In Waco, Texas, fans of the Baylor Bears will be pleased to know about the free Wi-Fi available and Baylor Bears Mobile App at McLane Stadium and Ferrell Center. The 40,000 football and 10,000 basketball fans remain reliably connected to the W-Fi thanks to Extreme Networks technology and Wi-Fi Coaches. If a fan has a question about the Wi-Fi, they can rest assured that the Wi-Fi Coaches are close by to answer it for them. To get the scoop on the program at Baylor University, I recently had the opportunity to speak with Baylor’s Digital Signage Project Manager and Head Wi-Fi Coach Andrew Stripling.
If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi Coach, Andrew recommends keeping an eye out for students and staff dressed in light yellow highlighter polos that say, “Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coach.” The Wi-Fi Coaches can answer any question you have about connecting to the Wi-Fi because they are experienced – the program has been in effect for over five seasons. The Wi-Fi Coach team is made up of four department of technology staff members and 10 Hankamer School of Business management and information systems students. According to Andrew, “Student Wi-Fi Coaches are employed by the university through a standard work study and receive compensation for their labor.”
“As part of this work study, students are earning career and customer service skills and gaining an excellent resume point. During job interviews, potential employers will be interested to hear what students did as a Wi-Fi Coach and how it enhanced their skills.” – Andrew Stripling, Head Wi-Fi Coach, Baylor University
Wi-Fi Coaches are paired up and teams roam the stadium and arena on game days starting about two hours before game time. Every game day the team meets for a brief overview to discuss daily job duties and any updates to the network. The Baylor In-Game App designed by Yinzcam has come in very handy for the Wi-Fi Coaches because it allows fans to alert the Wi-Fi Coaches to a fans seat if they need help connecting to the network. “We used to have the team monitor social media for posts about connections at the stadium, but now we just use the app, because there are rarely any problems,” says Andrew.
Andrew has been a Wi-Fi Coach since the program began 5 seasons ago. He joined the team because he was known around campus as the wireless expert! His Wi-Fi Coach skills have earned him a spot on the elite Super Bowl Wi-Fi Coach team three times! That’s right he’s been to Super Bowl XLIX, LI, and will be attending LII in February. For more information on Baylor’s Wi-Fi Coach Program and what it’s like to be a Wi-Fi Coach from Andrew’s perspective, please view the full Q&A I had with him below! If you’d like to learn more about how Baylor University is leveraging Extreme Networks technology, read the case study, Baylor University Optimizes Fan Experience with Professional Grade Wi-Fi.
What is your favorite part of being a Wi-Fi Coach?
Enjoy walking around and interacting with the fans. And helping making their gameday a little more interesting. Being a Wi-Fi Coach is a great conversation starter. I like troubleshooting things on the fly.
What’s your most commonly asked questions at games?
Where are the elevators? But for Wi-Fi, most questions are “What do I need to do to get online? Is the Wi-Fi free?”
What are fans reactions to your presence at games? Their reactions after you’ve solved their issue?
Largely very positive! Fans are excited to see us. We are like beacons, fans are curious to learn what we are doing at games. They feel excited and comfortable approaching us to ask questions.
Any tips for fans attending games at the stadium this season?
Make sure your phone is updated and charged, then download the Baylor In-Game App!
How has the Wi-Fi Coach program helped to improve the network?
In the first season, the network team had a Wi-Fi plan mapped out for the stadium and everything worked perfectly until the students entered the student section and stood up the entire time. We didn’t account for this and since the human body is made up of water, this was interfering with the Wi-Fi connection. The Wi-Fi Coaches figured this out because they were onsite and saw the problem first hand, if we didn’t have a technician onsite to understand what was going on it would have taken longer to solve the issue. Since we figured out the problem, we just had to adjust the antennas slightly so connection would not be interrupted by the standing students. Besides that, our networking guys are constantly monitoring the network and taking feedback from the fans to help Baylor optimize the network.
You mentioned you’ve attended the Super Bowl as a Wi-Fi Coach, what was that like?
From the fans’ perspective, it’s not different. The Wi-Fi Coaches go up and talk to them and help them get connected to the network. The backend is a little different because if something happens we’ll have to call an NFL contact not the contact from McLane Stadium. Supporting the fans is largely similar to what I’m used to.
What would you say student Wi-Fi Coaches have learned from participating in the program?
Most important learning idea was that they are learning is how to deal with people in high pressure situations. If a fix takes more than 5 minutes’ fans get anxious so they have to be ready to deal with those situations and address fans’ needs. They’ve learned how to do that, they know what to try, what works, what not to say, etc.
“The network has become so stable thanks to the technology in place and the Wi-Fi Coaches testing and reports that I can’t remember the last time we had a network issue.”
Thanks to the Wi-Fi Coach program, Baylor’s Network team, and Extreme Networks, Baylor Bears’ fans rarely have problems connecting to the network. The Wi-Fi Coaches have been successful in pinpointing areas that could be troublesome and alerting the network team to address them. The Baylor In-Game App even allows fans to alert the Wi-Fi Coaches to their seat if they need help connecting to the network. The innovation and network optimization at Baylor University keeps fans engaged and connected.
To learn more about the Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coaches Program, read the Wi-Fi Coaches Enhance Fans’ Game Day Experience blog and look out for more upcoming blogs taking you behind the scenes with individual Wi-Fi Coaches and stadiums from around the NFL.
Just so you know, Super Bowl LII will be the 3rd Super Bowl equipped with an all-star team of Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coaches in-stadium assisting fans. The 2017 NFL season is Extreme’s 3rd straight season holding the title of the Official Wi-Fi Provider of the NFL, and it marks Extreme’s 5th consecutive year as the Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider of the Super Bowl.