Access to the convention platform opened up at 8:30AM Eastern, which is when I jumped on. The first thing that came up was a short overview of the day’s events. From there I had a quick scan of some of the day’s session, noting immediately that I was going to have to make an attendance decision. 🙂

Getting set up

Before making a plan, though, I went to the Lounge area to see what was there. It actually comprises 10 specialty lounges for Beach, Men’s, 2-year, NAIA, club, high school, and all three NCAA divisions, plus a COVID issues area. I joined the Men’s and Division III lounges, since I’m obviously currently active in those areas.

After joining the lounges I went to my profile. There I entered my current affiliation and biographic info, along with a photo. There are also settings for whether you want to accept meeting request, direct messages, and some other stuff.

Browsing around

After getting my profile set up I decided to browse around in the Expo-Marketplace area. The first thing you see there – of course – is the exhibitors. Below them, though, there are several additional resources:

  • Silent Auction
  • Open Dates Scheduling Center
  • Career Center
  • Volleyball Research Center
  • Podcast Center
  • Daily Workouts
  • Meditation Center

I’ll admit I was disappointed not to see any of my podcasts or earlier Coaching Conversations in the Podcast Center.

The sessions

After poking around in the other areas of the site, I finally settled down to plan out the sessions I wanted to attend. As I noted above, I had to make some decisions because of conflicts. Below I’ll speak to the sessions I actually attended live.

The two I opted to watch later via the recording were Luka Slabe’s Analyzing the Game from Multiple Perspective and Mike Lingenfelter’s Competitive Training: How Coaching and Cues Can Maintain Culture & Consistency. I made the decision to hold off on Luka’s talk because I wanted to be able to take part in a live Q&A session for one of the ones I attend. Mike’s overlapped with another one.

Here’s what I did attend live. They started at 1:00PM Eastern and ran through 6:30.

Advanced Career Education (ACE) Seminar: Raising Funds – Learning the System

The A.D. from Idaho State and Wade Garard from First Point Volleyball Foundation were the lead speakers. Brian Gimmillaro joined them for the Q&A. I wanted to do this one both from a general skills development perspective, but also more as something of potential immediate use. I’m in a low budget environment. As a result, if I want to push the program ahead I’ll need to raise money to make it happen.

This was a good session. I took a bunch of notes. There were also two books specifically referenced as good resources. The first was Mega Gifts by Jerold Panas. The second was Donor-Centered Fundraising by Peneolope Burk.

Advanced Career Education (ACE) Seminar: Managing up – Turning Administrators into Committed Partners

Kirsten Bernthal Booth was jointed by ADs from Creighton, Morehead State, and Idaho State for the main presentation. An AD from Houston came in for the Q&A. I didn’t take as many notes from this session, as most of what was said wasn’t really new for me. In fact, some of it came up during Weekly Buzz sessions. Just because it was repeat material for me doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good discussion, though.

Keynote Session: Building a Better Learning Environment

This session was presented by Trevor Ragan from The Learner Lab. It was a shorter session (only 30 minutes), but a good one. If you’re familiar with the growth mindset concepts, you’d be familiar with the major themes. One of the Trevors big focal points for this talk was how expectations and labels among teachers/coaches/etc. can influence student/athlete/subject development. For example, if a teacher expects a certain group of students to be better at something, they will tend to better at it than those not tagged as such. In a way, it relates to what I talked about in this post.

Fire Side Chats with Anne Marie Anderson

These were 1 on 1 (or 2) conversations that ran back-to-back of 90 minutes. I didn’t tune in for all of them, but here’s the full list.

  • April Ross, Professional Beach Volleyball Player
  • Jordan Larson, USA Team Member, and David Hunt, Pepperdine Men’s Head Coach
  • Russ Rose, Penn State Women’s Head Coach
  • Cecile Reynaud, USAV Board of Directors Chair and AVCA Hall of Famer
  • John Kosty, Stanford Men’s Head Coach
  • John Speraw, US Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Head Coach
  • Marin Gjaja, Consultant with the Boston Consulting Group

Maria Taylor (ESPN College Gameday Host) was supposed to be the last, but she got caught up with her day job, so couldn’t make it.

VERT Returning to Play

I poked my head in for the first part of David Gil’s Returning to Play with Confidence session. I started 15 minutes before the fireside chat session, so I just caught the first part. David does a good job talking about training loads and related topics. I had him on to talk about Player Performance Accountability Utilizing Match Data, Key strategies for building athlete work capacity for return to play, and Preparing for Preseason as part of the Coaching Conversations series. This presentation covered similar material as those sessions.


As I mentioned, I’m doing a livestream on the Facebook page each night of the Convention at 8pm Eastern. Here’s the one from Day 1.

Here’s my view of Day 2.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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