Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Digital Dugout Gives Alabama Softball Team Chance to Connect with Fans

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Digital Dugout Gives Alabama Softball Team Chance to Connect with Fans

Article excerpt

Patrick Murphy walked past a closet filled with old equipment and came up with a cutting-edge idea.

The University of Alabama's softball coach converted that closet into UA's Digital Dugout, an area where players cut 15-second videos from an Instagram account to promote the program and share their thoughts.

"This little area of the clubhouse, every time I'd go through to get to the locker room I'd say what a waste of space: there would usually be a bag of old T-shirts and a catcher's bag and equipment just sitting there taking up space," Murphy said.

Last December, he decided to make the closet into a social media station that he designed after something from the MTV reality television series "The Real World."

"I always remembered they used to have this thing, they called it the confessional, where they'd sit and just kind of rehash the day's events. It was lighthearted, funny, just whatever," Murphy said.

The coach got some shag carpet and an Ikea lamp and obtained some colorful wall hangings with an elephant head image. The only thing missing was a delivery system.

"I got an iPad at Target on Black Friday, stood in line for three hours for it," Murphy said.

The iPad was mounted on the wall so players can use it as a camera to film the videos and also to post them.

When players returned from their holiday break, Murphy handed it over to them and got out of the way. The digital dugout is for players only.

"What I envisioned is that they have total control over content, quality, everything," Murphy said. "They're the only ones that know the passwords. I trust them. I told them the coaching staff will not be in here, we will not do anything on it, just do what you're supposed to do, do it the right way and represent us well. I think they've done that. They just took it and ran with it."

Seniors act as quality-control agents.

"We have a rule that we let three people see it before someone presses 'post,' just because there are too many inside jokes that can get thrown out of proportion," senior infielder Ryan Iamurri said. "We want it to be good but clean and fun."

Junior Danae Hays can testify that not everything gets past the senior censors. …

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