Ursuline volleyball coach Jay Jay Juan is no stranger to technology.
He’s the director of communications for the Louisiana Volleyball Coaches Association, which requires a lot of computer work and the understanding of how to reach out to an increasingly electronic world. Juan also was one local coach who gave advice on how the first power rankings system for Louisiana prep volleyball teams should be structured several years ago.
That said, Juan is decidedly less than pleased with a new partnership between the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and MaxPreps.
In a July 16 note, Max Preps announced — with the LHSAA following just behind — that the two had formed a partnership to “enable the LHSAA to provide a customized sports information platform for its member schools,” the Max Preps release said.
The collaboration would help manage, according to MaxPreps, “various initiatives including all LHSAA regular- season standings, power ratings, statewide statistical leaderboards, postseason brackets, media publications and much more.”
The MaxPreps release further states that beginning in the 2015-16 school year, “all coaches will be required to submit their scores to MaxPreps.com in order to accurately manage these LHSAA data-driven initiatives.”
Juan said the decision was “forced” upon coaches of all prep sports in Louisiana, and is counter-productive. He said he fears statistical glitches, problems with postseason seeding, and the loss of a successful human “checks and balances system,” which he said were in place for many years.
“The first issue is that (the LHSAA) gave this to us, and we have no idea how it works,” Juan said. “They basically said ‘Here it is. Use it.’ We are allowed 22 playing dates and four tournaments in a season. Currently, I have no way of plugging in (which tournaments I will play in). If you click on the site now, it has us opening the season against Sacred Heart-Grand Coteau. We’re playing Sacred Heart of New Orleans.”
MaxPreps.com is a sports media site which allows for pictures, statistics and the like to be posted online.
But Juan said all that is for naught for his team, because he is not allowed to post photographs of his players on the Internet, because of school policy. He said that probably is the case for other coaches in the state.
“I’m posting a record, nothing more, and that’s only because I’m told I have to,” he said.
That’s all he and other coaches are being asked to do, said LHSAA director of media relations Jacob Doyle.
“It’s a small sample size of our 390 member schools who can’t (post pictures),” Doyle said. “We’re not requiring anyone to do anything more than put their record in. But if you want to put in rosters, stats, pictures, that’s great.”
LHSAA director of technology Doug Catanzaro said other concerns should be allayed when coaches become more familiar with the MaxPreps site. Catanzaro said quick fixes to any potential problems (approved tournaments, opponents, etc.) are in the works. That’s in addition to having a human check and balance system already in place.
“From what I understand, yes, there will be a human checks and balances system,” he said. “Both coaches’ information will be sent to MaxPreps, but it will be filtered back to us. … The algorithm that establishes power rankings will be determined by (the LHSAA.)”
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said his office will pay close attention to how the relationship works this school year. He became aware of Max Preps during previous work with the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, and said he contacted MaxPreps officials to begin working with the LHSAA because of the positive effect the site had on his watch in Nevada.
MaxPreps will pay the LHSAA $15,000 for entering the partnership, Bonine said. That’s because many extra eyes will be on the MaxPreps site after Louisiana high school athletes, he added.
“This is to highlight the state’s athletes,” Bonine said. “Before, you could take a kid in northeast Louisiana and he would have no idea about someone in southwest Louisiana. By using MaxPreps, we’re giving them a national platform. It gives them the ability to keep up with one another. This puts our kids on a level with (many other states).”
But St. Amant volleyball coach Allison Leake isn’t so sure. She said her sport will be the first to encounter problems should the system not work as efficiently as hoped. The volleyball playoffs begin less than three months from now.
“I think a trial run would have been much better,” Leake said. “If something goes wrong, we have very little time to fix it. The season ends Oct. 31, then on Nov. 2, we’re in there having to have the (playoff) brackets set by noon. We don’t have another day to make it work. … The other system worked, why mess it up?”
Mount Carmel volleyball coach April Hagadone said she used MaxPreps last year to post her team’s statistics; in part to help star player Katie Kampen gain additional national recognition. Kampen made some national all-star teams, and Hagadone said having Kampen’s profile on MaxPreps may have played a part.
“I’ve (posted stuff there),” Hagadone said. “It was fine. It’s user friendly and self-explanatory.”
Bonine is confident in time, coaches in all sports will see the benefit of using MaxPreps. He said whenever information is inputted into MaxPreps.com, the same info will be uploaded to the LHSAA site.
“It’s a change and any time you have 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?’ ”