TCU Robotics teams head to national, state tournaments

Submitted photo

TCU Robotics Team Kooler and Team Gear Train. Pictured from the left are, Team Kooler, Camden Flicek, Fransisco Mendez, Logan Dietz and Brennen Russek; and Team Gear Train, Hank Sladek, Ben Ballman, Aidan Miland, Mavrick Budin and Zach Holicky.

High school national tournament teams

Two Tri-City United Robotics teams, Team Kooler and Team Gear Train, have been invited to the 2024 CREATE U.S. Open Robotics Tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa, from March 14-16. Qualified teams across the United States, Canada and internationally compete in this signature event. The high school tournaments will have four divisions, each division having approximately 45-55 teams competing.  

Team Kooler has a robot capable of throwing and gathering objects from the arena. They proved to be an awesome alliance, earning them an overall individual standing of 3rd place in our home tournament.

Team Gear Train has a short robot capable of clearing goals and quickly navigating the arena, making them able to fly across the arena to be in just the right spot at the right time, earning them a 13th individual standing in our home tournament.

These placements, combined with taking home the 2nd place tournament trophy and overall skills demonstrated in the tournaments so far this year, have earned them this opportunity to compete against top teams from around the United States.

At the beginning of the season, TCU students interested in building, programming and competing in robotics join the Robotics Club to learn. They formed teams and designed their robots based on their understanding of the game challenge and their knowledge of robot building.

Throughout the season, they refined their robots based on their competition results and worked collaboratively with their teammates to overcome technical and interpersonal challenges. The entire experience allowed them to learn about the engineering process of building something from scratch and create unforgettable memories that enriched their lives.

“Our robotics team wouldn’t be what it is today without the support and donations from our communities,” states Head Robotics Advisor Jeff Ballman. “This is a big deal for our teams; they have worked so hard to get here, and both teams are working to raise funds for travel expenses and accommodations. They are so excited to go. I am excited for our students and this opportunity for them, so if anyone wants to learn more about ways to extend support, feel free to reach out.”

If you are a student or parent of a student interested in joining or have questions about robotics, contact Ballman at


Middle school state tournament team

The middle school Duckinators robotics team is a fresh group of students that has earned their spot at the VEX Robotics Middle School State Tournament on Feb. 29 and March 1 at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center.

“They’ve learned to really work well as a team. As a seventh-grade group, they have never competed before. So, they had to learn how to work well as a team, and that is something they’ve done very well,” said Head Robotics Advisor Jeff Ballman.

The Duckinators recently placed.....

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