LAS VEGAS -- A sold out exhibit show, two 1,500-game winners and a jam-packed mentoring session were just some of the highlights on day two of the NFCA National Convention at Bally’s Las Vegas.
For the second straight year, MIT’s Jen Williams led an early morning work out followed by the Schutt Sport Continental Breaks. After getting a good sweat on and filling up on a hearty breakfast, the membership groups met for some business at their respective caucuses.
The Victory Club luncheon followed as over 100 member coaches were honored for their milestones, including the first two 1,500-game winners, Michigan’s Carol Hutchins and Arizona’s Mike Candrea, in Division I softball. Hutchins currently holds the title of the NCAA’s winningest coach. Additionally, coaches being recognized for 1,100 or more victories received engraved crystal, 1,000-win honorees took home a home plate shaped plaque.
The day also featured the opening of the sold out exhibit hall, featuring a convention-record 135 companies. With the growth of our sport depending on the investment of these entities, attendees were able to show their support and discover innovative products, apparel and services and cultivate relationships that will ultimately benefit their programs. The final hour was capped off with the Scrap Yard Sports Happy Hour and exhibit hall raffle.
NFCA Hall of Famer (2016), Michigan State head coach Jacquie Joseph and Nebraska assistant Diane Miller emceed the mentoring session, one of the most anticipated sessions of the week. This event pairs coaches from all membership categories for conversation and promotes professional growth and networking between coaches at all levels of the game.
Additionally, mentors were asked to “pay it forward” donating money toward great prizes and educational opportunities for the mentees. With that, young coaches left with several prizes including a National Champion site visit. This year’s recipient is Frank Melgoza of Diamond Girlz Fastpitch. Melgoza and his staff earned a trip to Norman, Okla. to observe a practice by the two-time NCAA Division I national champion Oklahoma Sooners.
Following the mentoring session, the conversations continued in a laid-back setting at the “Fireside Chats,” where Miller and Purdue’s Boo De Oliveira led sessions on hitting and pitching, respectively. In addition, there was an opportunity to take part in a panel discussion- Coaching Today’s Athlete- led by Dana Jenkins of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Speakers included NFCA Hall of Famer and eight-time national champion Mike Candrea of Arizona, who led off with a his “What 41 Years of Coaching Has Taught Me”, followed by our National Championship Series pitching coaches Melyssa Lombardi of Oklahoma and Florida’s Jennifer Rocha.
The night ended at Margaritaville with the Diamond/PGF social.
Friday dives into our speakes, starting at 9:00 a.m. and also features the Softball Summit sponsored by USA Softball, Coach Emeriti, Grassroots and Champions panels. The night is capped off by the convention’s marquee event- 2017 Hall of Fame reception and banquet- followed by a brand new social, the Legacy Event Management After Party held at Beer Park on Paris’ rooftop.