Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another big week of releases upcoming

It's been a busy week of information coming from McMurry's athletics programs.

First, we told you that we would be going digital with media guides and recruiting brochures. Judging by the poll on the front page of the athletics web site, it wasn't a popular decision. Believe me, it's a hard decision to make, but I think that once McMurry fans see what the digital media guides will offer, they will like what they see; plus the fact that it is in digital format for all-time.

Previously, I wrote a story on Hal Mumme's passing attack with some research I did with his primary quarterbacks. We also announced Operation Maroon Pride, a program for McMurry fans to buy season football tickets for active Dyess Air Force Base personnel.

Then we previewed before the season preview, the other five fall sports. It was bascially an effort to get new and fresh information on each sport, introduce the schedules, and give fans a general idea of what was coming back from last year. When players / athletes report in the next couple of weeks, we'll be bringing you the official season previews for each sport.

I'm planning a three-part feature on Mumme with interviews from Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, former Kentucky and Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch and other coaches / players that have played for Mumme in the past.

The blog will be your major spot for coverage of football training camp, so keep your eyes on the blog for that.

In case you missed the season pre-previews, they are listed below:
Men's Soccer
Women's Soccer
Cross Country

Also look for big announcements concerning audio / video streaming this week, we'll announce the second season of Sports Overtime (weekly radio show on ESPN Radio 1560 AM), and a look at Tuesday's upcoming Indian Club Meeting.

Also, FYI - reporting dates (note that first practices take place the day after reporting) for all the fall sports:
Football - Wed. Aug. 12
Men's & Women's Soccer - Mon. Aug. 17
Cross Country - Mon. Aug. 17
Volleyball - Tue. Aug. 18

-- KR

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A look at the tennis off-season from women's tennis player Rachel Smith

Professor Cole Thompson at McMurry is sponsoring a few students who are interested in journalism and newspaper writing. Thoughout the school year, he worked with students to study the styles of journalistic print, and Rachel Smith (a junior in 2009-10 from Sweetwater) wrote an article following the 2008-09 tennis season. Smith happens to be a member of the women's team as well.

Here is Smith's article:

After a successful 2008-09 season, the McMurry men’s and women’s tennis teams look forward to more experience and improvement in the rankings for 2009-2010.

Head Coach Mark Hathorn is excited to build on last season’s men’s American Southwest Conference West Division title (the first in school history).

“After doing so well last season, now we’re going to be working on a national ranking,” Hathorn said.

As for the women, Hathorn said he is looking forward to going back to the conference tournament.

“We’re only losing one player and we are gaining a lot of experience,” he said.

With 12 returning players and eight new recruits, Hathorn said hopes for next season are high.

The team is also enjoying ongoing construction on the Seidel-Swagerty Tennis Center, McMurry's tennis facility. Six new courts should make for better practices and a better hosting site. McMurry hosted the 2009 ASC Championships thanks to an impressive men’s season. In addition, renovations on the tennis offices and clubhouse should help add a place for players and guests to relax.

Players are excited as they prepare for the upcoming season. Returning junior Tony Williams said. “We experienced great success with the McMurry tennis team. I'm extremely excited to continue the winning tradition in 2009-10.”

The women are looking forward to developing their team in preparation for a more successful season after making the ASC Postseason Tournament. Sophomore Shelby Carpenter said she has enjoyed the experience as a member of the team.

“I love playing for McMurry,” Carpenter said. "The coaches are awesome, and the team as a whole is incredibly fun to be around. We all work hard, and this year the girls are going to put in more effort in order to prove ourselves and make it back to Conference.”

Fans should expect a promising season from the McMurry tennis team. Both men and women will kick off their non-traditional seasons at the ACU Wal-Mart Open September 11-12.

Great job Rachel and we'll look forward to more projects in the coming months.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What you need to know about yesterday's big release

In case you haven't checked the athletics web site, we did some pretty big things yesterday, or at least, announced some pretty big changes in the way sports information will get its information out. Read the release here on McMurry's decision to go paperless with media guides and recruiting brochures. Also, this blog was officially introduced as well as the twitter page.

I'll go in order in some further explanation on the matters.

1) What you need to know about digital media guides

One of the things that should be noted is that this puts tremendous pressure on us to get something out for all sports every year. I consider that a good thing. The way the system works is that, if you're not updating your web site with current bios, mug shots, etc. it will reflect on your digital media guides. So as far as time put in on my end, it could be seen as a tremendous challenge, however, if that challenge is met - all sports from football to golf should have the same basic information posted. I cannot speak for the 2008-2009 school year because I was not here, but the last year I was here (2007-08), we were getting closer to having bios and mug shots for all 19 of our intercollegiate sports.

