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Building a Successful Basketball Camp & Training Business w/Isaac Gildea

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

It all begins with a deep love for the game.

Often athletes struggle to transition into the professional world once their career ends. Whether they play collegiately or professionally, many athletes experience an identity crisis.

Gildea was no stranger to that.

After finishing his playing career, Gildea struggled with alcohol, using it as a vehicle to relive his moments as a highlight machine basketball player.

Fortunately, he had the opportunity to go to rehab and turn his life around.

Coming back from rehab, Gildea found a renewed sense of purpose with the game he has always loved. Basketball.

The Story of How He Became the Director of Humboldt Wild

Gildea was working camps under the great Geno Cotter, who passed away a few years ago at Basketball Jones camps (my FAVORITE summer camps growing up).

Gildea met a guy; his name was Dan Johnson, an influential businessman in the community. At the time, he didn’t know the extent of Johnson’s importance to the community. During their first interaction, Johnson invited Gildea to a meeting.

Little did Gildea know this meeting was to announce him as the new Director of Humboldt Wild Basketball. After a bit of shock, the gratitude started flowing in with a unique opportunity to spread his love of the game to the next generation of basketball players in Humboldt County.

It Always Starts Small

While Gildea was running Humboldt Wild summer camps & AAU, he also began his private training business with two athletes.

Most people give out the advice of “just start & begin.” While that advice is essential, and you need one or two athletes to begin the training process, building INCREDIBLE relationships with those athletes is even more critical.

Gildea mentioned one of the biggest mistakes he made at the beginning of his training career was wanting to turn his players into basketball robots.

As the years went by, he had the opportunity to train more and more kids; he began realizing the most critical aspect of training basketball players is building a relationship with humans.

Genuine relationships lead to real impact, leading to word-of-mouth generation.

Those two athletes he began training ten years ago led to running a summer basketball camp of 150 athletes in Humboldt County a few weeks ago.

If you follow your internal urge as Isaac did and pursue what you LOVE you’re great at, achieving your dreams of building a youth basketball business is possible while also impacting thousands of lives.

The Business Side of Building it All

We all know we can’t magically follow our passions and build a successful business. If that were possible, everyone would do it.

It took the pain and strategic decision-making around pricing for Isaac to discover the best way to build his business that was healthy financially & impacted the kids at a high level.

Put in revenue terms: Summer Camp > Group Classes > Private Training.

Even though it costs less per person for group classes, getting five or six players for the course is more financially stable than training one kid at a time. Now, I am beginning with private training because that’s how we have to start one by one. But eventually, the goal should be getting to private group classes.

Depending on your space, summer camp is the biggest revenue generator because you can create a fantastic experience for significantly more kids than you can have in a class. When you have higher numbers at summer camp, it then leads to a higher number of word-of-mouth recommendations throughout the year.

Finally, when we begin our private training practice with one or two athletes, we may feel the daunting pressure of getting to that 150 mark for a summer camp.

Getting the word out takes a lot of leg work and creativity. Here are a few ideas he floated to me that I’m thinking about implementing:

Calling schools near me & asking if I can do a shooting demo

Running a 3-on-3 event or some shooting clinic at a park

Livestreaming the events so the parents can watch their kids if they’re not there

Final Thoughts

Interviewing Isaac was a full-circle moment for me as well. When I was a sophomore, I had the opportunity to play on his JV basketball team. We had a fantastic group that year, and I have no many more memories as my coach at the Basketball Jones camps.

Listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, & Youtube as Isaac goes into more detail on the importance of LISTENING to our athletes, developing great relationships with them, & other business-building strategies for your organization.

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