FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding



Click here to see the past Chat archive. 
Schedule: updates will be posted as soon as new sessions are scheduled
We have been happy to bring you the FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding this season. The 2021 spring series has concluded, but watch for something new in the fall. We appreciate all the speakers, presenters, and sponsors who made this series possible. Visit our archive below for links to the recordings.
Questions?  Email  or contact your Team Advisory Committee


Archive of Past Chats


  • Thursday, April 2nd, 3:30pm - "Storytime: Meet the Head Ref Sponsored by Leidos." Hosted by Ron Therrien, FIRST Chesapeake Programs Director.  Veteran FIRST Chesapeake Head Ref Steve Shade will answer questions about what it's like to be a head ref, why he loves it, what he does as a paid job, and more. NOTE: Steve cannot discuss specific questions or rehash rules from past calls or talk about specific teams or situations. 

















  • Thursday, October 15th, 6:00pm - "FRC Update." Session will include FIRST Robotics Competition team registration, grants, event dates,  and event safety.
  • Thursday, October 15th, 6:30pm - "FTC Update." Session will include FIRST Tech Challenge team registration, grants, event dates,  and event safety.


  • Thursday, November 5th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Canon Virginia Employees - Presented by Canon Virginia.Hear what inspired them to explore the engineering field and what challenges they have faced as female engineers.
    • Featuring: 
      • Belinda Donavant, Sr. Director of Product Engineering
      • Linda "Lynn" Miller, Sr. Engineer, Advanced Continuous Improvement
      • Angie Coulton, Engineering Systems Specialist III, Product Engineering
      • Cynthia Popernack, Sr. Engineer, Advanced Continuous Improvement
  • Thursday, November 5th, 6:30pm - "Meet the FTC Head Referees.FIRST Chesapeake Head Refs  will discuss what referees do and answer questions about the upcoming season.



  • Thursday, December 3rd, 6:00pm- Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Leidos Employees." Learn about what inspired these women to pursue STEM careers, what their day-to-day jobs look like, and what challenges they have overcome as leaders in their fields. 
    • Featuring: 
      • Regina Cer – Bioinformatics Division Chief
      • Quana Frost – Senior Security Systems Engineer
      • Tifani O’Brien – Chief Engineer, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
      • Kristina Holden, PhD - Human Factors Technical Fellow
  • Thursday, December 3rd, 6:30pm- "Learn Something New! How to Build Your FTC Engineering Portfolio." Helpful advice about what to include.





  • Thursday, January 21st, 6:00pm - "Storytime: Team 2901 Purple Gears and Their FTC Onshape Parts Library." Whether your team is completely new to CAD or has been modeling for years, come to learn about this incredible free service with over 4,500 components from several major vendors  (including Pitsco/Tetrix and AndyMark)." Moderated by Emma Holincheck, Alumni Ambassador.
  • Thursday, January 21st, 6:30pm - "Learn Something New! Virtual Presentation Tips for Teams." Hear helpful advice for presenting your FTC or FRC team at virtual judge interviews.
    • Featuring Rohit Narayanan, Alumni Ambassador
  • Thursday, January 21st, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • At this first meeting we will update teams on match play as well as how to use the remote scoring system.


  • Thursday, January 28th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 2, FTC Fairlawn VA 1, FTC Remote Event 1/25-1/31


  • Thursday, February 4th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Accenture Federal Employees." 
    • Featuring:
      • Viveca Pavon-Harr - Analytics Manager
      • Johanna Jan - Analytics Associate Manager 
      • Danielle Russell - Business & Technology Delivery Analyst
  • Thursday, February 4th, 6:30pm - "Learn Something New! Remote Collaboration: Robot Programming During Hybrid Meetings." How the Wizards.exe team conducts programming work with minimal in-person attendance.
    • Moderated by Mariah Bolden, Alumni Ambassador
  • Thursday, February 4th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 3, FTC Shenandoah Caverns VA 1, FTC Colonial Heights VA 1, FTC Remote Event 2/08- 2/14


  • Thursday, February 11th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 4, FTC Fairlawn VA 2



  • Thursday, February 18th, 6:00pm - "Learn Something New! Tips and Tricks for Making a Great Video." Advice for FRC and FTC teams submitting videos in 2021.
    • Featuring Alex Hughes, Alumni Ambassador
  • Thursday, February 18th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • Held every Thursday at 7pm.
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC Fulton MD 5, FTC Shenandoah Caverns VA 2, FTC Colonial Heights VA 4


  • Thursday, February 25th, 7:00pm - "FTC Drivers Meeting."
    • This meeting is for teams who will compete at: FTC North Championship, FTC South Championship


  • Thursday, March 4th, 6:00pm - Today's Women in STEM Series Sponsored by Leidos. "Cool Jobs: Discussion with Dominion Employees - Presented by Dominion Energy." Moderated by Emma Holincheck, Alumni Ambassador.
    • Featuring:
      • Diane Leopold, EVP and Chief Operating Officer
      • Lisa Hilbert, Nuclear Plant Manager, North Anna Power Station
      • Kendra Pickard, Engineer III, Offshore Wind


We thank all the guests who appeared in our "Today's Women in STEM" broadcasts. 

