My experience at the American Football Coaches Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee helped me grow as a person and football coach. Walking in every day with an open mind to learn from the nation’s best coaches was an unforgettable experience for myself and 50,000 other coaches in attendance. I personally was able to grow as a leader, communicator, strategist, and coach. I learned everything from X’s and O’s to how to communicate more effectively with different players. My role as a coach isn’t just to win, it’s to take care of every kid in my group and help them grow in a positive fashion every day from everything that goes on off the field and on. I learned how to effectively teach young athletes how to form fit tackle so that the athlete or their opponent isn’t in jeopardy of getting hurt.

The convention provided a large turf area with different clinics every 30 minutes to help young and old football coaches learn from a hands-on perspective. The hotel convention lobby also served as an informal gathering location. Meaning, every time I walked by there were thousands of coaches just stopping to talk to one another trying to learn, network, and become better, safer and smarter coaches. I loved stopping in the lobby in between clinics to meet coaches from all over and from every level of football. There were coaches from Division 3 all the way to coaches from the National Football League. The exchange of knowledge was my favorite part of the whole trip. Every coach that I had the chance to speak with gave me great knowledge or insight into anything that I was interested to learn about.

The opportunity to hear from coaches like Penn State’s Head Coach James Franklin or Minnesota’s PJ Fleck was unforgettable because hearing from the nation’s best helps you keep in perspective where you are today and what work is left to be done. They talked about their failures and their successes in dealing with student athletes. Anytime hearing from people at the top of any profession means a lot because you get a little sneak peek of how they are so successful. I was most interested in hearing them speak because they are known for helping so many student athletes while attending their university and then life after football. My ultimate goal is to help as many kids as possible and this conference helped me come closer to doing that with new ideas, new strategies, and a more positive outlook on how to deal with certain situations that may arise while coaching young athletes.