We are nominating Stephanie (Steph) Morrison, the head coach and founder of 5803 Apex Robotics, as an exceptional and versatile mentor. She began her FIRST adventure as a member of Raisbeck Aviation High School’s robotics team, 1983. She went on to graduate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts with a full ride FIRST scholarship, and has come back to coach her sister’s team.
Steph is a kind and inspiring communicator who finds ways to include students, parents, and mentors. She always is willing to help students with problems. Steph won’t just give the answer though, she often gives students a piece of the solution and encourages them to solve the rest. One of her strongest methods of communication is through goal setting. Steph has taught us that goal maps help measure success, and before the season she has us pick a season goal and identify every stepping stone goal we must accomplish in order to get there. By identifying each goal along the way, she helps us see that success is not determined by meeting our ultimate goal, but more the accomplishments it takes to get there.
Last season Steph’s motto every match was, “do the tasks”, by saying this she taught us that everyone was given a task integral to the success of our team. She continued to remind us that our success was not defined by us winning matches, but as long as everyone (including the robot) did the task assigned, we would be successful. When Steph would tell the drive team to “do the tasks” before every match she would then outline specific tasks which made the driver’s job simpler by having him focus on two or three things instead of focusing on winning. At first her task motto seemed repetitive and useless, but it soon became clear that when everyone pays attention to the little details of their task, the big picture will take care of itself. Inevitably, many matches were lost, but instead of making us feel like we failed to do our tasks, she would always point out the tasks that we did accomplish and the tasks that we want to focus more on.
Another method Steph incorporates into our team is the freedom to do whatever interests the students. She put a lot of work into organizing workshops based on student interest which demonstrated what each sub-category would look like during a typical build season day. She leads our team with an open mind lets everyone try any aspect of the team that interests them. By being a programmer, CAD designer, builder, and coach she is a perfect example of her message that no one is limited to just one area of the team.
Stephanie is an inspiring friend and an amazing head coach. She can engage people of all ages and personalities. She is amiable and compassionate, but also diligent and organized. She teaches by example, and models how we should act as team members. She helps us reach our goals and has taught us that as long as we identify and complete our tasks in life, we can consider ourselves successful.