In advance, sorry if this is rant-y or essay-like, just I've been reading this and debating whether to post.
I guess my perspective is slightly different? I don't mean to discount the fact that teams had their starts and everything, but Ward, Mounds View, and Solon I feel have been around a bit longer than some teams in the long term (at least to my memory, I can check to confirm). I do know of newer schools coming up (heck, I think Seven Lakes or something is fairly new) and definitely scioly is a dynamic arena. But that said it isn't easy in the slightest sense going up against perennial teams. At least for my team, we're always getting small mistakes that cost us big time at states. I won't say whether we will get to nats or not, I can't guarantee it (heck Ward and FM I guess can't even, no offense meant). All I can say is Syosset and the rest of NYS will definitely be bringing competition
Another point. So many people ask how to motivate teams...and personally from experience with my middle school and even my astronomy club in high school I know how tough it is to get people to do what you want and well too. Sometimes things have to come with time, and that's all really one can do. A lot of things can motivate. I'll say that people should never become unmotivated going up against top schools, I still tried even in middle school despite knowing that I'd never get to states just because I found it fun. In general, the combination of having to try and motivate your team, and other problems like say unsupportive coaches or lack of resources/experience always can be extraordinarily difficult to conquer (I know first hand). The other thing I must say is teams have different styles, that's certainly true. I can probably say what has worked for Ward Melville, FM, Solon, Troy, Harriton, or a whole slew of other schools may not work at my school, and our system here probably wouldn't work in most schools. There could be aspects like tryouts, invites, practices, hangouts, etc that can be helpful, but really the EXACT way they're done will be different. Even a mentality of let's get 1st or let's have fun may not always work just because different people within a team can work off of different motivation. I know the ideas mentioned weren't meant to be applicable 100% to all (since in general seems like building up culture was the main theme which I agree is important), but I'm just reiterating from what I've seen that exact processes won't crossover.
I guess this is all sort of general, but that's because making nats is just well...so darn tough. I've been through three years of being close, and I'm at least happy we can keep trying hard to get there...but it has been tough. I feel like probably other teams that have gotten close and not made it know what I'm talking about...like idk, my team works ridiculous amounts of hours sometimes and still doesn't come out on top. And that isn't leaving out the fun we have, I have picture proof for kentuckyfan and anyone else that may know of my team XD. But either way, we've even faced troubles this year that we've managed to fight through, and stuff like that I can at least be proud of, but it's just really tough when you're up against a team that has really so much experience. I do always wonder how teams respond to mine sometimes in the sense that technically in the past few years we've gotten tons better, but at the same time we still haven't reached nats yet.
I do agree there aren't so many secrets, but teams definitely gain advantages with time alone, and teams that get to nats for multiple years I think undeniably tend to do better (for a fairly clear reason). That is also clearly no guarantee, I would of course never say that, and I don't believe I have. But I guess it's just all contrasting views. I do agree with the advice given, but I'm just qualifying that it can be difficult (which I believe is agreed upon).
B: Crave the Wave, Environmental Chemistry, Robo-Cross, Meteorology, Physical Science Lab, Solar System, DyPlan (E and V), Shock Value
C: Microbe Mission, DyPlan (Earth's Fresh Waters), Fermi Questions, GeoMaps, Gravity Vehicle, Scrambler, Rocks, Astronomy
Grad: Writing Tests/Supervising (NY/MI)