Bloomfield Hills High School student Thomas Gormley (grade 11) was awarded the Young Mentor Award at a 2021 FIRST Robotics FTC State Championship event. The award recognizes the young adult who most clearly provides “support, impact, inspiration, and guidance” to a team. Gormley, who is part of the BHHS Bionic Black Hawks #2834 robotics team, mentored the Durfee Elementary (Detroit) Bulldogs.
In their nomination form, the Bulldogs team noted that Gormley, “despite carrying a heavy AP class load and being a CAD leader on 2834, volunteers every Tuesday and Thursday after school, many long weekends at the lab, and every single day as we lead up to the tournament.” The nomination continued, “He will be here with us at load in, at robot inspection, and will serve as our drive team and scouting coach throughout the long tournament. He will sit at the lunch table with the drive team and talk about match performance and strategy. He will be there to lend an ear when one of our team members is feeling overwhelmed or blue.”
Gormley credits showing accountability, dependability, and respect as key to being a great mentor. The experience also provided some wonderful memories for Gormley and the team. “The most memorable thing to happen this year was the look on all of our kid's faces at the first tournament when they realized they could do it,” said Gormley. “Most of them are used to one struggle after another. The next meal is often unknown for more than half of our kids. When they won, on their own merit, with something they created, the light in their eyes was truly something special.”
Kate Hayman, a Bloomfield Hills Schools parent and the coach of the Durfee Bulldog robotics program, said Gormely’s award was well-deserved. “Our program needs Thomas desperately because we have no teachers or parent volunteers. He shows kindness, patience, and a real desire to teach and spread the values of FIRST. He believes wholeheartedly in the importance of expanding opportunity through FIRST to those students who would benefit most and, yet, have the least opportunity to participate. If you watch Thomas with the members of our team, you will see how much the students love him as a teacher and a friend. He has shown them qualities that are rare in many of their lives - encouragement, kindness, and dependability.”
“I am unsure of who gained more out of this experience – the kids or me,” said Gormley. “Starting a robotics program in an inner city area really connected me with how lucky I am and how valuable it is to give back.”