We thank Leidos for helping to provide insights into career opportunities for our team members and recent alumni and for providing role models and inspiration for young women in STEM.



  • Thursday, March 18th, 6:30pm - "Cool Jobs - Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering." Featuring Abi Stark and Jessica Tye. Moderated by Mariah Bolden and Abbie Henshaw, Alumni Ambassadors.
    • Abi is currently a Regulatory Affairs Specialist with Polaris, Inc. Her background is in Industrial Engineering, and she is an alum of FRC Team 2199 from Eldersburg, MD. 
    • Jessica designs and develops biomedical electromagnetic devices such as bronchoscopes and cardiac ablation mapping catheters for a medical contract manufacturer.
  • Thursday, March 18th, 6:00pm - "Cool Jobs- Researching the Ecology and Evolution of Birds Using Machine Learning." Featuring Laura Berman, Ph.D Candidate, Avian Evolution Lab, University of Singapore. Moderated by Mariah Bolden and Abbie Henshaw, Alumni Ambassadors.
    • Laura's interests are in vertebrate ecology and conservation, and she has traveled the world in pursuit of her passion. She has previously worked with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and US Geological Service.




 Thank you to our Sponsors who have made these Chats possible.









March 1, 2021


Dear FIRST Chesapeake FRC Team Members and Volunteers,
Every year we look forward to the FIRST Robotics Competition season. We realize that it’s not just a time to compete. It’s also a chance for old friends to reconnect, for teams to share ideas and practice coopertition and gracious professionalism, and most of all, it’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of thousands of outstanding high school students from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. While this season has been challenging, it has been our most sincere wish to bring unofficial remote/in-person FRC events to our teams this spring, in addition to the official remote challenges offered by FIRST this season. Unfortunately, due to continued concerns at FIRST Headquarters, they will not be approving any unofficial FRC events in North America held prior to June. Because of this, we will not be able to move forward with our proposed plans for our unofficial hybrid events this month.  If you have any questions about FRC and FIRST for this season, please email .
We realize that this will come as a disappointment to some of our teams, and especially the seniors who have been unable to compete in-person for the past two seasons. Please understand that the FIRST Chesapeake staff and volunteers put in countless hours to try to develop the best and safest events possible, but this time it was not meant to be. We hope that you will take advantage of the remote challenges that FIRST has developed and that you will continue to participate in our interactive FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding and our on-line Town Halls.
We are so grateful for the ongoing support of our teams, our volunteers, and our sponsors over the past year. Though we will not be able to host events as we had hoped, we will continue to move forward with planning engaging and exciting FRC events for the 2022 season while supporting the mission and vision of FIRST.  
Stay safe and healthy, my friends,
Leighann Scott Boland
President, VirginiaFIRST/FIRST Chesapeake


February 9, 2021


Dear FIRST Chesapeake Family,
We realize that there has been a lot of conversation regarding the FIRST Robotics Competition season, so we’d like to give you the best information we can provide at this time. 
As always, the health and safety of our teams and volunteers are our top priorities. While we have a plan in place, we want to make it clear that there are many variables involved in moving forward. We appreciate your patience and understanding and want you to know that we are doing our best to make this the safest and best season possible.
FRC District Events:
FIRST Chesapeake FRC District events are planned for the month of March. They will be held in 3 locations; all within a 100 mile radius of teams to avoid overnight stays. Using the FTC hybrid events as a template, we will employ the same safety protocols, not admit public, and keep the number of participants and volunteers to locally-mandated gathering restrictions. We are prepared to offer a modified challenge to as few as 2 teams per cohort for hybrid events. The proposed cost for teams is $1,000 for two events. Third plays may be offered at $500, if space is available. Because of the upfront costs associated with planning these events, if an event is cancelled by FIRST Chesapeake, FIRST Headquarters, or the local health department, teams will be refunded 50% of their event registration fee.
 Our ability to host these events relies upon several factors:
  • Team interest – if your team is interested in participating in a hybrid event, please be sure to register before February 24th. (Registering before the 24th simply demonstrates interest. It does not commit the team to the registration fee at that time.) Teams will be invoiced after the 24th. If there is not enough interest to support the costs of the events by February 24th, we will modify the number of events offered or cancel all events.
  • Recommendations from the CDC and local health officials – currently the COVID 19 positivity rate is declining throughout the FIRST Chesapeake District. If statistics change or we are advised to cancel all in-person gatherings, we will do so immediately.
  • Permission from FIRST HQ – although these events are classified as “unofficial”, FIRST HQ has advised all FRC program partners that we must submit a plan and receive permission to hold any event this season. FIRST Chesapeake has submitted its proposal and should receive a decision from HQ before the end of February. 
FRC teams are encouraged to look into the Remote Challenges provided by FIRST HQ, as well. 
A remote awards ceremony for the FRC season will be hosted by FIRST Chesapeake in April 2021. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks. 
NOTE: Because many decisions regarding FIRST Tech Challenge events are left to the local partner, FIRST Chesapeake will continue to host hybrid FTC events unless advised otherwise by the CDC or local health departments. 
FIRST Chesapeake District Championship 2021 Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding:
At the direction of the Hampton Coliseum/City of Hampton and local health authorities, we must sadly confirm the rescheduling of the 2021 District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding. After close consultation with the Coliseum, our sponsors, and our vendors, we made the difficult decision to move the event to April 6-9, 2022. Having spent the past two years preparing for this event, we are genuinely disappointed. But we also realize that given current crowd limitations, we would not have been able to give the teams the celebration they deserved in 2021. The Coliseum and our vendors have generously agreed to apply our payments and extend our existing contracts with no penalties to the 2022 season. Since this is a very recent decision, and we still do not have a good idea of what the 2021-2022 academic year will look like, we are asking for your patience for now. We plan to have details for teams by the fall.
FIRST World Championships:
We have been advised by FIRST HQ that there is no additional information regarding the 2021 World Championships at this time. They hope to have more information for teams, volunteers, and the program partners in April 2021. 
FRC Off Season Competitions:
Since there are still a number of specifics regarding game play and logistics that FIRST HQ needs to address regarding the World Championships, they have asked for our patience regarding summer/fall Off Season Competitions. Again, they feel they will have more answers for us sometime in April 2021. 
We are heartbroken that we could not bring the District Championship to our teams this season, but we also realize that FIRST isn’t just about the competition. It is about what WE do together as a community to help build a brighter future for our teams and our communities. Be well, take care of yourselves and your families, and continue to follow the current health and safety guidelines. Better days are coming.
Leighann Scott Boland
President/Executive Director
FIRST Chesapeake
P.S. We have just completed our 2019-2020 Season Annual Report. Please click here for a recap of Fiscal Year 2020.