Bascially, what will change is that I will no longer lay out bios and recent statistical information in desktop publishing software to have printed. That doesn't mean that I won't layout a PDF for the history, records, opponents information, coaches bios, season previews, etc. These will make up the "Turn Page" portion of the digital media guide (see the Colgate football design created by ICS). In the example just listed, Colgate continues to put their bios in PDF form, I will not be making player bios to layout, they will be strictly viewed by the work I put into on the web.

We will give the individual sport coaches the option of printing these PDF portions, but it will be a sport-to-sport budget decision and won't be a cost to McMurry's sports information department (in the past this was 100% the cost of the SID).

The term "media" guide is relative, especially at the NCAA Division III level. For one, media coverage is nowhere close to the same as a large NCAA Division I program. So the amount of media needing loads of information in print diminishes as you move down the ladder.

At this day in time, the week-to-week information SIDs give their media outlets, and quite frankly the information the media pulls off the web on their own time is more pertinent to their needs than the media guide (basically the previous year's yearbook); after the first couple of weeks of the season, much of the information in the guide other than records will be irrelevant.

So, for the media's sake, our job as SID's is to keep the media updated through weekly notes, releases and the most important: upkeep of the athletics web site.

Now, for coaches, the elimination of printed media guides could cause some discomfort. The media guide is the primary "physical" presence of recruiting that programs use. Other than phone calls and visits, media guides serve as the figurative spokesperson for the specific athletic program. Once again, the coaches will have the option of having portions of a media guide printed. I will still be designing covers for all the digital media guides, just like I would any other media guide or recruiting brochure.

For coaches who think that the printed guide is essential, I'm guessing they will make the effort to pay for them. Otherwise, they'll use the DMG's, which I believe is the wave of the future. In the "information now" age, the online versions of these guides will be more up to date and useful than the printed guide and can be accessed from anywhere at any time.

All the things McMurry fans are used to having in media guides such as records, all-time scores, etc. will be available on the web to view in either a link on its own, or through the DMG's.

2) What you need to know about Twitter

For those who don't know what Twitter is: "Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends." (straight from Twitter's web site)

We will be using Twitter as another outlet to get our news out, so if you follow the web site pretty closely, often you'll see twitter updates (tweets) as just a reiteration of the release we just sent out. But, we'll do more than that, if I'm at a live event, tweets will be a great and instantaneous way for us to get information out quickly. But where I think that Twitter will be the most useful is for scores.

If you sign up with a twitter account and follow "mcmsports", you're not quite done yet. You'll need to set up twitter to your mobile device so you can receive updates. Once you've activated your mobile device to sync with twitter, you can choose you want device updates from. This does not mean that every person you follow on twitter will go to your mobile device every time they update their status. Rather, you can regulate which users are updated to your phone. Personally, I have mobile device updates from about three people, initialy I signed up to follow several people online, but it got very annoying to get an update every few minutes from a variety of people.

However, whomever you do choose to get mobile device updates means that when they tweet a text message is sent to your phone with updates. If you follow "mcmsports" on Twitter you will get a text basically every time we send out a release, and I will use it to update the masses on scores. Sometimes this means I will even give halftime scores of certain contests if I am there and able to do such updates.

If you have any questions on Twitter, please try and figure out solutions through itself. However, if you are stuck and you want to receive McMurry updates, email me.

3) What you need to know about the blog

The blog is going to be fun. However, the blog will take a back seat to the main athletics web site as far as updating goes. I will make no promises. If things are busy around here, it may be days or even a week or two before an update is posted. I don't see that happening too often, but there are times when you can't do everything.

As mentioned in the first blog entry I wrote on this site, the blog will be a more informal, but more in-depth look at what's happening with McMurry sports. I'd like to post galleries from events, audio / video interviews, and I hope it will be a place that fans can hear from the players / athletes themselves.

Very soon, I will post an example of our first student-athlete diary. In 2009-2010, I will mostly reserve this section for seniors, however, for the first entry, Rachel Smith (entering her junior year from Sweetwater) will give us her perspective on last year's tennis program. I hope to have seniors lined up from each sport to make weekly entries on the blog. This will be entirely up to them, but I think they will participate and it will be a nice way to help you get to know our athletes better.

Sorry for the long post. One thing you can do for feedback and if you have any questions is to comment on these blog posts below each entry. Look for more news this week from McMurry sports!