ESPN Article on Dartmouth Shaping Football

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ESPN Article on Dartmouth Shaping Football

Post by PlayerRep » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:09 am

"Virtual reality and robotic tackling dummies -- how Dartmouth is shaping the future of football" ... e-football

"Thirty yards away, Callie Brownson, the team's recently crowned recruiting coordinator, brandishes what looks like a radar gun but is really the remote control that powers this peculiar enterprise. She hits go, and the robotic tackling dummy takes off sprinting. With her not-radar-gun, wraparound sunglasses, close-cropped hair and arms akimbo, she looks like a no-nonsense sheriff. Brownson is a coach like any other coach except, oh yeah, she is the first woman with a full-time coaching gig in Division I college football. She's on the fast track (Teevens calls her the best entry-level coach he's ever hired), and she's a heavy hitter (her résumé boasts internships with the Jets, Falcons and Bills), and she never truly saw a place for herself on a college football sideline until Teevens helped carve a space for her here."

"The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that boys' participation in 11-player football fell 6.5 percent from 2007 to 2017, dropping from 1.11 million to 1.04 million -- even while the total population of boys participating in sports overall rose 4.4 percent. That still leaves more than 1 million high school football players in the United States. Football isn't dead in this country. It isn't even on life support. But the warning signs are there, and Nowinski thinks there's a way forward. "Buddy Teevens is showing that you can restrict tackling to an extreme place and succeed on the field," he says.

Indeed, in Year 1 post-tackling, Teevens says, the team's overall injury rate fell 80 percent. By Year 2, the concussion rate had plummeted 58 percent. And the Big Green's football? It was just fine. Their missed tackles were cut in half, and since 2014, Dartmouth has won 76 percent of its games -- the Ivy League's best clip and proof that the elimination of tackling in practice did not metastasize into endemic losing."

"In the Dartmouth lounge area, there's a headset attached to a laptop, a mini virtual reality station where Jared Gerbino, one of the team's top quarterbacks, can settle into a black leather easy chair, slip on a pair of goggles and step back onto the practice field with STRIVR. He can turn 360 degrees and there's his offensive line, his quarterbacks coach, the water station he visits during breaks. He can virtually take the reps he missed in practice, the ones divvied up among the other quarterbacks.

On a Dartmouth locker room wall hangs a printout of 28 players' practice readings -- total distance traveled, top speed reached -- data gleaned from Catapult, GPS technology that tracks their every move on the field. And on the sideline, on Fridays and Saturdays in the fall, about 35 Dartmouth players will slip on Vicis helmets designed to absorb and disperse energy. Teevens did some investigating and wanted to give his players the option to try this more malleable headgear. Hit it and you hear more thud, less crack, he says."

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