Client Testimonial: Duke Football

Tony SalesAssistant Director of Athletics/Football OperationsDuke UniversityWhat is your role within Duke Football?I am the Assistant Athletic Director for Duke Football, which means I handle the day-to-day operations of the program. Essentially, I manage everything that doesn't have to do with the X's and O's. Some of the key responsibilities of my job include monitoring player relations (parking, housing, meals, compliance), staff relations (supervising the football budget, overseeing the football facilities), and serving as a liaison between the football offices, other departments of athletics, and the campus community as a whole. Team travel is another large component of my job.What is a typical day in the life of Tony Sales?We are a morning practice team, so we start each day with practice. After practice, we go into our normal daily responsibilities. The first thing I do when I get back to the office at roughly 10:45-11:00 is return emails. Some of those emails I can return immediately, but others I need information from others around the office to respond correctly. Sometimes it can take 30-40 minutes to respond to all the emails. I normally do not take a lunch break because I can usually just eat in the office while working.What are some of your responsibilities regarding player relations?One example that is relevant right now is that our players are going through class registration. I have to make sure that there aren't any holds on their accounts and they are in good standing with the university so they can register. I am coordinating with the Bursar's office to make sure that all charges are taken care of.Another issue is making sure that their immunizations are fully up-to-date. This is usually just an issue for freshman, because the state of North Carolina states that they have to have a certain level of immunizations. We have to turn in those immunization records to the health center, but they also have to record them online. I am helping our student-athletes register the dates of each shot and coordinating with health services to make sure all of the players are in compliance with the state of North Carolina and Duke University.How do you communicate with all of the different people associated with Duke football?There are so many things that make up the football world, and everybody has different wants and needs. I serve as that filter of information to decide the necessary channels for communication. Some things come in and may not need to go to everybody, but one of the assistants might need to see it, or maybe it gets sent to the football office, but it should be directed to a different office around campus. Deciding who needs to see the information and who needs to respond to it is part of my responsibility.Communication is probably the most important part of my job. I have to be able to communicate because the things that I am doing affect so many people. Communication is the key to everything for every program that wants to succeed. But not just communication: effective communication. You can give them the information, but if they are not actually receiving it, then communication is not there. You may think you're communicating, but you're not.Communication is a key to life. Not just at work, but with your family, with friends, with everybody.What happens when there is a breakdown in communication?Things change throughout the course of the day and the course of the season. When those updates are made, there are a lot of people who need to know about them. You have to be able to relay that message to everybody inside and outside of the football offices. They have a job to do, just like I have a job to do, and if they do not have that information as a result of a breakdown in communication, nothing will be accomplished.What are characteristics of strong communication?I like to communicate "A,B,C" or just the details of the message with no extra fluff. Then everybody can understand what's going on instead of a long verbiage that can get lost in translation or miscommunicated. The makeup of good communication is short and to the point.You can have the best layout of a message, but if they can't see it or it's not accessible, then it's not worth sending at all. A great idea but poor delivery is not worth doing. A lot of people have great ideas but not everybody has a plan to make that idea work.What have you found to be the most effective way to deliver information?Everybody today depends on technology, and if you don't grasp it then you are losing the battle, especially with the younger generation. Nobody talks on the phone anymore. It's just not what the younger generation is doing.How does Teamworks' technology fit into your communication?The way I look at Teamworks is as a one-stop-shop for everything. What that means is: We have our database of player information right at our fingertips not just at our computers, but on our phone also. Everywhere I go I have that information, and so does the rest of the staff.From a communications standpoint, the text messaging is as good as gold. That's how the younger generation is communicating. We also use the email, but texts are what the players receive; that's what they look at every day. Teamworks is not just a communications system in my eyes, it's more than that. Teamworks has everything I need to do my job regarding the players. It really is a one-stop-shop for information as well as for communication.What has been the reaction from athletes and staff members who are using Teamworks?Teamworks provides instant information and communication. Whether you are sending, receiving, or just looking at information, it is always available to you instantly. That instant gratification is what people love and rely on these days.What are your core philosophies as a program, in terms of communication? How does Teamworks fit into that message?One of our core philosophies is to embrace technology. Technology is here and it's not going anywhere. From the top down, we understand that technology is what our student athletes are going to rely on, so we need to adapt to it as well. Teamworks is a technology that allows us to stay in touch with our players by delivering information to their phones in a timely manner. That's what the players are looking for, so we use Teamworks to relay information to them.Now, we don't have to worry about "Did he see the piece of paper posted on the door?" They are going to see that message if we are sending it directly to their phone. They still may not see it right that second, but how many people these days go more than an hour without looking at their phone? All of us do it, so now we know they are all going to receive that information in a reasonable amount of time.What problems has Teamworks solved that were not being addressed before?We used to have to make phone calls to pass along a message. Not just myself but coaches, trainers, strength and conditioning staff, would have to follow up with players to make sure that message was received. Now I can just check Teamworks to make sure that text was delivered, and I know it has been sent. Teamworks technology frees up so much more time for staff members to focus on other tasks.Not just staff, but now players don't have to plan ahead to check a calendar or bulletin board. They know they will receive that message wherever they are. They message goes directly to them.How would things change if you were not using Teamworks as a communications platform?Nothing gets accomplished if communication breaks down. We need to have everybody in line with the same information to get things done. There are so many people who need to know each detail of the program. Not just players and coaches, but trainers, strength coaches, managers, facilities, film staff, and so on. If that information is not communicated well, we are lost. There are a lot of things that we invest in, but communication is the one thing that affects everybody. If communication breaks down, then we cease to move forward as an organization. Teamworks has improved our entire program by improving our ease of communication.What is the purpose and long-term goal of your program?We are trying to build young men by putting them in the right place at the right time, while building the tools they need to be successful when they leave here. There are a lot of people that go into making that possible, and we are all working to build these young men into good husbands, fathers, and members of their community while teaching them the lessons they need to be successful. Communication even comes into play here because we all need to be on the same page of that message to make sure these lessons and values are properly instilled in them during their time at Duke University. We have a vision and a direction that we want everybody to follow, but unless we are all communicating that same message consistently, we are not reaching our goal as effectively as possible.Does it make sense to invest in Teamworks as a communication platform?Absolutely, how could you not? Communication is everything. If you are going to invest in facilities, or equipment, or anything else, but you can't communicate with the individuals who are using them, then you aren't using those other investments effectively.The best things about Teamworks are that it is a one-stop-shop for all the information throughout our entire program from a day-to-day operations standpoint and that the communication is key. It is what is driving others to use it because everybody can see the value in communication.

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