By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
As part of its total online presence, and as an additional service to its members and the wrestling community, USA Wrestling has launched a new online community called USA Wrestling Nation (http://www.USAWrestlingNation.com).
This new online community is an exciting addition to USA Wrestling's extensive internet presence, which also includes the popular TheMat.com website, the USA Wrestling YouTube Channel, and its presence on numerous social media including Twitter and Facebook.
Through USA Wrestling Nation, USA Wrestling has developed its own online social network, a popular activity for Americans of all ages who use the internet.
"We are excited to provide USA Wrestling Nation for everyone involved in sport of wrestling," said Meredith Wilson, USA Wrestling Director of Information Technology. "This is a living community that will be improved and enhanced regularly; it will evolve around the needs and requests of the community members. We encourage people to visit the new community, explore the features and utilities and provide their feedback and suggestions."
The development of a social network was announced earlier this summer to USA Wrestling state leaders at the Board Meeting and State Leaders Conference in Orlando, Fla.
"Social networking is an excellent way to engage, interact and communicate with wrestlers and fans of all ages; it's an incredibly powerful tool for our grassroots organizations" said Wilson. "USA Wrestling Nation is a community for anyone with an interest in wrestling, not just USA Wrestling members. It provides a platform to grow the sport of wrestling at all levels through the viral nature of a social network."
In November 2009, Jason Bryant was hired by USA Wrestling to serve as the Coordinator of Grassroots and Social Media. In this position, Bryant will serve as a moderator in the community and as the key contact for State Organizations and clubs to assist grassroots volunteers with fully utilizing the features and tools available through the community.
USA Wrestling Nation allows users to create a customized profile page, choosing their own look and feel for the community, as well as expanded interactive opportunities to connect with other members of the wrestling community.
Through personal profiles, users have the ability to Instant Message, Email and Private Message other users. Users also can publish their own work on the community through photo galleries, video galleries, and blogs.
USA Wrestling Nation's video gallery utility allows wrestlers and their families to share their own videos, as well as watch videos posted by other wrestlers across the nation and around the world.
USA Wrestling Nation community also provides easy integration with popular social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Playlist.com , and allows for content integration with other social bookmarking sites.
In addition to the interactive and social opportunities available on the community, USA Wrestling is pleased to provide video-based education utilities for athletes, coaches and officials. Through its relationship with TheWrestlingGreats.com, users will have access to the Cliff Keen Encyclopedia of Technique, which provides extensive educational clips of effective wrestling moves, as well as an interactive officials training utility, where people can test their ability to make scoring calls on live wrestling situations.
USA Wrestling video products also will be available for download through TheWrestlingGreats online store. As an added value to USA Wrestling members, each current member will receive a $35 store credit for USA Wrestling products in TheWrestlingGreats online store. Any user, including non-members, may purchase and download videos at extremely reasonable prices. The files are downloaded as MP4 files for viewing in iTunes and on iPhones and iPods.
One of the most popular interactive features of TheMat.com, the message boards, will be moving to the USA Wrestling Nation. The new forums software will offer expanded capabilities for all users, including filters and self-reporting tools. This new functionality allows users themselves to help keep the forums clean making participation in these popular forums much more enjoyable.
User names for the most active forums users have been automatically ported into the new system. Users whose accounts have been automatically added to the system will have the same username and password as they did previously, with the exception of a few members who had spaces in their names. In those cases, the spaces were removed. Because USA Wrestling Nation profiles required additional information, ported users will have through February 14, 2010 to login and update their profiles with current contact information and birthdates. On Feb. 15, 2010, any accounts not updated will be removed from the community.
USA Wrestling's current message boards (now located at TheMatForums.com) will remain open through January 31, 2010 while users switch and acclimate to the new boards. On February 1, 2010 TheMatForums.com will be moved to the new message board system within USA Wrestling Nation.
A new set of Feedback Forums have been added to the message boards. Users who come across bugs and glitches, or who have suggestions on ways to improve USA Wrestling's online presences, are encouraged to post their findings and suggestions in the new Feedback Forums so developers can work to improve online utilities.
The message boards will include the following wrestling topics: International Wrestling; College Wrestling; High School Wrestling; Youth Wrestling; Women's Wrestling; Coaching & Officiating; Tournament Information. There are expanded Grappling and MMA forums, with specific topics that include: Grappling; MMA & Fighting; Tournament Information.
This new online community should not be confused with The Wrestling Nation membership program, where people can join USA Wrestling as a Team member, and also donate to the organization's annual giving program.
Please note that current membership in USA Wrestling is NOT REQUIRED for participating with USA Wrestling Nation online community. The entire wrestling community will have access to this social network and its utilities. There will be specific extra benefits provided to USA Wrestling members.
"USA Wrestling is pleased that it can provide the wrestling community with a powerful and entertaining online community," said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender. "It is our intention to remain on the cutting edge with our internet presence, which will give substantial benefits to those who participate. This will assist in our quest to promote and expand our great sport."