Haslett Robotics Club middle school team on its way to the World Championships

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Sam Britten

The Haslett Robotics Club will compete in VEX World Championships.


One of the Haslett Robotics middle school teams, Controlled by Squirrels, is headed to the VEX World Championships that will take place from April 24 to April 27 in Louisville, Kentucky. Before the World Championships, the team will be competing in the National Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa from April 4 to April 6.

Ryan Opel is one of the three coaches of the team. He’s a lawyer that doesn’t know the first thing about robotics, but his son, Ian, is on the team. Opel said that seeing the kids grow and work together before his very eyes is a privilege in and of itself.

Credit: Sam Britten

The Haslett Robotics Club ranges from teams in elementary school, all the way to high school. Each level has several teams.

Two middle schools teams in Haslett made it to the state competition, but this was the only one to make it to the World Championships. Neither of the high school teams nor any of the elementary teams made it as far as the Controlled by Squirrels group.

A few of the students talked about what their favorite parts of the club are.

“I think it’s just interacting with other teams,” said Shahmeer Syed, a seventh-grader at Okemos Chippewa Middle School. “You talk to other teams, you strategize.”

“These people, my teammates, that I’ve been working with for almost two years now, they’ve become some of my best friends that I’ve ever had,” said Ian Opel, a seventh-grader at Haslett Middle School. “I also love the super challenging and competitive parts about it.”

They’re all quite close with one another and have formed some strong bonds over the years.  

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