Lion Cup III Diocesan Robotics Tournament a huge success

With a blast of confetti canons, the third annual Diocese of Venice Catholic Schools Lion Cup III Robotics Tournament kicked off April 20, 2024, at Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers.

The Lion Cup – a STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math) middle and high school round-robin tournament, included 240 competitors and 30 teams representing many of the 15 Diocesan Catholic schools and was a success.

The competition was fierce, and the intensity built as the day progressed and the participants became laser-focused on being the best.

Emotions ran high as teams raced to program their robots to accomplish various tasks in a specific order in a limited amount of time. “Fun!” “Amazing!” “Awesome!” “Intense!” “Wonderful!” were just some of the emotions the student competitors had at the end of the day.

St. Joes 8 team from St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton topped the middle school competition, while the Verot Bots of host Bishop Verot took the top prize in the high school tournament.

Members of the Verot Bots Jocelyn Sweeney, Jaxon Kurio, Tobias Gomez, and Caden Kellum, were overjoyed that their hard work, time and effort paid off with a victory. With big smiles, the students said the entire competition was stressful, however the teamwork and preparation and perseverance paid off.

“This is sweet. We worked so hard,” said Caden Kellum.

Utilizing the First Lego League Masterpiece challenge set, the middle school robots were made from Lego pieces and traversed an obstacle course, attempting to pick up items along the way. Teamwork came into play in design, construction and strategy. Students coded their robots to autonomously complete missions for points.

The high school robots are 10 times larger and are both autonomous and have a remote control as they complete assigned tasks. In the case of the competition, the robots needed to pick up and place discs on a slanted board with slots, and the discs would journey to the bottom for points (different colored discs were worth different points). Bonus points were added for shooting a paper airplane out of the competition zone, as well as for being able to hang the robot from support bars.

The teams participated in a round robin format with each team getting the chance to have their robot compete at least twice. The top teams made the semifinals, and an eventual winner was crowned. In between the intense competition the teams had pizza and sweets.

Father John Belmonte, SJ, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Education, said the few hours of competition brought out the best from the students and reflected their core Catholic virtues.

“The Lion Cup is a celebration of learning, friendship, and fun,” Father Belmonte said.

Jennifer Falestiny, Diocese Curriculum Specialist, organized the event and was pleased to see so many competitors. “This is so wonderful to see everyone get so involved and excited about STREAM and robotics.”

The Lion Cup honors St. Mark, one of the patron saints of the Diocese of Venice, whose symbol features a winged lion. The competition also pays homage to Leonardo da Vinci, inventor of many of the first robots, one of which resembles a lion.

Da Vinci’s works incorporate three design attributes developed by Vitruvius, a famous Roman architect and engineer: Firmitas (strength), Utilitas (utility) and Venustas (beauty). Special awards were presented to the teams that reflected the attributes of Firmitas, Utilitas, and Venustas. These superlative awards were based on the review of undercover judges.

The day opened with a prayer led by Father Belmonte and then a blasting off of dozens of confetti canons. Many parents, family members, principals and teachers attended the competition, cheering on the various students teams.



The winning teams were:

Middle school

1st – St. Joes 8 – St. Joseph Catholic School, Bradenton

2nd – Tech Tigers 2 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School, Venice

3rd – CTRL+ALT+WIN 1 – St. Andrew Catholic School, Cape Coral


High School

1st – Verot Bots – Bishop Verot Catholic High School, Fort Myers

2nd – Tito Bots – St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Naples

3rd – Steel Cats 1 – Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Sarasota


Firmitas – Strength – St. Mark – Co-Patron of the Diocese of Venice – positive Catholic strength, culture and character

Middle school – CTRL+ALT+WIN 2 – St. Andrew Catholic School

High school – Neumann 4 – St. John Neumann Catholic High School


Utilitas – Utility – St. Marcina – Patron Saint of Robots – robotic design and function

Middle school – Tech Tigers 2 – Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School

High school – Verot Bots – Bishop Verot Catholic High School


Venustas – Beauty – Our Lady – robotic design, innovation and creativity

Middle school – Falcon 2024 – St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, Fort Myers

High school – Steel Cats 1 – Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School


Congratulations to the winners, and to all who participated in this challenging competition!