It’s funny how you can have all kinds of plans for an event, then have none of it actually work out.

I’d had it in mind to do some video content – even live streams – from the AVCA Convention. Even got permission to record/stream from the site! My days never really shaped up to accommodate that kind of thing, though, at least not the way I was thinking. I also really didn’t have time to do the daily recaps I did in the past (Seattle 2013, Columbus 2016, Pittsburgh 2019, Virtual 2020). Let me try to give you a rundown here, though.

Day 1

I drove in that morning and attended the pre-convention afternoon session by Jim Stone and Mick Haley on offensive and defensive systems. Basically, Jim focused on the idea of getting 4-5 hitters attacking 3 blockers. Meanwhile, Mick focused mainly on how you should try to disrupt that offense and defend against it.

The official opening session of the convention was at 6pm. That featured the USA coaches reflecting on the Tokyo games. John Speraw went first talking about the men. It was a good talk about their disappointing experience. I didn’t get to see Karch Kiraly talk about the women (recorded as Karch couldn’t attend), however. I’d been invited by VERT to attend a dinner with some other college coaches, which was a fun affair.

The usual Kick-Off party was that night. I only caught the tail end of it after dinner, though.

Day 2

This day started off with the Division III General Meeting. I won’t bore you with too many details as much of it was specific to women’s D3. Earlier I posted the results of the rules polling they shared with us. The only other bigger picture item of note was something related to the on-going NCAA constitutional convention. It was suggested that a big result could be that each Division would essentially operate independently of the others, with the ability to make its own rules.

The rest of the day was a combination of seminars and connecting with people. I did one session on fundraising, and another on how not to get fired as a college coach (by a lawyer/agent). The real coaching-focused one that day was a session by John Speraw on the subject of feedback. He did it on-court with a group of men’s players. The one thing there that stuck out to me was his suggestion that we change “Why…?” questions to “What…?” questions because the former tends to make people defensive.

That evening was the NCAA Division I women’s semifinals. If you haven’t watched those matches already, I STRONGLY suggest you do so. The Wisconsin-Louisville match, in particular, was amazing. It was the talk of the convention the next day.

Day 3

I did a couple of seminars in the morning. The first was Terry Liskevych on making team meetings more productive. Not a sexy topic, but useful from an organizational perspective, and Terry was entertaining. The second was on social media and NIL (name, image, and likeness). That one was done by a the Illinois director of operations. Definitely had some good stuff.

After attending the men’s coaches general meeting (again, stuff mostly specifically related to men’s college volleyball), I went to a session analyzing the prior evenings semifinals. They really got deep into the stats. Then the conversation spun forward to looking at the final.

After that I did a session in the Career Center with a counselor. This is something I did for the first time in 2020 when I had my resume critiqued. It was a very useful experience in helping me get better at presenting myself. I wanted to do it again this year for two reasons. First, to see if the adjustments I made after last year’s talk were good. Second, if so I wanted to extend the conversation in to stuff like cover letters and other elements of the process. This is all definitely stuff I recommend.

There were more social activities that evening, so I spent the rest of my time walking around the exhibitor area where they were hosted talking with a variety of folks.

Day 4

Last day, most intense day!

I started things off with a Jamie Morrison session. I’ve never been to one of his sessions that wasn’t very thought-provoking and crazily well-done. This one was on developing culture. I’ve you’re an AVCA member, I STRONGLY encourage you to check out the recording when it goes up. Lots of good stuff.

After Jamie’s talk I popped in to see a bit of the Boys’ Showcase. I couldn’t stay long, but it gave me a chance to look at some players (recruiting never stops!).

Next up I was on a panel discussion talking recruiting for a bunch of the parents of girls there for the Phenom showcase. I represented D3, with others there from D1, D2, NAIA, and the NJCAA. It was a fun conversation and there were some interesting questions from walk-ups afterwards.

In between visits to see the Girls’ Showcase in the afternoon I went to a panel session moderated by Doug Beal. It featured current and former national team coaches talking about their takeaways from Tokyo, and implications for the game moving forward.

The final session of the Convention was by a sports psychologist from Duke. It was largely focused on how we coaches can be better, more effective communicators. I thought it was a strong close to the event.

Recap conversation

On Thursday I’m going to do a livestream recap of the Convention. It’ll be at 2pm US Eastern and my guest will be Will McDonald. Will is an English coach I first got to know during my 2-month trip around Europe in 2019. He recently moved to the US. This is his first AVCA, so you’ll get to hear thoughts on the event from a couple of different perspectives. Questions and comments will be welcome!

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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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