AVCA Convention Draws Success in Spite of Slow Economy


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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Despite an economy that is being described as "shrinking", "slumping" and "slow", the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) recently completed the second-largest Annual Convention in the organization's history.  Nearly 1600 coaches, administrators, club directors and exhibitors descended on Omaha, Neb., Dec. 17-21, for the 2008 Convention, an increase of 23% from the 2006 version of the event held in Omaha.


"I've never been more proud to be associated with volleyball as a sport than I was this December," said AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer. "The weather was frightful, the economy was horrible, and Christmas was only days away, yet our coaches came to Omaha in record numbers, our exhibitors put on a great show, the matches were incredible and the fans were berserk!"  


One of the major highlights of the 2008 Convention, and the biggest addition to the program, was the inaugural Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match & Skills Competition.  This event featured the 24 Under Armour First-Team High School All-Americans as selected by the AVCA.  The three-set match was played in Qwest Arena, giving the next generation of college stars a chance to compete on the same floor as the national championship contenders.  ESPNU carried the television premiere of the event December 30.


For the second year, the AVP provided a sand court at the Convention.  The featured speaker was Mikasa's Todd Rogers, 2008 beach volleyball Olympic gold-medalist.  He was joined by volleyball legend Karch Kiraly.  Other popular presentations on the Mateflex courts and in the classroom were made by some of the game's elite, notably new U.S. Women's National Team coach, Hugh McCutcheon, silver-medalist coach, Sue Woodstra, Terry Pettit, Mary Wise, Mick Haley and Al Scates, among others. 


Volleyball Marketplace was again full of exhibitors who, despite shrinking revenues and travel cutbacks, found value in coming to Omaha and mingling with volleyball's movers and shakers.  AVCA corporate partner Sports Imports had a large presence at this year's show:


"The AVCA Convention is THE single most important opportunity for volleyball coaches to share ideas and to see the latest developments in our sport," said Brad Underwood, Sports Imports President.  "For Sports Imports, this show lets us connect face-to-face with coaches representing every level of competition.   It truly is amazing to see what the convention has become."


After the rigors of a long season, many of the attendees were able to relax and have fun at the Convention's receptions and parties.  Back for an encore performance and met with as much enthusiasm as a year ago, was casino night presented by 1st Place Volleyball, as part of Molten Opening Night Reception.  Tachikara's "Game 5" Party had the room bursting at the seams once again, with attendees dancing to a live band; that event came on the heels of the always-popular Spalding Reception and Coaches Tournament, which featured a new sand competition option.  A new addition, the Texas Hold'em Tournament & Party presented by Worldwide Sport Supply, gained a lot of interest as well.


Convention attendees also had the opportunity to pay tribute to the best in their profession in 2008 at the jostens Coaches Honors Luncheon, as well as the top collegiate players from this season at the AVCA All-America/Players of the Year Banquet.


Even with the association's two largest conventions the past two years, and amid a slowing economy, DeBoer sees definite room for growth in Tampa in 2009.


"Tampa gives us a great opportunity to draw first-time attendees, whether they be coaches, exhibitors or club directors," said DeBoer, "Once we convince you that our convention is a professional development experience that pays back multiples on your investment of time and money, returning becomes a ‘no-brainer'."


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