In high school, Jacqueline Reckward developed a love for competition. A four-sport athlete at Decorah High School, her passion for athletics continued to grow in college as she took to the sidelines in her first coaching position.
Today, Reckward is more involved in athletics than she has ever been as the Activities Department Manager at her high school alma mater. She began in April of 2020 and one her first duties was getting familiar with the capabilities of the Varsity Bound app.
“I was kind of in charge of learning as much as possible about the various tools it offered,” Reckward says. “We really started rolling it out for the spring sports by getting all the schedules loaded and the rosters input. Unfortunately, with COVID we didn’t get to have a spring sports season.”
Growing and Learning
The effort wasn’t wasted, though. Learning how to navigate the Varsity Bound app helped Reckward and the coaches at Decorah leverage it to get the word out about the summer sports.
“When summer came, we were excited that we were able to have our baseball and softball season,” Reckward says. “We got the rosters in there, got the schedule in there and even used tools like the COVID screening to ensure our athletes and coaches were safe and healthy.”
The primary benefit of the COVID screening tool was that it was provided in a format that was familiar for athletes. Reckward says athletes viewed the screening as something simple to ensure they could continue to compete and there was really no pushback in getting them to complete it each day.
“We just stressed that it was something that had to get done to be able to participate,” Reckward says. “We were able to get everybody signed up and using the app the first day of practices.”
Increasing Usage, Expanding Capabilities
While the athletes were quick to get familiar with using Varsity Bound, Reckward says there was a small learning curve for some at Decorah—but it wasn’t long before administrators, coaches and fans found Varsity Bound an app they couldn’t live without.
“Our coaches were quick to begin using the Notify tool,” Reckward says. Notify allows coaches to communicate directly with athletes and parents through the app. “I know our baseball coach loved having the ability to send out daily practice plans.”
“I also know that the kids appreciated that communication,” Reckward adds. “And the way Varsity Bound can be set up to give a notification by email, text or the app when a new Notify message is sent, I know was appreciated. There are essentially three ways to get a message across. It is a really awesome tool.”
It’s All in One Place
Going forward, Reckward says the activities team at Decorah is looking forward to implementing additional Varsity Bound tools. As they head into the winter sports, they are focused on helping parents see the value offered by the app.
“It is going to take some getting used to for parents, we know that,” Reckward says. “But we are confident they will see the value. Everything is right there: scores, rosters, articles, messages from the coach, everything. I really think our parents will find it nice to have one place to find all the information they need.”
As an administrator, having a central hub for information is definitely been a big benefit to Reckward.
“I’m new in my position, so it has been nice for me the way that Varsity Bound has made some of the management side of my job easier,” she says. “It is nice that I can have so much information about so many different sports at my fingertips. It is so user-friendly too. That is a big bonus. All in all, Varsity Bound has saved me a ton of time.”
In the future, the hope is that it will save more time by automating things like ticketing and fundraising.
“It’s been super fun to learn this program and all the things it has to offer,” Reckward says. “From a management standpoint, not only for me but for coaches, it has made things so much easier. It is literally all in one place.”
Varsity Bound Helps Consolidate Communications
With more than a dozen athletic programs and a handful of other activities like band, choir and drama at Decorah High School, there are a variety of ways leadership communicates with participants, parents, and the community.
“A lot of our coaches and activity directors use group emails,” says Jacqueline Reckward, Activities Department Manager, “and that is their primary method of communicating with participants and parents. A good chunk of our sports teams also have Twitter accounts and that is one way they communicate with the community. There are just a lot of different ways that we are sharing information and there isn’t a lot of consistency.”
Reckward is hoping the Notify tool offered in the Varsity Bound app will help to streamline communications with all interested parties.
“Notify just makes it so much easier for everyone who needs to communicate,” Reckward says. “Instead of trying to find email addresses or phone numbers, they can just compose a message in Notify and know that it is getting to all who need to see it.”