RoboDawgs Award night (and the story of two drinking buddies)


Last night the RoboDawgs held their annual awards banquet. As usual, it was a night of stories and celebration. This is an amazing team, and we’re incredibly proud of these bright young people.

I missed the event for the first time since we started them in 2010. Our early affairs were small gatherings of 30-40 people, and we gave out paper plate awards. We’ve grown up a lot since them, and last night more than 200 people came together in the high school cafeteria to once agin enjoy the flavors and variety of a home-cooked potluck. We gave out award plaques to recognize outstanding achievements from the year, and we awarded Varsity Letters in Robotics to 42 amazing high school students. These are hard-earned awards and letters, as the RoboDawg Varsity requirements are tougher than those of any other athletic or academic team in Michigan. This is a three season sport, and a Varsity Letter from the RoboDawgs really means something.

I was very sad that I had to miss last night – but I look forward with great anticipation to the RoboDawgs’ end of year trip.

Before I finish this post, I want to call out the RoboDawgs other head coach, and my drinking buddy, Mike Evele. Last night the Seniors presented him with a pair of shot glasses imprinted with the phrase – “Thanks for a shot at a bright future.” If they only knew how important he has been to their future……

Mr. Evele and I became drinking buddies in March, 2010 in a small bistro in the Hyatt Regency – Milwaukee. The RoboDawgs were competing at the US Cellular arena that week, and one of the team’s first miracles had occurred that week. One RoboDawg team had shipped wheels and a frame to the event in a box – and then proceeded to build a complete robot in under 12 hours. Their determination and perseverance blew us away. That robot played the full Wisconsin Regional event – and did quite well! It was Mr. Evele and my second year as head coaches, and on the third night in Milwaukee the chaperones offered to take the team to dinner so Mr. Evele and I could have a break. He and I had steaks and a glass of wine together in a small Bistro in the Hyatt Regency. And thus a fine tradition began.

Each year, at some point during the FRC competition season, Mr. Evele and I find time for a fine steak and a glass of wine together. That’s really all there is to it, but I’ve often made light of the fact that Mike and are drinking buddies. I’ve enjoyed a glass of wine each year and one of the closest friendships of my life with one of the finest men I’ve ever known. I have learned immensely from Mike. He is the model for a Master Teacher, and he is all-in committed to the service of those around him. Granted we only get around to a steak and a glass of wine once a year, but he’s still my drinking buddy. Everyone should have a drinking buddy like him…..

Footnote: I missed the awards dinner last night, and in full disclosure Mr. Evele missed our drinking buddies night out this year. The photo above is from the night we had our last drink together. It was April, 2015, and we were in Windsor, Ontario……. Probably time for our annual steak and a glass of wine………..

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