Inside Pitch Magazine, Winter 2016

Ground Rules: My First ABCA Convention

 By Justin Brown
Justin BrownFriday January 2nd, 2015

8:30 a.m.: The wheels of a Boeing 737 have landed on the ground in Orlando, Florida. I'm on board and heading to my first American Baseball Coaches Association convention. There is an excited nervousness internally, not really knowing what to expect. I'm hopeful to learn from some of the best baseball coaches in the world. What an opportunity.

11:05 a.m.: I'm checking in to the ABCA convention. I've received my first bag of information as well as my badge. My membership card lists the number one. This is my first trip, I wonder how many years I can record being at this event.

12:00 p.m.: I get my first gaze at the ABCA Trade Show. It almost feels like an amusement park. An amusement park full of anything you can think of in baseball related equipment. I start walking up and down the aisles, which seem to go on for miles. In between exhibits I bump into coaching friends and colleagues.

6:30 p.m.: All of the coaches are breaking out into divisional meetings. It is an awesome opportunity to discuss and deliberate over meaningful rule changes for each division of baseball. It is a really impactful experience to witness a governing body of baseball enact change in meaningful areas of the game. The mood in the room feels like a courtroom as sides discuss multiple angles on issues related to the organization.

11:00 p.m.: Heading to bed after a long day of travel. I'm very excited to see what tomorrow has in store.

Saturday January 3rd, 2015

7:30 a.m.: Up and at it in Orlando, Florida. I'm thrilled to hear some speakers today. I enter a humongous ballroom that serves as the host location for all of the ABCA speakers. The room is gigantic, and way at the front there is a stage where I assume speakers will deliver their presentations on all topics related to baseball. Around 4,000 coaches fill the seats of the ballroom waiting for the speakers to start. Screens hang from the ceiling projecting the image of the podium to the back of the room. This place is packed!

8:00 a.m.: The defending NCAA Division I National Champion head coach kicks the event off. I'm told it is this way every year. After an incredible opening presentation things roll seamlessly into the next presenter, and so on. From 8:30 a.m. to after 5:00 p.m. presentations run continuously. Coaches come and go as they please, but there is a constant stream of material being presented ALL day.

6:00 p.m.: While walking the Trade Show earlier in the day, I bumped into an old teammate. We decided to head out for some dinner. Great evening of catching up with a friend I haven't seen in years.

Sunday January 4th, 2015

8:00 a.m.: Back in the big ballroom for another day of presentations. Today we're hearing from high level baseball coaches, business leaders, sports psychologists, and even the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. I decide to switch up my spot, and head to the front of the room. It amazes me to see a handful of the most successful college baseball coaches sitting up front. Fascinating that the people who have the most wisdom to share are crowded in the front row to receive some wisdom themselves.

7:00pm: In two separate ballrooms there is a pretty special experience occurring. In one room there is the “Pitching Hot Stove” discussion. There is dialogue from about one hundred pitching coaches at all levels. In another room there is the “Hitting Hot Stove” discussion. Similarly there is a round table discussion in which a coach at any level can participate. It's not in the form of a presentation, but rather a collection of baseball minds, bouncing ideas off each other to sharpen their skills. I think to myself “Where else could a young coach participate in an experience like this?”

Monday January 5th, 2015

8:00am: The last day of presentations begins. People filter out throughout the morning as the convention comes to a close. I sit in the hotel lobby and reflect before leaving the Marriott Hotel for home. In one single weekend I managed to see some of the best technology that baseball has to offer at the Trade Show. I received incredible wisdom from coaches, leaders, and mental coaches. I was able to visit with a few coaching friends I haven't seen in awhile. All while gathering around the game of baseball. I think to myself again, “Where else could a young coach participate in an experience like this?” The answer is nowhere but the American Baseball Coaches Convention. Can't wait for next year in Nashville.

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