The 411 on “Team 2399”

By Sam Keum



Let’s be honest, when was the last time you heard anything about The Fighting Unicorns (For those of you who do not know by now, that is the name of our Robotics team)? Come to think of it, the only times we hear anything about Robotics is at the beginning of the year – flashback to Grace’s demonstration of the kicking mechanism the robot had this year – and once or twice during second semester when the team begins heading off to various tournaments. Needless to say, this team continuously devotes an incredible amount of their time and effort to successfully represent HB at robotics events, creating structures and programs that would take the average person decades to produce, without receiving nearly as much recognition or support as other teams at HB do. So listed of below are some interesting facts you may not have known about our marvelous team of Fighting Unicorns.

  1. Started in 2007:

A professor from C.W.R.U. came to HB and started team 2399 7 years ago. The team started building their Overdrive robot in an interesting corner of the basement in the Glennan building. Fast-forward to 2010, the team received word a week before registration from Regionals that they had lost their build space and support from Case (gasp!). However, with the help of awesome mentors and faculty, the team pulled through and is now centrally located in a maintenance closet in HB’s own atrium.

  1. Meaning Behind “The Fighting Unicorns” and “Team 2399”:

During the team’s rookie year (circa 2007), a scout came up the team and asked “So are you guys going to win?” and the team responded with, “We have about as much a fighting chance of winning as unicorns do of existing”. This quote stuck with the girls, but it wasn’t until their 2011 season that they decided to rename “TeamHB” to “The Fighting Unicorns”. As for the “Team 2399” title goes, every team in the FIRST Robotics program is assigned a number, and HB was just given number 2399.

  1. They have 25 members on the team:

During the last tournament 21 of the team members went to Chicago because a few girls contribute only during the building process.

  1. They have different positions and captains: 

Each sub-team (electrical, mechanical, and programming) has a designated captain who is responsible for that specific aspect of the robot and making sure rising leaders understand designing the robot. All of the four captains help run the team, along with the head captain Gracie Phillips, and work together to schedule meetings, communicate among the team, teach new or less experienced members, and overall make sure the team is running as efficiently as possible.

  1. Their season is all year-long!

First Season (Pre-Season): This begins around late September/early October (shortly after club’s fair). This is when leaders teach most of the skills necessary for designing and building the robot to the beginners and as refreshers to returning members.

Second Season (“Build”): The most intense part of the year which starts after an international event called “Kickoff”, which is usually one of the first few days of the New Year and lasts for six weeks. Kickoff is essentially when the design of the challenge or ‘game’ is streamed all over the world (yes this is an international competition!). This year it was Aerial Assist; the team had to build a robot that could throw balls through certain goal posts. During this period, the girls design, test, design again, build, adjust, fix, and practice driving a 120 lbs. robot completely from scratch.

Third Season (“Stop Build”):  Every team across the world has to put the robot in a giant bag and cannot touch it until they arrive at a competition. The next month or so isn’t really a season for teams (although technically it is when competitions start), so it’s referred to as “tween season”. However, this year the Fighting Unicorns remade their entire robot for a couple of reasons. Firstly, remaking it allowed for them to discover problems that they were not able to find in the time constraint on the ‘bagged robot’, and made it much easier to fix problems when they arrived at their first competition because they had built it recently. Second, it allowed for their robot drivers to have more practice with maneuvering, a skill that is vital to the team’s performance in matches.

Fourth Season (“Competition Season”): This overlaps with the “Stop Build”. For the seven weeks after “Build”, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday about 10 competitions are held in varying places all over the world. Our team attended two this year (week 4 Buckeye in Cleveland and week 6 Midwest in Chicago). This is when they essentially play the game announced at “Kick-Off” and compete for a place in the world’s competition during the 8th competition week. After this they go into “post season” or “off season” where the team generally does random fun projects to keep their practice up.


The team did extremely well at their last tournament (Chicago), riding around the 15th place in the region for the majority of the competition. For the first few matches, they were very near last place, but with the dedication and contribution of the whole team (scouts, drive team, and pit crew), they were able to finish very strongly!

7. They have their own website!:

If you want to learn more about the team, this spiffy website should satisfy your needs.

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