Former T-Bird Starts Niche Social Network For Kids
'Online Basketball Camp' provides kids a platform for learning sport in a 21st Century way, while giving them a safe way to interact online, founder says
Parents might, at first, be confused by the newest way Mahwah kids are learning to play basketball – by attending an “Online Basketball Camp” run by volunteer coaches in the community. But, according to Ryan Tremblay, the Mahwah grad and former Thunderbird player who founded and runs OnlineBasketballCamp.com, the new approach has been catching on.
The site, which went live in March, combines written blogs, instructional videos, coach-player and player-player feedback, and a niche social networking format that allows users to interact about their common interest. “I just started blogging about basketball in mid-March, writing about tips, skills, drills and things like that,” Tremblay said. “A few people subscribed to it, and it’s just been evolving from there. I had the idea to morph it into a social networking community of basketball enthusiasts, and it’s really taken off.”
Tremblay uses the site to promote free clinics for Mahwah youth, which happen once a week. He records the sessions, edits them into lesson-based shorts, and posts videos that teach basketball fundamentals on the site. Five to 10 new videos are posted on the site every week.
Students are invited to create user profiles on the site, ask their coaches and peers questions on the game, and provide feedback to other players. They can also post photos, videos and explanations of drills they work on.
“All of the interactions between players, coaches and fans are positive,” Tremblay said. “The site hosts a really supportive community and everything the kids are engaging in is positive reinforcement.”
Once players sign onto the site and create profiles, they receive points for having positive interactions with other users, and for virtual representations of their basketball skill development. As players gain points, their profiles rise through the ranks, from travel team member, all the way through professional players and hall-of-famers.
Participants must be 13 years old or older to sign onto the site themselves, but younger subscribers can sign on, if they do so with a parent or guardian. OnlineBaseketballCamp.com “is a completely safe environment,” Tremblay said. “That’s the most important thing. We want kids to use this as a way to have a positive experience with online social networking. There haven’t been any misuses of it or incidents of cyberbullying or anything like that.”
In addition to interactions, kids also refine their fundamental basketball skills. John Stewart, who coaches and helps run the boys travel basketball program in the township, has been helping Tremblay run clinics and interact with players online. “This site is building kids’ fundamental skills,” Stewart explained. “When they get to a game situation, they are more confident, and that makes a huge difference.”
Tremblay said no one who utilizes the site is allowed to advertise on it. All content and programs are free for users, and run by volunteers. “People keep asking what the catch is,” Tremblay said. “There isn’t one.”
In the future, the creator said he hopes to expand the site to include other coaches, players and fans spanning he region, state, country, and even world.
“I don’t see a limit to this. There are people everywhere who are passionate about this sport,” he said. “Through doing this I’ve met so many good people willing to help and get involved, and I’m sure it will be the same as we expand.”
Expansion, he said, is really possible because of the universal nature of the skills kids acquire. “It’s so much bigger than basketball,” he said. “They are learning mental preparedness, building confidence and doing things that can help them in all aspects of life. It’s just a really good thing, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.”
Find out more information at OnlineBasketballCamp.com.
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