January 28, 2021


The most up-to-date FIRST Chesapeake COVID-19 safety plan may be found here


January 20, 2021


If you were unable to tune in live, here is the recording of the January 2021 Town Hall meeting

Click here for the Town Hall slides. 


January 04, 2021


FIRST Chesapeake Family,
Since this is a season like no other, we're sure that you'll have questions about what FIRST and FIRST  Chesapeake programs will look like in the coming months.
Instead of having a Q&A directly following Saturday's Kick OffFIRST Chesapeake is hosting a remote Town Hall on January 19th at 6pm (on This will give us time to gather your questions for us - and for HQ - and provide the best answers possible.
We will also provide an update on the FTC and FRC hybrid competitions, as well as information regarding remote scrimmage and judging options (FTC). This will be a very important Town Hall that will cover a lot of information, so please be sure to attend. 


December 15, 2020


If you were unable to tune in live, here is the recording of the 2020 December FIRST Chesapeake Town Hall broadcast


December 4, 2020


You are invited to attend a remote Town Hall on Tuesday, December 15th, at 6:00pm on Twitch- - for an update on the FTC and FRC seasons. A recording of the town hall will be available later on YouTube for those unable to attend.


December 1, 2020


Due to the upward trending COVID 19 positivity rates in Maryland and Virginia, as well as the dramatic uptick in hospitalizations over the past 2 weeks, FIRST Chesapeake has made the difficult decision to postpone the Saturday, December 5th FTC Scrimmages Sponsored by InSource Solutions until January- date TBD. As always, the health and safety of our teams and volunteers are our first priorities, and at this point, health experts are advising against in-person gatherings. FIRST Chesapeake will notify all participants once it has been determined that it is safe to resume our events. Until then, we appreciate your patience and understanding.


November 11,2020


COVID-19 Safety Plan For FIRST Chesapeake


September 29, 2020


If you were unable to tune in live, here is the recording of the 2020 September FIRST Chesapeake Town Hall broadcast


September 24, 2020


Dear Teams,
It has been awhile since you received an update, so I wanted to give you a quick summary of where we are at FIRST Chesapeake and also invite you to attend a remote Town Hall on Tuesday, September 29th, at 5:30pm on Twitch- A recording of the town hall will be available later on YouTube for those unable to attend.
As always, the health and safety of our teams and volunteers are our top priorities. The pandemic has shown itself to be unpredictable, but the good news is that we have a lot more information now than we did in the Spring. The CDC and local health agencies have been working towards standardizing best practices and safety guidelines for larger gatherings, and FIRST Chesapeake feels comfortable in sharing that we are continuing to plan hybrid in-person events for both FTC and FRC this season. (Note that our FTC competition season will begin in January, instead of November.)
FIRST Chesapeake's commitment to you in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia is to bring the excitement of a competition along with the camaraderie and joy of being a part of an FRC event to our teams in the safest way possible. While we cannot provide a lot of details at the moment, we promise to keep you as up to date as possible regarding our competitions and other events this season. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me or our Director of Programs, Ron Therrien.
Because FIRST HQ and FIRST Chesapeake are separate entities representing vastly different numbers of teams and volunteers, our challenges and plan of action may vary from time to time. I respectfully ask for your understanding as there is no "right" formula for all FRC Districts and Regions. We are all trying to do our best with a moving target this year.
Before signing off, I want to express profound gratitude on behalf of myself and the FIRST Chesapeake staff to all of you for your patience and gracious professionalism. Stay healthy, my friends.



