The Nacogdoches football team is doing something few, if any, schools in East Texas are doing and it's allowing them to have another pair of eyes in the skies.
As the game of football evolves, the Dragons are incorporating some new technology in their sport to give them any type competitive advantage. It's not a bird, it's not a plane- it's a drone.
The drone hovers over every Nacogdoches practice now, but not without a distinct sound.
“You might think a bunch of bees are standing above you,” said Nacogdoches head football coach Bobby Reyes.
“At first I was a little weirded out,” said quarterback Noah Hildebrand. “We walked out on the first day and saw something take up off from the ground. It was just hovering above the field and everyone's wondering what's going on? I look up and there's some white thing flying up in the sky.”
It's the first year Nacogdoches has used the advanced piece of equipment and they say this is the future of coaching.
It's given the Dragons a different perspective on what they can see, and from the over-the-top view, you can't miss anything.
“It's helped our kids realize that they may not be running their routes the way it needs to be run. It's helped our defensive backs see certain things that they need to adjust to. It’s helped our offensive line because they can truly see if their splits are not where they need to be,” said Reyes.
“I would hate to go back to the old days without having a drone because the drone is such a great advantage and a great look especially as a quarterback,” said Hildebrand. “Other positions don’t have to read quite as much but as a quarterback with the drone, you really can see what every single person on the field is doing.”
The drone has no limitations on its movement. It’s been flown as high as 200 feet. It can even go in circles and records in the highest resolution. The drone also has a GPS on it so when the battery starts running low, it knows to return to the spot from which it took off from.
The operator of the drone is William Giddens. While the Dragons are raving about the drone now, it certainly took some time getting used to.
“For the first couple weeks of practice, I've had a couple players be like ‘Can you turn that off?’ I just say ‘Sorry I have to get this angle,’” said Giddens. “But whenever they go back to the filming room they definitely appreciate the new angles that they can look at through the drone.”
‘I'm still occasionally scared whenever it takes off from the ground, but it's helpful so it doesn't really matter,” said Hildebrand.
Flying the drone for Giddens is more than just enjoying the game he formally played. For him, it's a way to incorporate hobbies he and his dad enjoyed together before he passed away.
“He used to have lung disease so he couldn't go outside and play football with me much. We used to bond over football and bond over technology stuff so it's kind of like my dad's old activities with me before he passed away, bonded into one I suppose,” said Giddens.
Coach Reyes is adamant the only Big Brother on the field isn’t the drone- it’s the coaches. He’s been so pleased with the drone that he’s looking to get a second one in order to have a drone on each side of the field at all times.
As for Giddens, he's actually been approached about filming for some college football programs including Stephen F. Austin and Mississippi State.
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