While it’s hard to believe we’re well and truly into 2023, it’s been a wonderful start to the year, particularly for CEO, Liz Masen, who recently returned from presenting at the 2023 National Field Hockey Coaches Association Annual Convention which was held over January 11-13 in Lake Mary, Florida.
The NFHCA are renowned for championing, strengthening, and celebrating the game of field hockey and the coaches who lead it, acting as the unified presence that gives its members both a voice and access to resources in their sport. Each year their convention features the NFHCA Hall of Fame Reception, the Coaches Appreciation and Awards Luncheon, and an exciting list of speakers. This year also featured the Divot Golf Classic, on-field Ready2Coach clinics, and an Assistant Coach Pre-Convention Workshop.
Cate Clark, Executive Director of the NFHCA shared about attendance and overall feedback they’ve received following the convention, “Attendance at the 2023 Annual Convention was better than it’s been in years. Bringing the field hockey coaching community together to connect, learn, and celebrate their achievements is what we are all about as a national coaches association.”
Liz’s session at the conference was titled ‘Beyond Physical Talent – How to Drive Team Performance from the People Side’. The highly experiential session focused on how the demands on coaches continue to grow, and how more and more the demands are not related to field hockey or coaching the technical and physical aspects of their sport. Liz highlighted that so often coaches are instead finding themselves spending a significant amount of time and energy managing the ‘people side’ of their team. This includes communication breakdowns, conflict, poor relationships, and unwillingness to drive accountability from within the team, to name a few. She shared practical strategies coaches can implement to further improve the leadership and people-skills within their team, which was greatly received by the coaches attending.
“I was blown away by the number of coaches who attended my workshop and their level of engagement. Of course, I think my topic is the most interesting area to focus on, but there is always the question that creeps in before the start, that maybe others aren’t as inspired. So, to have the room full, I was personally uplifted that what we work on matters and is important to the field hockey coaches.”
“I love working with coaches and it is part of my role that I enjoy the most. There was a lot of laughter, coaches shared openly, they were honest about where they were at, and trusted the wider group to be vulnerable. More so than you would anticipate. I believe it is testimony to the strength and trust in their coaches’ association, and in each other.”
In addition to Liz and the Convention’s many other wonderful featured speakers, the NFCHA had an outstanding keynote duo of Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist and Two-Time FIFA World Cup Champion, Julie Foudy; and Marlene Bjornsrud, the former executive director of WeCOACH and leading expert on gender equity in sports.
Their keynote conversation covered the state of women’s sports, with Liz sharing this as being one of her key highlights from the event,
“It was a huge win for the NFHCA to secure Julie Foudy as a keynote speaker and I know that many other coach associations were envious! The conversation between Marlene Bjornsrud and Julie Foudy benefitted from their enduring friendship and professional history together. Julie brings a fun-factor that is sometimes missing in high-performance sport, and her candid sharing of stories of success and challenges were endearing, powerful, and so valuable to the coaches. I’m sure it was everyone’s highlight of the conference.”
We also spoke to Cate about what it meant to the organization to have the likes of Julie and Marlene as keynote speakers, and the kind of impact these women and their experiences has on their field hockey coaches,
“Kicking off the Convention with two-time Olympian Julie Foudy and women’s sports advocate Marlene Bjournsrud set the tone for a great event. It’s hard to match the energy and wisdom of these leaders in women’s sport. They inspired and uplifted our coaching community for weeks to come.”
Liz’s reflection was that the event overall was highly interactive and social, and that throughout her many conversations with coaches there were some key themes that emerged and how it reinforced the learnings from her presented session,
“The recovery from the ‘Covid years’ is continuing, not so much in the running of sport, but in the fatigue levels of coaches. I’m convinced that coach wellbeing will be an important focus for 2023 and needs to be taken seriously and given time. I was encouraged by some of the conversations that I had with individual coaches about their understanding of their CoachDISC Profile and using this to support them in how best to prepare and recover from the demands of coaching.”
“For example, one of the coaches I spent time with is low in Influence ‘I’ in the DISC Model, and we talked at length about how she could prioritize a few key things to ensure that she recovered from the fatigue of being around and interacting with so many people during the conference. She set strategies for this and also in planning for her weekly schedule when back with her team. It is times like these that put a huge smile on my face that our work can be so helpful and practical.”
As someone who works across all sports, Liz shared what she sees as being the key value of coaches from one sport being able to come together in an event like this and share, network, and collaborate,
“Field hockey is a sport that the coaches want to see their sport collectively thrive. You see it in how they share with each other and while they may be competitive on the field, they are collaborative with their professional development and the development of their sport. I find this so inspiring to see.”
Where to from here?
The NFHCA is nationally renowned for their annual convention and the platform their provide their coaches at all levels to network with and learn from other coaches or industry professionals like Liz to expand their capabilities and discuss tools available to coaches. It also provides a space to celebrate the sport’s coaches for their career and yearly accomplishments, while covering technical and tactical areas for team development, and legislative topics of most relevance, and the Annual Convention is amongst a number of initiatives happening year round.
If the content of Liz’s session has peaked your interest and you’d like to explore the use of our CoachDISC Profile further, we encourage you to reach out to us to discuss how we can tailor a program inclusive of our sport-specific DISC Profiles to suit your program’s needs.
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