July 8, 2020


The July 8th FIRST Chesapeake Town Hall video can be viewed here.


June 4, 2020


Our world is very different than it was just a few months ago, but FIRST Chesapeake’s commitment to the health and safety of our teams and volunteers has not changed. We are working closely with FIRST Headquarters and our local health authorities to determine the best path forward for the 2020-2021 competition season. Because this is going to take some time, we will be announcing our competition dates and locations a little later than usual. Please check our program webpages in the Fall for more information.

Until then, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at  or call 804.572.8454.

Be well, take care of yourselves and your families, and please continue to follow the CDC guidelines to maximize your well-being. As we all know, FIRST Chesapeake is not about building robots. It is about what “WE” do together to make the world a better place. 


April 17, 2020


Dear FIRST  Family, 
I was reviewing our volunteer data last night and realized that, even with the suspended season, FIRST Chesapeake event volunteers logged more than 20,450 hours in 2019-2020! Add that to the thousands of hours that coaches, mentors and behind-the-scenes volunteers have dedicated to our programs and the total is mind blowing. While the number itself is impressive, what I see beyond the bottom line is a reminder of how our FIRST family has always banded together to support one another in good times and in bad. Thank you for all that you do.
Please join me in recognizing some of our tireless, and often unsung, volunteers.
  • Carolyn Van Damme and Stephanie Lockhart and all of the Judge Advisors and Judges at our competitions.
  • Joe Bouchard, who not only acts as an FTC and FRC Judge Advisor, but also developed recommendations for risk mitigation at our events to help keep us safe.
  • Chris Brown, Cherisa Haynes, and the scores of employees at Newport News Shipbuilding who have dedicated hundreds of hours to planning the largest ever District Championship we've ever attempted.
  • Anne Shade and the Team Advisory Committee for their tireless support this season.
  • Farish Perlman for her work behind the scenes at our District Championships. Napoleon said, "An army marches on its stomach". Our volunteers give their all while grabbing meals and snacks when they can. Farish has made sure that everyone is treated to tasty and satisfying meals while balancing a laundry list of dietary needs.
  • Steve Shade, Jim Anderson and all of our event referees. Their job isn't always easy, but they do it so well.
  • Our Robot Inspectors, CSAs, and FTAs who spend their weekends with us from November through March.
For those of you who were unable to attend last night's Town Hall, I would also like to give some updates so we're all as informed as possible.
FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding have been extended into May. If you have a topic you'd like to hear more about or would like to nominate your team to present and receive a $200 team stipend made possible by Capital One and Showbest Fixture Corporation, click here.
FIRST Chesapeake is excited to announce an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the FIRST Chesapeake community and recognize some of our outstanding teams and individuals at the  
2020 FIRST Chesapeake Cultural Awards. This virtual awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 30th at 7pm. Join us for an hour of fun, celebration and much-deserved appreciation. 
Some say that "each day starts with new opportunities", but many of us would agree that each day also starts with coffee. Don't miss your chance to win a Starbucks' gift card through Meet FIRST Chesapeake Sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation's Educated Guess drawing. Take a minute to read the clues at the bottom of each "Meet FIRST Chesapeake" email at 2pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Enter your guess here to win a Starbucks' gift card and recognition on the next email blast. No one guessed that our own Jenny Beatty is also a supertaster, so we'll have 2 gift cards to give away at the next drawing!
We have been informed by the Hampton Coliseum that they are no longer able to guarantee that they can open to large crowds this summer. Because of this, our rescheduled June 17th-20thDistrict Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding has been postponed until further notice. In order to reschedule the District Championship or offer Infinite Recharge as an off-season challenge/celebration, FIRST Chesapeake will need to meet certain benchmarks such as the re-opening of all schools and the lifting of travel bans in our district, as well as changes in the current limitations regarding large gatherings. We will also need to receive permission from FIRST Headquarters before scheduling any events.  FIRST HQ is working with the Program Delivery Partners to determine the best course forward. Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers right now. We are hoping that FIRST will have a plan in place that we can announce to all teams by mid-May.
Finally, since there are no guarantees regarding what the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year may look like, FIRST HQ wants to make sure that all teams are aware that they are thinking outside of the box about ways to keep teams engaged and enthused. More details regarding enhancements to the upcoming FTC and FRC season will be coming later this Spring and Fall. For now, please check out FIRST @ Home as a way to access on line learning, support FIRST activities and stay connected with the FIRST community.
I know that I speak for the FIRST Chesapeake board and staff when I say how immensely proud we all are to see how our community has come together over the past month. FIRST Chesapeake strives to provide a safe and respectful community for our teams, volunteers and supporters, and we are working very hard to provide transparency and keep our community informed during these challenging and unprecedented times. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this season, and always. Of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me or the FIRST Chesapeake Team Advisory Committee.
Stay safe and healthy, my friends.
Executive Director
FIRST Chesapeake


April 16, 2020


If you were unable to join tonight's Town Hall meeting, the recording is available here.


