Data-Driven Decisions to Help Football Win
It’s a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon, and Mike Bilansky ’23 is sitting atop the Arnold Field press box with a laptop and spreadsheet, studying the data he derived from the opponent’s game film to help the Lebanon Valley College football team.
“I help evaluate the opposing team to showcase trends before the game and monitor if those trends hold true during the game,” said Bilansky. “I also gauge our defensive players’ weekly performance to show their impact on the team.”
Bilansky, a business administration major, transitioned into a defensive analyst role after two seasons as a player on the football roster. He spends hours each week reviewing film and sharing his discoveries with the coaching staff.
Previously, Bilansky provided data analysis for the LVC baseball team during the spring of his first year before the pandemic shortened that season.
“Coach [Joe] Buehler, Coach [Greg] Drake, and the entire football staff gave me their full support to initiate this role with the team,” said Bilansky. “However, I was not alone in developing the program. Tyler Hodges ’19 helped me create the analytical foundation since he was already helping Coach Drake.”
Between the work with the football team and his academic learning experiences, Bilansky is planning a business analyst career. He learned more about that during an LVC summer study abroad program in Perugia, Italy.
“The study abroad experience expanded my thought process to incorporate different cultures and how they operate. Whether it was drastic changes such as trying to communicate without being fluent in the native language or minor changes like not tipping servers because they get paid a livable wage, I learned to adapt and question my culture,” Bilansky said.
For a student who arrived at LVC because of the potential to play football team and excellent job opportunities, Bilansky reflected on the full circle of the past four years.
“My high school head football coach [Pat Mason ’95] was an LVC alumnus and recommended I visit the college,” he said. “Once I did, I noticed the family-like atmosphere the football team and school embraced. I did not have much direction in what I wanted to study, and the business administration degree showed me many different areas of interest that I could expand upon in the future and land a job that excited me.
“My time at LVC has brought about many relationships I cherish with peers, teammates, coaches, faculty, and staff. After I graduate, even though I may not be physically present with the people I’ve met through LVC, I know that the relationships will still be present, and that will be the highlight of my college career.”