SDHSAA debuts new website, officials say it’ll give more opportunities for schools to showcase activities Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s a new home for all South Dakota high school sports and fine arts information. 

On Monday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association launched its new website, replacing an older version which had been used for roughly more than a decade. 

Aaron Magnuson, SDHSAA Technology Director, said he started exploring new website ideas almost a year ago. On the SDHSAA website, information for more than 150 schools, 20 different sport seasons and eight different fine arts activities can be found and the older website had trouble keeping up on busy nights. 

“The fixes we’ve been doing to it were becoming band-aid fixes,” Magnuson said. “It wasn’t addressing deep down issues we were having.” 

A look at the new SDHSAA website homepage.

According to SDHSAA Executive Director Dr. Daniel Swartos some popular nights when playoff brackets were released or fine arts state events were happening, there’d be more than 100,000 pageviews in a day. Swartos said the SDHSAA Board of Directors wanted to explore a new website “to better serve our membership.” 

Swartos credited Magnuson with looking at all the possibilities and finding a partner in Varsity Bound, an Ames, Iowa-based high school sports software company.  

Magnuson said the partnership with Varsity Bound, helped separate the website into two parts. Schedules, rosters and standings will all be found on Varsity Bound, where much of the SDHSAA forms, rules and information will be found on the SDHSAA website.     

Varsity Bound has been around for around 20 years and evolved from strictly doing stats to a complete system, Magnuson said. The company works closely with Iowa boys and girls sports. 

Magnuson said Varsity Bound was willing to meet SDHSAA needs with regards to officials and fine arts programs. 

“Fine arts are a big part of what we do,” Magnuson said. “They’re eagerness to work in the fine arts world was a big drawing point as well.” 

The list of South Dakota schools on the Varsity Bound part of the new SDHSAA website.

Much like the previous website, most of the information will be entered by member schools. The main difference is the number of extra features, including a centralized spot for prep statistics. 

“It gives schools many, many more tools and different things they can to do to help promote their activities to their parents, fans, public, media,” said Magnuson, adding much of the added features will be optional for schools for the first year. “Hopefully, once a few start using them, they’ll see how easy they are and how much it enhances what they can provide.” 

Magnuson highlighted there’s a Varsity Bound app for both Android and Apple devices, which people can use to follow a certain school. 

Swartos said the new website will be a better tool for parents, media, coaches and students. He noted the ability to archive and view previous seasons will be easier as the old website typically reset every July. 

“There’s also opportunities for schools to link their social media accounts to the varsity bound page,” said Swartos, who added fundraising links and local media stories could also be linked to the school’s page. “We think it has the opportunity to really serve us and all of our schools and the general public a lot better than our previous site had.” 

Swartos said he appreciated all the member schools being patient during the switchover. The new website will be put to use in the next few weeks as practices for soccer, girls tennis, competitive dance and cheer start on Aug. 2. The first girls tennis matches can be played Aug. 7 with football starting on Aug. 19. 

“We’ve got a pretty good start on the training with the AD’s and we’re excited to get going on it,” Swartos said.

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