Team Purple Thunder (a Robotic Program of Mount Olive Ministries – Mt. Olive, MS) participated in its first year High School Robotic Competition and made its name known at both State and World. On April 24-27, Team Purple Thunder competed in the World Robotic Competition in St. Louis, MO at the Edward Jones Dome. The team, parents, and volunteers left Mount Olive, Mississippi on April 22 to get an early start on competition preparation and site visits.
“Team Purple Thunder did GREAT at the World Robotic Competition. Out of 128 total FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams at World representing 14 different countries, Team Purple Thunder (#5963 from Mt. Olive, MS) wow-ed the judges all week and were the highest ranked rookies (13th) in the Franklin Division,” according to Mannie Lowe FTC Program Manager/Center for Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Mississippi.
“To watch our team compete and win against teams from Russia, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, and many other teams was amazing,” said Tony C. Duckworth president of Mount Olive Ministries. Duckworth adds, “Many times during their robotic matches I had to walk away to keep Team Purple Thunder from noticing my emotions…to see our students competing on the world stage from a small town in Mississippi was awesome.”
According to Ray Holt, Team Purple Thunder coach, “Team Purple Thunder performed flawlessly. They were the team to beat and other teams put up a strong defense against them.” “Our robot was ranked #1 in Mississippi and #2 in Mississippi for the Inspire Award (overall). This team has an overall 92% GPA in school and all of them want to attend college. Rural Mississippi is now a force in the robotics world.” Holt adds, “I am very proud of every team member for working hard and showing that given the opportunity they can perform with the best.”
Walter Blain, Sr. is one of the Robotic Program’s volunteers. He and his wife traveled to St. Louis to be with the team. “I thought the team did good to be their first time participating and ranking as high as they did,” stated Blain, former owner of The Blain Companies. “This achievement shows how hard the students and Ray worked,” add Blain.
“I can’t wait for next year to compete again,” said Hannah Love. Each team member had an exciting time competing and interacting with other teams. They also exchanged contact information and received gifts from the foreign teams. Team members of Team Purple Thunder are made up of 5 girls and 5 boys with grades ranging from 6th.-11th. Mariah Duckworth, Marquavious Sims, Hannah Love, Whitney Schreiber, Alexis Drake, Hieu Dang, and Tremaine Easterling of Mt. Olive, Cynahmon and Caleb Lee of Magee, MS, and Marcus Brown of Prentiss, MS.
“Over the past three years, we have watched the program grow and develop and we’re excited to see Mount Olive Ministries’ FTC Team Purple Thunder qualify to go to the FIRST World Championship this year! We commend the Mount Olive Ministries as being an example for other programs within Mississippi,” said Dr. John O’Haver, Director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and Professor of Chemical Engineering at The University of Mississippi.