ATA team reflects on robotics win, looks ahead to next competition

CONWAY (WBTW) – Monday was a quiet day for the team at Horry County's Academy for Technology and Academics, two days after it was part of the winning three-team alliance at the FIRST Robotics Palmetto Regional competition at Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

“I've been doing this for seven years,” said ATA's coach, Meri Smith. “To take the Palmetto Regional in Myrtle Beach-you can't beat that. There's nothing better than that, doing it on your home turf.”

The team scored near the bottom in the first round on Friday, but it's skills impressed the other two teams and they chose the ATA team to form the winning alliance.

“It shows we were consistent and were good at scoring points,” said ATA team member and 12th grader Ty Holmes. “It shows we put in the time and it paid off.”

The win moves ATA's team–and the alliance–on to the international FIRST Robotics competition in Saint Louis at the end of April, a move the team will need community support to make happen.  Businesses can even sponsor the team, and write it off on taxes.

“I'd hate for them to miss this opportunity,” said Smith.  She said the robot needs to be shipped out this week in order to make it to the competition in time.

She also said the win highlights the success of the robotics craze among all Horry County schools, which all fielded teams at the Palmetto Regional.

“(That's) a big plus for Horry County,” she said. “It shows Horry County is not just a tourism county, we're not just a beach and hotels. We are technologically advanced and have the kids here who have the skills and the knowledge to support the industry to come to this area.”

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