Player assessments software intended to provided a more positive experience for players and parents.
There’s a certain, odd and often secretive air to hockey’s tryout season. Doors to the local arena are locked, save for a “Players’ Only” entrance – No Parents Allowed is the ironclad rule for many local associations.
Windows offering views of the ice surface are blacked out. Players are stripped of their names and any other distinguishing uniform features, known to evaluators only by the number on their backs.
Stress levels can jump to unhealthy heights as the process unfolds, often more so for parents than their athletes.
“The big thing that parents want is to know how their kids are doing,” said Sue Nolan, a member of the Forest Lake (Minnesota) Hockey Association’s tryout committee.
In previous years, relaying in-progress information from tryouts was an arduous and awkward task, Nolan said. First, parents had to reach the director of that age level with their requests. The director then had to contact the person entering the players’ scores or grades. Once that information was found, the director then had to circle back with the parents, sometimes leading to awkward phone conversations or email exchanges if the scores were lower than expected.
For years, Nolan figured there had to be a better, more efficient way to collect and distribute tryout information. Todd Larson, founder of TeamGenius, thought so, too. This fall, for the first time, the Forest Lake Hockey Association used Larson’s TeamGenius software to track and communicate player assessments during tryouts.
“This year all the parents got feedback after each phase of the tryouts, which was a big thing,” said Nolan, who has been involved with the association in various roles for eight years. “What we are able to do with these scores is send an email out to every parent. We were able to show where their son and daughter ranked after each day.”
The Forest Lake Youth Hockey Association evaluates its players based on individual skills testing and 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 gameplay. Nolan remembers the days of the paper evaluation sheets being collected in sealed envelopes then delivered to a three-person team in charge of entering the data. A laptop screen would be projected on the wall of a meeting room. One person was in charge of reading off the players’ scores, another tasked with punching in the data and the third would witness the process and ensure no mistakes were being made.
Larson entered all the Forest Lake players’ data directly from the scoresheets into his TeamGenius software this fall, and next year the plan is for evaluators to replace their pencils and notebooks with iPads that can be used to collect and load the information directly into the program.
Larson, who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1995 with a degree in computer science, has 20 years of experience designing and developing software applications. While he’s worked on numerous projects the last eight years as the founder and CEO of Twin Cities-based Stone Road Software, he’s been devoting most all of his time and energy into TeamGenius in recent years.
“That first run through of the original idea was about three years ago,” Larson said. “It’s hard to call it a side project – I’m working on it full time right now.”
Larson said TeamGenius, an official Sport Ngin integration partner, is designed for any sport at any level. His rankings engine can be modified based on custom criteria. Lakes United FC, a soccer club based out of Chisago Lakes, Minnesota, is among the first organizations to use TeamGenius to manage its tryouts. Fusion Soccer Club in Plymouth, Minnesota, also uses TeamGenius.
“I tried to get (TeamGenius) implemented two years ago,” said Nolan, who heard about TeamGenius from a friend involved in a soccer club that uses the software. “We finally got it implemented it this year, and everybody in our committee loved it.”
Because TeamGenius connects to Sport Ngin through its application programming interface (API), player information (position, age level, gender, parents’ email, etc.) is pulled directly from Registration into the TeamGenius software.
“We didn’t have to sit and type out a spreadsheet and do all the information by hand,” Nolan said. “When our kids register through Sport Ngin, we have questions that ask if they are a goalie or if they plan to tryout or not tryout.”
From the Registration section action pane on the right, click the “Import Players…” button (see image below).
From the Import Players dialog, click the “Connect to your Sport Ngin account…” button (see image below).
Enter your current SportsEngine credentials and click “Connect”. Note that whatever registration data you have access to see in your SportsEngine site you will see here in TeamGenius (see image below).
Select the Sport Ngin Registration to import players from, then click the “Import this Registration” button (see image below).
Enter your field mappings by examining each column of incoming data, then select the matching TeamGenius column from the drop down list. Click the “Use These Mappings” button when finished (see image below).
You can preview the import to ensure you have the mappings set correct. Click “Import Players” when you are ready to process the import. TeamGenius will let you know when it’s complete. All players will be imported to the bottom of the current Registration list (see image below).