The 2017 NSCAA conference is open in Los Angeles, and with it, comes memories of all professional conferences.
It’s true — many fields hold professional conferences, a place for people to do some professional training (mostly in seminars or speeches given), travel and network, in both formal and informal settings. Whether you’re a soccer coach, an accountant, an academic or from any one of dozens of other fields, professional conferences are a key time in the annual calendar.
One of the first sessions on the docket on Wednesday was an introductory one for first-time attendees. Sessions like those can be seen at times as irrelevant by some, an overview that may not offer much or something that cuts into valuable time. But the flipside — holding a massive conference and offering no guideposts for those attending, especially for the first time — is far worse. I’ve been to enormous conferences where no such session was held, and for a first time attendee, the experience can be profoundly alienating. You may choose to go to a handful of sessions, but if you don’t know how to begin networking or how to make the best use of your time (or where the conference mixer will be held) you’re basically toast.
So it’s nice to see the NSCAA taking the step to help attendees get their sea legs under them at the convention. It’s not a requisite at all sizable conventions, and if you really don’t know where to get started, you could do far worse.
Other ways the NSCAA might differ from your standard professional conference:
- Media interest: Most professions simply don’t draw the interest from the press, simple as that. Sometimes, an academic conference will feature a reporter sitting in the audience, sometimes to cover the panel or to report on a “controversial” academic. But few conferences will get the press attention of the NSCAA. While the conference is set up for soccer coaches, the inherent interest in the sport on a wider level means this conference has more intrinsic public interest than most.
- Demos are fun! Surely in every field there are those really excited by the latest software meant to help do their work in a better way. But how many situations at other conferences do you get to see demos where soccer is played to instruct participants on how to do their jobs. “Fun” is subjective, of course, but you would be hard-pressed to find a soccer coach who didn’t like soccer, so we think most of these folks are pretty excited about the demos.
- Related events: It is certainly not unusual for a large conference to have related events and offshoot seminars, but the NSCAA has a new level of that. From the NWSL and MLS drafts, held Thursday and Friday, respectively, to a plethora of other seminars, symposiums and the always vital networking around the convention, there is something for just about everyone at the NSCAA.