Men's gymnastics finds new ways to connect with fans

BY JACK ROSSI | MARCH 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s gymnastics team is trying out new ways to reach out its audience, and the most recent idea involves Go Pro cameras and Twitter.

“We’re just trying to get the audience and the fans a little more involved and give them a little more feedback on what we’re doing during the season, and the Go Pros are an insight into what the gymnasts are seeing,” assistant coach Ben Ketelsen said.

This past weekend, when the Hawkeyes traveled to Minnesota, they brought along their sports-information staff. While with the team, the staff came up with the idea to put Go Pro cameras — a small video recording device that can be attached to the recorder’s body to give a first-person view — on athletes.

Wearing the camera during competition is against the rules, but in practice, their time is their own, and the gymnasts took full advantage of it.

“We brought along our sports information staff this time, which we have yet to do, and she was trying to be creative, and we strapped a camera on one of the guys during a workout prior to the competition,” head coach JD Reive said.

With the footage recorded, Iowa then put it on Twitter via the hash tag InsideIowaMGym. These videos were then posted on YouTube for everybody to see. Junior Mitch Landau was the only gymnast to record while wearing the camera, and despite it being a bit uncomfortable, he caught the parallel bars, pommel horse, and high bar on video.

“It was pretty cool; it was fun to see the different perspectives, and I think it would be fun to see other things, such as rings,” he said. “I am not sure if it would work with floor or vault, but I think some of the other [gymnasts] stuff would look pretty sweet.”

The coaches know that there are a lot of people who cannot travel with the team, and bringing them closer to the action is important for their fans. The cameras, in addition to the Facebook updates and live feed the team has used this season, have garnered praise.

“I have had responses about the Twitter stuff and live feed that we have been doing during the meets,” Ketelsen said. “People really like the live feed, especially because they can almost be at the meet with the team without actually being at the venue.”

The coaches like these ideas and hope that by doing this, they can reach out to more young gymnasts and gymnastics fans to expose what they do on the weekends.

“I do believe we need to think outside the box and be a bit more creative with what we’re doing and connect to the market that wants to watch us,” Reive said. People need to be able to find out what we’re doing.”

Bringing the sports-information staff can be difficult at times because busy schedules for both student-athletes and the staff. However, the plan is to continue the live streaming and social media updates. These things can be really beneficial for the gymnastics community.

“For the rest of the season, we’re going to try to at least do the live streaming so if you can’t make it to the Big Tens or NCAA then you’ll still be able to be there from the live streaming of Twitter,” Ketelsen said.

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