When the iPad showed up at national recruiting events last fall, many men’s college lacrosse coaches viewed it as a novelty that would never replace the trustworthy clipboard or player packet as a note-taking tool. But as summer recruiting has heated up, a growing number of coaches are evaluating potential recruits using their iPad instead of a scribble in their packets.
“This is the future,” said Scott Dalgliesh, men’s lacrosse coach at Marywood University, a Div. III school in Scranton, Pa. “Everybody knows it, whether they want to admit it or not. It’s just a matter of time. The guys that are still writing on notepads are going to get passed by.”
J.L. Reppert, men’s assistant coach at the U.S. Naval Academy, isn’t quite ready to declare the notepad obsolete; but he admits he won’t be going on any more recruiting trips without his iPad
Dalgliesh and Reppert both use SportsBoard Lacrosse Scout, the iPad app created by West Shore Technologies, Inc. that allows them to easily rate players, type notes, keep stats and do much more by touching buttons on the iPad screen.
“Writing notes on paper and then transferring those notes onto a computer makes the recruiting process seem like an art form,” Reppert said. “Lacrosse Scout puts a lot more science and less art into the process.”
At US Naval Academy, Reppert and his fellow assistant Ryan Wellner finally have a standardized evaluating system using the same data model to rate players and then share the information with Head Coach Rick Sowell.
“If you’re writing notes on paper, one person’s comment might mean something different to someone else,” Reppert said. “This tool forces you to standardize how to assess players, which means that we are able to better synthesize our opinions about each player and then determine our recruiting priorities.”
Dalgliesh has been using Lacrosse Scout at recruiting events for less than a month. But already, he is calling the app a game changer because it has completely automated the onerous recruiting process.
“I know it sounds crazy, but I feel this product has the potential to change lives,” he said. “It could be your secretary, your work-study student or your assistant. It can save somebody in that chain hours during recruiting season because they don’t have to transfer hand-written notes onto a spreadsheet and then transfer it back to a server.
“Those are hours you as a coach could be spending with your family, coaching your team or talking on the phone or face-to-face with potential recruits.”
Goucher College Coach Kyle Hannan said the automated process not only saves him time, it may keep him from overlooking a top-notch recruit.
“For me, the larger the paper trail, the more margin for error on identifying the best players,” Hannan said. “You never want to lose a good one to somebody you’re competing against because of sloppy paperwork.”
Hannan began implementing Lacrosse Scout three weeks ago with very little training, but he has used the app at six tournaments.
“I’m not a real techy person,” he said. “But it’s been a smooth transition for me.”
Some might wonder why Hannan, a Division III coach in Baltimore, Md., would put so much time and energy into recruiting. But Hannan said recruiting at the Division III level is more competitive than at Division I.
“We’ve got 185 Division III programs, more than three times as many as Division I,” he said. “Not being able to offer athletic scholarships, we have to find out everything about each potential recruit. And we have to be able to identify, locate and communicate with recruits immediately.”
Before Hannan began using Lacrosse Scout, Goucher coaches lost vasts amounts of time to the paper-and-pen process. Sometimes, it took him over a month to contact a recruit, simply because it took him that long to transfer his hand-written notes and roster information to a computer program.
“Now, it’s almost instantaneous,” he said. “The roster data moves from the server that day and by evening, I’m calling or emailing the player. In today’s fast-paced world of recruiting, this system is ideal.”
As the app has gained traction in the college lacrosse community, elite tournaments such as Jake Reed Nike Blue Chip, Under-Armour, NYLA, Baltimore Summer Kickoff, UPLax, Aloha Summer Sizzle, and Adrenaline have formed partnerships with West Shore Technologies.
The partnerships give West Shore access to each tournament’s player profile data, which is then pre-loaded in iPads, eliminating the need for coaches to lug around bulky tournament player packets. Eventually, these partnerships will enable these tournaments to distribute information electronically rather than in printed packet form, which will be a significant time- and cost-saver.
“More and more tournament/camp operators are seeing the benefits to the college coaches,” said Gregg Jacobs, West Shore’s founder and CEO. “College coaches who adopt this technology early will realize the benefits and advantages it offers.”Dalgliesh said he is beginning to plan his recruiting schedule around those tournaments that have partnered with SportsBoard.
“It is starting to make less and less sense to recruit the old way, with paper and pen, because SportsBoard makes evaluating that much more efficient,” he said. “There is so much talent at just about every event, so why would I choose an event that costs me more time and energy?”
In fact, in late June, Dalgliesh believes he became the first lacrosse coach to go “completely paperless” at a recruiting event – Lacrosse Scout for recruiting and Download Lite for the field map and game schedule. Jacobs said SportsBoard will be getting the game schedules for the Fall events it partners with and by then should also have a function to view a field map.
Reppert said he is already looking for ways to expand Lacrosse Scout’s role. “I’ve used it for text notes, ratings and stats. Next year, I’d like to capture shot charts for shooting tendencies and goal charts for goalkeepers, as well as use it to document evaluations of Navy’s players and scout opponents.
“There is untapped potential,” Reppert said. “Next year we’ll start playing around with it during our season.”
Other men’s programs to join the iPad revolution include University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Christopher Newport University, Gordon College, Marymount University, Ferrum College, High Point University, Catholic University, Stevenson University, Elizabethtown College and Lycoming University. West Shore also has more than 25 women’s lacrosse programs as customers.