Westhampton Beach robotics team fundraising in hopes of going to international championship


The regional powerhouse Westhampton Beach Hurricanes robotics team must raise $40,000 for a shot at competing in an upcoming internationally competition.

The Hurricanes ranked third during last week’s SBPLI Long Island Regional #1 in Hempstead with a record of 16-2-0. They also clenched the competition’s Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation for their robot’s design elements that allowed for flawless climbing on inclined monkey bars, coach Tony Kryl said.

The team’s alliance captain, Team R.I.C.E. from Southold High School, selected the Hurricanes as their first pick to join them in the First Championship 2022, an international competition that begins April 20 in Houston.

Before they can head to H-town however, the team must raise funds for transportation, meals, lodging and other trip-related expenses.

Heading into each competition season, Kryl explained the team typically starts with a $20,000 budget, with room to raise addition funds. However, the well dried up this year.

“We had to start from scratch this year, and due to COVID, we really were lacking in funding,” Kryl said. “Everybody was hurting and we didn’t want to solicit businesses due to that, so we kind of struggled along this whole year with funding. We set up the GoFundMe to get help to get these kids to Houston.”

As of Saturday, the GoFundMe raised just over $24,000, slightly more than halfway to its $40,000 goal.

Kryl is confident the team will reach it’s goal and prevent costs from falling on students and their families.

“It looks like we are a go, but we are still looking for donations for the team for the Hurricane Robotics booster team to try to alieviate the costs of this because it’s very big,” he said. “We can’t ask the kids to pay $1,000 each.”

Tough competition

While raising funds is a barrier to entry, the team’s bigger challenge awaits in Houston.

In previous competition seasons, alliances select three teams to head to the world championship. With COVID-19 restrictions in place however, the seeding was cut to two.

“Because First made the cut of the third robot, when we go to world’s, this is the elite of the elite robots going to world championship,” Kryl said. “This is probably going to be the toughest competition we’ve ever been in, because in my 22 seasons of doing this, I’ve never seen this happen were they’ve cut the third robot out. They’re making it a very elite event based in Houston.”