April 1, 2020


- If you were unable to join tonight's Town Hall Meeting, the recording is available here.

- The next Town Hall Conference Call is scheduled for April 16th, 5:30pm.  We will give an update about the season. 

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap :
    US: +1(773)2319226,,1495062011# (US North)
           +1(469)4450100,,1495062011# (US South)
           +1(470)8692200,,1495062011# (US East)
           +1(623)4049000,,1495062011# (US West)
           +1(720)9027700,,1495062011# (US Central)
Or Telephone:
    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
    US: +1(773)2319226 (US North)

           +1(469)4450100 (US South)
           +1(470)8692200 (US East)
           +1(623)4049000 (US West)
           +1(720)9027700 (US Central)
    Meeting ID: 149 506 2011


March 18, 2020


Dear Teams,
It has been a long and sometimes frustrating two weeks, but the way our teams have conducted themselves during this trying time has been amazing. Your maturity and gracious professionalism have really shown, and it's been so much appreciated by all of us at FIRST Chesapeake. Believe me, cancelling some events and postponing others was not an easy decision.
This communication is meant as an update. As always, if you have questions or need clarification, please reach out to your Team Advisory Committee or FIRST Chesapeake staff.
What Is FIRST HQ Saying About The Suspended Season?
FIRST HQ has suspended the season but has cancelled the World Championships in Detroit and Houston. There is a difference in the wording. Currently, the program is suspended through April, when HQ will re-evaluate the potential for resuming play in one form or another. However, the World Championships are cancelled, which means they will not be rescheduled.
What Does This Mean For FIRST Chesapeake Teams?
Currently if you go on the FIRST website, you'll see that CHS remaining events are listed as suspended. While HQ knows that we have cancelled the remaining local District events and rescheduled the (FRC) District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding to June 17th-20th, they assigned all events "suspended" until they can have one on one discussions with the program delivery partners.
Team refunds - Any team fees paid for the World Championship will be refunded. A FIRST HQ communication will go out to teams hopefully within the next few weeks. Team refunds for FRC teams who never got a chance to compete or have already paid for a District Championship are under review. FIRST's policy states no refunds, but the executive staff realize these are unique times and they are working to find a solution. The hope is that the season will resume (example, our District Championship in June) and teams will get at least one chance to play before the season ends.
Awards - FIRST is working on determining how awards such as Dean's List, Chairman, Engineering Innovation, etc. will be interviewed and recognized. They are asking for our patience.
Seniors - FIRST realizes that recognizing graduating seniors is very important to the teams and they are working on several options. They are also discussing how to recognize Volunteer of the Year and Woodie Flowers.
Rookie grants -  FIRST recognizes the unique position rookies have been in this season and are evaluating options regarding rookie grants for next season.
What Is The Rescheduled District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding Going to Look Like?
FIRST Chesapeake is planning to offer the same high energy experience as always, including an expanded Technology and Scholarship Row, free giveaways, team showcases, and more. Travel grants will also still be available to teams needing assistance.
Team Advancement - FIRST Chesapeake is waiting to schedule a discussion with FIRST HQ about how we will handle team advancement in the next few weeks. Ideally, we would like to total the scores of the 8 teams that played 2 events, double the scores of the 94 teams that played once, and open a lottery to the 24 teams that didn't get to compete at any local District events. Note that all of this is hypothetical until FIRST HQ has approved our proposal.
COVID-19 - Of course, the success of the District Championship depends upon the path the COVID-19 pandemic follows over the next few weeks. If the majority of teams are still under travel restrictions, FIRST and FIRST Chesapeake will need to re-evaluate the District Championship plans. Because of this, FIRST Chesapeake has asked FIRST HQ to consider pushing the event registration deadline back to May or June of this year.
What Is FIRST Chesapeake Planning?
FIRST Chesapeake is looking at a number of options to help keep teams engaged over the next few months:
  • Possible scrimmage for the 24 teams who were unable to play at a District event this season. More details to follow in late April/early May.
  • Weekly updates to teams via email and social media.
  • Mentor workshops Sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton (free) are still planned for Richmond (May) and Blacksburg (June).
  • Off-Season Events - FIRST Chesapeake is willing to work with teams that may be interested in hosting off-season events in the Fall. More information to follow this summer.
  • Possible on-line webinars, panel discussions, and Q&A forums. See below for more information on how to get involved in this.
  • Town Hall update, April 1st, 5:30pm. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

