Lake race leads to learning

BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
School may be out for the summer but students on the Team RUSH Robotics team are hard at work with their annual Rush Regatta quickly approaching on July 13.
The students are divided into teams and as they build their duct tape and cardboard boats to sail at Deer Lake Beach during the event, they are also getting businesses to sponsor them.
“Our teams compete to fundraise,” said junior Evan Bennett, on Team One for his third regatta. “We compete with the boat as well as competing with the presentation.”
Senior Logan Rajala, also on Team One, and participating in his fourth and final regatta, added they have been bringing in more sponsors but the team has also grown.
“Going from 36 to 43 students, the money is definitely a big focus for our team to try to raise more than we ever had in the past,” he said.

Team RUSH students, from left in front, Gabe Puzio, Logan Rajala, Lauren Issac, Isabella Kupe, Evan Bennett, and in the back, Garrett Bailey with their 2019 robot. Photo by Wendi Reardon Price

Team RUSH raises money during the summer so when they receive game details in January, they can focus on building the robot and getting ready for competitions.
Money raised goes towards supplies to build the robot, competition registrations and travel expenses.
“The bus we used this year bussed us down to Alabama and that was pretty dang expensive as well as our hotels,” Bennett added. “We stay at hotels for every single competition, even locally, as it unifies our team and helps us get ready for each competition day. Those things are really important to our team and our will to fundraise is supported by it.”
“There’s a lot of expenses,” Rajala added.
Freshman Lauren Issac is also on Team One and everything is new to her as it is her first regatta.
“It was difficult at first to start fundraising,” she said. “I had a hard time getting into the process of calling people, but I am getting pretty good at it now.”
Senior Garrett Bailey is on Team 99, the fundraising team, as he will be out of town for three weeks during most of the boat building. He said it was a challenge because everyone is raising a lot of money and he is by himself.
“I also have an advantage because I am not building a boat so 100 percent of my time is dedicated to raising money,” he added.
The students added Team RUSH’s community service and success competing on not only the state level but in the FIRST Robotics World Championship helps while they find sponsors. A big boost was winning the World Championship in 2018 as now, people know them.
“Going to the World Championships was our big point when we were marketing to different companies,” said junior Gabe Puzio, on Team Five. “It definitely helped us get a big sponsor from Evan.”
“Basing it on successes we had in 2019, we had one of the Entrepreneurship awards on the World level and that’s another thing we like to include when we are calling sponsors,” added junior Isabella Kupe, on Team Five. “It can help them see we are also business based as well and that can be a big shifter for some people.”
For boat building, the parameter restrictions and end game changes every year but a few things that never change are the spending limit to build, materials to use building the boat can only be tape, cardboard and liquid nails, and the boat should hold 4-6 high school students.
The students compete for the prestigious RUSH Cup which goes to the team who earns the most points in three different categories – Cash Crusaders, Wicked Fast Watercraft and Enterprising & Seaworthy. The maximum points they can earn in one category is 10 points.
The teams also compete for best theme.
The annual RUSH Regatta is at Deer Lake Beach on Saturday, July 13. It begins with a boat parade at 12 p.m.
“Come down,” said Kupe. “See the race.”
“It’s fun. Last year, a couple students were helping get ready one boat for a race because we wanted to have a good finals race – a good show for the audience to see,” Rajala said, adding it’s a great camaraderie between the teams.
Read more about the teams and RUSH Regatta in an upcoming edition of The Clarkston News.