Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mucha hopes he has started hockey's social network

Kurtis Mucha has his sights set squarely
on his future.

(Photo by Murray Mitchell,
Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Editor
Kurtis Mucha’s comfort zone normally is a rather small half circle in front of a hockey net that he attempts to defend with every fibre of his being.
Not much of a wanderer as a goaltender, these days Mucha has taken to going far, far outside that zone.
Earlier this week, Mucha launched, a website that he, as the CEO/Founder, hopes will serve as a gathering place for the hockey community.
“Basically,” he says, “I created a hockey social network.”
There are places for players, parents, fans, coaches and scouts.
Part of’s mission statement reads: “At our mission is to unite the world of hockey on one dynamic site. Our goal is to make hockey players available to the largest network of coaches and scouts from all levels.”
Eventually, the site will feature various sports, including soccer, but for now Mucha is focussed on hockey.
Players will be able to upload pictures and video and provide all kinds of personal information, from heights and weights to information on academics and hobbies.
As Mucha says, “The players are basically going to use the site to promote their hockey careers to coaches and scouts.”
Mucha, 22, began working on the idea since September, with website construction having started in March. Neil Haran of inEarth, a social gaming company, is the chief technology officer.
“One reason I wanted to do this project was to get into a new world and go out of my comfort zone,” explains Mucha, who played last season for the U of Alberta Golden Bears after ending a five-year WHL career that was split between the Portland Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers. “The tech world is a very interesting space and is growing each day at an unprecedented pace.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been under the amount of stress I have felt in the last 10 months, or had this many highs and this many lows,” he adds.
There have been days when he has been talking to engineers working on the site in India at 4 a.m. He has had to travel to Las Vegas “to meet with potential investors and business people.”
“Just doing all the business side of things and learning as fast as I can without knowing much of anything in business before I started this,” Mucha continues. “Starting (my) own business/website is something that has been extremely challenging and really stressful.”
While pondering the project, Mucha came up with multiple reasons why he should forge ahead.
“I noticed that nobody has done a website like this and I wanted to try and bring the hockey world together on one dynamic website,” he says. “I wanted to help young hockey players get scouted easier and this website will provide the perfect free service for that. With hockey being more competitive each year and getting more competitive at younger ages, this website will give kids an opportunity to promote themselves at a young age.”
Not only that, he says, but “I also wanted to give hockey coaches and scouts a network to help them not only find prospects and future players but give them a network to interact with other coaches and scouts.”
At the end of the day, he says, “I basically just want to bring everyone in hockey — whether you are a player, parent, fan, coach or scout — to one really awesome website and hopefully watch it grow to a huge number of users.”
The site has been constructed in such a fashion as to allow coaches and scouts to remain hidden from the players, enabling them to chat freely.
“They can talk freely about whatever they choose with confidence,” Mucha explains, “knowing they have 100 per cent privacy.”
Coaches and scouts will have the ability to “be on the site and remain hidden from all of the players, coaches and fans. So they don’t have to worry about a ton of kids being on the site looking at their profiles.”
As well, Mucha says, “There is a verification process for coaches to be signed up so a 14-year-old can’t sign up as a coach.”
There also are plans for a drawing board on which coaches will be able to design drills, strategies and set plays, and share all of that with other coaches should they wish.
Coaches also will be able to send messages to players, but players won’t be able to initiate conversations.
As well, once signed on to the site, a user will have access to an NHL news feed. Register and log in and there will be an in-system mail system, an in-system chat system; the ability to poke people, only here it’ll be slashing, bodychecking, chirping, beaking, high-fiving and spearing; access to every NHL player who is on Twitter;
While all of this is going on, Mucha is preparing to return for a second season with the Golden Bears.
This project, he says, “is separate from school and I’m doing it totally on my own.”
Mucha says he is fully prepared to “fulfill my commitment” to the Golden Bears “and get my degree and take advantage of the WHL scholarship program.”
A native of Sherwood Park, Alta., he is enrolled in Sciences at the Edmonton-based university.
When he is finished there, he will explore his professional options “whether it be in North America or over in Europe.”

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