This Thanksgiving, Dave Wilcox is counting his blessings.
His softball team had a solid 2015 campaign in the spring, going 24-5, and the Shiocton (Wis.) High School varsity program is on the rise.
But there’s so much more for Wilcox to be thankful for with his team.
“The biggest reason is for the relationships,” said Wilcox,who will enter his sixth season as the Shiocton coach. “Every year you wonder who’s going to fill a position, who’s going to fill a void. How are we going to do after last year? Every year, whether it effects the record or not, there are kids that step up and, low and behold, you’re competitive again. Just the maturation and progress of kids in a short four years is really neat to observe.”
Wilcox is also thankful for his two assistant coaches, who he works with daily and relies upon for help in making practice and game plans.
“It’s amazing how well we coordinate,” he said.
Wilcox is also thankful that he's also able to coach his daughter, Sydney, who is a star pitcher for the Chiefs. Coach has two more years with her on the team and is looking forward to sharing a special bond on the diamond.
Wilcox really started using the GameChanger app last season, and he’s definitely thankful for what it offers him and his team. There was a grandparent in the Shiocton community who showed up to practice one day with his iPad and askedif he could try out the program. Wilcox, who is self proclaimed as not technologically savvy, was happy to allow the granddad to mess around with GameChanger. Wilcox is sure glad he did.
“Grandpa Mike,” as he’s known by the players and coaches, has stuck around on the bench to run GameChanger during games.
Wilcox loves the features the app offers, especially having stats readily available when he has to call in results to the media or look quickly on how one of his players is doing at the plate.
“To have that accuracy and have it at your fingertips instead of trying to read through a scorebook that’s got scribbly lines in it is big,” Wilcox said. “And, boy, has (Grandpa Mike) fine-tuned the definitive accuracy of that program. Take it a step further, to take it to the all-conference meeting and have the season stats as well. It does everything for you in that regard, and that’s really nice to have so you can fight for your girls and try to justify their position in the conference ranks. It’s really a nice tool to have.”
GameChanger is also beneficial for helping players get noticed by college coaches, Wilcox said.
“It’s always nice to have that stuff for potential college coaches,” Wilcox said. “That’s one of the first things they ask for are some of your statistics. Yeah, it’s definitely a positive in our program.”
Wilcox believes using GameChanger has helped him become a better coach. He’s able to dive into certain situations and learn from what occurred during a game.
“I have to admit when we get going into the season and we have four, five games in a week, it’s hard to take a lot of time and really break things down,” Wilcox said. “But I’ll tell you what, we’ve been in the dugout more than once and I’ve had grandpa say to me, ‘This person did this last time we played them.’ As coaches one of us might remember something and not be quite sure. Was this the person that did that? So really for looking back, not so much for scouting but for reaffirming what may or may not have happened, we do use it.”
The coach’s favorite part of using GameChanger?
“I like the summary that it gives at the end of the game,” Wilcox said. “It basically spells it right out for you. It could be its own newspaper article if it needed to be. It takes the highlights, and I don’t know how grandpa does it, but it seems to be a little bit bias to our Shiocton team, which is cool. When we win it really amplifies it and puts some neat adjectives in there for what might have happened. I like how it puts everything together and I like how it’s cumulative up to the at-bat, up to the pitch.”
Wilcox can’t imagine going through a season now without GameChanger at his disposal. He’s already counting down the days until practice starts for next season.
“The detail is amazing,” Wilcox said. “It knows when an at-bat is an at-bat. And I just have to think that, and no disrespect to anyone who’s kept books, it really has to be accurate. At the end of the day, the more accurate you are, the more you can help players develop.”