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Renowned RivalryLegendary Oklahoma High School rivals Jenks & Union each depend on Coachcomm\'s connex headset system for reliable performance
© June 2008
Together, the two teams have won the last 12 Oklahoma state 6A titles. They’re each regularly ranked in national polls. Their annual in-season game, known as the Backyard Bowl, draws over 35,000 fans – too many to fit in either of their stadiums so it’s played at the University of Tulsa. A documentary film about their rivalry called “King of the Mountain” was made in 2003. Last year they were featured in the premier episode of “Greatest High School Football Rivalries” – a national television series produced by NFL Films. The schools are five miles apart.
Jenks and Union. Trojans vs. Redskins. The biggest and best rivalry in the country.
With so much at stake each time these two teams take the field, both Head Coaches – Allan Trimble of Jenks and Kirk Fridrich of Union – recognize that clear, dependable sideline communication between coaches is critical to their on-field success. It is no surprise, then, that both have chosen the Connex Wireless Headset System from CoachComm. Connex delivers reliability when the game is on the line, as both Trimble and Fridrich attested to when they recently spoke about Connex and their storied rivalry.
You preside over two of the top high school programs in the country. How do your teams maintain such a high level of performance year after year?
Trimble: There are a lot of things that go into a championship. Consistency and commitment come to mind first. There are a lot of people who believe our football program is important enough to commit themselves fully to our mission of excellence. Our players, staff, community and school administration all want the Jenks Trojans to be successful.
Fridrich: Tradition plays a big role in our success. Union has a tradition of commitment from the community, our administration and our players – all working on winning year-round. Our school and community expect a highly competitive team each year and our players strive to meet that expectation. Also, living in close proximity to Jenks and striving to compete with their great program motivates us as well.
The Jenks-Union rivalry is referred to as the best in the nation. What does the annual Backyard Bowl game mean to you, your players and your community?
Fridrich: The anticipation of the game has grown each year because the kids deliver such a great game every year. The game is a source of pride for our schools, and now that it’s on a national stage, the city of Tulsa and our state receive recognition for the excellence our players and schools show on and off the field. I truly enjoy the rivalry for the high respect both teams have for each other. Two champions battling for four quarters and sometimes overtime – who wouldn’t want to watch!
Trimble: The rivalry is really unique in a lot of ways. Our players and fans actually live across the street from each other, go to church together, shop at the same stores, and compete against each other beginning in elementary school. From a coaching standpoint, it's a very challenging and exciting event because you know you will have to be at your best to have a chance to win. From a fan’s perspective, the game is for huge bragging rights for an entire year. I've really never seen anything like it.
In high pressure games like the Backyard Bowl and the state playoffs, how important is it to have a reliable headset communications system for you and your coaching staff?
Trimble: In today’s game, timely, quality communication is everything. Clear communication in high pressure situations is our lifeline. The crowd noise, the weather, the overall intensity of big time situations makes a quality communication system a must. Our Connex system has really stood the test of big games over the history of this rivalry and our playoff runs.
Fridrich: Our old headsets actually went out last year during the Backyard Bowl. With all of the networks and media coverage, the interference caused major communication problems. As a coaching staff we were taught a big lesson in how important communication is on game nights. Fortunately, we were able to switch to CoachComm and we did not have a problem the rest of the year. Ironically, Coach Trimble recommended CoachComm to me after the game.
How would you compare your CoachComm Connex system to your previous system? Did you experience problems with your old system that Connex solved?
Fridrich: Our game with Jenks brings in a huge crowd and numerous media outlets. All of this interference could not be fixed with our old system. CoachComm understood the issue and assured us that it would not happen with their system.
Trimble: My favorite characteristic about our Connex system is its simplicity to set up and operate. Our previous system took two staff members at least an hour to set up, test and make adjustments. This weekly procedure took away valuable pre-game time that could have been utilized in other, more important areas that help us win. With the Connex system, set up and testing is a 15-minute process with the hardest part being the walk up the pressbox stairs. Our Connex system has been very consistent in a variety of venues. Our old system would fade in and out or lose a channel completely in large population areas while our Connex system just keeps on going no matter where we are playing.
How many coaches on the sidelines and in the press box use the system during a game?
Trimble: We incorporate a very large communication system. I feel like it's important to have everyone on the same page from our play callers, our special teams decisions, our quarterbacks and safeties, even our pressbox spotters who chart our offensive and defensive calls. We currently have seven sets upstairs and seven sets on the sideline.
Fridrich: We work off of a 12 headset system – we have four coaches with headsets upstairs and eight down on the sidelines.
What features of the Connex system are most important to you?
Trimble: Being able to recharge the headsets like a cell phone allows our managers to take care of the weekly maintenance. Another feature of the Connex system that has really been beneficial is that all the parts are interchangeable. During an exciting moment on the sideline, I broke the communication cable on my headset during a celebration with one of my players. The repair was as simple as grabbing our spare headset and plugging it in to my belt pack. In 45 seconds, I was back up and running.
Fridrich: Because of our past problems, reliability is the first priority. Set-up is second, since you don’t want to spend your whole pre-game getting the system set up. Our coaches can take care of the Connex system very quickly.
How has CoachComm supported the system since you purchased it?
Fridrich: CoachComm knew that we had a problem with our old system so they continued to check with us to make sure that the Connex system fixed the problem.
Trimble: CoachComm is just one phone call away. When our system needed repair, we simply overnighted them to CoachComm and they were back in my office by Thursday in full working order. Their support has been as good as I’ve had with any communication system.
For more information: 1-800-749-2761 - www.coachcomm.com
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