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
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.
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
December 4, 2020
You are invited to attend a remote Town Hall on Tuesday, December 15th, at 6:00pm on Twitch- https://twitch.tv/firstchesapeake - 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.
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
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- https://twitch.tv/firstchesapeake. 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
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
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-20th, District 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.
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.
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Meeting ID: 149 506 2011
March 18, 2020
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.
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: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1493160069
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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 Ellis, FIRST 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
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: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1497171975
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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
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.
- 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
- 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.)
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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
March 3, 2020 message