I had time for some testing. If you connect via www.middlehitter.net everything seems to work. If you try to use www.middlehitter.com you are directed to the site where I am trying to develop the new pages with the new database technology.
Post by cyberVBmidwest on Jul 29, 2012 15:29:38 GMT -5
Great question and comments!
The short answer can be found in Semp12’s reply.
For the (really) long answer, read on…
I started Middle Hitter over 8 years ago as a way to give back to the game. In watching my son go through the sport starting in 8th grade (14’s) through high school, I found there was very little information available about the men's game and very little hype. Even many of the club coaches didn't know the full range of teams available for student-athletes after high school. I chose a website format because I had a little experience at making websites and I could keep up with it despite heavy business travel. I have also volunteer-coached and officiated in the past but do not have the time to properly dedicate to those avenues.
What most athletes, parents, fans, etc. knew of were the 5 to 10 DI schools who had players who played in the Olympics, the school their club coach played for and maybe the local/regional schools. For the first few years, I didn't even know there were DII, DIII and NAIA schools with men's volleyball programs. The well-known DI schools had no problem reaching most recruits because they had the name recognition and budget to see them and recruit them. The smaller programs had little chance of getting exposed to the full spectrum of players on a national basis. It usually depended on their ability to make it to regional tournaments and hopefully the JO’s. Over the years, I have received dozens of letters from the student-athletes and parents thanking me for the website because they didn't even know that X school(s) even had men’s programs. They were able to reach out to those “other” schools about their programs and expand their possibilities for playing after high school while getting their degree at a school that fit their needs. It is those emails that continue to drive me to keep Middle Hitter going even though my son is way past playing.
In the beginning years, I found occasional useful information on news groups (anyone remember those) and then a couple of the local newspaper forums. In fact, the very first Commit list was solely created out of those forums and then eventually a few press releases. I found a lot of comments from people based on something they heard or misinformation. Questions like, how many scholarships were available? which club won the most national championships? (junior level), who made All-American at JO’s? who made the Fab 50?, what school had a men’s volleyball program? and on and on… Of course, the big one, who is going to play where in college? Football and basketball has websites and even publications dedicated to this type of information but not men’s volleyball. So Middle Hitter is my attempt at filling that void.
As Semp12 said, my original intent was to improve the chances of the smaller programs. You can find my original text at the top of the Recruiting Information page. However, my marketing experience told me that you need to have content to reach your target audience. I found certain content was more likely to be found in internet searches and that included information about the big DI programs and the Olympics. So I tracked that information and started posting it below the DII, DIII and NAIA information. Visitors have to scroll past the information to read about the DI and National Team news stories. This exposes them to the “relatively unknown world of opportunities” in men’s volleyball.
In the early days, I found there was very little in the way of photos and video about men’s volleyball. Video is very popular on Middle Hitter especially in the early days before more schools started using the medium. I would bring my photo and video cameras to World League and college matches I attended. I would get approval to video tape college matches and post them on the site. Some schools started sharing their video with me and I would share it with the rest of the world. Fortunately, these days you can find all kinds of men’s volleyball video on the internet. You can even find club level and some high school level photos and video on the internet.
In the past, I found it difficult to learn about the players on the national team other than what you would hear every four years during the Olympics. Many high school players, parents, etc… didn't even know what “national team” meant until the Beijing Olympics gold medal. When the US began participating in the World League again, I have tried to attend at least one session each year. I was fortunate to be able to attend and tape the press conferences. I started sharing these videos and my observations. You can learn a lot more about the team and the team members when observing these and being able to ask some questions. You would also learn that the few reporters to show up at the press conferences usually knew very little about the game itself (but at least they were there). I applaud USAV for stepping up their coverage of the men’s side of the game including access to more photos and video than what I saw ten years ago. We recently had two major FIVB events on US soil. Even FIVB has started providing press conference video for World League events. I consider that a step (however small) in the right direction to growing the game.
Lastly, I get a lot of "thank you's" from college program coaches from all level's of men's and boy's volleyball including DI coaches. My dream is that some major organization, profit or non-profit, would find the "need" to deliver the same content but with better resouces (money and people) than I can. I want to make it clear, that I alone cannot deliver all of the content found on Middle Hitter. I get a lot of help from the coaches, sports information directors, players, parents and fans. They provide me information, suggestions and even corrections to the content found on the website. I like to think of it as a website driven by the men's volleyball community!