    Or iPhone one-tap :
        US: +1(773)2319226,,1493160069# 
    Or Telephone:
        Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
        US: +1(773)2319226 
        Meeting ID: 149 316 0069
What Can My Team Do For Now?
  • Continue to work on your team's business or succession plan
  • Keeping in mind the CDC guidelines regarding limiting social contact and the guidelines of your school, think of ways that you may be able to help others in your community. (Does your local animal shelter need dog walkers? Can you pick up trash at a nearby park or green space?)
  • Contact your local Team Advisory Committee member about your team hosting an on-line webinar, open chat or panel discussion. They will gather your ideas and work with Ron Therrien, Director of Programs, to schedule and promote these sessions on FIRST Chesapeake's Ring Central conference line.
  • Let your local Team Advisory Committee member know what topics you may like to hear more about from FIRST Chesapeake staff. (examples, fundraising, creative conflict resolution, etc.)
  • Share your favorite experiences from the season with Samantha EllisFIRST Chesapeake Communications Manager, for posting on social media. We'd love to share a little sunshine over the next few weeks.
We are working very hard to keep the teams and our volunteers updated. We will be posting any updates regarding COVID 19 on our website here. Until then, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to the Team Advisory Committee or FIRST Chesapeake staff.
Wishing everyone good health.
Leighann Scott Boland
Executive Director
FIRST Chesapeake


March 13, 2020 


March 12th Town Hall Call recording


March 12, 2020


Dear FIRST Chesapeake Community,

The FIRST Chesapeake board met this morning and made the difficult decision to cancel this week’s Portsmouth and Owings Mills District Events, as well as next week’s Blacksburg District Event and Edgewater District Event Sponsored by Leidos.  The health and welfare of our teams and volunteers has always been our highest priority. Given the dramatic increase of COVID 19 confirmed cases and the unprecedented number of school closings and revised travel restrictions over the past 24 hours, we feel it is in the best interest of everyone to cancel.


The FIRST Chesapeake District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding has been postponed to June 17th-20th, 2020. While we realize that this is not a perfect solution, we hope that moving the District Championship to a later date will allow teams to enjoy the excitement and energy of a FIRST Robotics Competition.


We are disappointed that teams will not have a chance to finish the competition season this Spring, and we recognize that there will be many questions about how this will affect team rankings and the FIRST World Championship. We are working with FIRST Headquarters to determine next steps for advancement to our District Championship and FIRST World Championship Competitions.


There will be a dial in Town Hall this afternoon at 5:30pm. We will give an update and answer as many questions as we can at this time. This meeting will also be recorded and posted on the FIRST Chesapeake webpage under COVID 19 updates.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap :
    US: +1(773)2319226,,1497171975# 
Or Telephone:
    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
    US: +1(773)2319226 
    Meeting ID: 149 717 1975

We recognize the tremendous amount of hard work that the teams and the local committees have put into this season.  We also know that some teams and volunteers may lose deposits for this weekend. The situation has been a moving target with many variables. This was not an easy decision, but we feel it is the right one.


We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work with FIRST Headquarters to solidify a plan for FIRST World Championship and the District Event Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding this summer.




Leighann Scott Boland                                                       James Kresge

Executive Director                                                                Board Chair


March 11, 2020

Hello Teams, 
Given the recent news about the Coronovirus (COVID-19), the FIRST Chesapeake Board of Directors would like to share the following update.
We assure you that the safety and health of our community continue to be top priorities for FIRST Chesapeake. We are following the situation closely and working with our schools, local committees, health departments, and FIRST Headquarters. As of today, we plan to have all scheduled District events while continuing to follow the CDC guidelines for large groups. These guidelines include encouraging common-sense practices such as hand washing, staying away from events if sick or part of a high risk group (immune compromised, elderly) or if you may have possibly been exposed to the virus. Some venues may require we limit the number of team members or public, but currently all sites are willing to hold the events as planned. We are also working with FIRST 
Headquarters and other District Partners to develop alternative opportunities for teams that may not attend events due to school closings or potential exposure. By being proactive and observing public health recommendations, we are doing our best to ensure the safety of our teams, guests, and volunteers.  
At this point there are no changes to any District event plans. However, should the situation change we will proactively adjust and notify you as quickly as possible.
The most important way to protect yourself against the spread of any contagious disease is to understand the symptoms, risks, and steps that can be taken to stay healthy while you are at events.
Safety Precautions:
  • Stay home if feeling unwell, developing a cough, or running a fever
  • Stay home is you are part of an at-risk group, such as immune compromised or elderly or if you believe that you have been exposed to someone with COVID 19.
  • Practice hand hygiene, including frequent hand washing, use of hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Practice respiratory etiquette, including covering cough and sneezes with a tissue, and then disposing of the tissue in the trash
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (including tablets and cell phones)
  • Perform self-monitoring, and seek medical care immediately if feeling unwell
At Events:
  • Safety glasses will no longer be handed out for reuse. Teams will be responsible for bringing their own safety glasses. A limited number of glasses may be sold by host teams on-site, but this varies by venue.
  • Signs are posted around the event reminding attendees of proper hand washing procedures. There are bathrooms with sinks and soap throughout each event location.
  • Hand sanitizer is stationed at all entrances, Pit Admin, Volunteer and Mentor Lounges, and on the field.
  • High-touch surfaces, such as the drivers' stations and gates to the field are being wiped down between matches.
  • Attendees are encouraged to use an elbow bump instead of a handshake or high five as a greeting.
A dial-in Town Hall will be hosted at 5:30pm on Thursday, March 12th for anyone who would like to attend. The Town Hall will address questions such as alternate plans if events are cancelled and options for teams who may be unable to attend. (This will also be recorded and posted with the COVID 19 Update later this week.)
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Or iPhone one-tap:
   US: +1(773)2319226,,1497171975#
Or Telephone:
   Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
   US: +1(773)2319226
   Meeting ID: 149 717 1975
Updates from FIRST Chesapeake will be posted on our home page under COVID 19 Updates. Any event cancellations will be posted on the FIRST Chesapeake home page, broadcast on social media, and event volunteers and registered teams will be emailed immediately. Event specific updates will also be posted on the event webpage, as well as the event specific volunteer and team webpage. A full list of cancelled or postponed FIRST events can be found here.
We are also working very hard to keep the Team Advisory Committee updated and informed. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to them. As your team representatives, they may already have an answer. If not, they will know the appropriate staff at FIRST Chesapeake or FIRST Headquarters to contact.
We appreciate your patience as we navigate the next few weeks. Unfortunately, while we are trying to be as proactive as possible, this is an ever-changing landscape. We ask for your understanding as we address issues as they arise.
Leighann Boland                                       James Kresge                                 
Executive Director                                     Board Chair
Additional Information:
FIRST COVID 19 Statement:
FIRST Registration Deadlines and Refund Policy:


