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Resounding Success© More from this issue
A Portland area high school captures their first-ever state championship – with the help of HME’s DX300 headset system.
When Chris Casey took the head coaching position at Aloha High School outside Beaverton, Oregon seven years ago, the challenge he faced was daunting. The Warriors had won a total of 14 games in their previous 17 seasons and only one game in the last three. They were losing elite players to higher-profile football programs in the Portland area like Jesuit – a school they had not beaten since 1985. Support for the team within the Aloha community was almost non-existent.
Playing in the Portland Metro, considered the toughest league in Oregon, made Casey’s task even more challenging. Add the handicap of having an under-performing sideline headset communication system that would cease to function in the frequent Oregon fall rains and you’ll have an idea of the uphill battle that was ahead for Casey and the Aloha Warriors.
While the first few years of Casey’s tenure produced only modest gains, his strategy of changing the culture of the team, building a consistent program from the youth level up to the varsity and getting better support from the community and his coaching staff finally paid dividends in 2009 when the team finished 7-4. This past season, that accomplishment was eclipsed when Aloha went 13-1 and captured the Oregon 6A state championship – erasing two decades of futility. The season included the first win over Jesuit in 25 years.
“Anytime you win a championship at any level in any sport it is a major
achievement,” said Casey. “To accomplish this in a program that has had many struggles over the years and in arguably the best high school sports league in the
state makes it even that much more special. It has had a profound and
positive impact on our school and our community.”
One ingredient that contributed to Aloha’s turnaround was the improved sideline communications that Casey and his staff achieved by switching to the DX300 system by HME. As any coach will attest, having a headset system they can trust is a vital tool in successful coaching. With HME’s DX300, coaching staffs get a state-of-the-art system that provides clear, reliable communications and has features that coaches want and need. “In order to perform at your highest level of efficiency during the
pressure of a game situation, you need to have great preparation, great
teamwork (as a staff and a team) and have all your game management devices
and equipment working well,” according to Casey. “The HME sideline communications system gave us that top level of performance with regard to coaches’ game-time
communication throughout our season and in the playoffs.”
Aloha has three coaches on the sideline and two in the press box verbally communicating during games, which their HME DX300 system easily accommodates. For programs that have larger staffs and greater communication needs, HME has developed a unique new device called a splitter cable. “Teams can now go from two to four coaches in the press box by using the splitter cable,” according to HME’s Sports Communications Channel Manager Darcey Meddings. “And they will all be able to talk and listen without any loss of clarity.”
To get a more detailed picture of how Aloha’s use of HME’s DX300 system contributed to their championship season, AFM talked to Tige McSwain, Aloha’s Offensive Coordinator, who is also responsible for the Warriors’ technology needs.
AFM: You won the Oregon 6A Championship this past season. What did it
mean to you, your players and the school to capture your first-ever
McSwain: For everyone around here, this was the crowning achievement of what has been a long road from the bottom. I have been here 12 years, with Coach Casey the last 7, and it has been a struggle to change the culture and mindset of the people in and around our high school. But for the past few years we could see it coming. We could see the change in the belief that we weren't just a doormat, that our students-athletes are just as special and deserve to win and experience success as those that go to the other schools in our area. This year was a huge accomplishment and everyone in our school and in our community was a part of it.
AFM: In high pressure games like the state playoffs, how important is it
to have a reliable headset communications system for you and your
McSwain: It was big this year. Having a reliable system made it possible for all of our coaches to communicate clearly and effectively. Going into the playoffs and then eventually in the championship game, there were many crunch time and pressure situations that we, as coaches, had to stay on top of. To have a system this year in place that we could count on was one less thing we had to worry about.
AFM: How would you compare your HME sideline communication system to
your previous system? Did you experience problems with your old system
that HME solved?
McSwain: The HME system is by far the best system we have had. With our old system, there were many times it would cut out halfway through a game. In Oregon, it rains a lot during our season. Our old system would cut out when it got too wet. We also didn't like the fact that every year we had to send our headsets in for reconditioning and there was always something new wrong with them that we had to pay extra for. It really got too costly for us.
AFM: What features of the HME system are most important to you?
McSwain: The things that have helped us the most are the range and clarity. During the playoffs, we had to play in bigger stadiums than normal, so the range and clarity of communication was important. Also, the quickness and sustainability of the charge was excellent. In our league, our junior varsity plays their games a day before us and our JV staff would use the headsets as well. To be able to charge the system the next day for our games was incredible. Our old system would not hold a charge for our game if the JV used them the day before.
AFM: Would you recommend that coaches who are in the market for a new
headset communications system consider HME?
McSwain: I have recommended HME to other coaches I know. We have found that our headsets are by far the best we have ever had and we don't hesitate to tell anyone that asks. We needed a good system and now, with HME, we have a great one.
“With our HME system, the sound is clearer, there were no breakdowns during
the season and no change in performance during rainy weather. Overall, HME is a
– Aloha High School Head Coach Chris Casey
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