The 75th annual ABCA Convention, held in Dallas, Texas from January 3-6, 2019, was bigger than ever with more than 6,600 coaches registered for attendance. The four-day event at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center featured over 50 clinics across the main-stage, Expo Theater & Youth Coaches Session, the ABCA Trade Show, award celebrations, committee meetings, hot stove panel discussions & more!
"This was an unbelievable convention that truly captured the passion & excitement of the tremendous group of members that make up the American Baseball Coaches Association," said ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz. "We had a record number of coaches in attendance and it was neat to see all of the clinics packed with coaches eager to learn. The feedback has been great and I can't thank the ABCA's Board of Directors enough for their vision and leadership in growing this organization and event into what it is today. I also want to thank our sponsors and exhibitors for their support of our association & members."
The convention kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 3 with the opening of the ABCA Trade Show and the Expo Theater. The ABCA Trade Show featured about 300 companies displaying the latest baseball products and innovations while the Expo Theater had over 20 clinics throughout a three-day span featuring demonstrations by ABCA partners, exhibitors and member coaches.
ABCA Second Vice President Stu Fritz of Hope College put together a fantastic clinic speaker session, which was led off by 2018 NCAA Div. I National Champion head coach Pat Casey of Oregon State University. The nearly 25 main-stage clinics presented by ATEC got underway on Friday, Jan. 4 and ran through Sunday, Jan. 6. In addition to Casey, the speaker lineup also included NCAA Div. II national champion head coach Tim Huber of Augustana University as well as four-time NJCAA Div. III national champion Doug Wren of Tyler Junior College, who presented alongside Patrick Murphy (Alabama Softball) and Jeff Petty (Canes Baseball).
Past national champion coaches Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt and Greg Brown of Nova Southeastern also presented as well as former St. Louis Cardinals manager & current Kansas City Royals special adviser Mike Matheny. For the first time, the clinics also included a technology panel featuring Brian Conger of Tarleton State, Travis Hergert of North Iowa Area Community College, Jason Stein of Duke University and Dillon Lawson of the New York Yankees.
Other highlights included the Youth Coaches Session presented by GameChanger and the Expo Theater. The Youth Coaches Session, which hosted about 15 clinics tailored specifically for coaches of youth-level teams up to age 14, took place on both Friday, Jan. 4 and Saturday, Jan. 5 and was open to all registered attendees. Speakers in the Youth Session included Dan McDonnell of University of Louisville and Darren Fenster of the Boston Red Sox among others.
The Expo Theater, which had nearly 25 presentations, ran from Thursday through Saturday with ABCA partners, exhibitors and member coaches presenting on a variety of baseball products and topics. Presenters included panels & companies including Driveline Baseball, Rapsodo, Texas Baseball Ranch, Turface and many more!
The ABCA Trade Show was packed all weekend with about 300 companies companies displaying state-of-the-art equipment, products and innovations. Several new products were unveiled for the first time during the Trade Show. On Friday evening, there was also a 75th Convention Reception & Celebration in the Trade Show. Attendees received a 75th Convention Commemorative Gift as part of the celebration.
Friday evening also featured the ABCA/Diamond Hall of Fame Banquet. The 2019 ABCA Hall of Fame Class was inducted during the ceremony and the 2019 ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award was presented to Jim Darby.
All coaches that registered and checked-in on site in Dallas will once again receive all clinic videos for free after the convention. In addition to the main stage clinics, Youth Coaches Sessions as well as Expo Theater presentations will be available on www.ABCAvideos.org.
"Thank you again to all of the members, sponsors and exhibitors that make up the ABCA," said Keilitz. "This is a special organization and we look forward to seeing everyone again in Nashville next year!"
The 2020 ABCA Convention will be held Jan. 2-5, 2020 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Registration for the 2020 ABCA Convention will open on September 1. Official ABCA Convention Hotels will also open room blocks on September 1.