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Deane Webb addresses fans in Ohio's "Chalk Talk" meeting Friday. Webb will hold "Chalk Talks" before every Friday home match in 2018.

Volleyball: A look inside one of coach Deane Webb's fan-oriented 'Chalk Talks'

Deane Webb walked into the Rohr Room in The Convo with a whiteboard and a video screen prepared for his discussion. 

Webb was prepared to talk about what he saw in Ohio’s matches against Kent State and Central Michigan one week ago, but he wasn’t talking to his normal audience, his team.

No, Webb’s team was behind him, down the steps of the front rows of the arena and on the court warming up for their match in about an hour.

Webb was delivering his “Chalk Talk” presentation to some of Ohio’s biggest fans at 6 p.m. on Friday before the Bobcats played Buffalo in a key Mid-American Conference match. Each fan in the room listened attentively and nodded accordingly as Webb discussed the technology the Bobcats use to scout opponents, critique their performance and review their statistics.

The meeting was the third “Chalk Talk” that Webb has organized this year. The team announced last Wednesday that it will hold “Chalk Talk” from 6 to 6:35 p.m. before each Friday home match in 2018. The meetings will range from discussions about some of the Bobcats’ plays to displaying technology they use, which was the topic of Friday’s meeting.

“It's just something that a number of our fans (want),” Webb said. “They’re here all the time, and they support it. If you're not a coach, if you're not around the game all the time, there are some things you don't know that you want to know. So, we've had a number of those guys that just want to learn more about the game, you know?”

The idea of hosting “Chalk Talk” was brought to Webb by Laura Santos, a volunteer assistant coach who played volleyball at Illinois. Santos said Illinois hosted “Chalk Talk” with fans while she was a student there and proposed the idea to Webb last offseason.

“Why not?” Webb thought.

“So far, so good,” he said. “If they keep coming and they want to learn, then we'll definitely be a part of it."

On Friday, Webb did not just talk about the technology the team uses daily to prepare for a match. He and Santos showed examples of how Ohio uses Data Volley and Voicethread, two video systems, to digest and simplify hours of match film.

Before arriving at Ohio, Webb said he used to spend hours of time starting and stopping raw video to scout his own team and opponents. But thanks to the video technology’s intricate editing features, Webb can now have individual video meetings with players that last about 10 minutes.

Webb said the total cost of the technology he displayed Friday was about $5,000. The benefits, however, are massive. He estimated the video technology saves about 20-30 hours of work per week. 

That is more time the Bobcats can use to practice on the court, focus on academics or even just sleep.

It’s little factoids like this that Webb wanted to sprinkle into “Chalk Talk,” which he ended by taking questions from the audience. The whole experience fits the vibe that Webb always exudes when he talks about his team off the court — a family environment. Everyone who wants to be included will be included, and that includes the fans.

“Thanks a lot! That was great,” one spectator joyously said at the end of the meeting.

Webb acknowledged the fan, then hustled out of the room to change from his Ohio polo into his match-day suit. He had a match in 30 minutes, and he needed to talk to his normal audience again.


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