Houston girls’ basketball coach Brent Kell has received text messages from his players for some time. He didn’t respond to them – but not because he didn’t want to.
“I’d usually end up calling them because they’d text me, and I didn’t know how to answer them,” Kell said.
A summer crash course from his daughters and a few players now has the veteran coach TXTing and LOLing like a teenager.
Text messaging begins for most high school coaches as a necessary evil to communicate with their younger and admittedly much hipper players. But what they soon discover is texting is a convenient and quick way to send a simple message to a dozen or more athletes at one time.
“It’s by far the best way of communicating,” said Brent Hall, HHS boys’ basketball and baseball coach. “A year ago, I probably would have said that I’d never do it. But now it’s one of the easiest ways to communicate with kids.”
Text messages allow users to send 160 character messages to a single recipient or entire group via cell phone. In an era when a majority of teenagers have cell phones, texting is an ideal means to deliver news.
Coaches send announcements (no game 2nite), reminders (wear red 2mor) or personal notes to their players on a daily basis.
“I’m not the most technologically savvy person in the world,” said HHS football coach and athletic director Chris Edwards said. “But if you want to be able to communicate with your players, you almost have to be able to text message because it’s the quickest and easiest way to get ahold of them.”
Only easy when you master the art of sending a MSG.
Kell said he had his daughter, Megan, send out text message announcements this past season. He just within the last few weeks learned to create and respond to messages on his own. There were problems along the way.
Kell said he would send the same note to each player – taking nearly as long as calling them – until he was shown how to create a group for mass messages. Even then, he estimated it took 2-3 minutes to compose a text. He shared his frustrations at an open gym with a player, who showed him a shortcut for abbreviations and punctuation.
He’s down to seconds instead of minutes to compose a text.
“I guess my daughters failed to teach me everything, but I’m probably hard to teach,” Kell said
Armed with the new information, Kell said he sends players messages about open gyms, summer league and weekend shooouts. He also receives communication from players with injury updates or notes that they aren’t available for that day’s activities.
“It’s a whole different world,” Kell said. “If you can’t get ahold of them on the phone, you can text them and pretty soon, they’ ll text you back. Kids are constantly checking to see if they missed a text.”
Hall’s experience has been that most players won’t answer a phone call. But they almost always respond to a text.
He likes to send out bulk reminders to his players, ranging from the color of jersey to wear for that day’s ballgame to the bus departure time. He said texting became especially handy when he assumed the head coaching duties of two varsity teams.
“Unfortunately, the kids don’t always listen (in person),” Hall said. “They seem to always reply and acknowledge my texts with a short ‘OK’ or ‘thanks.’ I usually know that they’ve gotten the message.”
Hall said players appear to feel more comfortable texting than talking face-to-face. But he encourages them not to rely on texting for every situation.
“I tell the kids, ‘If you’ve got a problem, don’t do it over the phone,'” Hall said. “Some of the kids think texting is a good means to talk to everyone. Some kids text me and I’ll say, “Why don’t you come talk to me? I’d rather not do this over the phone.'”
Not all Houston coaches have converted to text conversations. First-year softball coach Willy Walker said he uses a call chain to contact players. He said he occasionally receives texts from players but after a couple in a row, he picks up the phone and calls them.
Edwards, who communicates with his football staff via text, said the district has no rules or regulations regarding texting athletes. He asks coaches to use common sense with the appropriateness of each message.
“You obviously have to be smart about it,” Edwards said. “As it progresses, I’m sure there will be rules set up about it. You’ve just got to make sure you’re doing things the right way.”
That’s the most important message @TEOTD (at the end of the day).