominated for and was a finalist in the provincial mentor award category.

“Our robot performed very well. There were some glitches, but the team dealt with them as the event took place,” said Ms. Bauer. “And we had some really great matches. In match 90, we had Wikwemikong (High School) as our partners and we played a great match, and we came close to winning this match. We ended up losing by only two points. It was just sweet to be playing this match with our friends.”

“We didn’t qualify for the finals,” said Ms. Bauer, who pointed out that MSS won four of its 13 matches, finishing within the top 50 in the province.

“We watched the finals, and five of the six teams there have been previous world champions,” said Ms. Bauer. “They have a very long tradition of winning at the worlds which is something we had expected. “We knew we had great competition, but we held our own in the event and we received lots of positive comments and complements from other teams.”

The Wikwemikong High School STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) team, “did super well,” said coach Chris Mara. “The team exceeded our expectations. We didn’t even know if we would be able to go to the provincials until very close to the event starting.”

“We had a late start to the season, we weren’t able to even begin to build our robot until two weeks into the semester (due to pandemic lockdowns) and we never had the chance to have after-school or weekend builds,” said Mr. Mara. “To have a robot competitive on the field in the provincials was our big goal.”

Most of the teams that took part in the First Robotics Canada events leading up to the provincials, “had started in January and had two regional events they took part in. So we were about a month and a half behind all these teams and we were only able to take part in one regional event,” said Mr. Mara. “But we had a blast through it all,” he said, noting that “we have virtually an all-rookie team. There is only one member that had been to a robotics competition previously.”

At the provincials, “it took a day-and-a-half to get our robot firing on all cylinders, and prior to that we could only operate it with 25 percent of our motor power,” said Mr. Mara. “Marcus (Beaudry), one of the drivers on the team, made everything look good with some pretty exciting and spectacular driving.” He also praised the efforts of Ash Recollet. “Once everything was up and running well, our racers really did some tremendous driving.”

“Our team did really well representing the team and our school,” continued Mr. Mara. He explained, “three team members, Ryley Wassegijig Migwans, Tristan Wemigwans and Adrian Katt, received the Mark Bredner Leadership Awards. This was in recognition of their contributions and recognition of their leadership in the FRC program.”

“Next year, our team is going to be ready to go for FRC and First Technical Challenge events,” said Mr. Mara. “Our team did amazingly well this season, being competitive, even though they had a short period of time to get ready. It was because of their ability, motivation, tenancy and pulling things together to find engineering solutions to problems. It will be great to have this awesome group, made up of almost all Grade 9 students, to build on over the next few years.”

 The MSS team includes Rhys Allison, Autumn Davy, Morgan Green, Nevaeh Harper, Jocelyn Kuntsi, Xavi Mara, Patrick McCann, Grace Pennie, Lindsay Sheppard, Danika Skippen, Alan Wilkin, Ben Willis and Alexandra Wilson-Zegil.

The Wikwemikong High School team included Adrian Rampersad, Jane Hartley, Melissa Cooper, Cathy Harley, Jonas Assinewai, Marcus Beaudry, Tamara Bondy-Naokwegijig, Ben Lewis, Jordan Ominika-Cooper, Xavier Osawamick, Brayden Pangowish, Gaven Pangowish, Ash Recollet and Rakeja Wallace.