The #NSCAAla Experience

Every year, I look forward to the NSCAA Convention that typically is held in an east coast city, but with it coming to California this last week, I definitely had to jump on the chance to attend it in my home state. I mean if it were in another state I would have probably attended it anyways, considering I have traveled to multiple conventions in the past years, most recently the Indy convention and the Philly convention.

For myself like many other coaches, my experience started on Thursday, when training sessions started at the LA Convention Center. After a mid-morning flight from SMF down to LAX and a quick Uber ride over to the Ramada, which would be home until Sunday for me, I was ready to get over to the convention center.

Once I got to the convention center I checked in, where I would receive my badge for the weekend, some goodies like a shirt and other convention related stuff, I was ready to make my way over to the demo fields where most of my Thursday would be spent watching some training sessions, while meeting some friends who I haven’t seen in sometime.

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The NSCAA Convention weekend isn’t just about the coaching education side of things it is a time to catch up with friends and network with others in the same career path as myself. The first coach I caught up with was my old head coach who I worked with as his assistant when I was Gabe Bolton, head women’s coach at Cal State Stanislaus. At that time I was also introduced to the women’s coaching staff of Fresno Community College.

A few hours later my running partner and friend Alexia, Head Women’s Coach at Arizona Western College, arrived and made her way to the convention center. For the whole weekend I would spend plenty of time with her and Rod Underwood, who arrived on Friday morning.

Thursday night, after grabbing dinner at Tom’s Urban, Alexia and I headed over to the exhibit hall which had soccer vendors promoting various products ranging from soccer balls to soccer related technology. The event that night would last from 6PM – 9PM, I know most people would think how could someone spend 3 hours around vendors. Like I mentioned before, the convention was more than just soccer it was about catching up with a lot of friends from the soccer world. This was the case as we spent all 3 hours walking the exhibit hall talking to people, meeting people and getting free stuff from vendors.

Below is a photo of all the swag I picked up on Thursday night.

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After putting in some steps and walking about, it was time to call it a night for Thursday as Friday and Saturday would be packed with meetings and taking in more soccer and connecting with friends.

When Friday rolled around, Alexia and I started the morning off with a run which we also did on Saturday and Sunday morning before heading out of town. Saturday morning we ran around the LA Live area and took in the sights without all of the soccer hustle and bustle going on.

Friday involved more training sessions, the MLS Draft and meetings during the morning then heading over for a Sports Management World Wide networking social in the evening, who I would be joining on Saturday for a panel discussion regarding cutting edge technology.

As noon rolled around on Friday, it was time to head over to one of the main events of the weekend … the MLS Draft. Here we would see some familiar faces, and enjoy the moment when these college players would hear their name called and the future of their professional career would begin.

After socializing at the network event, Alexia and I connected with other former Cal State Stanislaus assistant coaches, Jenny, Dom and the one that got away Roman (he never coached at Stan State, but he did play there). Jenny received the Western Region NAIA Coach of the Year which she was presented on Thursday night.

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Later in that evening, Rod joined us with his close friend and former teammate Osh, who is the Technical Director  for the Welsh FA and Assistant Manger of the Welsh National Team. With some late night fun, it was time to call it a night before starting another day on Saturday.

When Saturday morning rolled around it was time for another run with Alexia, before heading to the convention center. Saturday morning consisted of a successful meeting with Mark, president of Bow Net.

One of the better sessions I was able to attend during the event was by John Pascarella who I would be sitting with at the panel later in the day. His topic was on goalkeeping, which involved technical warm-ups to tactical play and decision making.

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During the time out watching sessions I was also able to catch of with SRFC Academy Alumni and one of my former youth players Will Dubay, who now plays at Loyola Marymount University. His college team was one of the teams being used for one of the training sessions that afternoon.

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My role of presenting and being part of the panel would begin at 3PM, so I made my way over to the JW Marriott where the panel would take place. It was an opportunity to share my experience along side with other panel members John Pascarella (Head Coach, Des Moines Menace) and Matt Martin (Portland Timbers Head of Domestic Scouting).

As the Saturday started to wind down and same with the convention itself, it was time to grab some dinner, this time we headed over to Yard House also in the LA Live area. After grabbing a bite, we would head back to the Convention Center to watch some of the 4v4 Tournament which is a convention tradition, played by coaches who attended the convention. We didn’t go to play, but rather just to watch and enjoy the rest of our time out there before the Sunday travel day.

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With the trip wrapping up it was time for an early workout before heading over to LAX for a morning flight back to Sacramento.

It was another fantastic trip down to LA for the convention and cannot wait to attend the the NSCAA Convention in Philly from January 10 to the 14, 2018.

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