ST. CLOUD, Fla., (DANIELLE STEIN | BN9) — If you coach high school football, there are likely two things that you hate: losing and painting fields.
“You’re taking about pulling feet and feet of string,” said St. Cloud High School football coach Mike Short. “You gotta make sure everything is straight and like in the corner of the end zone you gotta find the Pythagorean theorem.”
To typically line a football field with all the yard lines, hash marks and numbers, it may take up to six coaches laboring for roughly six hours. Recently, it has just required head coach Mike Short and one assistant: a robot.
“This is my number one assistant coach right here,” said Short. “We’ve been trying to come up with a name for almost a year now, and it’s Coach Robbie.”
St. Cloud has been using Turf Tank, a new GPS based technology to paint fields in a fraction of the time. Coach Short decides what the team wants painted, programs it into an iPad and watch the robot from there.
“There’s our field, were gonna load it, and its gonna say yes, and then start,” said Short. “And I’m done. I don’t have to do anything.”
Coach Short is going into his second season at the helm for the Bulldogs, after spending time as an assistant in the program. As high school football season quickly approaches, there are more important things for him to focus on to get his team ready.
“The time saved, its invaluable,” said Short. “My time as a coach is important cause I have so much to do to make sure the program is running right. It’s added five years on my career, like I don’t need to do anything I’m done.”
Short teaches at St. Cloud High School and easily sets Robbie the Robot up during a break in his day, and walk outside to see the finished product: perfectly straight lines.
‘Coach Robbie’ isn’t just a football guy: he can also line the soccer fields, the lacrosse fields with St. Cloud introducing the sport this spring, and even the baseball diamond. While Short says the technology is very user friendly, he is a little protective of his number one assistant.
“That’s like my little buddy out there. I tell him to do it and he goes out and does it,” said Short. “To me, this is fun. The fun part of my day is getting to play with this robot.”
The only exception to that rule? Their rivals. St. Cloud shares Turf Tank with their rival high school, Harmony. The two teams end their regular season facing off on November 4th.