A local software developer is signing up 2,000 high schools as clients.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
BOARDMAN -- An arm of the National Football League is relying on a Boardman company to bring high-tech performance to high school football.
The NFL Youth Football Fund is providing money for 2,000 high schools to receive software from Proscout Video that provides for easier handling of game video. The system normally costs $5,000 per school.
"This is great for us," said Dan Policy, Proscout president. "It puts our name out there and puts us in position to be the industry leader."
The offer has been so popular that Proscout, which is based at 5500 Market St., has had 1,000 high schools sign up in three weeks. It hasn't even had to market the donation program, which is being operated by USA Football, an advocacy group for youth football.
Previously, the company had 250 high schools as customers, though it had a number of colleges, including Youngstown State University.
What is it?
Proscout's system makes digital copies of game video so that individual plays can be indexed on a computer. As a game is loaded, a coach clicks on items he wants indexed for each play, such as down and distance, field position and ball carrier.
Later, a coach needs only a few seconds to call up all the plays that meet just about any combination of variables. For example, he can access every play that's third and 10 inside the 20-yard line when No. 22 carries the ball.
Without such a system, a coach watches the video and writes down what happens in certain situations, such as how often a team runs to the right when it needs short yardage to get a first down.
The Proscout system also helps coaches make training tapes or highlight tapes that players must send to colleges. All of that can be done on the computer, while previously coaches had to have two tape decks to splice together a string of plays.
Neal Kopp, head football coach at Fitch High School in Austintown, said the Proscout system has helped him with statistical analysis of game situations and saved him time in the five years he's been using it.
"It's been super," he said.
A big advantage to Proscout is its customer service and willingness to solve problems over the phone, he said.
Signing on soon
Other local schools using the system include Liberty, Springfield and Columbiana, while Ursuline and Boardman will have it soon.
Policy, son of former Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers executive Carmen Policy, said the deal with the NFL fund is causing Proscout to focus on serving high schools and pull back on marketing to colleges.
There are more than 15,000 high schools in the country, and he hopes to receive more funding to expand the software donation to other schools. Proscout competes with a handful of companies.
Policy said that eventually he would like to expand the Proscout system to other industries. It also offers similar systems for sports besides football.
The company has five full-time employees and two workers under contract. Policy said he expects to hire between six and 12 people in order to serve the high school accounts.
Proscout was started by Dean Cicoretti of Canfield in 1998. Policy invested in the company in 2000 and recently bought Cicoretti's ownership interest.