Each year, athletic directors from around the nation gather for a conference to learn tips of the trade, showcase new skills and share information. This year, the conference will be held in Phoenix, Arizona from December 8-12.
Daktronics sat down with Mike Blackburn, Executive Director of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, to get the inside scoop on what to expect this year.
Q: What is the goal for attendees?
A: The emphasis of the conference is to have athletic directors sharing ideas, information and best practices with fellow administrators. It’s an educational function geared toward professional development. Our leadership training institute offers a variety of informational items. There are different workshops and general sessions, along with 40 NIAAA meetings.
Q: Do you have any insider knowledge to share with attendees?
A: We have an expression: those who are not involved in the NIAAA, don’t know what they don’t know. They may think everything is running well, but we’ve had so many people say they thought they were doing great, and then took a leadership training course… and found that they were behind in law, standards, policy or best practice that could negatively affect their student-athletes and school. We’re here to offer the opportunity for professional development to better themselves.
NOTE: NIAAA is a grassroots organization and depend heavily on 400 volunteers to make all programs successful. This is a great opportunity for attendees to give back to others learning the ropes.
Q: Daktronics has been involved for almost 40 years. Can you speak to that?
Our experience with Daktronics is that they have a mission for student athletes and those that work with them. They have worked very closely with our retired ADs and have had a special affiliation there as well. The NIAAA appreciates the fact that Daktronics philosophy parallels the NIAAA in a number of areas.
Q: What kind of attendance numbers are you expecting this year?
A: Last year, we had record attendance — over 2000. We also had a record number of first-time attendees, over 400. We’ve been running slightly ahead of those numbers during registration for the conference’s 47th year. We are anticipating a large crowd of athletic directors, or close to it, as the exhibit hall is sold out, and our 48-course leadership training curriculum has already registered over 1,200 attendees thus far.
Q: If you had to narrow it down to a few key areas of focus for this year’s conference, what would they be?
A: Our workshop topics are selected based upon interest levels of attendees from last year’s conference. The hot topics this year include: 1) growing coaches through developing them as professionals, 2) student leadership programs, 3) foundations of an education-based athletic program and 4) Title IX compliancy.
As has been the case for a few years, other topics of continuing interest include concussion safety, dealing with parents, paperless offices through technology and social media positives/negatives as they relate to a school’s athletic program.
To drop a few hints of what attendees can expect to learn from Daktronics at the event, Daktronics will be focusing on how schools can generate revenue from a video display. The money not only pays for the display, but also help schools add money back in the budget for their program for other improvements.
Daktronics also focuses on the benefit for students not playing the sport by helping schools integrate their video display in the classroom. Schools are creating course curriculum around the video display’s operations to give students real-life experience they would earn working for a college or professional stadium using the same equipment. This challenges them to come up with new graphics to show at games while learning how to be the production leader for game day.
Set yourself up for success at the #ADConf17. See you there!