FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

A Message from the Woodie Flowers Award Winners

Jan 03, 2022 Written by Woodie Flowers Award Winners




As a youngster, Woodie Claude Flowers was surrounded by loving parents and mentors that instilled many essential core values in “Scooter” including the importance of Woodie being helpful, kind, respectful, inquisitive, and humble. Woodie embodied these values throughout his life. In the early years of FIRST, the highly coveted Johnson & Johnson Sportsmanship Award was born as a celebration of Woodie’s desire to bring sportsmanship together while building robots. Before most of you were born, the seeds of something special were being sown as highlighted when Woodie addressed the 1995 FRC Championships at Disney World:

Today is a celebration of the fantastic amount of interaction and learning that you have been participating in over the last few months. Try, although I know it’s impossible, to take a deep breath and relax and just enjoy this process.  One of the little mental experiments that you would like to do, I think, is to imagine that your Grandparents watch everything that you do while you are here and Gracious Behavior helps more than anything else.

The entire FIRST community were ambassadors to this new concept of Gracious Behavior, with Professionalism and Sportsmanship growing together; GRACIOUS PROFESSIONALISM® was born with Woodie as our shepherd. Woodie often said, it is more important to understand Gracious Professionalism than to define it. In 2004, Woodie premiered Gracious Professionalism in the Game Manual.

Gracious professionals make a valued contribution in a manner pleasing to others and to themselves. In FIRST, one of the most straightforward interpretations of gracious professionalism is that we learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. We try to avoid leaving anyone feeling like they are losers. No chest thumping barbarian tough talk, but no sticky sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, pride and empathy comfortably blended…. In the long run, gracious professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life.

Today, we must all be gracious professionals in everything we do! More than ever, the world needs us to be graceful beacons of light. While there are many definitions of Gracious Professionalism, we all know it when we see it. Please engage with grace and kindness. We encourage and challenge teams to discuss what Gracious Professionalism looks and feels like. If you truly embody Gracious Professionalism, you come away from your competitions feeling  great whether you were first or last. Gracious Professionalism is the greatest gift to your team, your community, and your World.

  • Liz Calef (1997)
  • Mike Bastoni (1998)
  • Ken Patton (1999)
  • Kyle Hughes (2000)
  • Bill Beatty (2001)
  • David Verbrugge (2002)
  • Andy Baker (2003)
  • Dave Kelso (2004)
  • Paul Copioli (2005)
  • Rob Mainieri (2006)
  • Dan Green (2007)
  • Mark Breadner (2008)
  • John Novak (2009)
  • Chris Fultz (2010)
  • John Larock (2011)
  • Earl Scime (2012)
  • Fredi Lajvardi (2013)
  • Lane Matheson (2014)
  • Mark Lawrence (2015)
  • Eric Stokely (2016)
  • Glenn Lee (2017)
  • Gail Drake (2018)
  • Allen Gregory (2019)
  • Lucien Junkin (2020)
  • Matt Fagen (2021)
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If you are new to FIRST and haven't seen or felt Gracious Professionalism yet, you just may not have noticed it.  Try this, pull a little Gracious Professionalism out of your own pocket where it is hidden.  Then may you see it arise all around you like a field full of fireflies.

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