NWCA Convention hits record numbers in annual gathering of wrestling coaches, administrators
Manheim, Pennsylvania — A record number of coaches and vendors along with stellar speakers highlighted the annual NWCA Convention hosted by ASICS, Cliff Keen and Resilite at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort August 4-6 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The event set records in total number of convention registrations (315), total number of high school coaches in attendance (73) and total vendors (37).
“To say we’re pleased and thankful would be an understatement,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “Even with the move to a new location, we saw a rise of interest and attendance that can only be seen as a positive, not just for college wrestling, but for the increase in scholastic coaches who attended as well.”
In what’s become standard for the NWCA Convention speakers, Jonathan Koch and Mike Novogratz delivered powerful speeches showing the relevance and impact wrestling had on each of their respective lives and careers.
Koch, the featured speaker at the convention’s opening session, is the President and CCO of Asylum Entertainment and spoke on the tenacity and toughness wrestling instilled in him that allowed him to push through adversity.
Two years ago, Koch fell ill and was put into a coma to save his life. The end results were surgeries, extensive rehab and a human hand transplant.
“To see how far Jonathan Koch has come in the past few years is a testament to the power and resolve our sport can give to people,” said Moyer. “He preaches how his wrestling mindset was the difference in building his business after coming to Hollywood with just $300 in his pocket.
“All through his message, there was also the unifying theme on how coaches have an impact on our lives. It was extremely moving,” said Moyer.
Novogratz, the colorful and wrestling-crazed Princeton alum who has made his success in the financial sector after a run as an Army helicopter pilot, spoke on investment. The message wasn’t centering around his investment knowledge regarding finance, but urging attendees to invest in themselves.
“Mike Novogratz is one of the most visible names in the financial industry, and he doesn’t hide the fact he was a wrestler; he celebrates it,” said Moyer. “His message underscores one of the greater parts about being a coach — treat people the way you’d want to be treated — and coming from a guy who is surrounded by millionaires each and every day, he wants to make sure you’re treating the JV wrestler the same as you would the billionaire investor.”
Some of the most popular portions of the convention continue to be the technique sessions, the divisional breakout sessions and the often-spirited rules meetings.
South Dakota State coach Chris Bono and Lehigh coach Pat Santoro served as the lead clinicians for the two technique sessions.
“The response we have already received from Coach Bono and Coach Santoro’s sessions has been tremendous,” said Moyer. “This also gives us an opportunity to connect our high-level college coaches with the number of scholastic coaches in attendance. That type of interaction from our top-level coaches to the grassroots coaches is imperative in the sport’s growth.”
At the divisional level, some of the key topics discussed were the Blue Ribbon Task Force in Division I and where the group is with its initiatives; Division II is working on exploring ways to increase qualifiers at the NCAA Championships beyond its current 160 athletes while Division III’s championship qualification system is still under discussion as they coaches try to determine an equitable qualifying format through regional competition.
NCAA Secretary Rules Editor Chuck Barbee, National Coordinator of Officials Tim Shiels and Ashlee Follis, Assistant Director of Championships and Alliances at the NCAA covered the major rule changes coming to collegiate wrestling this coming season.
“In some years, our rules meeting has been extremely spirited due to the passion our member coaches have about the sport of wrestling,” said Moyer. “The fact the NWCA is able to bring together our member coaches with the folks charged with overseeing and implementing the rules has created a healthy dialogue that gets results. It’s one of the biggest draws for our collegiate coaches to attend and Chuck, Tim and Ashlee did an excellent job facilitating the concerns and questions from our coaches.
“Elliott Hopkins of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) also facilitated a fantastic session with our record-number of scholastic coaches where some of the hot-button topics were the optional two-piece uniform and the out-of-bounds rules,” added Moyer.
The NWCA also partnered with Georgia-based Compound Wrestling to bring the Compound College Combine (C3) to South Florida as part of the convention.
“We had nearly 50 athletes in attendance on relatively short notice but the response was great,” said Moyer. “Cliff Fretwell and his Compound group have something special here with C3 and we’re glad to partner with them moving forward to create another quality draw to our event that serves all parties.”
The NWCA also announced it would be rolling out a Scholastic CEO Leadership program available this fall for the first time.
“The success of the college version of the CEO Leadership program has been immeasurable,” said Moyer. “We believe the scholastic coaches around the country will benefit from this program as much as our collegiate coaches have. I’d also like to point out the growth of the scholastic forum that brought so many great coaches together to talk about what the sport needs to do at the high school level and below to expand opportunities and grow the sport