Last year, Princeton ranked 35th in the Sears Director’s Cup standings, a list that reflects success in all intercollegiate sports. Princeton’s ranking is remarkable in no small part because the university is the only non-scholarship school to appear in the top 50.
The reasons for Princeton’s athletic successes have much to do, of course, with a talented student body. As was clear at the April 2 Lunch ‘n Learn, the success of the university’s athletic programs owes also to an exciting set of IT tools and a remarkable coaching staff.
Julie Shackford, the Head Coach of Women’s Soccer and Scott Champ, the Assistant Coach, began by showing off a recruiting application that helps them to maintain contacts with a large pool of talented high school students. Some e-mail in their interest; some are referred by alumni; and the coaches see others at tournaments or soccer camps. The coaches encourage more than 400 prospects a year to visit goprincetontigers.com and fill out and submit a questionnaire that requires some effort and which provides an indication that the students are serious about Princeton. With the data, the coaching staff can, even when traveling, track prospects’ academic progress, their campus visits, and e-mail students directly. The coaches emphasized that they respond to everyone.
Shackford and Champ also demonstrated video clips of game tape using the Dartfish TeamPro software. Dartfish permits coaches to break down games for players on all levels. Each year, the staff has become more adept at using the system and now have it running on laptops to make it easier to share film quickly with players when the team is traveling. They use it throughout the fall season once or twice a week to review film highlights with individual players, units, or with the whole team.
They have a professional record each game. Rather than rely upon tape, which would require as long as the game took to transfer into the database, they now record the game digitally and transfer it in just four minutes. That’s especially important, says Champ, when you’re on the road, on the bus home, when players don’t want to wait to review the game.
Shackford noted that it’s possible to tag clips for individual players, for defensive or offensive miscues, for great saves, for chips shots over the keeper, and the like. Just a 30 minute film session with the players is as useful, she says, as a separate practice. Simply put, the tape doesn’t lie. For some players, the sharing of film has permitted them to succeed. The coaches have also used video clips as recruiting tools because they illustrate Princeton’s team approach better than any words could.
Since the program went to the Final Four in 2004, they have been in a rebuilding phase. They feel strongly that the video software is a great learning tool as the college game continues to get more competitive. At times, coaches get so emotionally tied to games that is difficult to remember everything. The software lets the team replay (for better or worse) segments that will help improve individual and team performance.
Julie Shackford is the Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Princeton University. Among many honors, she was named the Division I coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America in 2005. Shackford became the fourth woman and second Ivy League coach to be named national coach of the year in the 23-year history of the honor. Under Shackford’s leadership, the 2004 Tigers put together the greatest season in Ivy League women’s soccer history. Princeton amassed a league-record 19 wins and became the first league women’s soccer team to reach the NCAA Final Four.
Scott Champ enters his fourth season as an assistant coach at Princeton. Champ came to Princeton from Texas A&M, where he helped guide the women’s soccer team to the Big 12 championship. Champ is a 1992 graduate of the University of Virginia, where he was a member of the Cavaliers’ 1989 and 1991 NCAA championship teams. He graduated with a degree in chemistry after earning Academic All-ACC honors. He also completed coursework toward a Ph.D in organic chemistry while at Texas A&M. After graduation Champ played professionally in Hungary and then in the United States in the USISL. He also has 10 years coaching experience on the youth level and holds a U.S. Soccer “A” certification.
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Posted by Lorene Lavora