This past week, college football began with “Week Zero,” the last warm-up week to what is now the unofficial start of fall – the first full week for schools on the gridiron during Labor Day in the United States. And while that’s what most fans point to, the reality is that college athletics, from soccer and field hockey to cross country and volleyball, have really been in full swing for several weeks, with the competition, the preparedness, and the high stakes starting seemingly earlier and earlier each year.
It is that preseason readiness, that training for injury preparedness, recovery monitoring and all of that planning support where we excel with a growing number of intercollegiate partners, which now includes Iowa State University among several other Big 12 schools like Baylor University and Texas Tech. While the focus for the fan is on football and basketball, our work with NCAA partners goes much further and deeper and we are excited to continue to grow with schools on every level.
The significance of Week One
As we enter week one, why is our work even more important than ever before? Part of it is because of the ever-changing landscape of college athletics with respect to areas like the ever-elusive transfer portal. Both from a coaching and an athlete standpoint, the ability to properly evaluate a player in any sport entering the portal is critical to team chemistry and can’t be accomplished in a vacuum by athletic and training staffs. Conversely, athletes need to have all of their data and performance information available at the ready should they be leaving a school and looking at other options, and the work we can do to present a comprehensive performance picture, either for a partner school or for an athlete wanting to make sure he or she is setting the right standard, is critical.
We are all aware of how critical chemistry is to any science program at a University. In today’s fluid athletic world, “chemistry,” given its impact on the field and in the locker room, is also invaluable, as the decisions being made in the transfer portal and in recruiting can literally be million-dollar decisions. Therefore, ensuring the work we are doing to incorporate health, performance and development data as part of the process, gives schools and athletes an informed edge that didn’t exist only a few years ago. It’s an edge that will ultimately become fundamental for those colleges claiming to offer a best-in-class program.
Developing the Holistic Student Athlete
Another area where our work on college campuses continues to evolve is in the ever-critical area of athlete mental health and wellness. In past years, young people would look to hide or ignore even the slightest of issues that could slow their advancement on the field, or coaches would dismiss or deny the impact of mental health and wellbeing on an athlete’s development and performance outcomes. By presenting a holistic look at the college athlete with our partner schools, we are not only able to help address both the physical stressors and rigors of competitive collegiate sports, but the mental strain and turmoil that can often impact both the time-challenged athlete and overworked coaching and performance staff. We firmly believe that this more complete approach – from the baseball diamond to the volleyball court to the football field – will be landmark in the coming years as we continue to deal with the unknown stressors of collegiate athletics to not only elevate the level of play but ensure the thoughtful and holistic development of our student-athlete body. Our objective is to bring this data together, in a single, integrated platform so we can present an accurate, 360 degree view of these students in a forum that facilitates informed, collaborative, data-led decision-making.
Let the Fall Season Begin
So while this past week was dubbed “zero,” we are already at full speed in our college athletics work, and are very excited about what this fall will hold for our current partners and those coming on board in the coming weeks.
To the fans, embrace the competition. To the student athletes, use every tool and tap every resource available to support your continued development. And to our partner schools, we look forward to the partnership as we work together to advance the game, develop the “whole” athlete and unlock human potential.