Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weplay Connects and Organizes the Youth Sports Market

Started in 2008 by former Geocities exec Stephen Hansen, Weplay is an online youth sports community for coaches, parents, and young athletes. Both a social networking site for kids and a sports management tool for adults, Weplay currently serves a roster of more than 50,000 teams across 60 different sports, including basketball, baseball, football, cheerleading, and soccer.

Lane Soelberg, who presently heads the company as CEO, explains that the youth sports market, while passionate, is also very fragmented. Weplay acts as that “connective tissue” – aside from being the first service of its kind, Weplay is also unlike other team sports websites because it is both functional and social. “We want to be different, engaging, and fun, and not just a list of where and when the games are being played,” says Soelberg.

On the COPPA compliant Weplay site, youth athletes can set up their own profile, connect with their teammates and make new friends, share photos and videos of their sports events, and play online games. Coaches can use the site to manage their team schedule, send messages to parents and players, recommend training exercises outside of practice, and reward their team with virtual badges. Meanwhile, parents can easily keep track of their kids' sports schedules and organize carpools with Weplay's calendar and messaging tools.

Based in Santa Monica, California, Weplay is backed by leading brands such as Major League Baseball, the Cartoon Network, Microsoft, and Benadryl; as well as popular athletes such as Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, and LeBron James. Recently, the company acquired the exclusive license for Fastpoint Games' top fantasy sports platform, which has been utilized by the NBA, NASCAR, and FOX Sports TV, among others. According to Soelberg, “We have many passionate sports families gathered on Weplay and we remain dedicated to making their shared sports experiences fun.”

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