LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 2019 NFCA Convention kicks off in less than a month on Wednesday, Dec. 4 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 7 at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City. Over the course of four days, attendees enjoy a wide array of opportunities to educate themselves, network, conduct business, be recognized for their achievements, discover innovative products and celebrate the game of softball.
To get those more acquainted with the on-going proceedings, this feature takes a look at the first two days of activities. Before we dive into things, the most important item to point out is registration. Be sure to pick up your credential and lanyard. Without this combination, attendees will be unable to attend all the great sessions and social events offered.
For those arriving on Tuesday, Dec. 3, the first opportunity to pick up your credential and lanyard is during a four-hour window from noon to 4:00 p.m. The registration booth will be open 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4 and 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5. On Friday, Dec. 6 hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., while Saturday, Dec. 7, the booth opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at noon.
At 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the NFCA’s “First Pitch” Opening Welcome and Keynote gets the ball rolling with NFCA Executive Director Carol Bruggeman, NFCA President Karen Weekly and keynote speaker Justin Patton.
Along with all the education, business and social events, the Exhibit Hall opens its doors on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Another sold-out Exhibit Show, the largest in NFCA Convention history, features over 125 companies and will include education inside the hall (batting cage) for the first time.
There are many opportunities to gain valuable knowledge from our pre-convention seminars (additional cost) to our keynote speaker on the first day, followed by Thursday’s first two speaker sessions. We have also added more education for 2019 – a second Drills, Drills, Drills session, the Triple Play Classroom Series (Grassroots) and education in the Exhibit Hall.
Held simultaneously from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., the seminars offered are “Pitch Perfect: Set ‘Em Up & Sit ‘Em Down! Tips & Strategies for Developing Individual Pitches,” and “Assistant Coach University: Building Trust, Managing Conflict and Investing in Your Growth.” Click HERE for complete information about these offerings.
Also on the docket is the Rookie Orientation presented by Triple Crown Sports, which is for first-time attendees (3-3:45 p.m.). It features Saginaw Valley State head coach Todd Buckingham, Auburn head coach Mickey Dean and Nebraska head coach Rhonda Revelle.
At the High School/Travel Ball Caucus presented by Wilson, the Triple Play Classroom Series offers more education geared toward grassroots coaches and will be presented by their peers – Randy Skaggs, ECI Dynamite (baserunning), Elise Fortier, Power Alley Softball (hitting) and Kevin Halley, St. Pius X High School (Creative Technology).
Also, the first-ever education in the Exhibit Hall will take place at 1:00 p.m. with “How To Build Technology into Your Practice Play” - Jordan Clark (Ohio State) | HitTrax. It will be followed by “Exit Velocity – Using Video & Radar Data to Train the Most Important Metric” - Perry Husband (MLB Collegiate Consultant) | Pocket Radar, Inc.
Additionally, the first of two Drills, Drills, Drills sessions (1:30-2:30 p.m.) will feature Kristen Butler, Rutgers (Hitting), Haylie McCleney, US Women’s National Team (Outfield) and Josie Henry, Case Western Reserve (Pitching).
At 3:00 p.m., the coaching staff of the 2019 Women’s College World Series champions, UCLA, sits down for “An Exclusive Look Inside the Bruin Bubble: Coaching Staff Dynamics.” This session will be followed by Arizona’s Caitlyn Lowe and Tennessee’s India Chiles presenting “Accelerate Your Offense.”
One of the most anticipated and noteworthy sessions of the NFCA Convention, the Mentoring Workshop, is being held from 7-9:00 p.m. Grab a seat next to some of the best and the brightest in the game. This event pairs coaches at all levels for conversation, promotes professional growth and offers networking between coaches at all levels of the game.
Extra Inning Fireside Chats follows the mentoring session. Attendees can build on the connections made in the mentoring workshop or just stop by to hear perspectives on hitting and pitching from top coaches in a more laid back setting.
The NCAA Division I, II and III Head Coaches Committees will meet to discuss the important issues leading into their respective business meetings on Thursday. Committee meetings will be held in the evening to discuss changes and have healthy conversations about the future of the sport in an intimate setting with your peers. Furthermore, there are several Division I conference coaches who will gather to discuss their respective league business.
Added to the docket this year is the Diversity in Coaching Gathering at 9:00 p.m. It provides a space for coaches to discuss various topics and growth opportunities for minority coaches and underrepresented groups.
The morning (8:30-11:30 a.m.) is set aside for our several of our membership’s caucus meetings, including the Division II Caucus presented by Chattanooga, Tenn. The meetings bring together the respective membership groups to discuss current issues, review and discuss pending legislation, create action plans for future changes to the game and collaboratively shape the sport for the future.
At 5:00 p.m., LGBTQ and ally coaches can join the Equality Coaching Alliance’s “LGBTQ Diversity and Inclusion Gathering.”It's a great forum to ask questions, share information, or just listen to best practices for helping student-athletes thrive as valued members of their teams.
With another sold-out exhibit show, the Exhibit Hall opens its doors to members at 11:00 a.m. and runs through 6 p.m. The growth of our sport depends on the investment of these entities, so come show your support and discover innovative products, apparel and services and cultivate relationships that will ultimately benefit your teams. As previously mentioned in the education portion, two companies will be providing educational sessions in the batting cages.
The Digital Silent Auction, a highly-anticipated event in the exhibit hall, is back for year two! Bid on your favorite Exhibit Hall items from the comfort of your phone by stopping by each booth. Find your favorite companies, scan the QR code and make a bid, but hurry, bidding closes at 1:00 p.m. on Friday!
Following the First Pitch Opening Session, join attendees at the NFCA’s Leadoff Reception, a two-hour (6:30-8:30 p.m.) event filled with networking, laughter and FREE food and drinks.
After you’ve perused the Exhibit Hall and mingled with company representatives, you can relax and socialize at the ScrapYard Sports Happy Hour (5-6:30 p.m.). Additionally, NFCA items and company products will be on hand to give away throughout the evening.
You will not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime venue - and with Diamond Sports and PGF running the show - you're guaranteed to have a good time. Stop by the Harrah's Pool After Dark for an evening of fun and socializing! Free food, beer and wine will be on hand from 9:00 p.m. to midnight.
Health & Fitness
Want to start your day off right with a little exercise before you dive into a full day of convention programming? Join Dartmouth head coach Jen Williams, as she returns for a fourth year to lead her “Boardwalk Boot Camp.” Back by popular demand for a second year is “Shore Stretch Yoga” with Bethany College’s Cassie Moore.