Whenever a fellow athletic director asks Matt Ennis about TeamSynced, he starts with a story.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma churned up Florida’s gulf coast causing extensive damage. Manatee County, where Ennis lives and works as AD at the State College of Florida, was no exception.
“If you’ve ever been through one of these storms, you know.” Ennis says. “Schools shut down. What it does to classes is ridiculous. The stresses the teachers are under, students are under, trying to catch up. Everyone is displaced.”
Commitment to school work dwindled for a few weeks, and so did athletes’ GPAs for the semester. For the first time in years, the collective GPA for student-athletes at SCF fell below 3.0.
Ennis sought out a way to get student-athletes re-engaged quickly, which is when he discovered TeamSynced.
“It’s amazing what TeamSynced has been able to do for us in regards to helping our students academically.”
Predictors and ‘Extenders’
Research shows missing class regularly negatively impacts students’ grades, whether the cause is a hurricane or oversleeping.
An analysis of 50+ studies(source) calls attendance “a better predictor of college grades than any other”, including admissions test scores, high school GPA, study habits, and study skills.
With eligibility and institutional funding tied to performance in the classroom, the biggest athletic departments spend up to $100k — hiring ‘class checkers’ making sure athletes attend class.
“[TeamSynced] forces the interactions that we need to have with our students that might’ve gone unaddressed.”
Most schools don’t have that kind of money to throw at the problem. The burden falls on coaches and staff that are already stretched thin.
That’s where Ennis says TeamSynced’s Check-Ins feature acts as a staff ‘extender’.
With Check-Ins, coaches don’t need to spend hours walking campus; instead student-athletes check-in when they arrive at the classroom and their location is logged via GPS. A coach can then view the whole team’s attendance in a matter of minutes instead of a couple of hours.
“TeamSynced is like essentially having an academic success individual that I didn’t have before, for each one of my coaches.“ Ennis explains.
“Technology is only as good as its accessibility, right? And how much it’s used.” says Ennis.
“What we gained from the Teamsynced app is immediately applicable: Were they in class, were they not in class? Were they late, were they not late? It forces the interactions that we need to have with our students that might’ve gone unaddressed, because we don’t know a kid was late. And then he’s always late to math class. We can see that on TeamSynced.”
“It didn’t take a large investment of time on our end to get TeamSynced going. And so that makes it a very valuable piece of technology.“
Results and Lessons Learned
A semester removed from Hurricane Irma, the Manatees have bounced back with a 3.14 department-wide GPA. In fact, four of SCF’s five teams were nominated for NJCAA all-academic honors.
Ennis believes the quick implementation of TeamSynced helped SCF overcome Irma’s destruction and other disruptions.
“We also went through a coaching change in basketball, which can send a team’s academics down the toilet real quick — but they still finished with a higher GPA than they had in the fall and showed some improvement.” Ennis says.
“We used the scheduling feature with them and keep referencing it. Back to that calendar, back to that calendar. They responded extremely well. They wanted that structure.”
Ennis pauses to reiterate.
“Kids will never tell you that, but structure is what they want.”