The Rookie was Nemesis's very first robot, built by its founding team members in 2008 for the challenge, Overdrive. Featuring a simple herder and a tall mechanism designed to knock the large trackballs positioned above the field down, the Rookie's strengths were its speed, agile drive team, and reliable autonomous mode. Overdrive was the first FIRST challenge to feature an autonomous mode, which helped level the playing field for the fledgling team. Able to score an immense amount of points at the beginning of the match by knocking down the majority of the game pieces while zipping around the track, the robot continued to be a valuable asset to its alliance by outmanuvering more complicated robots and amassing an impressive number of laps.
This earned it 2nd place at the NJ Regionals and ultimately a place at Nationals and the Fantasy FIRST National Rookie of the Year award.
The Rookie was also shown at the World Science Fair in NYCS and the Museum of Contemporary Science.
FIRST's 2008 competition, Overdrive, is played on a 54 ft (16 m) by 27 ft (8 m) carpeted field which is divided lengthwise by a fence median to create a track, and separated into Red and Blue zones. The fence is crossed by an overpass marking the red and blue ﬁnish lines and hold the game pieces: 40 inch (1,016 mm) diameter inflated balls called "Trackballs". Two three-team alliances race around the track in a counter clockwise direction while manipulating the trackballs to score points.
The game is made up of two scoring periods. The ﬁrst 15 seconds of play is the Hybrid period in which robots are autonomous, and may also respond to certain digital signals sent by team members designated as "Robocoaches," who are stationed at the corners of the track.
During the autonomous period, points are scored by knocking balls off of the overpass and by completing laps around the track.
The next two minutes of play is the teleoperated period. During this time, robots are fully radio controlled by the team operators standing at either end of the ﬁeld. 2 points are scored for completing laps, 8 for tossing a ball over an overpass, and 12 for each trackball placed on an overpass at the end of the match.