LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Dec. 7, 2023) – Day two of the 2023 NFCA Convention featured the membership conducting its annual business meetings, a record-setting Exhibit Show, an entertaining and engaging mentoring session, and the first six speakers at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
With 169 companies, attendees mingled with vendors and learned about the latest in equipment, apparel and innovative products, while exploring the largest-ever Exhibit Show space in Convention history. The final 90 minutes were capped off with the Happy Hour.
Additionally, the Exhibit Hall highlighted the return of education from both attendees and companies. The first day of Exhibit Hall programming presented by Netting Professionals featured four sessions – two hitting, one pitching and one defense - while NFCA Official Sponsors HitTrax and Rapsodo showcased new products to attendees. The programming featured a four-time NFCA All-American in Alabama’s Montana Fouts and three-time All-American and current Ohio assistant coach Lilli Piper, along with DePaul assistant coach Abby Ramirez, a three-time NFCA All-Region honoree, Adelphi head coach Carla Capagna and Alabama pitching coach Lance McMahon.
In conjunction with the Exhibit Show, the digital auction concluded at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday evening as coaches bid on several items from their favorite companies going home with equipment, technology, gift certificates and more.
Coaches checked out the first of two Drills, Drills, Drills sessions. This year there was a twist as Brandon Elliott (Virginia Wesleyan), Kat Ihlenburg (Georgia Gwinnett) and Patrick Murphy (Alabama) took part in a live session where they shared personal favorite drills (25 minutes) and followed that discussing culture, and fundraising and wrapped up by taking questions from the audience.
Emceed by NFCA Vice President for Publications Shonda Stanton (Indiana), NFCA scholarship winners were recognized, and mentors volunteered to give advice and life lessons to young head and assistant coaches in the always anticipated Mentoring Session. In a special tribute, the 40-year members, who have been a member of the Association since 1983 were recognized for their contributions to the NFCA and the sport of softball and were presented a commemorative bottle of bourbon with the 40th anniversary logo etched on it.
Additionally, mentors were asked to “pay it forward.” Tying into the Anniversary, attendees were encouraged to donate towards the NFCA 40 for 40 campaign to help strengthen the Association. In addition, several mentees went home with prizes, ranging from NFCC registrations to a 2024 Convention registration. The latter went to two lucky coaches in attendance – Kelly Robichaud (Ithaca College) and Tyler Inselmann (Monmouth College).
Prior to the mentoring session, coaches engaged in meaningful conversations at the DEI Session presented by MLB, the newest NFCA Official Sponsor, attendees discussed university and athletic department policies and resources for staff, coaches, and administrators along with training for athletic teams and staff will be addressed.
The day also featured head and assistant coach Q&A panels, resume building, director of operations education, and valuable sessions touching on scholarships & NIL, program building, asking for raises, scorekeeping and field maintenance.
The evening concluded with Diamond/PGF “80s” party, which featured a dueling pianos, Rubik’s cubes, candy bracelets, pop rocks, slap bracelets, glow sticks and much more.
Day two of the Exhibit Show is on Friday, which opens its doors to members at 9 a.m. and runs through 3:00 p.m. It is highlighted by the Sports Attack raffle, HitTrax Home Run Derby with the Pros (and Coaches) and a Netting Professionals batting cage giveaway.
Friday features full day of speakers starting at 9:00 a.m. The lineup also includes the Softball Summit, sponsored by USA Softball, and the Grassroots Summit presented by Wilson with a college coaches panel and educational offerings. The night is capped off by the Convention’s marquee event, the 2023 Hall of Fame banquet.