American Football

Small Budget Doesn’t Limit High School’s Big Dreams

It wasn’t easy to squeeze Hudl into the budget, but Spring Valley (N.Y.) athletic director William Pilla is certainly glad he did.

William Pilla was in a real pickle.

When Spring Valley (N.Y.) football coach Andrew Delva approached him about adding Hudl a few years ago, he strongly wanted to say yes. As a former football coach and now the school’s athletic director, Pilla knew how much video would help both the team’s record and the odds players would receive college offers, a pipe dream for many outside of athletics.

But Spring Valley’s budget was already stretched thin. The school has no booster club to turn to, and any additional costs would either come out of the coaches’ pockets or from whatever funds they could raise.

Pilla decided the sacrifice was worth it, and he was right. The coaches have seen the benefits of Hudl firsthand. More players are finding paths to college careers and the whole program is in a better place with video incorporated.

“Pretty much everyone else within our county has a booster club that can pay for this and pay for that. We do not,” Pilla said. “Money that is raised is from my football coach getting different things and putting things on social media. We don’t take (Hudl) for granted one bit. We’re just so happy to be able to have all that stuff that every other school has.”

Pilla was so pleased with Hudl that he added Hudl Sideline and got the basketball team hooked up as well. The coaches have improved the depth of their scouting reports, better preparing the Tigers for games.

More important has been the development players experienced from studying the video. Many of Spring Valley’s athletes aren’t introduced to the sport until middle or high school, giving them a steeper learning curve than their counterparts at other schools. The video helps bridge that gap and the Tigers can’t get enough.

“They’re always wanting to learn more,” Pilla said. “It’s like Christmas when the coaches send out the video to everybody. Now our film sessions are them trying to get themselves better because they’ve been able to watch themselves over and over again. It’s allowed them to create a higher football IQ.”

But Pilla’s favorite benefit is the way the players’ highlights have helped get them on more college coaches’ radars. Athletes who wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance at a college education are now getting noticed.

And while Spring Valley is placing players in Division I programs, their eyes have been opened to possibilities at the Division II and III levels as well.

“Hudl has helped our coach have a vision and say, ‘Going anywhere to play college football is a great thing because you’re playing the game that you love and you’re getting a higher education,’” Pilla said. “We used to have real difficulty getting our kids to buy in to play at the Division II and Division III levels.

“With kids seeing the highlights and seeing through football that they can make it to the next level, we have really created a culture here. It’s enabled our kids to see their hard work and dedication really come through to getting them some money and into some schools they wouldn’t have even thought of.”

Adding Hudl originally seemed like wishful thinking, but it’s turned out to be a massive blessing for Spring Valley and its athletes. The coaches are learning more and the athletes are developing and receiving previously-undiscovered opportunities to continue their education.

“We can’t function without it,” Pilla said. “It really was a godsend.”