NatCon 2021: A life-changing event!

By Tobias Jacobi

As I sit here and write this, I honestly struggle to put into words what the last few days have meant to me, my friends, & my #Family. NatCon 2021 has come and gone as you read this, but its content, connections, stories, events, and impact will change lives for many years to come. Together we will provide a very small snap shot of this truly “life changing” event for all to enjoy.

We started Thursday off with an awesome social event in one of the Crown Plaza hotel ballrooms. The food, beverages, and connections were enjoyed by all as we were face-to-face with our other #Family members for the first time in a while. Equally as important, we had a fitting musical tribute to one of our own, Coach McKenna, whom we lost earlier in the week. The rest of the evening following the social event was spent talking shop, swapping stories, and connecting with fellow #Family members in the lobby, restaurant area, and even around the fire pit. 

On Friday, Coach Joe Kenn, of “Block Zero & Tier System” fame, led an amazing deep dive into the history and application of the Block Zero concept. Coach Kenn provided both hands-on advice and lecture content for the coaches in attendance, and his presentation was a home run with attendees. In the middle of the afternoon, we began the registration process for all the other members attending NatCon, it also gave people a little time to check out our “Partner Alley.”

Later in the afternoon, we enjoyed something new: our Partner Mini Sessions, in which we provided 30 minutes to our partnering companies to highlight and educate attendees on the benefits and practical applications of what they can provide to High School Strength Coaches. From all the feedback we have received from both the attendees and partners, the Mini Sessions were a great addition!

After that, in typical NHSSCA, we ate and we ate well. Our Keynote Speaker, Spencer Conley, was up next and rocked the house challenging us as coaches to be better for the young people we serve; I believe Coach Kevin O’Neill got his point. After the Keynote Address, we were onto one of the most inspiring events the association holds during the year: our Coaches Awards Ceremony. The NHSSCA prides itself in properly honoring the committed, hard-working, amazing High School Strength Coaches, and this year was no exception. We began with State Coaches of the Year, followed by All American Award Winners, the Scholarship Award Winners, and the Regional Coaches of the Year.

National Coach of the Year Rob Brokaw was up next and provided the crowd with an amazing acceptance speech, recognizing the special individuals who impacted him along his journey. The night ended with our Hall of Fame inductions, which was lead by Coach Larry Meadors. This year's inductees, Coach Mike Srock & Founder Kevin Vanderbush, both provided awesome acceptance speeches. Each of these inductees was treated to a special video tribute from individuals who have been a part of their hall-of-fame career . After the awards ceremony, we all enjoyed getting together and continuing our re-connecting back at the hotel. 

We began Saturday with the early bird workout and Iron Circle Breakfast, which was well attended and enjoyed by all. The first lecture of the day came from Eric Klein, where he discussed his career path transitioning from the Power 5 Division 1 level to High School. This was followed by four different Hands-On Presentations: Leo Totten – Olympic Weightlifting; Bobby Stroupe – Functional Strength; Rick Huegli – Power Development; and Scott Meier – Brutal Recess. This was preceeded by a video lecture from Gatorade on High School Athlete Nutrition, followed by more Partner Mini-Sessions and Unity Council Meeting. After that, we enjoyed more food & fellowship; and yes, folks, it was good.

The afternoon presentations began with Southwest Regional Board Member Missy Mitchell-McBeth, who crushed it with her presentation on the differences between training male & female athletes. Our 2nd session of Hands-On Presentations followed, and they consisted of: Paul Kolody – Training the Injured Athlete; Jeremy Boone – Movement Based Games; Adam Vogel – Linear Speed; and Rich Burnett and Amanda Berg – Conditioning Technology. The final presenter of the conference was 2018 Mid America Regional Coach of the Year, Stewart Venable, who discussed the “Teen Age Brain” and provided stories and wisdom in working with the high school age group. 

We finished NatCon 2021 off with our traditional Partner Raffle—and this year we gave away more than ever before. Prizes included equipment, Yeti coolers filled with cash, gift certificates, and even free registration to 2022 NatCon for one member. The last prize of the evening was a 100% scholarship for a Master’s Degree from Setanta College, which was won by first-time attendee Maddie Diestel of Hoban Archbishop High School! Congrats, Maddie, and good luck.

What an amazing event—the content, food, prizes, and most importantly connections—cannot be matched anywhere! To wrap it all up we all enjoyed one last evening of fellowship together at the Crown Plaza. We even got an essential oils and blood flow restriction show (only the people who were there will get that reference).

The Leadership would like to thank all of our partnering companies and those members who attended the 5th Annual NHSSCA National Conference at Wayzata High School. A special thanks goes out to our host, Coach Ryan Johnson, as this was truly a life-changing event. Be on the lookout for more information about NatCon 2022. The planning has already begun and an announcement should be coming soon.