Game changers

How Waterloo Mathies are using data and new technology to change the way we play, officiate and watch sports

Propelled by new technology and the advance of big data, the sports industry has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. And at the forefront of this revolution are talented students, faculty and alumni from the University of Waterloo's renowned Faculty of Mathematics. From optimizing player performance to enhancing fan engagement, Mathies are using their mathematical expertise to forge the future of sports.

We brought together a few stories of Waterloo Mathies in sports below:

David Radke playing for the Waterloo Warriors hockey teamCalculating the perfect pass: using data to better understand hockey performance

Former Warriors hockey player and PhD candidate in computer science David Radke is using player tracking data and artificial intelligence to develop new metrics and gain a more complete picture of how players contribute to team success. Now, he is working with the Chicago Blackhawks to put his insights into action. Read more.

There would be plenty of games where I thought I had a really good game and helped the team win, but it didn't show up in the box score. I would pride myself on making a good first pass out of the defensive zone or breaking up plays. I always wondered: how can these things be measured?

Calvin Wang oversees technical operations for the Vancouver CanucksBringing the game to life: Behind the scenes with an NHL Arena Technical Coordinator

Waterloo alum Calvin Wang (BMath ’95) oversees technical operations for the Vancouver Canucks, managing a range of technologies from the increasingly ubiquitous iPads to the myriad of cameras that capture every inch of the ice to the NHL’s new pucks equipped with tracking sensors. In the dozen years since taking the job, Calvin has seen technology change the game in many ways, but Calvin believes the biggest might be yet to come. Read more.

Technology has given fans new ways of enjoying the game but still nothing beats being at the rink in person. And as much as I love working with all this cool tech, it’s the interactions with the people behind the scenes that make being an off-ice official truly rewarding.

April Gale-Seixero and Steve Seixero curling for Team PortugalSweeping across the world: Math alumni use shared love of problem-solving to advance international curling

April Gale-Seixero (BMath ’95) and Steve Seixero (BMath ’95) first took up curling as a way to make friends in a new city. Little did they know it, but their adoption of the game would turn out to be the start of “a great adventure.” Now, the couple are curling for Team Portugal and helping spread an interest in the game across the world. Read more.

A big part of math is looking for patterns and that helps with curling. On any given day, you have to analyze the angles and take into account what the ice is doing or what impact sweeping is having.

Arda OcalPODCAST: Say yes

While studying math at Waterloo, Arda Öcal (BMath '05) wrote for Imprint and hung out at CKMS, Waterloo's student radio station. After graduation, he followed that passion for media and today he's the host of Sportcentre and NHL on ESPN. So, How did Arda find his way to ESPN? Mostly, by saying yes. Over the years, he said yes to any opportunity, gaining new skills and experience along the way. Listen to the podcast.