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WebMarketers Community Initiative: Youth Basketball Camp

WebMarketers Community Initiative: Youth Basketball Camp

“You can do anything you want in life.”

It’s something that practically every kid has been told – yet few actually believe it.

But, with good reason.

The harsh reality is that all too many children around the world grow up without access to competitive sport, something that teaches valuable skills for later in life. Even here in Canada, where we pride ourselves on economic opportunity and a sense of community, not every kid gets a chance to play and grow through sport.

Giving Back Through Basketball

As a community initiative, WebMarketers recently teamed up with Premiere Hoops Academy to give back and help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get valuable skills. WebMarketers sponsored ten youth at a one-week basketball camp in Ottawa, an initiative all stakeholders are proud to have been a part of.

WebMarketers CEO and co-founder Kyle Smendziuk looks back to his days playing basketball competitively as a starting ground for later success in business. Through basketball Kyle gained a winning mentality for life, specifically by acquiring the discipline and focus necessary to compete and get ahead in the competitive world of business, where most companies regrettably fail.

Smendziuk has brought that mentality to his entire team at WebMarketers, translating into results by creating jobs for his staff and creating value for clients.

That’s why WebMarketers saw a great opportunity to circle back and partner with past teammates at Premiere Hoops. The camp is run by a couple of old friends and teammates, Willy Manigat and Osvaldo Jeanty, both Carleton alumni who starred on the Ravens squad a few years back.

Despite the modest price tag for a week of basketball and life skills,  not all parents are fortunate enough to be able to enroll their children to camp. That’s why WebMarketers covered the cost for 10 kids to attend the week-long event held at the Ottawa Adult High School in July.

Providing Better Breaks On and Off the Court

Smendziuk says he’s fortunate to have parents who supported his basketball career, and wants to give back by providing the chance for less-fortunate youth to the same high-end coaching, discipline and focus that played an integral part in his upbringing. Exposure is another huge factor; some kids have athletic talent that goes undiscovered, so this is a way for them to get exposure and guidance, particularly from two Willy Manigat and Osvaldo Jeanty, two retired professional athletes themselves.

“This is an important initiative for WebMarketers,” says Smendziuk. “We believe in the value of leveraging the benefits sport in order to develop skills that translate into ones career and throughout the community.”

Premiere Hoops Academy’s 4 Areas of Success

Premiere Hoops focuses on four main skill areas to instill in its participants:

  • Fundamentals
  • Basketball IQ
  • Hard Work
  • Discipline

It’s those latter two, hard work and discipline, that Smendziuk says will translate into success later in life – in so many areas.

The hard work at Premiere Hoops includes learning how to work as a team, which of course is one of the most valuable skills young people can learn for success in life.

The discipline one develops on the basketball court – or in any sport – leads to strength and a high level work ethic that is applicable in all aspects of everyone’s future.

“Kids who are learning skills on the court now are going to be able to take those into the real world and be better off for it. Now they learn goal setting, discipline and team work through basketball. In the future they’ll be better poised to overcome obstacles, to take on challenges and achieve results in school and then in business. Eventually they’ll be stronger leaders because of it.”   – Kyle Smendziuk

Premiere Hoops co-founder Willy Manigat echoes Smendziuk’s sentiments. “We started Premiere Hoops Academy to allow kids who deserve the opportunity, a chance to follow their dreams.”

A Chance for Kids to Follow their Hoop Dreams

Dreams are great. But a dream with action is infinitely better.

That’s why the camp attendees learn about focus, about how to block out the external noise both on the court and off, and how to condition themselves to overcome obstacles and set goals that they will rigorously follow with consistent action.

“Basketball for us has always been more than just a sport or a game,” says Osvaldo Jeanty, who co-founded Premiere Hoops Academy along with Manigat. “It helps you be more disciplined, it helps you manage your time a lot better.”

Indeed. Both Manigat and Jeanty come from humble beginnings with family roots in Haiti, and are now eagerly doing their part to give back to the local community here in Ottawa that welcomed them early on in life. Through basketball they learned (and now teach) skills that made them stronger and more prepared for life.

Today, their career trajectories are continuing upward. Willy Manigat is a coach and trainer, running Premiere Hoops Academy and after 6 years of professional basketball in Germany, Osvaldo Jeanty is a financial planner with RBC. This career success has motivated the two to run the basketball camp, preparing youth for a better future.

Competition Begins in the Application Process

How do kids go about getting the bursary?

Premiere Hoops receives more applications than has sponsorship spots available, so the process is competitive. Families must show need based upon Canadian standards for low-income, and each perspective attendee must fill out an application that explains why they deserve to participate and what they hope to gain from the experience.

“Our intent was to select attendees who showcased the potential to go on to do great things,” says Smendziuk. “We’re looking at kids who’ll become community leaders, lifting themselves and their peers up in the same way that we have all leveraged sport to do the same.”

Manigat and Jeanty, in addition to being friends and former teammates, were also among some of WebMarketers first clients. WebMarketers has developed the websites for Premiere Hoops and Jeanty Basketball. (along with Next Level Skills Training and Roadmap to Success)

Full Circle

The Premiere Hoops bursary is a coming full circle, of sorts, from the basketball court to business – and now back onto the court again, this time giving back to today’s youth, tomorrow’s future builders and leaders. It’s part of WebMarketers’ target of giving 2%-3% of its top-line revenue back to the community through charitable contributions. We are proud to give back to the community that helped shape and raise our company and wish to encourage others to do the same.

“Even if one out of ten goes on to make it big in their future,” says Kyle Smendziuk, “that’s super powerful and inspiring.”

Ari Black
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