Previous Updates


March 3, 2020 message

FirstChesapeakThumbnail2021  FIRST Chesapeake 2020-2021 Press Binder


Patch "Prestigious Award Given To Glenelg High School Robotics Team" [article]


The Citizen "How a Harrisonburg High School robot became a star" [article and video]


The Patch "Carroll County Chamber Of Commerce : Local Teams Win Awards At District Robotics Championships" [press release]


Martinsville Bulletin "SCHOOLS BRIEFS: MCPS robotics teams dominate; youth essay contest" [article]


A.T.O.M. STEM Academy Monthly News "Highlighting Our STEMtastic Partnership with FIRST Chesapeake Robotics!"


Goochland Gazette "In sole competition of the season Goochland robotics ranked 1st at event – and helped another team build its robot" [article]


Naval Sea Systems Command "NSWC Dahlgren Division Update on 2020 STEM Activities" [article]


Carroll County Times "Carroll County robotics teams compete at home and away" [article]


WTOP "Battle of the bots: High schoolers put their robots to the test in Bethesda" [video]


WRIC 8 News "40 high school teams compete in FIRST Chesapeake Robotics District Competition" [video]


FIRST Chesapeake "2020 FTC VA State Championship Sponsored by Capital One generates crowd and excitement, and sends teams on to FIRST World Championship" [release]


WRIC 8 News "Virginia's Best Compete in National Robotics Competition" [video]


VPM Science Matters "Robotics Competition: FIRST Tech Challenge" [article]


FIRST Chesapeake "FIRST Chesapeake Robotics honors Elizabeth Lindsey at second annual Reaching for the Stars: Women in STEM Breakfast sponsored by Rolls-Royce press release" [release]

Orange County Review "Robots bring students together in Orange for a day of competition, collaboration" [article]

Culpeper Star-Exponent "Regional robotics event in Orange tests creativity of students across Northern Virginia" [article]

Roanoke Times "Robotics competition gears up at Roanoke College" [article]

NRV News "FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifier" [article]


NBC29 WVIR "Robots clash at First Tech Challenge Charlottesville qualifier" [article]


Daily Progress "Area students guide robot battles, gear up for state" [article]


VPM Science Matters "Eye in the Sky" [article]

Henrico Citizen "48 robotics teams to compete Dec. 7 at Deep Run HS" [article]

Virginia Living Magazine "Building Bots" [article] 


WSLS "15 Schools gather in Salem for robotics tournament" [video]


Capital Gazette "Sharon Schultz: Archbishop Spalding's robotics team goes to world championships" [article]


WRIC " ‘Teamwork and strategy made this happen’: L.C. Bird RoboHawks places 4th in World Championship" [video]


Chesterfield Observer "FIRST Robotics Team 346, the RoboHawks" [article]


Fauquier Times "Robotics champions: Fauquier’s little team that could" [article]


WDVM25 "Student robotics team qualifies for world championship" [video]


FCPS "Students Qualify for World Championship" [article]


WTVR 6 "Community rallies around robotics team; helps send them to World Championships" [video]


Village News "RoboHawks earn invitation to Detroit robotics competition" [article]


Tidewater News "Blackwater Robotics to compete internationally" [article]


NBC12 "Four Richmond-area high schools compete in international robotics competition" [article]


CBS6 "'Innovate. Invent. Inspire:' This Richmond robotics team needs your help" [video]


WVEC 13NewsNow "Students score at robotics competition" [video]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Championship Event press release [release]


WSLS "Robotics competition comes to Blacksburg High School" [video]


WDBJ7 "Blacksburg High School hosts robotics competition" [video]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Blacksburg VA Event media advisory [release]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Oxon Hill MD Event media advisory [release]


The Virginian Pilot "An imaginary planet, an evacuation, robots; contest preps students for the future" [article]


Richmond Times-Dispatch "Building a Better Robot" [article]


