After very successful NFCA Conventions in Las Vegas in 2017 and last year in Chicago, the NFCA National Convention continues its move East as it sets up shop this week in Atlantic City, New Jersey from Wednesday through Saturday (Dec. 4-7, 2019) at the Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.
Having been to NFCA Conventions all over the country, I can say it is always interesting and educational as well as fun and informative and you never know who you’ll meet, long-time friends or new connects in the sport!
With the event kicking off in earnest tomorrow (Tuesday) with a course on how coaches can Unlock Your Coaching Potential and finishing on Sunday with a similarly insightful course on Advanced Analysis of Hitting & Short-Game Skills, there’s sure to be sometime for everyone this week in the Garden State!
Below are 8 suggestions for those attending this week… but first check out this NFCA-produced video to get fired up!
1. Have a Game Plan
With so much going on, you don’t want to just show up and decide on the spot what you want to do. Your head will spin and you’ll get vertigo from twisting around in circles as there’s TOO MUCH TO DO if you’re not organized!
Every day before you go--and ideally before the whole trip--lock in what you want to check out, where it’s at and how long it takes compared to your other must-see, must-do adventures.
The main days where everything happens are Wednesday-Sunday and there’s a LOT to take in. Click here to see the SCHEDULE of everything happening day-by-day!
2. Use the NFCA Convention App
Speaking of being organized, this is the fourth year of existence for the NFCA Convention App and it’s a key time and headache-saver if you’re smart phone savvy.
It has everything you need right at your finger-tips including schedules, speaker info and outlines, agendas, exhibitor locations and real-time changes or updates in the curriculum.
Think of it this way: you have enough to lug around… this will save you from carrying booklets, fliers, schedules and everything else around the Convention which you’ll now have right in your beloved cell phone all in one location.
3. Great Speakers
Wow. The list of speakers this year is, as usual, loaded with something for everyone’s taste including the last two NCAA DI National Championship head coaches in Kelly Inoye-Perez (UCLA, 2019) and Florida State’s Lonni Alameda (2018) as well as heavy-hitters (so to speak!) in the college world at all levels.
And you could field a pretty good team with the talent that will be at the podium including all-world players now coaching such as Lisa Fernandez (UCLA), Michelle Gascoigne (Northwestern), Caitlin Lowe (Arizona).
It will also be fun to hear from key figures on the USA Softball team including Head Coach Ken Eriksen and star outfielder Haylie McCleney.
There’s something for everyone and the trick will be to make sure you maximize your schedule to hear all the great speeches and speakers who are talking on subjects you want/need to hear. Click here to see the ROSTER of speakers!
4. Exhibitors Galore!
According to the NFCA, this will be the “largest Exhibit Show in NFCA history” and will Thursday and Friday (Dec. 5-6).
From All-Star Sporting Goods to Yakkertech technology and everyone in between--including major companies like Wilson, USA Softball, Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF), New Balance, Mizuno, even Major League Baseball and many more--there’s something for everyone and it’s particular interesting to check out the new technologies and products that are just coming out.
The Exhibitor Hall is a fun place to stroll and learn so plan on spending several hours walking around and talking to the 135 companies including 38 first-time vendors. Click here to see the EXHIBITOR LIST!
5. Fingers Crossed It Will Stay Warm(er) & Dry
It’s winter and New Jersey, so don’t bake the bathing suit and sunblock, but it could be worse! The weather over the next few days will have lows in the 30’s and highs in the 40’s with Friday high being an expected 51 degrees so it’s not too bad!
And after Monday night’s snow, it’s supposed to be dry all weekend long with partly cloudy skies and even sun on Saturday.
Then again, with all the great speakers, sponsors and networking, who cares about the weather?!?
6. Pre-Convention Seminars
This is a cool idea: on Wednesday, for those “early birds” who light to get the competitive advantage, there are two Pre-Convention Seminars that should be awesome:
* Pitch Perfect: Set’em Up & Sit’em Down
As described in the intro, it’s “pitching education that truly takes a deep dive into individual pitch development” with Trisha Ford (Arizona State), Kyla Holas (More Than a Game), Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro (Alabama) and Michelle Gascoigne (Northwestern) teaching the “drop, rise and change-up.”
* Assistant Coach University
Celia Slater of True North Sports lead a “discussion of trust” and present ideas on how to also “manage conflict and invest in your growth.”
7. Rookie Orientation Presented by Triple Crown Sports
As noted above, it’s easy to be overwhelmed if you don’t know what to look for and this Wednesday panel at 3 pm is perfect if this week is your first at an NFCA Convention or even if you’ve gone before, but are looking for an overview of what’s going on.
It was a big hit last year and the trio of talented head coaches who helped last year are back again: Pat Conlan (Georgetown), Mickey Dean (Auburn) and Rhonda Revelle (Nebraska and a past NFCA President).
The trio together will cover all the key points and key moments for all the newbies.
8. Important Caucus Thursdays & Fridays
A heads up that not everyone can go to these key meetings, they are for NFCA members at each level (DI, DII, JC, high school, travel ball, etc.) but, if you can, don’t miss out because these are where major issues are discussed, reviewed and plans and proposals submitted.
Two years ago in Las Vegas is where the Early Recruiting Rules really got launched and build the momentum to be passed just a few months later.
It will be very interesting to see what developments come out of this week’s caucuses which will impact the direction of the sport… one logical guess: there will be a LOT of discussion around the Transfer Portal!
-- Brentt Eads, Extra Inning Softball