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Your 5 Point Checklist for the 2020 Virtual National AD Conference

This 5-minute read and a quick practice session is all you need to succeed at the AD Conference.

The NFHS NIAAA National Athletic Director’s Conference has been the premier event in the industry for 51 years. The excitement of visiting the host city, arriving in a big hotel room, learning new things, eating at new restaurants, seeing new gadgets and gear, and socializing with fellow ADs is an unparalleled opportunity that we all appreciate just a little bit more right now.

Soooo… yeah, 2020 will be a bit different. 

The good news is you can still get a lot out of it. The AD Conference is more accessible than ever. Sessions, vendors, and new relationships await. It’ll just take a little more effort than your nice, big smile this year. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve come up with a simple checklist that includes all the skills and savvy you’ll make the most of the 2020 AD Conference. 

Huddle up… here we go…


1. Pre-Event Practice

Yes Allen, we’re talking about practice. As us coaches know, time spent on key skills makes all the difference. In this case, a few minutes of practice is all you need. 

Here’s the key to success: get to know the virtual venue.

National AD Conference

  • Go to then login, and enter the building
  • Grab a pen or a tablet so you can jot down a few notes.
  • Click the ‘Sessions’ sign and then ‘Enter Sessions’. Take a minute to click each of the categories: Leadership Training Sessions, General Sessions, Workshops, Special Events, NIAAA Meetings, and NFHS Roundtable. You’ll find some are open to all, some require registration, and a few are invite only. Jot down the titles and times of sessions that catch your eye. 
  • Now, click ‘Exhibit Hall’ on the menu bar. It just takes two minutes to scroll through the entire virtual exhibitor hall. In a rush to find a vendor? Simply scroll through the alphabetical Exhibitors Index. Again, jot down the vendors who you may want to visit during exhibit hours.
  • Finally, click ‘Leaderboard’ on the menu bar to learn how to earn points and prizes throughout the conference.

Now, you’re ready for the big time!

2. Attend a Session

Learning new skills and gaining perspective helps strengthen your position as a leader in your school, state, and profession. The sessions, workshops, events, meetings, and roundtables are led by our industry’s finest leaders. As a presenter, there’s nothing more exciting than watching the attendee count climb as your presentation nears. These leaders are prepared to share ideas that can do everything from improve athlete safety, prevent administrative headaches, or just simplify your day.

Here are some topics that will be covered:

  • Legal Issues
  • Compliance
  • Labor Law
  • Curb Appeal
  • Nutrition
  • Technology
  • Philosophy
  • Coaching Coaches
  • Protecting Athletes

You may be a veteran, but there’s a lot to learn in that list. Better yet, the virtual setup allows you to grab your beverage of choice, find a quiet place, and take notes.

Tell the kids you’ve got a work meeting… just don’t let them see you walk away from the kitchen with a cooler and a platter. 

3. Visit the Exhibit Hall

Vendors provide the support, and the financial commitments, that make this event possible. Many vendors are former ADs and educators. They’ve likely woven industry insights with products, processes, or technologies specifically designed to help YOU. Bottom line, the Exhibit Hall is a treasure trove of information. 

Ask a question, compare services, give feedback… keep in mind, whatever you do, the vendors are here for YOU. They’re dedicating their time this weekend, and likely every day, to supporting your profession. 

Here are some service categories you may want to explore:

  • Equipment
  • Facilities
  • Communication
  • Apparel
  • Technology
  • Tickets
  • Medical Equipment
  • Fundraising

Even if you’re not really in the market for anything new, just stop to say hello. A simple chat message or plain old thank you is like a good old-fashioned pat on the back. 

4. Play the Leaderboard

Why not play the game! The conference creators designed a game where you can earn points by visiting booths, clicking banners, and chatting with vendors. Be sure to take a few extra minutes to put yourself in a position to win gift cards, gadgets, or even registration to your state AD conference!

Here are the Exhibit Hall hours:

Friday, December 11 - 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 12 - 2:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.
Sunday, December 13 - 2:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.
Monday, December 14 - 2:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

5. Make a Connection

If you do one of these 5 things, do this. While you’re attending a session or visiting a booth, connect with a human being. Speakers, presenters, and vendors are people just like you. Everyone loves to share their experiences and ideas. You know, that time you had the once-in-a-lifetime athlete or the proverbial pushy parent. Sharing those stories is what we’ll miss this year. So, be sure to jot down the contact info of your favorite speakers, presenters, or vendors so you can connect after the conference. Interactions this weekend will lead to handshakes, and maybe even happy hours, in the future. It's the relationships that make this even a true success.

Oh yeah, and, well, about that happy hour. A virtual cheers will have to do this year, but please drop us a line and we’ll put you on the tab for next year!

Enjoy the 2020 NFHS NIAAA National Athletic Director Conference. We’ll hope to see you next year in Denver!



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