How PULSE Helped Georgia Gwinnett Win The NAIA World Series
DISCLAIMER: At the time of usage and data collection, PULSE was known as Motus. We will be referring to it as PULSE throughout this blog.
This post is the second in our series of blogs highlighting successful implementations of PULSE. You can check out the first blog here.
As an NAIA program, Georgia Gwinnett College doesn’t exactly get 5-star recruits clamoring to play for them. Instead, they get a lot of guys coming off of an injury or looking for a bounce-back. This past year alone, 5 of their pitchers were coming back from a significant arm injury — 4 out of 5 of them coming from their prior school.
The coaches at GGC knew that each pitcher needed personalized arm care programs based on where they were in their rehab or on-ramping. They couldn’t afford to guess when a guy would be ready for high intent, or when he should throw his bullpen in between outings.
Introducing PULSE into their program allowed them to bridge the gap between “feel” and real. No more guessing.
Two of their starters in particular, Adam McKillican and Hunter Dollander, religiously used PULSE to help map out their off- and in-season throwing plans and make sure they were ready to dominate on gameday.
On the backs of McKillican and Dollander, and the rest of the staff, the Grizzlies went on to win the 2021 NAIA World Series.
Adam transferred to GGC from the University of British Columbia in 2020 after their season was cancelled due to Covid. He had spent the entire 2019 season rehabbing from Tommy John and wasn’t ready to give up his season.
Coming from UBC, another proggressive program, Adam was already very familiar with PULSE and had used it to help guide his rehab program (check out how Driveline leverages PULSE in our rehab program here). GGC was able to step in and pick up right where he left off — even being able to utilize all of the data collected from his time at UBC.
Using Adam’s past data, GGC built out a tentative throwing program based on what he had done in the past. From there they would look back at his data after the session, and make adjustments to his schedule as needed. If he threw too much on a low-effort day before a high-effort bullpen day, the coaches would reschedule the bullpen to give him extra rest to make sure he was fresh.
It had been 20 months since Adam last pitched in a real game, but when the season arrived, he was ready to go.
Originally a starter, Adam was first used out of the bullpen in short stints to help him continue to build up arm strength and stamina, instead of being thrown straight into the fire. The coaches used the same strategy that they did in the pre-season in order to manage fatigue between outings, focusing solely on the workload outputs from PULSE rather than pitch counts.
Adam shoved out of the pen, accumulating 6 IP and surrendering 2 ER.
After 5 relief appearances, Adam was moved into the rotation. Following the same formula, the coaches took it easy with Adam, carefully managing his workload so as not to stress him too fast. Adam was able to work into a consistent schedule in between outings, and didn’t miss a start all year.
Adam was also able to stay fresh into the postseason, and through the conference tournament, regionals, and World Series, Adam threw 19.2 innings surrendering only 7 runs while racking up 19 K’s and sitting 94-95 mph, topping at 97 — a season best.
Hunter Dollander had been a reliable starter in his first 4 years at GGC. By the end of his 5th year, he established himself as the staff’s unquestioned ace.
The biggest contributor to Dollander’s ascent to ace status was increasing the velocity on his fastball. The first four years of his career, Hunter typically sat 88-90. After really bearing down in the off-season with a revamped throwing and longtoss program — all built using PULSE — he was able to bump his velocity up to 91-93, topping 95.
Using PULSE, Hunter built out a customized longtoss program using the app — similar to what Bryan Conger did at Tarleton State (see our first blog on the subject here) to help him build arm strength and fitness in a smart manner.
Then came balancing his throwing program with his strength training program. Historically, Hunter struggled to balance these, but by introducing him to PULSE he gained ability to gameplan his throwing each day, and then plan the best days to lift according to his resulting throwing workload. No more making sacrifices to either his throwing program or his strength program.
The success of his work was immediately apparent not only with the jump in velocity, but with his ability to sustain velocity deep into games throughout the season. On the year he led the team in innings, wins, and strikeouts, and earned the NAIA World Series MVP award after pitching 15.1 innings with 14K’s and a 2.50 ERA.
Hunter leaves GGC as the all time leader in starts, wins, innings, and strikeouts, while helping the Grizzlies win two conference titles and make three NAIA World Series appearances.
For the coaches, PULSE gave them a way to effectively plan bullpens, high intent days, and off days leading into- and during the season. As they made their way into the playoffs, they saw other teams’ staffs dropping off, while their guys stayed strong.
For the players, PULSE enabled them to know they were as prepared to compete on gameday, as well as sustain that performance throughout the season.
Georgia Gwinnett College already had a good team — in the past four years they had won two conference titles and gone to the World Series three times. By implementing PULSE, they gained 2 legit starters to anchor their rotation and got themselves over the hump to win the NAIA World Series.
Special thanks to Brandon Vial and Jeremy Sheetinger for their help writing this post.
Written by Alex Harter, Joe Marsh, and Kyle Lindley