The 2021 ABCA Convention, held virtually from January 6-10, 2021, wrapped up yesterday after a successful five days of clinics, live question & answer forums, hot stove discussions, a virtual ABCA Trade Show and more! Just over 4,100 coaches from all 50 states and 18 countries logged in for the event with many more watching live in group settings!
"This year's convention was noticeably different than any other in our association's 77-year history," said ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz. "Although we were not all under one roof, the commitment of our member coaches to learn and share new ideas and drills that they could then take and implement with their teams was inspiring. I missed the unique atmosphere that we share annually at the in-person convention, however, being able to connect with the over 4,000 members in attendance along with the hundreds of exhibitors through technology was very special."
The convention kicked off on Wednesday, January 6 with a welcome from Keilitz and 2020 ABCA President Stu Fritz of Hope College (MI). Wednesday also featured the first two General Session clinics – "Organizational Values: Foundations for Training Application and Winning On and Off the Field" with retired U.S. Army veteran Major Brett Blalock and 2020 ABCA/Dave Keilitz Ethics in Coaching Award recipient Greg Frady
and "Catching Skills and Drills" with University of Georgia Head Coach Scott Stricklin – and Rookie Coaches Mentorship
Nearly 50 clinics continued the next four days across the General Session presented by Wilson/ATEC
, Youth Coaches Session presented by GameChanger
and Expo Theater
"The ABCA clinics are vital to the success of the ABCA Convention each year but maybe even more than ever this year as we transitioned to a virtual event," commented Keilitz. "I want to thank ABCA Second Vice President Rick Hitt and Third Vice President Jim Schlossnagle for arranging the clinicians for this year's event. I truly believe that the information shared this year was some of the best in our history. I hope that the coaches in attendance will take the drills and tips that they've learned this past week and apply them with their programs right away."
The ABCA Trade Show
, which typically engulfs nearly 200,000 sq. ft. of space, opened virtually on Thursday, January 7 with nearly 150 companies displaying their latest baseball products and innovations through the Virtual ABCA Convention platform! Attendees were able to visit the Trade Show at any time throughout the event and take advantage of special show sales. Live "Meet and Greet" hours with the exhibitors ran daily from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern so that attendees could meet with exhibitors through video chat. Coaches were able to make purchases and learn more about products during the live Trade Show hours! Several booths also hosted special guests, such as former Major Leaguers Jose Bautista, Ryan Hanigan and Gary Sheffield, for attendees to connect with during the live hours.
Members were also able to take part in the ABCA Raffle by earning points throughout the event for completing activities such as visiting live Trade Show meetings, watching clinics, updating their profile photo and more! Prizes for the ABCA Raffle were donated by exhibitors in the ABCA Trade Show and then given out to attendees! Prizes included a Wilson/ATEC M3X Pitching Machine, Rawlings Leather Backpack, Rapsodo Certification Courses & Swag Bags, Pocket Radar App System, $100 VISA gift card from Traveling and more!
"It has been a difficult past year for everyone – coaches and exhibitors alike," stated Keilitz. "I can't thank all of the exhibitors at this year's show enough for joining us. These companies not only trusted the ABCA but were committed to ensuring our members had access and deals to the latest products that could help their teams. I encourage all of our coaches to use these companies when ordering apparel, gear, technology, field maintenance equipment or whatever it is that your program may need!"
Each day from Friday through Sunday concluded with Hot Stove Discussions
on various topics ranging from culture and leadership to on-field topics like hitting, pitching, infield & outfield play, catching and base running. The panels discussed the topics for over an hour before hosting a live Q&A with all attendees for a second hour.
All members that registered for the 2021 ABCA Convention will receive on-demand access to all of the clinics from the General Session, Youth Coaches Session and Expo Theater as well as the Q&A forums and Hot Stove Discussions by Friday, January 22. These on-demand videos will be accessible through the ABCA Video Library
. All members that registered for the convention can also continue accessing the Virtual ABCA Convention platform and exhibitor information
until February 1. Any member that did not sign up for the convention will have access to the on-demand clinics beginning Monday, May 24. If you are not yet signed up for your 2020-21 membership, you can still sign up for membership
and will receive access to the videos beginning May 24.
"This is an extremely special organization," said Keilitz. "The commitment that our coaches have to their players and this association is remarkable and it's an honor to serve and work for our 13,000 member coaches. I want to thank every person that joined us for this year's convention and give a special thanks to the ABCA Board of Directors
and ABCA Staff
for bringing this year's virtual event to fruition. I look forward to a tremendous baseball season and to all of us gathering once again at the 2022 ABCA Convention in Chicago!"
The 2022 ABCA Convention
is scheduled to be held in Chicago from January 6-9, 2022. The event will be the 78th annual ABCA Convention and close to 10,000 coaches are expected to join us for the event! Convention registration will open on September 1, 2021. The Convention will feature four days of coaching clinics across the General Session, Youth Coaches Session and Expo Theater, ABCA Trade Show, Hot Stove and Question & Answer Sessions, award celebrations, committee & league meetings, networking events and so much more!
Be sure to keep an eye out for more information regarding the 2022 Convention beginning this summer on the ABCA website and our social media platforms as well as in the My ABCA app
, Inside Pitch Magazine
and Press Box e-newsletter. Save the date for January 6-9, 2022 and we'll see you in Chicago!