The beautiful grounds of Noble and Greenough School was the recent site for the NHSSCA (National High School Strength and Conditioning Association) Northeast Regional Conference hosted by NHSSCA MA State Director and Director of Strength and Conditioning for the school, Kevin O'Neil.
The day and a half conference consisted of networking with like-minded individuals, presentations from college and high school strength and conditioning coaches, round-table discussions and a social event at the local sports bar. We have all been to numerous clinics, conferences, events, etc. but what was different about this event was that everyone was very open to sharing ideas, asking questions, and helping others. If you can imagine being in a room with 50 or so individuals who work on human performance and having the ability to ask them questions from building relationships with administration, programming, to having tough conversations - this was the event to be at.
What was really impressive was that during registration the leadership team of NHSSCA was welcoming attendees. This is a smaller event - I get that, but they didn't have to be there welcoming everyone, including vendors! Executive Director Rich Gray,Northeast Director John McKenna, Alabama State Director Garrett Keith, and Massachusetts State Director and Host Kevin O'Neil we're introducing themselves, thanking everyone and welcoming them to the event. The neighborly welcome from the NHSSCA team set the tone for an open, friendly, learning environment.
Day 1 started with a presentation on "High School Programming 101" from Head Strength Coach of Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Paul Kolody. Some of the takeaways from Coach Kolody were your "How? vs. Why?" (understand why you're doing things). He also used a really great scenario where he regularly speaks with sport coaches. And the soccer coach told him "we have skill, but we're weak and undisciplined". The feedback from his sport coach helped Coach Kolody program for the upcoming soccer team. Next up to speak about "Injuries as an Athletic Trainer" was Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach of Londonberry High School, Michelle Hart-Miller. Coach Hart-Miller covered the Joint by Joint Approach and showed some examples of how injured athletes can still safely be active and train.
The night ended where the real education begins (no offense to the speakers) at the after clinic social sponsored by PLAE. For those that aren't aware, the reason I mention this is it gives coaches the opportunity to speak their mind, ask questions freely, and get to know each other in a non-education environment. I'm preaching to the choir here, but you basically get to have adult beverages with your peers and talk shop.
Day 2 was a full day that included speaker Tyler English from Tyler English Fitness Systems and Strength Coach for Simsbury High School covering "Building a Program from the Ground Up". Tyler really touched on a great point to get buy-in was to "educate the parents, coaches, and students on why they should attend a strength and conditioning class". The second speaker of the day was Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Performance at Bryant University, Craig Buckley presenting on "Working with New Sport Coaches". Coach Buckley instituted a culture that language includes "We and Us" and gaining trust from your sport coaches, athletes and staff. Liane Blyne, Head Coach of Olympic Sports at Arizona State University closed out the morning sessions with her Keynote presentation. A part of her presentation was about life experiences and learning from them and to always "remember your why" and to "be the person you needed when you were younger".
Host Kevin O'Neil started off the afternoon with his presentation on "Teaching Resilience to Today's Athletes". Coach O'Neil made some great points during his presentation that everyone can relate to. 1- control emotions, 2- be a self-advocate, and 3- embrace failure. If we can teach kids these lessons then they will be setup for life outside of the weight room and school. The clinic ended with legend strength coach from Notre Dame High School, John McKenna, "A Strength Coach's 30 Year Journey". This was about his life lessons and really appreciating that "every day is a gift and don't forget how fortunate you are". He posed a great question asking the attendees when is the last time they sat down after a lift and actually asked a kid "how are you doing?". Coach McKenna understands and wants everyone to know that "we all have an impact on kids and sometimes you'll never know how much".
As you can tell from the recap, I didn't want to go into too much detail because this an event you need to attend or at least look to attend a future NHSSCA event. It's not just about lifting weights and programming. It's about developing skills that aren't traditionally taught in school or at most other events and for the high school strength coach. Of course, there is opportunity to get into sets and reps if you want to, but the NHSSCA "value rests in the ability to create connections and build relationships."
Watch the Mid American Regional Conference Online: The NHSSCA Mid America Regional was cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions from the flooding in Nebraska. They are offering a webinar online to purchase where 100% off all proceeds will be donated to North Bend Central Flood Response Fund for Student Activities and Needs.