Sideline instant replay: unsung hero in Canadian university’s biggest football rivalry

It never hurts to have a second look.

Courtesy of GameStrat.

It can be found on sidelines across the OUA and amateur ranks in Canada and the United States. It’s an instant replay system called GameStrat, which has become a staple for many teams. The system can be easily used on high school size fields to professional stadiums. GameStrat made its debut at TD Place, the Ottawa RedBlacks’ stadium, at the 2017 Panda Game, the annual rivalry game between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens.

When it came to the Panda Game, Gee-Gees’ video coordinator Ntare Bainomugisha said there was no need to adjust how they used the system.

“We set it up just the same as we did at all (other) stadiums we visited, and the system worked just fine,” Bainomugisha said. “System setup was very easy as it is very user friendly, usually less than ten minutes from the time we got up to the press box to have all sideline tablets fired up and ready to go.”

With a capacity of 24,000, TD Place is considerably larger than the average OUA stadium. GameStrat, however, has a video transfer time of under two seconds regardless of distance between the press box and the sidelines.

Courtesy of GameStrat.

During the Gee-Gees home games this season, the team used a big screen TV to review game film shot through GameStrat. Bainomugisha said that the Panda Game was the first away game that the Gee-Gees were able to use GameStrat on a TV in the locker room. He said the setup allowed coaches to run film sessions, make corrections and make halftime adjustments based on film from the first-half.

Bainomugisha added that on game days, GameStrat proved to be extremely beneficial to the coaches, and “…based on its use as a tool for halftime adjustments, was responsible for many of the comeback wins that the Gee-Gees had this past season.” To review film, coaches did “not have to wait till a film session the following day.”

On the opposite sideline, the Carleton Ravens run a four-iPad system. They have two iPads in the coaches’ booth and two on the sidelines. “The setup and usage of GameStrat at TD Place was the exact same as any other OUA venue in 2017. It worked just the same as a regular home game for us, which is critical in creating a comfortable environment for our coaches and players,” said Andrew Wilson, the Ravens’ video coordinator.

“The goal for myself every gameday is to make sure that everything feels the same and works the same regardless of the venue and with GameStrat, it was very easy to accomplish this,” he added. “Every single week the opponent shows a new twist to their game plan that wasn’t seen on film prior to the game. GameStrat allows for a clearer identification of those twists or changes and allows the coaches to make the appropriate adjustments.”

By Robert Young.

Bainomugisha, who is also a football coach, coaches for the Ottawa Myers Riders junior varsity squad. The team used GameStrat during their playoff run last summer. He said that, “GameStrat played a major role in our OVFL championship day result as it allowed us to see and make halftime adjustments that resulted in us overcoming a 26-21 point deficit at halftime and win the game 55-31.”

While Wilson may be part of a rival squad, he can agree on one thing with Bainomugisha; instant replay is benefiting the game. “It is my belief that technology like GameStrat does wonders for growing the game of football,” Wilson said. “Football is a game that is constantly evolving and growing and it is growth like GameStrat that allows for better coaching and better results on the field.”

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