“It was absolutely shocking. I did not know what to think for half an hour afterward.”
Brandon Baker, a student from Tri-County Career Center in the HVAC and Plumbing program said those words after winning gold in the Ohio SkillsUSA HVAC competition on April 25. The win grants him a trip to compete in the national competition in Atlanta from June 19-23.
“The thing I am looking forward to the most would have to be the whole event altogether. Just thousands of people, the whole production. It sounds like it is going to be a good time,” he said.
During the competition, Baker did many different trials including soldering and brazing, parts identification on a furnace and air conditioning unit, the basics of refrigeration on a chilling system, as well as a 100-question written test.
Baker has been preparing for this for the past two years in his lab but he also works alongside his father who does HVAC work for a living.
“Thankfully that preparation paid off,” Baker said.
However, Baker did not enter this competition with the mindset of winning.
“I expected to do half decent. Maybe third or second place, but I did not expect to win.”
Baker’s instructor, Tim Snedden, was on the opposite side of the spectrum.
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“He had zero confidence in himself, but I knew he had it in him. I had the confidence in him,” said Snedden.
Baker enjoyed getting to know his fellow competitors and got to talk to them about their own schools and what they have been doing in their programs. He shared that he will not be forgetting these moments for a very long time.
“I got very discouraged towards the beginning, thought I did awful, but you just got to keep working at it,” said Baker.
During the awards ceremony, Baker and Snedden sat next to each other. Although Baker was not expecting it, his name was announced loudly over many speakers and his name came up on the bright screen above the stage. Cheering from fellow students that attend Tri-County could be heard as they all found out at the same time that their friend and classmate had one gold.
“I couldn’t believe that I was looking at the screen and seeing that his name was up there. He had been counting himself out. It took us three or four seconds to realize that he had won,” said Snedden.
“Wherever he goes he is going to be a wonderful asset and he has proven himself as a leader here at Tri-County,” he added. “He will take that on to his career outside of here. He will be a wonderful technician, and he will excel at whatever he chooses to do.”
Achilles Wesney is a student journalist with Tri-County Career Center and High School’s New Media+ program. This article originally appeared on The 360, a publication of the New Media+ program at Tri-County Career Center.
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