Anticipation is an athletic attribute that often gets described as one of the mythical “intangibles” that can’t be coached, that players are seemingly born with.
But in reality, it’s the result of players and coaches thinking a couple of steps ahead of the game, deciding what is likely to happen and how that will impact the game. They anticipate what will happen because they’ve played out the scenarios mentally in their head or physically in practice so they recognize the next step.
The same is true with athletic programs and their ability to anticipate the needs of their fans and athletes. A perfect case in point: Hardin-Simmons. Chad Grubbs, Director of Athletic Communications, and his program have been able to use technology to continually elevate and grow their communications as expectations have increased. We caught up with Chad to better understand what aspects of technology he finds important for his program.
What are the goals for your program and how do you measure success?
Our goals for our athletic department and our school are to have a program that competes not only on the conference level but the national level in our sports while providing our students an education that is enlightened by Christian faith and values. We want to develop Christian leaders that go out and change the world. We measure our success not only by our wins and losses, but by the number of lives we are able to touch through athletics. We’re always asking how can we reach more people to tell our story. That makes all of our digital platforms important.
How do you feel that PrestoSports has served the needs of schools like you?
I feel like PrestoSports has more of a feel and can understand the issues. Whenever you need something that's specific for your school, they can go out and tailor that. I think that's been one of my favorite things about working with PrestoSports.
How has PrestoSports affected your day to day operations?
I think it's really easy for me, obviously I've been in the system, so I know where everything is. But it's also easy to train our students and our other employees on it. How you post a photo, how you post a press release – all those things are critical to what our fans see, but no one sees the back end of it. I think the backend is one of the strengths of PrestoSports. Everything is there. It's all in one spot. You can be in and out probably five to 10 minutes after the game and have everything you need: your release, video interviews, stats, whatever you use in post-game. It's all right there. It's made my life easier, especially on those busy Saturdays, when you have soccer, volleyball, football track, cross-country, whatever's going on, all at once. Getting to work just five or 10 minutes on each one of those is a big thing at the end of the day. Now you're leaving at 8:30 instead of 11 or 12.
How important is your mobile audience?
I knew mobile was big, but I didn't realize the numbers were as big as they are. Because I’m somebody who's at their desk all the time, I'm always on my computer. But obviously the kids they're on their phone. There are not as many people on a desktop anymore. So you gotta make everything very mobile friendly. And I think we were able to hit that target on our redesign.
We are excited about our new partnership with FrontRowX. We have been looking to upgrade our App with it being vitally important to our digital platform success. That is where the student population lives is mobile and their apps. We want to be where they are to help in recruiting and retaining our student-athletes. The future with FrontRowX sets us up to handle the ever-changing environment to get our information quickly into the hands of those we are trying to reach.
How has the growth of PrestoSports impacted you?
We had been with Stretch Internet forever ever – we were one of their first clients way back when. We've got on board with Hometown ticketing in the last few months because obviously, COVID-19 is changing everything. We were with ScoreShots before ScoreShots was acquired by PrestoSports. Some of these solutions that we are already using are coming under the same umbrella, and it's nice to have it all in one place.
I think PrestoSports has done a great job of branching out because it goes back to knowing what your clients need. I feel like for almost everything, PrestoSports has been able to do that. They ask the questions and they want to know how they can help. They’ve done a good job in seeing out the future of what we're going to need at the small college level.
How valuable is it for you to have your key technologies in one place?
It's been a big help. We're excited. We're Stretch Internet, ScoreShots, Hometown ticketing – those three are the big ones. To bring it all together in one group and they're all gonna work together. That's one of the reasons we’re looking at FrontRowX now too. That's another outside company that has come into the mix and every one of them they've continually built on them. They've made everything better.
How has your investment in broadcast changed recently?
Our University has made a huge commitment to broadcasting. We've put a lot of money into it and we feel like we do it pretty well. For our broadcast, we have a group on campus now. It used to be a one camera set up, maybe we'd plug in an announcer. It was very low key, like a lot of small schools were at the time. Now we have three cameras set up. We have a brand new studio to do games across campus with remote cameras. It's a big-time set up that we have and we're really pushing a new communication broadcasting minor or major track. With the future of athletics, I think that's, that's the way it's going to be.
At a small college, it's always about potential students. I think this is an area that our administration does a great job of realizing how important athletics is to the overall mission of the university. They really support what we do and, and how we do it. That's been a great thing for us as far as the broadcasting side.
What's been the fans’ response to your broadcast and streaming?
We tried to make it easy with a “one-click broadcast tab” on the front. And now with the embeddable pages that PrestoSports has gone to it's basically a one-click solution for everyone. We couldn't make it any easier. And we've had a great response from that. Especially in COVID, our arena numbers are down, but our web numbers are up, which you would expect.
Since you've obviously stayed a step ahead of the game, what are you looking for in the future with PrestoSports?
I'm just looking for even more so that it can all be tied into one package. I think that's the biggest selling point. Whenever we look, we look at every one. It's like, Hey, we're getting everything we want in one package. Why would we make the move? And I'm excited about the future. We're in a good spot. We're just coming off a redesign, going to Hometown ticketing, adding ScoreShots. Whenever they said that they were adding all of that, I was like, ‘Oh, that's going to be awesome. It's gonna be great!’
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