In National

The 51st Annual National Athletic Directors conference, sponsored by the NFHS and NIAAA, looked a little different this year. The four-day event was completely virtual, but still drew in 1,800 athletic directors from around the country to network, share advice and develop new skills.

The conference featured professional speakers and athletic administrators who shared their experience and expertise on a variety of subjects. Topics ranged from the latest in esports to ideas for budgeting and of course, all things COVID-related.

There were over 35 educational sessions at this year’s conference – but if you missed it, there’s no need to fear. We’ve prepared a quick synopsis for you.

Tony Dungy kicked off the conference.

The former NFL player took the stage on Friday to welcome ADs to the event. Dungy served as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001 and head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-2008. He became the first African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears in February of 2007. Dungy shared some words of wisdom about self-improvement and fostering a healthy culture to begin the conference.

Speakers shared advice on all-things COVID-19.

In a year full of unique challenges and changes, many speakers provided helpful information and advice on managing sports during a pandemic. They addressed tough topics such as athletes’ mental health during the pandemic and staffing challenges. Just a few of the sessions included:

  • Schools & Sports Have Re-Opened – What Have We Learned?
  • Where Do We Go from Here Regarding Corona Crisis & Education-Based Athletics?
  • Mental Health of High School Athletes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • The COVID-19 Crisis and Student-Athlete Anxiety
  • Management of the Carry Over Effects of COVID-19 on Coaching Staff Challenges
Several standout ADs received awards and recognition.
National Athletic Directors Conference 2020 Awards.
We learned that communication is key.

Several workshops touched on the importance of quality communication. One session outlined the significance of word choice, analyzing your communication style and ensuring that you’re understood. As an AD, it’s important to be clear, concise, encouraging and educational whether you’re speaking with an athlete, coach or supporter.

And bringing the community together is essential.

Another workshop touched on promoting good culture and core values to rally your community. Steps as simple as using “we” statements and encouraging good sportsmanship show your community that everyone’s in this together. A unified front is more important than ever right now.

Interested in a full recap of the 2020 National Athletics Director Conference? Register to view the recorded content here.

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