I have been a regular attendee since 1991 and the NISCA convention has proved to be very beneficial to me as a NISCA member. I believe that any convention for coaches is beneficial, but I especially like this convention for a number of reasons:
1. The NCAA Men’s Championships
A. I watch how the swimmer stretch and warm-up before the meet. This gives me ideas of what I can use with my team. They have interesting drills and procedures that they go through that can add variety to our warm-ups.
B. I look at the T-shirts and what they say. It gives me ideas for our shirts. One of the most memorable was worn by the Auburn team. It had a picture of Coach David Marsh and underneath was “Marsh Madness.” A little play on the “March Madness” for the following week, NCAA Basketball tournament.
C. The manner in which the meet is announced – recognition of the swimmers, awards presentations, keeping the meet moving at a good pace for the spectators, interesting sidebars about the swimmers and the races, etc.
D. The facilities of the host facility – how they promote their programs, recognize their swimmers and their accomplishments, awards they present, displays, etc.
E. The meet itself. It is the fastest meet in the world, close races, astounding times, and increased expectations of my own swimmers.
2. The clinic sessions
A. These are selected and presented for the high school coaches, down to earth average high school programs. Several times during each convention, I find presentations that apply to my situation and the caliber of swimmers I work with.
B. The Speedo speaker is generally a college or national level coach, former swimmer, or specialist in their field. I have always found these speakers especially interesting and they always have something that I can use to raise the level of my program. It is also a nice time to get pictures and autographs (Rowdy Gaines, Michael Phelps, Bob Bowman, etc.) to take back to your team.
3. Insight and Understanding
A. You will be involved in how rule changes are proposed, discussed, and rejected or adopted for recommendation to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
B. How the NISCA awards program works and opportunities for your swimmers to get recognized for their academic, swimming, water polo, and diving accomplishments. These include: All American selections for swimming, water polo, and diving; Scholar Team, Power Point Dual Meets.
C. You will gain an understanding and appreciation for Tom Caccia who puts together the NISCA Journal and what is involved with this publication.
D. The NISCA Awards Banquet put together by Bill Stetson is always a highlight of the convention. Here the membership honors those coaches and supporters with five Outstanding Service Awards, the NISCA Hall of Fame award, and the Collegiate/Scholastic Award as voted on by the membership.
A. If you are looking for what is new in the world of swimming, the exhibitors will have it. They can demonstrate and explain their line of products and you get much more information than seeing them advertised in a magazine. Many offer discounts to the convention attendees.
5. Door prizes
A. Coaches bring items and exhibitors offer products as door prizes that are given out during the convention. There are a wide variety of offerings: T-shirts, Hans paddles, stop watches, caps, books, Speedo equipment and supplies, DVD’s, CD’s, folders, pens, etc. There have also items like water polo balls autographed by Adolph Kiefer, autographed pictures, poster, and caps; in addition to the final grand prize which is always something a coach can use.
A. Getting the opportunity to meet and talk with the legends of high school swimming like David Robertson, Lanny Landtroop, Art Downey, Mark Onstott, Dick Bower, Glenn Kaye, Dennis Hill, Phil Emery, etc.
B. The first time I met David Robertson, it took all of 30 seconds to feel welcome and comfortable with him and has been a close friend for 25 years. It’s the same with everyone, problems and questions are presented, solutions and answers are offered, and insight is gained as to how these great coaches face the same problems we all do and how they deal with them - getting swimmers to practice on time, increasing numbers in the sport, gaining publicity for our swimmers, tapering for the championship meets, getting the most out of every practice, etc. Coaches at any level are willing to share their knowledge and experiences for the betterment of high school swimming.
If you have never been, make plans to attend one in the near future. They are always held in conjunction with the men’s NCAA Swimming Championship in late March. Even though it held during school time, and it may be difficult to get time off to attend, options are offered to help out. You may register to attend the entire convention, just Friday and Saturday, or just Saturday.
Even if you can attend only one day, you will be hooked on NISCA and looking for ways to attend the convention in the future.