When you walked into the court area for the 2015 fall season, you would have noticed that things have changed. Considerably. We all know about the renovation we ‘suffered’ through, and many of you have already met and tested out our new and much needed assistant squash pro, Corey. If you remained active over the summer in either the box ladders or the league, you would have also noticed the occasional e-mail coming through with your match results from a company called “Sporty HQ”.
Sporty HQ caught my attention at the end of last season from one of the squash web sites. Admittedly, we hadn’t been having problems or complaints from the Game Time system the DAC had been using for the past 7 years - it worked perfectly fine for the purpose of reserving courts. But that was all it did. Sporty HQ appeared to offer just about everything from a reservation system to tournament organization and much in between. To have a program that covered all the bases for us under one roof was, undeniably, attractive.
We have been working diligently with the Sporty HQ creators. The man behind its handiwork must wince every time he sees my number pop up on his phone. Henry Weber has bent over backwards to accommodate us and the unique needs of the DAC. Also, the fact that he is an Aussie has helped, he can decipher my accent…mate! The advantage this system has over its competitors – I believe – is that the creators are squash players themselves. They understand what clubs need and can see it from a member’s perspective as well as a programmer’s perspective. They have been exceedingly helpful and cooperative with us in modifying the program to suit our requirements and specific rules. It is not difficult to use. But like any change, it can be met with resistance. People can get uncomfortable when presented with something different, a little out of the comfort zone. I hope to appease some of that.
Access is very simple. Sporty HQ is linked in to the DAC website, and it is also synced up with our membership roster. Any changes that occur on the membership roster on the DAC end, automatically transfer to Sporty HQ. A very advantageous feature. Once you are in the system, you can explore its many facets. Go to your profile and update your personal information as much or as little as you wish. You can also upload a photo which can be helpful (and fun) for other members to see.
Reserving courts is still very easy to do. The look of the booking screen is a little different to the Game Time, but functionally it is actually better. Peak times are easily distinguishable by the (tinged) red squares, all the singles squash courts and the doubles court are on the same page. The racquetball and handball courts have a tab at the top of the page. There is some scrolling required to see the whole day’s activities, but there are also links at the top of the screen that will automatically jump you to either ‘morning’, ‘afternoon’ and ‘evening’ times. A very helpful extra as well, and something Game Time could not provide for us, is a ‘waitlist’ function. With all the court usage we get, this will be extremely beneficial.
E-mails are automatically generated when a court is reserved or deleted. The e-mail you receive when a booking is created can also be entered onto your Outlook calendar if you click on the calendar attachment that comes with it. It is recommended you do that, since reminder e-mails are not created – or even necessary anymore.
It is essential that you reserve a court every time you step on court, regardless of the time of day. Not only is it peace of mind for you – knowing that you will not be kicked off – but we track court usage very closely every day and the more accurate the numbers, the better decisions we can make in the future regarding the squash program. Want more courts? Then book them.
It is also just as crucial to make sure you cancel any court that you no longer need. Especially now that we have a waitlist function. Respect your fellow member by opening up the court for others to reserve. We all know that usage is continually growing and there is nothing more frustrating for members to see that courts sit unoccupied but were booked solid on the reservation sheet.
Sporty HQ also offers a ranking for all the court sports we have: squash, doubles squash, handball singles, handball doubles, and racquetball. Currently we are running the box ladders, boasters league and the Doubles Select Tournament through the system. Being able to do this within the one website is incredibly useful. All of your scores are entered into Sporty HQ, your ranking is automatically calculated. It is a point based system, so how many points you gain or lose depends on who you played against. You can see all of your stats on your profile page, wins, losses, streaks, ranking history, just to name a few. You can peruse other members stats as well, send them messages, e-mails, make notes on your page about them.
Is the system perfect? Well, no. But, Henry and Sporty HQ are doing their best to make it so. The system will evolve over time, apps are in the works, updates and improvements are constantly happening. It is the best system I have seen, it will get even better, and we will enjoy the benefits.