Mount Olive Ministries Robotics Team Purple Thunder

Pictured are Coach Ray Holt and Team Purple Thunder members Caleb Lee, Cynahmon Lee, Marcus Brown, Tremaine Easterling, Hieu Dang, Alexis Drake, Hannah Love, Marquavious Sims, Whitney Schreiber, Alana Peden, and Mariah Duckworth. (Photo credit: Michelle Pesek)

On March 2nd, eleven students (Hieu Dang, Mariah Duckworth, Marquavious Sims, Alexis Drake, Caleb Lee, Whitney Schreiber, Hannah Love, Cynahmon Lee, Alana Peden, Marcus Brown, and Tremaine Easterling) from the Mount Olive Ministries Robotics Program (Team Purple Thunder) competed in the FIRST® Tech Challenge hosted by the University of Mississippi’s Center for Math and Science Education.

Team Purple Thunder received 1st Place in the Innovative Award (Best Robot Design), 2nd in the Inspire Award (Overall), and ranked as a top three Finalists in the following categories: First Tech Challenge Design Award, the Motivate Award, and the Connect Award.  There are only two teams from Mississippi that will be competing against 100 teams in the World Robotic Competition which is to be held in St. Louis, MO on April 24 – 27, 2013.  The teams are Techno Warriors Advanced from Brandon, MS, and Mount Olive Ministries’ Team Purple Thunder.

Instructor/coach Ray Holt (a technology pioneer and computer scientist) states, “I am one very proud coach. I knew if they stayed with the program and worked hard, they could be in the top two.  These students represented Mount Olive, Magee, and Prentiss with honor and class.”

LightningAccording to the robot builders (Caleb, Hieu, Marcus, and Tremaine), “We were confident in our robot to perform very well during competition.”  They added that after the report from the spy members (Hannah, Cynahmon, and Alexis), they knew their robot would out perform their opponents. The spy members were responsible for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents’ robots and report their findings to the team.  According to Whitney (team captain) and Marquavious, “the spy report reconfirmed that doing the best with what you have and taking advantage of the people around you make great things happen.”  When the robot drivers (Caleb, Hieu, and Mariah) saw the spy report, they put together an alliance game plan that led the team to St. Louis. If you would like to follow Team Purple Thunder during their competition, visit them at You can also watch video at: .

While Techno Warriors is sponsored by Nissan, Tony C. Duckworth (President/chief fundraiser of Mount Olive Ministries) is busy seeking sponsors for Team Purple Thunder.  “Mr. Holt kept telling me a few days before the event that the kids had a good chance to finish in the top two,” said Duckworth.  “When I saw the other 28 teams with major sponsors, I prayed and asked God to bless our team to perform to the best of their ability. Operating on a low budget can be stressful, but our students demonstrated they can compete against anyone anywhere at any time,” stated Duckworth.

According to Duckworth, “I am busy working to raise the $25,000 needed to ensure all fees, lodging, traveling, material, and additional equipment by April 2 to pay for the St. Louis trip.”  Duckworth is thankful for the support of MissisRobot in Actionsippi Hub, Real Foundation, and Brandon Petroleum Properties.  Special thanks to John Schreiber for underwriting the hotel cost, Walter Blain, Sr. for underwriting the food cost, and the parents for helping fundraise.

If you are interested in sponsoring Team Purple Thunder for the World Robotic Competition, please contact Tony C. Duckworth at 601.466.0600 or at  Sponsorship checks can be mailed to P.O. 875, Mt. Olive, MS  39119.  Checks should be made payable to Mount Olive Ministries.  Online support can be made at  All checks are tax deductible.

Category: Ole Miss Competitions , Robotics