Endowment paves way for collaboration between ACMS and athletics

Author: Deanna Csomo McCool

Student athletes have been training for peak performance since the days of Knute Rockne, but Notre Dame’s more than 750 athletes will now get a boost from technology and data science, thanks to a recently established endowment.

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The Mastrovich Endowment for Excellence for Sports Science, established through the generosity of Larry and Giovanna Mastrovich, funds a new collaboration between Alan Huebner, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS), and Jordan Webb, head of sports science and associate strength and conditioning coach for the Department of Athletics.

“The information we collect will help across the board in enhancing student athlete performance and well-being, including prevention of injuries,” Huebner said. “This is not just a one-off, one-time analysis. We’re building infrastructure to store and collect the data so that results can be obtained very quickly and easily, and be used by coaches to have insight into practice, training, games, and recruiting.”

Data will be collected from on-body GPS, 3-D motion capture in the training room, game statistics, and injuries. Data also will be gleaned from surveys that will ask student athletes about their sleep routines, academics, and stress levels.

Webb, who has worked with professional sports teams including the Cleveland Browns, said he’s often used analytics to enhance athletic performance. He’s excited about the information Huebner’s team will be able to compile.

“We want to know how (athletes) perform on a daily basis; academics as well,” Webb said. “We want to make sure we provide a positive experience at Notre Dame, whatever that may be for that player.”

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The data collected will not result in a published study, but rather will be used strictly by the University’s athletics department. Huebner said he is excited for his students, who will be learning specific skills “that are very hot right now in data science.” And his students are excited to be working on a real-world project.

“We’re not just doing fancy things because it’s fun for a statistics class,” Huebner said. “We’re building ways to get real insightful information to the decision makers in the athletics program.”

Larry and Giovanna Mastrovich are the parents of two Notre Dame graduates, David Mastrovich (’14) and Zach Mastrovich (’17). Zach Mastrovich graduated with a bachelor of science degree in ACMS. Larry Mastrovich is a member of the College of Science Advisory Council.