ESCANABA – Callie Jensen is no stranger to sports. The Gladstone High School senior played basketball, volleyball and golf while in high school. This year, she is also the human player on the BraveBots. They were one of 36 teams that competed this weekend in the FIRST Robotics District Competition in Escanaba.
“I have to get the ball in if it goes out of bounds. You retrieve the ball and put it into play to start the cycle,” she said.
Jensen is one of four players on the BraveBots drive team. Three teams play on an alliance against three other teams. Her job is to help keep the ball in play as the robots they created attempt to score points on the field.
“If a ball goes out of play a volunteer brings you the ball. You cannot cross the yellow lines otherwise it’s a penalty on you. So when you throw the ball in you have to throw it to your robot,” she said.
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They also have to stay within their box on the side of the playing field. The human players wear a red or blue vest depending on which side they are competing on.
The third human player stays in the white area behind the goalie zone.
“If you are in the white boxes you have to put the ball into play that sits on the pedestal that is behind the goalie zone. After the cycle is done the pedestal will light up like it is lit up right now and you retrieve the ball and throw the ball into play. You wait for the pedestal to light up again before you can put another ball into play,” explained Jensen.
She said the game can get intense. Human players can hurt the team by incurring penalties. But she says it is fun.
“It’s kind of weird because there are tons of teams, everybody is cheering but instead of watching people play it’s like watching a basketball game but with robots instead,” she said.
Being a part of the robotics team as been a good experience, Jensen said, especially since she didn’t know what to expect.