After competing together for years, a local Odyssey of the Mind team has finally accomplished its goal of qualifying to compete at the World Finals in Ames, Iowa.
Now, the team is busy raising the $5,000 they need need to make the trip.
They’re doing car washes, a garage sale and restaurant fundraisers, and are hoping for the community’s support to help make their dream come true.
The four-member team is made up of students attending three different high schools.
Two of them — Kaden Robinson and Donovan Snider — attend Wesley Chapel High School. Another — Kayla Gutierrez — attends Wiregrass Ranch High School. And, Alec Guillen attends Eastlake High School.
The coaches for the team are Kayla’s mom, Tammy and Kaden’s brother, Devin.
The students from Wiregrass Ranch and Wesley Chapel have been competing together since they have been in middle school.
Other team members have come and gone, even as late as this year.
Odyssey of the Mind is an international program that encourages youths to work together as teams to use their creative and analytical skills to solve problems.
Last year, the team was on the brink of qualifying for the World Finals. They placed third at state, but only the top two teams advance to the world stage.
The year before, they came in fifth.
The core group has been together for five years, and that’s an advantage, Gutierrez said.
“We’re able to get working faster because you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You know who works well with what and who doesn’t, so you’re really able to divide and conquer the workload and get things done quickly,” she said.
Robinson noted another benefit: “It’s much easier to motivate each other, as well. Being together for so long, you tend to form a bond, like family.”
It’s a bond that extends beyond Odyssey, Robinson said. “We’re there in support for each other, whenever we’re going through anything in life.”
Snider agreed: “We’re a family first and a team second.”
The team has done most of the preparation it needs to do before making the 20-hour trip to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, for the competition that will be held May 25 through May 28.
Now, they’re focusing mostly on fundraising and have a number of events planned in coming weeks.
At the world competition, they’ll be testing their skills against teams who are converging on Iowa from all over the globe. About 800 teams are expected to compete and countries that will be represented there include Russia, China, India, Poland, Japan and Morocco, to name just a few.
During one part of the competition, they’ll be presenting a play. The theme of their presentation will be “Saying Goodbye to Odyssey,” which draws on their years of competing in the competition, and which draws on their creativity and problem-solving.
“We have 8 minutes for set up and performance,” Gutierrez said. “We’re bringing past Odyssey into the present so we can move through to the future because we’re all moving on,” she said.
The entire team plans to shift into judging OM after this year because Robinson is graduating and will no longer be able to compete with them.
Snider said he’s grateful the team has held together for this long and is happy to be going out on a high note by competing at the international level.
“We’ve been trying for five years,” Snider said.
Fundraisers for Odyssey of the Mind Team
Carwash: 5811 Ehren Cutoff, Land O Lakes, May 14 and May 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Moe’s fundraiser: 28211 Paseo Drive Suite 100, Wesley Chapel. May 7 and May 14, 3 p.m. to closing
Texas Roadhouse fundraiser: 26409 Silver Maple Parkway, Wesley Chapel, May 16, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser: 26725 State Road 56, Wesley Chapel, May 9 and May 18, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Garage Sale: 30546 Eastcourt Drive, Wesley Chapel, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Published May 4, 2016