Entrepreneur Bill Reinking creates state championships for middle school basketball
Reinking, fueled by an entrepreneurial spirit, has always operated a step ahead of the pack. He was a pioneer in fantasy sports, founding Head2Head Sports in 1994 and selling it to a private equity fund in 2008. A former federal bank examiner, Reinking coached both of his sons as they went through the youth basketball ranks in the Bend, Oregon, area. As each middle school season ended with local playoffs, he wondered why there was no state championships similar to what is offered at the high school level or in other youth sports such as baseball and football. “You win the 99-cent trophy and get a pat on the back,” Reinking said about winning a league championship. “There was nothing for teams and coaches and players to play for beyond that.” That’s changed in three states, as Reinking’s State Basketball Championships are offered in Washington, Oregon and Arizona – with expansion to the east expected in coming years. “This was not meant to be a business at the outset,” Reinking said. He was stunned by the initial popularity of the first Oregon state championship – there were 106 teams in a solid-out field in 2013. “After our first go at it, I thought, ‘Boy, maybe there is a niche here,’ ” he said.
Reinking oversaw the transition of State Basketball Championships to the SportsEngine platform this summer, and the new website includes a custom-designed landing page. “It’s a unique landing page just for potential partners and sponsors and folks who want to watch our growth over the coming years,” Reinking said. “What is really unique in my mind is SportsEngine has created custom pages for each state.” Reinking provided the images for the custom backgrounds for the Oregon, Washington and Arizona sections of the site. He chose photos with a distinctly local flavor -- a famous burger drive-in in Oregon, the (Davenport) Grand Hotel in downtown Spokane and the Wildcat statue at the University of Arizona. He monitors Google analytics to get a better understanding of what areas of the country viewers are coming from and the pages in which they are the most interested. He also takes advantage of friendly page names to to standardize the common sections for each state. Reinking established partnerships with the convention and visitor bureaus in the host cities of the championships in each of the three states, and his Venues and Hotels pages offer detailed information and discounts for participating coaches, parents and players.
Reinking added custom code to the table elements on the How to Qualify section for each state, helping make the information easy to process and understand. The tables display logos from qualifier tournaments and leagues and include links for more information on the events.