Young Honduran robotics team without coach at competition after visa denied

Friday, April 19, 2019
Robotics team faces competition without coach after visa denied
Tens of thousands of people are in Houston for the World Robotics Competition, but a coach from a small Honduran school had to be left behind.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Tens of thousands of students from around the world packed into the George R. Brown Convention Center Thursday for the World Robotics Competition, the third year it's been held in Houston.

Students from more than 50 states came, including one team who went into the competition without their coach.

Students from a small school in Honduras are without coach Erick Morales, after he was denied a visa to come to the United States.

"We're up for the challenge, but it's still kind of disappointing," says student Judy Klugmann.

She says, "The lady at the embassy, she was like, 'I really want to, I know you're going to competition, but I can't do anything.'"

Morales applied for a visa through the embassy, twice. The second time he was asked to bring more documents. He did, but still his application was denied. He was told it was because of policy changes that they couldn't let him in. The team traveled to Texas without him.

"This is our first time competing, and this is the first time our country has competed in the First Lego League, so we're the only ones that don't have a coach," says Klugmann.

Morales even applied for just a one-time visa to and from the U.S., and was again denied.

The team is now trying to make the most out of the situation.

"They were all sad, upset, they'll deal with it and it's, you know, against all odds they'll make it through," says second coach Veronica Cardenas.

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