LHSCA Coaches Convention Set For Exciting Return To Baton Rouge, In-Person Clinics

The annual LHSCA Coaches Convention is back in Baton Rouge and slated to kick off next week with its
two-day clinic set for Monday, July 19, and Tuesday, July 20 along with the golf scramble set for Wednesday.

High school coaches and athletic directors and school administrators will convene at the Crowne Plaza Hotel to attend clinic sessions and catch up with old coaching friends. The Convention returns to its customary mid-to-late-July spot on the calendar and signals the end of the summer and that fall sports and school are on the horizon.

We had a chance to meet up with LHSCA Director Eric Held for a few minutes concerning the 2021 Convention. We could have played “20 Questions” GeauxPreps style, but decided to go with five questions instead.

ONE NOTE: There have been changes made to the Tuesday agenda with the General Business Meeting moving to a 1:30pm start and the 11:30am session moving up to 11:00am.

What feedback have you received regarding the return to Baton Rouge in mid-July for an in-person annual convention?

First, it is great to be back in person for the clinic at the Crowne Plaza, and in July, for the clinic and golf scramble.. Our coaches, ADs, and administrative staff did an unbelievable job with the schools and their student-athletes during the pandemic. Our LHSCA members deserve this after having a virtual clinic last year. From the coaches and ADs we have heard from, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have a great roster of speakers for our attendees and they are looking forward to it.

When was the decision made and what steps had to happen to return to an “in-person” clinic for 2021?

The hope was to return in person this July and to Baton Rouge. After two years away from Baton Rouge, coaches and ADs were surveyed and a large majority wanted to see the clinic back at the Crowne.  It was set for a return in 2020 but Covid hit.  We gave our coaches a tremendous virtual experience last summer with 138 speakers representing EVERY LHSAA sanctioned and non-sanctioned sport.  We had the platform to do it and wanted to offer that and it was successful.  We learned that so many coaches and associations were using the virtual platform for professional development, so we didn’t lose that despite being handcuffed by Covid.  Our coaches made the best of it. 

We were prepared to go virtual again for this summer, but the numbers started working in our favor. 
By early May, we were able to go full capacity for our state championship events in track & field and baseball. The Crowne Plaza started booking events and a vast majority of their rooms for the summer.  We have a great relationship with the Crowne and were pumped that we could return. Our LHSCA Executive Council and Mr. Bonine gave the go-ahead and we started letting speakers know we would be in person.

The only issue was what college or professional coaches, who committed to present virtually, would be able to attend in person. The 138 speakers over a four-day period on the virtual platform had to be whittled down. Many coaches would be unable to travel because their athletic department was skeptical. Some coaches didn’t want to travel because of the risk of possibly infecting their small children or athletes. Some coaches had to play catch up and hit the road recruiting. Some will be part of evaluation camps. Some NCAA sports have dead periods during our clinic which is why coaches don’t see Kim Mulkey’s name on the agenda. But, we have made the best of it and put together a strong schedule for our coaches.

How does/can a coach, athletic director, or school administrator register for the LHSCA Convention?

On Friday, each LHSCA member should receive an email from American Tradeshow concerning information for receiving their clinic badge at registration.  This will help expedite the registration process at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Monday or Tuesday. 
Registration will take place in the Premier Ballroom III at the Crowne Plaza and begins at 8:00am on both days.  The badge will allow admittance into each session and make each registrant eligible for door prizes.  The first 500 to register will receive clinic gifts.
There is no registration fee – that is a perk included in their $50 LHSCA membership paid by each coach’s school for their LHSCA coaches card. 

Any significant changes for the 2021 Convention?

In recent years, the Convention kicked off with a Monday golf scramble and the clinic going to the hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday. When we signed on for 2021 with the Crowne over a year ahead, and to stay in the mid-July spot, we had to avoid conflict by changing our days.  Just as we all learned during Covid, you adjust and make the best of it. Our Executive Council will evaluate how the new days worked and discuss whether to revert to a Tuesday-Wednesday setup.  The Crowne has been so good to the LHSAA and LHSCA through the years, we felt like we could adjust and help them out after losing our event in 2020.

As previously mentioned, we learned how to stay connected and learn through online and virtual platforms.  Zoom became a household word.  Google Meet, Google Classroom, and ________ were others.  State associations stayed connected with their schools through e-mail communication and virtual meetings.  Instead of meeting in person, states went online to conduct their rules clinics. Following that national trend is something we decided to do from a LHSAA and LHSCA standpoint. Another facet that the LHSCA Executive Council and LHSAA staff will evaluate moving forward.  

The Louisiana state legislature passed a new state law that mandates non-faculty coaches to receive risky injury management training to coach in our state. BESE decided to mandate that all coaches receive training moving forward.  It will be up to each school and school district to make sure that each staff member complies with state law and BESE standards. To assist, we have two tremendous presentations on tap for our clinic attendees in the Health & Safety Education department.  These educational pieces will help educate our coaches, ADs, and administrators on best practices and how to stay in compliance. 

A major part of our role as educators is to make certain that our student-athletes remain safe.  This is a step in the right direction and much needed to raise our standards.  Having certification in health and safety courses at future Conventions is the future.

What speakers have you received feedback on from coaches and which ones highlight the clinic?

We have put together a tremendous group of speakers for the specific sports and for professional development.  Our coaches who attend will benefit greatly from being in the sessions. 

We are most excited to have so many high school coaches on the docket.  Our coaches have the opportunity to share their knowledge with their colleagues.  Those in attendance desire to continue learning so they can take back to their program and staff.  We have 14 high school coaches who are some of the best and respected in their respective sports.  Chris Carrier (Zachary) and Johnny Giordano (St. Louis Catholic) in track & field; Thomas Bachman (ASH), Landry Williams (Madison Prep), Wayne Stein (St. Charles Catholic), Brice Brown (Karr), Tony Courville (Carencro), and Stacy Ballew (Byrd) in football; John Parker (Ouachita Christian) in baseball; Michele LeBouef and Amy Rawlins (Central-BR) in volleyball; Patrick Mahoney (East Ascension) in wrestling; Matt Bruce (Catholic) in powerlifting; and Erik Lane (Capt. Shreve) in soccer.  Great group!

Coaches are excited about hearing UL head football coach Billy Napier.  Napier has led the Ragin Cajuns to the top 25 in the FBS.  Baseball coaches should be pumped to meet new LSU head coach Jay Johnson in one of his first public appearances in Baton Rouge.  Will Wade of the LSU men’s basketball program is always entertaining.  New LSU passing game coordinator DJ Mangas, coming from the Carolina Panthers with Joe Brady, and longtime LSU assistant Corey Raymond will be in the house. 

John Mark Bentley is an absolute stud of a coach in the sport of wrestling and comes from App State. 
We have two former head college basketball coaches in Jimmy Tillette and Pokey Chatman that will speak.  Bennie Brazell is a former track and football star from LSU that will address our track & field contingent. 

We have a large number of head college coaches in all of the sports along with top assistant coaches from around our state and the south that are connected to Louisiana.  Our coaches are familiar with the names and anticipate seeing them share knowledge and expertise. 

This will be a great event for all who attend!

Other news and notes:
• Those who would like to participate in the LHSCA Golf Scramble on Wednesday the 21st at Beaver Creek in Zachary can email eheld@lhsaa.org for information on where to register.  Tee off time is for 8:00am.  

• Clinic attendees are reminded that there will be a Coaches Social on Monday night at Tin Roof Brewery at 1624 Wyoming Street in Baton Rouge from 7:00-9:00pm.