Volleyball coaches concerned with MaxPrep system _lowres

Advocate file photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- St. Joseph's volleyball coach Sivi Miller: 'It’s the unknown. We had an understanding of the system that we used with the LHSAA. I think people just want to make sure that everything will work (with the new system). MaxPreps may be great, but it’s something new. It will take some getting used to.'

When prep volleyball coaches throughout Louisiana learned in July of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s decision to partner with MaxPreps to produce a sports information platform, some of them raised concerns.

And though officials with the LHSAA have said there is no reason for worry, some coaches are reserving their own decision on the matter until they see exactly how the MaxPreps system benefits their sport.

The new arrangement requires coaches to input their scores and records into the MaxPreps website, which the LHSAA says will update automatically on their own site — making his staff’s work “smarter,” LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine.

The added ability to post players’ photos, stats, and more should heighten the user experience, the LHSAA said.

In a July 16 release, MaxPreps announced that the two organizations had formed a partnership to “enable the LHSAA to provide a customized sports information platform for its member schools.”

The collaboration, according to MaxPreps, would help manage “various initiatives including all LHSAA regular-season standings, power ratings, statewide statistical leaderboards, postseason brackets, media publications and much more.”

The LHSAA is being paid $15,000 by MaxPreps, because many additional eyes will be on the company’s website due to the partnership. Coaches in prep sports will be required to submit their scores and records beginning with the 2015-16 school year.

The majority of coaches contacted as a result of the partnership, as well as officials with the LHSAA think the revised way of posting scores and records to the Internet will eventually be seamless. But both groups said that whenever change is involved, people tend to get nervous.

“It’s the unknown,” said St. Joseph’s Academy coach Sivi Miller. “We had an understanding of the system that we used with the LHSAA. I think people just want to make sure that everything will work (with the new system). MaxPreps may be great, but it’s something new. It will take some getting used to.”

Chief among any concerns cited by area volleyball coaches, was that their sport would be the first to see any adverse effects if the system did not perform as expected. Because the volleyball postseason begins earlier than any other LHSAA sport, they said there wouldn’t be time to address any potential problems should something go awry.

In a consensus of those spoken to, there also was concern over potential glitches with postseason power rankings, the ability to input approved tournament games, and some previously seen information that had teams playing opponents other than those coaches had on their schedules.

LHSAA director of technology Doug Catanzaro said “quick fixes” to any such problems were in the works or soon would be. He also said that any decision on postseason power ratings will be made by the LHSAA, and not MaxPreps. He also said an effective system of “human checks and balances” will be used to determine the efficacy of the new agreement.

“I’m sure it will work, but a lot of coaches weren’t at the coaches meeting in July when this was introduced,” said Parkview Baptist coach Becky Madden. “So there are going to be coaches who are unaware of it. … I don’t think the state would give us a program that didn’t work, but it would have been nice to have training with importing stats, things like that. There’s a lot of information on MaxPreps, so we need to know from the state or MaxPreps how to use it best.”

St. Amant Coach Allison Leake echoed the sentiment.

“I think a trial run would have been better,” she said.

Some coaches (including Miller, Madden and Leake,) have said they are unsure if they will utilize the MaxPreps website for anything more than the required team record and score. Meanwhile, other coaches seemingly have little problem with the new agreement.

“I have no concerns,” said University Lab coach Bonita Johnson. “We’re still in control of what we put into the system. You want to put in scores in (only?) Then put the scores in. You want to put in the stats too? Add the stats. It’s your choice still.”

Bonine said he is confident in time that coaches in all sports will see the benefit of using MaxPreps.

“It’s a change, and any time you change, when it’s not status quo, some people (react with fear,)” he said. “Do we get past that learning curve? Do we challenge the process to make things better? Some people say ‘Why?’ I say ‘Why not?’ ”