WOMEN'S SOCCER: Tracking tech has Beavers fresh by keeping ‘mileage’ in check
Every practice and every game, the Beavers wear a vest with a GPS tracking chip in it. The tech then monitors their sessions -- everything from total distance to hard running to top speed and more. The data helps BSU understand the workload on each position player, information they then implement into their training.
BEMIDJI -- In years prior, the Bemidji State women’s soccer team gauged a player’s usage based on the amount of minutes they logged. But, much like the technology at their disposal, that strategy has evolved.
“Whatever can help us have that little edge on someone -- and if it’s GPS units -- hey, we’re going to do it,” assistant coach Mike Korman said.
Every practice and every game, the Beavers wear a vest with a GPS tracking chip in it. The tech then monitors their sessions -- everything from total distance to hard running to top speed and more.
The system, called Sports Performance Tracking, helps BSU understand the workload on each position player. The team takes the data and implements it into their training.
“It’s really cool because you can see how far you ran in a game, how fast you ran,” senior Halle Peterson said. “You can see your speed, your distance. You can see where you spend the majority of your time on the field. … It’s helped a lot.”
“They help us gauge where everyone’s legs are at for the week,” senior midfielder Maggie Cade said. “If you’ve run longer distances, you’re going to go a little less in practice just because you want your legs to be ready for the games.”
It’s perhaps a little unorthodox to shut down an otherwise healthy player for a practice or two, but longevity is the goal. And the results, according to Korman, speak for themselves.
“I’ve seen the benefits of them having fresher legs because we shut them down a lot of times,” said Korman, who joined the staff in 2019 and implemented SPT in 2021. “It helps us be fresher throughout the whole year. I think about 2019 to 2021, and we just looked fresher as the (season) went on.”
Players can access their personal data on an app and on the computer. They can also see the team’s top performers in each category.
Korman said coaches can sometimes spend hours wading through all the team’s data, but it’s been a game-changing tool to have at their disposal.
“I think it’s been great. … And we’re still learning every day,” Korman said. “We’re trying to make sure that we don’t kill them during the week, so when games come, their legs are fresh. More or less, it helps us find out who we can push a little bit more, who needs a bit more mileage.”
To open their season, the No. 9 Beavers will challenge a perennially strong program in South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits haven’t had a losing season since 2012 and have made four Division I NCAA Tournaments in that span, including last season.
“They’ll be a very good team to play,” Cade said. “It’ll help us see where we’re at. Obviously it’s so early in the season that we know we can get better, but it’ll give us a good vantage point of where we can get to.”
Bemidji State has had recent success against Division I competition. BSU defeated North Dakota 2-0 in last year’s season opener and 1-0 in 2018. The Beavers’ last D-I loss came against none other than SDSU, a 3-1 defeat back in 2014.
This year’s season opener is set to kick off at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, in Brookings, S.D. Bemidji State then has a pair of road games against Northern Michigan (Sept. 2) and Michigan Tech (Sept. 4) before beginning NSIC games by Sept. 9.
The Beavers believe a nonconference slate like this -- particularly their Division I adversary -- will prepare them well for the highly competitive Northern Sun.
“I think it’s exciting,” Peterson said. “Playing a team like SDSU, it’s similar to playing a lot of the teams in our conference. I feel like the majority of our conference is just as good and could play at that level. It’s a good way to start off the year and see where we’re at.”