The Gazette-Virginian "Comets robotics team 12th after quarterfinals" [article]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Portsmouth VA Event Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding media advisory [release]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Owings Mills MD Event Sponsored by Leidos media advisory [release]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Bethesda MD Event Sponsored by Bechtel media advisory [release]


The Tidewater News “Blackwater Robotics competes at FIRST Chesapeake Richmond Event” [article]


Science Matters “Atlee H.S. Hosts State Robotics Championship” [article]


Fairfax County Times “Pinnacle students win 2nd place in regional robotics competition” [article]


BTW21 “New College Institute’s robotics team wins first place at district competition” [article]


Falls Church News Press “Mason’s Robotics Team Takes 2nd at District Event” [article]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Haymarket VA Event Sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton media advisory [release]


WRIC  "Dozens of high school robotics teams compete for championship" [video]

          "Dozens of high school robotics teams compete for championship" [print]


WTVR 6 "Students Compete in annual FIRST Robotics Competition: 'It is incredibly exciting'" [video] 

"Students Compete in annual FIRST Robotics Competition: 'It is incredibly exciting'" [print]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Chesapeake District Richmond VA Event Sponsored by Dominion Energy media advisory [release]


Loudoun Now "Ashburn Team Wins Spot at International Contest" [article] 


The Suffolk News-Herald "Congrats to NSA Robotics" [editorial article]


The Suffolk News-Herald  "NSA Robotics to Compete in World Championship" [article]


The Alexandria Gazette Packet  "Awarding Women in STEM"  [article]


The Centre View  "Awarding Women in STEM"  [article]


The Herndon Connection  "Awarding Women in STEM"  [article]


WSLS TV "Christiansburg robotics team qualifies for World championship" [article]


FIRST Chesapeake - FIRST Tech Challenge Virginia State Championship Sponsored by ECPI University press release [release]


The Progress Index "Bird High School robotics team hosts competition kickoff" [article]


The Progress Index "Appomattox regional team shows off its technological skills as it preps for future competition" [article]


WRIC 8 "Dozens of High Schools Battle in Robot Competition" [video]


WUSA 9 "Robots Take Over Alexandria Competition" [video]


Richmond Times-Dispatch "Richmond Area High Schools Competing in Robotics Competition This Weekend" [article]


WTKR  "High School Robotics Teams to Compete for Technological Superiority" [article]


The Virginian-Pilot "Local teens battle for glory at regional robotics competition in Portsmouth" [article]


WAVY TV  "Teams Across the State Compete at FIRST Chesapeake Robotics Competition" [video]  



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For more information about FIRST Chesapeake please Contact Us.

Download our 2019 Media Kit (Revised 3-22-2019)


FIRST Chesapeake is proud to present a three-part series, sponsored by Qualcomm, that is designed to help deliver a truly inclusive experience to teams and fellow volunteers. Focusing upon equity, diversity, inclusion, and allyship, "Conversations for Change" is led by the highly-respected community advocate and founder of FMS Speaks, Fatima Smith. The goal of this series is to build happier, healthier, and more innovative teams through strategies that capitalize upon the unique skills and experiences of each individual. 
  • As an organization that inspires, supports, and empowers young people, FIRST Chesapeake is offering this opportunity to help better understand issues facing our youth and other members of our community. 
  • Each virtual session offers interactive and practical learning while also providing tools and resources to address change, support inclusive leadership, disrupt unconscious bias, and develop strategies on how to become an effective ally.
  • All sessions are offered at no charge to current or potential FIRST volunteers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, and all mentors and volunteers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. 
This is a very timely moment for all of us to identify what part we will play in making the most rewarding experience possible for the FIRST Chesapeake community. To help promote FIRST Chesapeake's vision of equity and social justice, qualified volunteers who participate in the series will be given priority for prime volunteer roles, when available.  
  • August 14th, 10am- 12:00pm - "Conversations for Change: Where does she, he, & they fit into robotics"
  • September 18th, 10:00am-12:00pm - "Conversations for Change: Exploring race in robotics"
  • October 16th, 10:00am-12:00pm - "Conversations for Change: Having PRIDE in robotics"
 Fatima Smith is the founder of FMS Speaks, Co-Founder of Collective 365 and Color & Culture. As a speaker, consultant and facilitator, Fatima works with individuals and organizations to develop healthier and more rewarding experiences for volunteers and participants.
Sign up today to share your thoughts, successes, and questions about equity, diversity, inclusion,
and allyship at FIRST Chesapeake.
We are excited to share some off-season event opportunities with you. Spaces are limited, so reserve your spot now.
There is a possibility of a 4th off-season event- Rumble in the Roads- that needs a venue in the Hampton Roads area. They are targeting Oct 30 or Nov 6, with Nov 6 as the preferred date. If you have a venue please contact them at  .

Here is a graphic outlining the FIRST HQ 2021-2022 season schedule. 

The 2021-2022 season theme is FIRST® FORWARDSM, presented by Qualcomm.

Check out the season teaser and the game name announcements here.

Registration is open for FIRST Tech Challenge, and you can register your team today.



Inclement Weather


In case of Inclement Weather the day of
a FIRST Chesapeake Event,
Please call 804.464.8945
after 5am for updates