LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 2017 NFCA Convention kicks off in less than a month on Wednesday Dec. 6 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 9 at Bally’s Las Vegas. Over the course of four days, attendees have a wide array of opportunities to educate themselves, network, conduct business, be recognized for their achievements, discover innovative products and have fun.
To get those more acquainted with the on-going proceedings, this feature takes a look at the first two days of activities. But 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 in Las Vegas.
For those arriving on Tuesday, Dec. 5 and who want to beat the crowd, a four-hour window (noon-4:00 p.m.) is available to pick up your credentials and lanyards. The registration booth will be open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7 and Thursday, Dec. 8. On Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10, the booth opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at noon and 10:00 a.m., respectively.
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 Jessica Mendoza.
Committee meetings are being held at 12:15 and 1:30 p.m., respectively. It is a chance to discuss changes and have healthy conversations about the future of the sport in an intimate setting with your peers. Later in the evening, the NCAA Division I, II and III Head Coaches committees meet to discuss the important issues leading into their respective business meetings on Thursday.
The morning (8:30-11:30 a.m.) is set aside for our college (except Cal JC) caucus meetings. It brings 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.
Additionally, the International Caucus, several NCAA Division I league meetings, Division II Top 25, committee and Alliance of Women Coaches will gather to discuss their business.
There are many opportunities to gain valuable knowledge from our preconvention seminars to our keynote speaker on the first day, followed by Thursday’s first two speaker sessions.
Held simultaneously 9:00 a.m. to Noon, the seminars offered are “Lessons in Leadership,” How Statistics and Metrics Can Help Win More Games” and “Assistant Coach University.” Click HERE for an earlier preview of these educational offerings. Also on the docket is the Triple Crown "Rookie" Orientation for first-time attendees (2-2:45 p.m.), featuring head coaches Pat Conlan (Georgetown), Mickey Dean (Auburn) and Rhoda Revelle (Nebraska).
The first two coaches take the stage in the afternoon. At 3:00 p.m., NFCA Hall of Famer Mike Candrea (Arizona) leads off with “What 42 Year of Coaching Has Taught Me.” He is followed by the WCWS Championship Series pitching coach duo of Melyssa Lombardi (Oklahoma) and Jennifer Rocha (Florida) with “Creating a Championship Caliber Pitcher.”
One of the most anticipated and helpful 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 and promotes professional growth and networking between coaches at all levels of the game.
Extra Inning Fireside Chats follows the mentoring session. Attendees can build on the connections you just made in the mentoring workshop or just stop by to hear perspectives on other subjects from top coaches in a laid back setting.
In addition, LGBT and ally coaches can join the Equality Coaching Alliance’s “LGBT Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Forum (5-6:00 p.m.). From 9-10:00 p.m., Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ (FCA) Softball Director Dana Jenkins leads a devotional aimed specifically at the trials a coach may face.
With over a record 130 companies in attendance, 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.
Bruggeman will recognize Mary Nutter Scholarship and Diversity Convention Grant recipients, our top academic programs, sponsored by Easton, top StrikeOut Cancer fundraisers, Four-Star Master Coaches, Schutt Sports / NFCA Players and Freshmen of the Year, Diamond Sports / NFCA Catchers of the Year and New Balance / NFCA Golden Shoe Award winners.
Following the morning business meetings, head over to the Victory Club Luncheon where head and associate head coaches receive recognition for milestone victories obtained during the 2017 season, while enjoying lunch and conversation with peers.
Following the Opening Session on Wednesday, join attendees at the USSSA Leadoff Reception, a two-hour (6:30-8:30 p.m.) event filled with networking, laughter and FREE food, beer and wine.
After you’ve perused the exhibit hall on Thursday and mingled with company representatives, you can relax and socialize at the only NFCA Convention Happy Hour (5-6:30 p.m.) hosted by Scrap Yard Sports’ Happy. Additionally, NFCA items and company products will be on hand to give away throughout the evening.
If you want to venture out into the city later in the evening, Diamond Sports and PGF will hold a reception at the Margaritaville from 9:00 pm to midnight.
Health & Fitness
Want to get your day started bright and early with a little exercise. Back for a second year is MIT head coach and director of sports performance Jen Williams, who will lead a group workout session from 6:15-7:15 a.m. on Thursday.