Soccer players from around the world use technology to stay in close touch.

By Abby Koch, Morningside College Marketing/Sports Information Intern

For a majority of athletics at Morningside, team bonding and connecting are simple. Players do so through meeting up for activities or texting each other through their various services.

The men’s and women’s soccer programs have charted a different path.

Both teams have players that are not only separated by multiple states but also continents. With this in mind, it’s created a tough situation for getting to know everyone, relaying program news and so forth, due to the distance and different connections between team members. Enter the world of iPhones. Head coach Tom Maxon and assistant coach B.J. Wylie now have a solution to easily communicate with players with the discovery of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is a messaging app that has features giving the team and coaches the ability to stay in close touch. Some of the features include large group messaging, video calling, and phone calls all while costing nothing. A Wi-Fi connection is the only precursor.

Wylie explained that he first heard of the app back around 2007 when some of his players mentioned it. “They just came around and said ‘Oh you have to try this … it allows us to do a lot of different things’,” said Wylie, “I was always wanting a large message group, and you would have to create three different message groups back then. This allows us to one, communicate internationally, and two, have everyone in a group.”

With WhatsApp’s free usage cost, it meant that international players did not have to spend money to stay in contact. “An international student-athlete has to debate ‘Do I shut my service down and buy a new plan or look for something where they keep their plan,” Maxon explained. “(WhatsApp) allows them to keep their plan.”

The app has helped a lot of the international players get to Morningside. Wylie explained that the app helped with paperwork or explaining certain questions for players. The app also was a quicker response compared to email for Wylie.

The group chat function has been a useful tool for the coaches and the players. For both men and women’s, there is an informational group chat with Wylie then a second one for players only. Both group chats allow players and Wylie to learn about personalities and how they communicate.

WhatsApp gives players the chance to open up with their teammates and bond together. This especially helps with individuals that tend to be more shy or quiet. “I think kids open up more through those kinds of things,” Wylie said. “On the phone, they are all quiet, but through a text, they will immediately get back to you.”

WhatsApp has become a useful tool to help connect over 20 nationalities for Morningside College soccer. Its quick and easy use is a boon for the Mustangs to bring more high caliber athletes to Sioux City, which is one of the program’s many goals.