The University of Iowa

Learning Spaces Technology at New Soccer Complex Facility

September 16, 2021

The Soccer Facility Complex located on Iowa’s western part of campus is a four-million-dollar athletic operations facility project begun in 2020 and completed in 2021 in time for the twenty-fifth anniversary of Iowa Women’s Soccer. The nearly 8,400 square foot facility includes a modern athletic training room, officials’ locker room, coaching offices, and visitor’s locker room. However, it’s in the press box, locker room, team room [student-athlete classroom], and large multipurpose room [accommodating film watching, studies, donor hosting, as well as other pre- or post-match events], the Learning Spaces Technology A/V design and install team had an opportunity to address the projects’ A/V technology specifications.

The entire LST A/V Design & Install team consisting of A/V team lead Paul Ross, a Senior Communications Infrastructure Engineer, Phil Gugliuzza, a Communications Infrastructure Engineer, and Ryan Adams, an Associate Communications Infrastructure Engineer, have worked together largely under the direction of project lead, Mark Mueller, a Communications Infrastructure Engineer. LST projected a $32k budget estimation for parts and labor and began the project with documentation of the legacy PA and replay system the first week of November 2020, with nearly 83 total project hours of installation from the LST team as the project nears conclusion. Notable A/V project components include the team room’s 86-inch annotative flat panel display with Apple Air Play and a nine-speaker distributed sound system, as well as large flat panel installations [with Apple Air play] in the home locker room, head coach’s office, and multipurpose room [also with a six-speaker distributed sound system]. Mueller also noted, “all installed displays are rated for 24/7 operation and include the same five-year warranty as currently included in classrooms rooms across campus.”

The project also included the re-installation of the legacy 3600-watt PA system feeding four rooftop Community loudspeakers [all re-purposed from the original press box], as well as the re-installation of the DV Sports replay system head-end providing an interface with eight goal cameras back-fed by an ITS-EI fiber optic network. Additionally, Mueller improvised a much-needed crowd noise monitoring system, piped into the event management and press operations suites, allowing occupants to hear the action on the field from behind the relatively soundproof, sealed double-pane glass windows overlooking the pitch. 

New Facility's Impact

In comparing the new facility to other Big Ten schools, Iowa Soccer Assistant Coach Katelyn Longino believes the UI has likely “gone from one of the bottom schools to one of the top schools, and the fact that it’s not a shared facility means that the team’s experience is a richer one.” From easy access to rest and recovery tools, to the practice field, to accessing technology and media, “there’s no waiting or delay and the facilities can be counted on to be available to the team at any time.” In comparison to the new team room, the original team room held little to no technology. “There was just a blank, dry erase board that we would kind of draw our strategies on, but there was no technology built into what we were doing,” describes Coach Longino. She emphasizes, from the design of the facility through the final build, education and the team room [the classroom], and therefore technology, were critical components of the entire process.

Technology Brings Avenues for Learning

Of note, the team room’s large interactive display has allowed them to bring in unique avenues for learning and use it in various ways. In evaluating and breaking down game film at halftime of games, or game strategies, or set piece organization, the interactive display allows for direct student-athlete interaction with the film. “They can come up and write on the whiteboard, or circle or draw, and kind of explain things” and we’re able to “use that as a tool to have that understanding of what they're processing and what they're seeing on the field at those times.” Coach Longino says it is this “capacity, flexibility of this technology that helps them operate and do all those things.”

In addition to the educational and strategic aspects of using the new facility’s technology to produce better students and athletes, they’re also cultivating a holistic approach promoting its use in team building. Coach Longino explains, “it’s also a space for them to grow as a team, where they can watch other soccer matches, rest and recover through team yoga, or a movie night. She also reminds us, “we’ve only been in the building for about a month or so and we still have some things that we're tweaking on our end to amp that up even more.”

Future for A/V Technology in Athletics

Among the team’s goals is to be able to live stream games from the field directly into the interactive display, while Integrating GPS sensors to the interactive display also holds further potential. Thus far, they’ve yet to combine them, but Coach Longino believes, “some days that'd be really important and exciting to consider and have a live feed and of what they have player-load wise and it's an important part of what we do as well, because we have to keep our players as healthy as we possibly can.”

“The linking all of those elements should influence game day strategies, halftime conversations, and real-time adjustments, and therefore get a true read on the situation,” Coach Longino elaborated. She believes the direction they’re headed with technology is where the world of soccer is going, and at this level of competition, every bit of information and every detail of what Coach Longino refers to as “operation efficiency,” matters and can be an advantage.

The positive results shared by Coach Longino of the LST A/V work at the Soccer Facility Complex has led Mueller to speculate, this may likely have served as a gateway project to additional work with athletics facilities. Already in progress, is planning for A/V design and installation in the new Wrestling Complex, as well as additional project work for golf, volleyball, baseball, and men’s basketball. Mueller revealed these are all projects LST is “excited for being a part of and looking forward to getting under way in the coming year.”


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