Besides covering the technology/media scene in the gulf coast, we’re also expanding into covering locally-owned and operated web companies. We feel that this area isn’t covered well and we’ll going to fill that void. We will try to cover these locally-owned startups on a monthly basis.
Our first story comes from across Lake Pontchartrain where the game of soccer is taught online. Jared Montz’s Online Soccer Academy has one goal: “designed to teach players about the game of soccer and inspire them to know that if they ’Believe in it’ and back that up with hard work they can reach their soccer and life dreams,” Jared Montz, the founder of the online soccer academy tells me via e-mail.
This isn’t a random person posting soccer tips online; Montz’s career in soccer is impressive.
A former player for the MLS-team Chicago Fire and other minor league teams – including a brief stint with the New Orleans Shell Shockers – Montz had to work his way into the MLS after being constantly denied the ability to play.
A groin injury reduced his playing ability and Montz left the professional soccer circuit in March 2009.
The idea for the online soccer academy came in the summer of 2008 while running a soccer camp. “People would always have issues with the date and time of camp,” Montz said. “I got plenty of kids but I could never please everyone.”
“With the Online Soccer Academy I could offer first class soccer training and motivation for players on their own time and parents wouldn’t have to drive them anywhere,” Montz continued.
The website is more like a diary for soccer players with a mix of social features than it is about learning how to play soccer. Players are given their own profile page where they can list their goals along with a “juggling chart, game review application, personal player, and a message center.”
With his experience as a former professional soccer play, Montz also “provide[s] college advice from myself and other pro players and coaches to help my high school age players get recruited to play college soccer.”
Montz also maintains a blog that features interviews with “current [professional soccer] players giving their advice to my players” in both podcast and video format.
Members can also qualify for a $1,000 scholarship.
“This December will be the first time I give out scholarships”, Montz explains. “Players must show improvement over the course of the year, participate on a regular basis (which only takes a few minutes a week), and have good grades in school.”
Why charge for content?
Montz’s online soccer academy is not free but not terribly expensive when compared to private lessons. A one year membership to the soccer academy is $100 a year – or $12 a month.
I asked why would you charge a fee instead of making his content available for free.
Montz explains that charging a fee moves his focus from chasing advertisers to concentrate “solely on making the Online Soccer Academy experience better for my players.”
Montz continued, “Any other site that offers video training, I am better because of my personal touch, quality of learning experience, quality of training videos, ability to relate to players, and my experience as a professional player.”
“No one else [is doing what I’m doing],” Montz told me via e-mail.
Montz wouldn’t give the exact number of subscribers on the site but the soccer academy is already generating successful results.
He tells the story of Adam from Chicago, ill. “He started in the Online Soccer Academy in March and is first juggling chart score was listed as 19. Almost every day he is out in his backyard practicing his juggling and each time he attempts a new record he marks a new score on his chart.”
“Now he is up to 155 juggles in just a few months! Not to mention he has scored some goals in his games using the new moves he learns from my training videos. The juggling chart allows him to look at his scores and dates and visually see that hard work over time pays off.”
Since the site went online at the beginning of the year, Montz has already seeing results: getting recommendations from coaches.
“Coaches [have] look at the website but they are mostly youth coaches that I personally know”, Montz explains. “I do know college coaches too that have checked it out as well.”
Montz’ story was also featured in Gary Vaynerchuk newest book “Crush it!”
“Gary mailed me a copy last week before it came out at the stores because he talks about my Online Soccer Academy and my story on pg 96 of his book”, Montz explains on his blog. “It’s a huge part of the page too and also the biggest example of someone using social media in his book!! The USMNT might have just qualified for the World Cup and my dream of doing that will never become reality because of my retirement from pro soccer so moments like this are now my World Cup!!”