The special group of people who make our FLL events possible

Galo Grau - Tournament Director for the Sacramento Regional, introduces his tournament volunteers

During my years of involvement with FIRST, there is a group of people that never cease to amaze and impress me: the volunteers. These are the individuals who give up their Saturdays or Sundays (sometimes traveling great distances) to referee, judge or help out at our FLL events.

Gail Owens referees at the Sacramento Regional Tournament

The volunteers of FLL events come from all over. Some are FIRST alumni and are very vested in the program; some have friends or family members involved in FIRST teams, others were convinced to help out by experienced volunteers, while some have never even heard of FIRST before agreeing to ‘give it a go’.

I was curious as to what these volunteers thought about their experiences, and a few of them were kind enough to share their thoughts with me.

“I love being involved with FIRST Lego tournaments!  I am naturally awkward in front of a crowd of people, but the duties of a referee are a good fit and one where I feel I can make a contribution.  The robot competition is awe-inspiring.  When each round is over and I walk with the team to turn in their field score sheet, I am as proud of “my kids” as any parent could be!” Roger Evans

“I had no idea what an event like this was all about – and am so glad that I  had the chance to participate. I had an absolute blast ! These kids and the things they accomplished were amazing. I will definitely want to do this again!” Mark Buck

“A rookie participant thanked me “for making this day fun for all of us” after a qualifying tournament this season.  It was the ultimate compliment because that is what I set out to do whenever I judge.  My goal is to create an engaging and relaxed atmosphere so the children can optimize their learning and have fun doing so.  I also strive to help them mine the valuable learning that can be found when things go wrong.  I am grateful to be a first-hand witness to children stretching and growing in so many ways — well beyond the nuts-and-bolts of engineering and programming.” Gail Owens

“Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this event. First, the opportunity to witness extraordinary youngsters performing roles beyond what I had thought possible. Some used medical terminology from memory which I would have difficulty saying it correctly even with a medical dictionary in front of me.
Secondly, some groups showed amazing team spirit and respect for one another which I found refreshing and admirable. Thanks again for the opportunity and I look froward to another event.” Nasser Salehinia

“To see the excitement, the commitment and the pride that the team members
have at the tournaments in their robot and projects gives me hope that the next generation of scientists, teachers and technicians will continue to solve the medical, engineering and environmental issues that they will face” Bill Vogel


Roger Evans refs a match at the Granite Bay Qualifier
(R to L) Mike McKeig, Mark Buck (design judges) and Bill Vogel (Head judge) at a Qualfiying Tournament

Maybe you want to become an invaluable volunteer too?

For information about volunteering at an official FLL tournament, click here

For some great information about volunteering in general (along with detailed information on how to volunteer in the Nor Cal area), check out Playing@Learning: click here