Commitment to technology drives Northwoods League initiatives – Part 3 of 3
Rochester, Minn. – This season the Northwoods League became the first and only league in summer collegiate baseball to outfit every member ballpark with a four-camera, high definition webcasting operation. After previously installing standard definition cameras in all ballparks in 2010, the Northwoods League this season completed the process of upgrading all the equipment to HD, significantly enhancing the platform’s capabilities as an entertainment and developmental tool. This commitment provides unparalleled access for family and friends to live game action throughout the season, and is an integral part of the developmental philosophy of the Northwoods League. The League-wide upgrade to HD video webcasting equipment is one of several technology-based initiatives that have come to define the Northwoods League as a leader in this area. Collectively these initiatives strive to maximize the operational effectiveness of its Affiliates, strengthen connections with fans, and support the development of talent on and off the field. This is the third release in a three-part series focused on how technology is an integral component of the Northwoods League mission.
The presence of a 4-camera webcasting platform in each ballpark creates a significant training opportunity for players in the Northwoods League. “We want to provide the finest developmental experience for players that come to our League, and one of the ways we set ourselves apart from other summer leagues is our commitment to technology,” explained Gary Hoover, President of the Northwoods League. He continued, “We understand the value for players and coaches to have access to game tape on a daily basis, so we decided to make it a League-wide initiative.”
The coaching staff for the Eau Claire Express, led by Manager Dale Varsho, meets with players on an individual basis throughout the summer to review tape. Not only do they pick out mechanics issues, but also address how the player can be a better professional on the field through their behaviors and emotions. “The technology of our Northwoods League HD webcasting is extremely important to us as a coaching staff to develop our players,” said Varsho. “Our coaching staff takes pride in helping the players receive the best instruction, and the HD webcasting is a primary tool for us.”
While coaching staffs around the Northwoods League are using the HD video to help develop their players, the League puts the same technology to work training umpires, many of whom share the players’ dream of one day making it to the highest levels of professional baseball. Each umpire working games in the Northwoods League has access to watch previous games on-demand, allowing them to observe their mechanics and review judgment calls. Larry Rose, former NFL umpire and current Umpire Supervisor for the Northwoods League, said he can tell by the improvement on the field which umpires are taking advantage of the technology. Rose watches the umpires nightly on the webcasting platform, saying “This enables me to grade them, and train them both on mechanics and judgement on plays that need to be addressed for improvement. All of this makes it a very useful tool for the training and development of their ability not only in the Northwoods League season, but also their possible future and advancement into professional baseball.”
In addition to providing training tools for players and umpires, the 4-camera webcasting platform creates opportunities for students interested in broadcasting careers, both in front of and behind the camera. More than 125 camera operators, directors, producers, and on-air talent take part in producing more than 720 games each season, along with multiple 30-minute shows which are produced in the Northwoods League Studio for broadcast on Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Wisconsin and numerous local networks.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 24-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 180 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (LAD) and Lucas Duda (TBR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.