Saturday, July 26, 2014

KU football player develops app he says can improve the game he loves


Austin Barone's journey to becoming an app developer started when he applied for an internship at Google.

The Lawrence native and Kansas University student planned to impress the technology giant by creating hardware, modeled after Google Glass, that would allow football players to view an interactive playbook on their visors during practice.

While he didn't have the capital necessary to create the hardware, he did the next best thing: He developed the digital playbook software.

The result is Just Play, the new playbook app created by Barone's company, Just Play Sports Solutions, which he partnered on with Andy Wachter, a senior web developer at Sony Pictures Television.

"I felt like if you can save coaches time and get your players to learn the material faster, at the end of the day that's going to help your players develop and learn faster. And the name of the game is player development," said Barone, a kicker for the KU football team, who was recently awarded the Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship from Leawood-based Tortoise Capital Advisors.

Football coaches now often print plays out and hand them out to the players. Barone, a junior majoring in accounting and finance, believes it would be much more efficient if coaches could input plays into an app, which the athletes could then access on their smartphones or tablets (Just Play is currently only available on the latter; a phone version is in the works).

Barone, 20, and his partner started developing the app earlier this year. A beta version is currently being used by three high schools and one college. Barone and Wachter plan to attend the American Football Coaches Association conference next January in Louisville, Ky., to showcase the app.

Barone, a self-described dreamer and visionary, said his development team is currently working on an accountability feature he says will help separate his playbook app from others on the market.

"This is a concept I picked up from Steve Jobs," he remarked. "He said, 'You don't need to tell people that you're better than them. You need to tell people you're different than them and prove that you're better than them.'"

Whether or not he makes a career out of app development, Barone believes the technology can benefit the sport he loves.

"If players using the system are learning and winning, that's going to make me happy at the end of the day," he said.


Greg Ledom 8 years, 2 months ago

Impressive Austin Barone. Go get some.

Aaron Paisley 8 years, 2 months ago

Those are some patents that could set him up for life.

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