The annual NACDA affiliates convention is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Not only is it a solid four days of professional development but also it is an opportunity to learn from your peers. This was my fourth consecutive as a member of CoSIDA. I particularly use this time to network and renew. A big part of this profession is that we make acquaintances all across the country and convention is one of the few times we get to see each other and we aren’t on the different sides of the field/court.
Some of my best friends in the business I have made at CoSIDA. Others I have made at past jobs/conferences but now we only see each other once a year at convention. There are a lot of social things to do while at convention and I love those, but I enjoy the time in between sessions when you are all kind of standing around, it’s a good opportunity to walk up to someone next to you and introduce yourself.
This year was my favorite experience. I learned so much and laughed a lot more. After arriving to Dallas mid-afternoon on Sunday I headed to the CoSIDA Keynote presented by Chris Winfield. I think this might actually be the first time I attended the keynote and I am happy I did, and disappointed in myself for not attending ones in the past.
Winfield talked about how to make small steps to keep moving forward each day. He spoke about designating your MIT (most important task) and spending 25 minutes of uninterrupted time working with a five-minute break eight times a day. I honestly felt like Chris was talking to me throughout his whole keynote. Since returning from convention I have utilized “inbox pause” in Google, which he told us about. I have turned my notifications off on my phone, the less distractions the better as I try to accomplish more in a day without feeling like I am constantly working.
Sunday night I was able to spend time with my Sunshine State Conference friends at the Stretch Internet social. The guys at stretch were so helpful to me during my time in the SSC although they will never admit it, they never complained about my frequent phone calls when technology and myself did not mix. Sunday night was almost like a homecoming to me, so many hugs and laughs and stories being told. It was awesome.
Monday was BUSY! I don’t think I had five minutes to myself to pause and relax from sessions, to meetings, to everything in between. I learned the most Monday and attended “Think Like a Communicator” to “Life Outside of Being an SID”, both of which had great and panelists like April Goode (Virginia Tech), Gina Lehe (College Football Playoff) and Brian Miller (Stony Brook). I also sat in on my perennial favorite graphics session with the legendary Mark Majewski. I honestly think I go watch Mark every year for the laughs because I know I will never amount to what him and Kyle Stopperan (Miami) can create. Although I will say I did learn a few tips and tricks from them, mainly “less is more”.
Monday night I met with a special group of individuals, Jimmy Smith (Delaware), Maggie Hayon (Delaware), Chip Fontanazza (UCF) and a few others as we are setting the foundation for a new organization called CAFEDCA (College Athletics Fan Engagement & Digital Content Association). I can go on about this new organization but I can save that for a later post. Thanks to everyone who took time to meet on Monday night. If you are reading this and are interested in joining the organization, send me an email (Olivia.firstname.lastname@example.org) and follow @CAFEDCA on Twitter to join our weekly chats at 8pm.
That night we all went to the Sidearm party. There I got to see a lot of old friends especially Ira Thor whom I connected with last year at Young CoSIDA after having a total “fan girl” moment. A year later we have developed a great friendship and I turn to him for advice almost weekly. If you don’t know Ira, I suggest you get to know him.
Tuesday I did the CoSIDA Cares community service project. Aside from community service being a great experience, we worked with the Miracle League of Frisco and Keeper of the Game. After we went to a Frisco Rough Riders game with the kids. It was pretty cool. Tuesday also served as another networking opportunity as I got to formally meet Chevonne Mansfield (American Athletic Conference) and Krystal Warren (Dayton). Chevonne had showed interest in helping out with the blog in the future so I am hoping we can get on her soon.
After community service I went to the NACWAA/CoSIDA reception and then down to the exhibit hall for a little bit before going to dinner with my coworkers and Athletic Director. Following dinner I went to Young CoSIDA which is always the best event of the year. Aside from there being no air conditioning in Dallas and me standing under a fan the whole night, it was a great time.
Tuesday morning came and I went to a few last sessions, the CoSIDA awards ceremony (shout out to Lamar Carter on being this year’s Rising Star) and some meetings. I got to meet my mentor Bill Dyer (Virginia Tech) whom is AWESOME by the way and we had a really good chat, more to come on Bill and my convo in a later post. I had a quick drink with a good friend Ryan Jones (NCAA) while my coworkers finished their last session and before I knew it I was saying my goodbyes and heading to Dallas/Fort Worth for my flight home.
All in all, this year was my best convention. I feel that I learned so much and met so many interesting people. I am looking forward to returning back “home” to Orlando for 2017. I could go on and on about convention but I will leave it at this, next year I want to be MORE involved. I would love to be a panelist; I think that there needs to be more female SID panelists especially when it comes to weighing in on the work/life balance of a SID.
Hopefully for those of you reading this that didn’t make the trip to Dallas I was able to give some insight on what you missed out on. Any further questions feel free to reach out.