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Home News Football coach develops Headset App to improve sideline communications

Photo description: The display for the Headset App, which can also be controlled with a smart watch.

Photo credit: Headset App

Cohen Carpenter

Sower Staff


Patrick Daberkow is well-known as coach of the Concordia Nebraska football team, but his fame is growing due to an innovative app he created and is marketing to help game-day communications.

The Headset App offers a simple solution to an issue that has plagued high school and college football for decades.

In most every level of organized football beyond middle school, it is common for the coaching staff to be split on game days. A majority will stay on the sideline with the players in the middle of the action, while a select few will spend the game in the press box, giving them a bird’s-eye view of the contest.

The reasoning for this is simple: the coaches in the press box have a better view of the action and are in a better position to respond to opposing formations and play-calling changes.

The standard for communication between press box and sideline has always been a headset system specifically designed for the task. According to Daberkow, most headset systems consist of anywhere from four to a dozen individual headsets that ensure a secure channel of communication for a team’s coaches.

These systems are a necessity but do have drawbacks. In the 2019 season the Concordia coaching staff lost communication for the entire first quarter in a homecoming matchup against Briar Cliff due to technical issues intrinsic to the older systems.

The main drawback of these systems, though, is the cost.

“Depending on which one you get, you could be spending $61,000 [on a system],” said Daberkow. “Realistically, the minimum would be $10,000.”

These figures refer to just the upfront costs, which increase when maintenance is figured into the equation.

“Every year you have to send them in to get them refurbished for around $350 [per headset],” Daberkow

All in all, a single, cheap headset system could set a program back around $50,000 over a 10-year period.

Daberkow’s design philosophy for the Headset App was geared toward overcoming the cost and redundancy of older systems using readily available technologies for a fraction of the effort and price.

In other words, anything an old headset system could do, a coach with an iPhone and an AirPod could hypothetically do better.

After consulting with friends and hiring developers, Daberkow eventually had a team of six that put the idea to the test, and this past spring Concordia football, along with 110 users across five different states, successfully tried the app for the first time.

To understand the app, think of a Zoom meeting with various break-out rooms. In one room there is the offensive coaching staff, in another the defensive and in another the program’s training staff. Throughout a game, different users can come and go throughout these different channels, speaking with various coaches whether they are on the sideline or elsewhere. Certain users are allowed to broadcast announcements across all channels, ensuring important information does not go unheard.

While this can all be done with a simple bluetooth connection to an AirPod, Daberkow claims some coaches at Concordia opt for a more applied means of communication.

“On game day, we prefer headsets that have a mic with a boom so it doesn’t pick up all the surrounding sounds, which has caused us to buy gamer headsets,” he said. “Gaming and trucking headsets actually work quite well.”

Going into this season, the Headset App had 442 users, with almost 50 programs using the app in some capacity, according to Daberkow.

The standard and most basic plan offered by the Headset App is $7.99 a month and the most expensive plan is the premium package at $49.99. It offers greater versatility and

“The value proposition is not hard,” Daberkow said. “It’s overpriced, outdated, bulky systems versus equipment that you already own. It’s a common-sense solution to a very obvious problem.”

For more information on the Headset App listen to this podcast featuring Patrick Daberkow.

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