Fort Worth — Even though her dad is on the other side of the world right now, Timber Creek freshman Matti Davis knows one of her biggest fans is tracking every play she makes as a member of the Lady Falcons varsity softball team.“I play really hard so he can see things on GameChanger and just know I’m doing my best,” Matti said.Matti’s dad, Matt Davis, said that experiencing Matti’s games as they are happening is the highlight of his days in Afghanistan. Matt Davis retired last year after 24 years in the Marine Corps and is several months into a 6- to 9-month deployment as a defense department contractor.“Since it's impossible for me to be there in person, watching her play online means everything to me,” Matt Davis said via email.Coach Laura Moore has been using GameChanger, an online application that allows fans to follow action via a live stream, for several years now so parents who can’t attend games can still track the Lady Falcons in real time. “A parent can log on and watch a game pitch by pitch and know exactly how their student is doing,” Moore said.An assistant coach in the dugout enters information on an iPad during the game for each pitch, play and at-bat. In addition to tracking games live, parents can get text alerts about their players, get permission to access stats and post comments and plays on Facebook.Moore found out that Matt Davis was following the team from Afghanistan when he sent her a request to view Matti’s stats and thanked her for using the GameChanger application. Detailed player stats are private but available to parents upon approval.“It’s great that she knows dad’s watching,” Moore said. “Instead of her emailing him later to discuss the game or discussing plays, he already knows what happened.”Matti said her dad will send her Facebook messages during the game about the good things she does and also ways to improve. Even though she won’t be able to read the messages until after the game, she knows he is following her every play.Afghanistan is 10.5 hours ahead of the Central Time Zone, so Matt Davis often must set an alarm to get up in the wee hours of the morning to follow the Lady Falcons.Matt Davis writes, “The games usually last close to an hour and a half, at which time, I'll sleep for one more hour before I start my day. I am usually very tired after a game day. But not for one minute would I sacrifice the opportunity to follow her and her team. The times spent watching the games are the happiest times that I experience out here.”Sports has always been a tie bringing father and daughter closer together.Matti started playing T-ball at age 3, and her dad was her coach on some of her early teams.Matt Davis remembers countless hours playing in the front yard and watching practices and games as Matti became an accomplished young player.The decision to go to Afghanistan was difficult. He said it broke his heart to know he was going to miss Matti’s first season of high school ball, especially when she became a varsity starter at third base.Following Matti’s games online makes the separation a little easier. Matt Davis writes, “I've seen my daughter hit, throw, run and catch thousands of times. So, in my mind, if I read that an opposing player grounded out to 3B, for example, I imagine what type of play she has made. I can picture her in the batter box. I begin talking to myself as I see the pitch count unfold.”Matti said that she’s glad her dad can follow her play, but GameChanger can’t show everything. Some tricky plays can’t be captured in a few lines of text or as icons on a screen.“I’ll be glad just to be with him, and he can be here in person to watch games,” Matti said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland