The changing faces of coaching

March 28, 2016
Rhonda Rompola

Photo Courtesy: Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News


Veteran SMU women’s basketball coach Rhonda Rompola recently announced that she’ll be retiring after the season, ending her 25-year tenure as the Mustangs’ head coach. It’s been a successful career for Rompola, with seven NCAA tournament berths and a career record above .500.

Now normally, news about a coach retiring wouldn’t spread much past the sports pages and fan websites. But Coach Rompola didn’t hesitate to say why she’s retiring and THAT’s what making news far beyond campus. It’s not because she’s tired of the sport: She’s tired of the players.

“Kids are not as coachable as they were years ago,” she told the Associated Press. “I see kids sometimes talking back to their coaches and it’s like a way of life. I’m just being honest. The rules and everything they get, they haven’t taken time to appreciate. I was happy to have a scholarship. Kids nowadays are more concerned about when their next cost-of-attendance check is. It’s just a different world.”

As you may recall, this academic year is the first in which NCAA student-athletes can receive cost-of-attendance payments in addition to their athletic scholarships. The extra money is for incidentals, such as travel home, school supplies, laundry, etc. The amount given to each student-athlete varies by school, anywhere from $1,000 to more than $6,000 per academic year.

According to CBSSports, SMU student-athletes receive $2,676 per year, on average.

Coach Rompola apparently is not a fan of cost-of-attendance, going on to tell the AP: “Kids are making decisions these days to go to a college based on what their cost-of-attendance check is, based on the meals they get, not based on academics, not based on what a great school it is.”

“Maybe I’m old school. It’s not necessarily what I signed up for and I’m not going to adjust my coaching to the way kids are these days. That’s how it is these days, coaches having to adjust to kids, rather than kids having to adjust to coaches.”

Many youth coaches across the country probably nodded their heads in agreement after reading those words. Whether it’s youth sports or high school and college athletics, more now is being done to meet the needs of the student-athlete. Most of it is good, and overall the cost-of-attendance payments have been received well. But there’s a fine line between helping players and coddling players. Youth coaches have to balance that line all the time, and some, like Coach Rompola, are tired of the high-wire act.

Credit goes to the coaches who can stick it out, encourage and teach our young athletes, and get them ready for the next level, whether it’s in sports or not. Next time you’re at your kids’ games, thank their coaches. Their job gets more difficult every day.

Is Your Organization Covered—for Anything?

March 21, 2016

The idea of crisis plans for your team, event or venue is to try to think of anything and everything that can happen, and make sure you have a correct response to every scenario you can come up with. auction-gavel-2

But too often, no one takes into consideration 1) demanding parents and 2) litigation at the drop of a gavel.

When his 16-year-old son didn’t get the most valuable player award, Michel Croteau didn’t get mad, he tried to get even. He hired a lawyer and sued his son’s youth hockey league to the tune of more than $200,000. Croteau claimed his son Steve should have been the MVP since he had the most goals and assists in the league. When he didn’t win, daddy claimed that Steve was so embarrassed, he wanted to quit hockey.

This isn’t an isolated case. In the year the Croteau lawsuit was filed, 2013, parents filed more than 200 non-injury-related sports lawsuits against coaches, leagues and school districts in the United States, according to Gil Fried, a University of New Haven professor specializing in sports law.

But wait, there’s more.

The Butzke family sued the Comsewogue, N.Y., school district because their eighth-grade daughter was taken off the varsity high school soccer team.

The Branco family took legal action against the Washington Township, N.J., school district after their son, David, was cut from the junior varsity basketball team.

The Rubin family sued California’s New Haven Unified School District for $1.5 million because their son got kicked off the varsity basketball team.

Marc Martinez sued his son’s baseball coach, John Emme, twice, and both times the suit was thrown out. It all surrounded the fact that Emme removed J.D. Martinez from the varsity roster, and dad claimed Emme did it for spite since Martinez the elder had complained to the school district that Emme was having his son throw too much. Coach Emme then countersued Martinez, a move Emme’s lawyer said was as much about Martinez as it was to send a message to parents around the country.

Most everyone has insurance to cover injury, weather, and other fairly predictable problems. Litigation is a growing issue, though, for many sports organizations, especially youth sports. Make sure you have a plan (and an attorney) in place that can help you out, in case there’s a case brought against you.

New NASC blog platform

March 14, 2016

We are excited to announce that the NASC blog, Get in the Game, rolled out onto a new platform in February.  The blog is now housed within the NASC website, The Association will be providing even more timely and relevant content than ever before, including posts on industry trends and news, updates from the National Office, and bi-weekly Tips from the Mentoring Committee.  Blog posts are also featured in Get in the Game eNews, which is distributed each Thursday. We encourage you to subscribe to the blog to receive instant notifications when a new post is published.  Ideas for blog posts are always encouraged.

If you are interested in writing a blog or want to see a particular topic included in a future post, submit your idea to Elizabeth You, Director of Membership and Marketing at

A Lesson to Be Learned

March 14, 2016

A while back we told you about the fight at a girls’ high school basketball game in Indiana that resulted in the suspension of both teams from the rest of this season.

Pike High meeting

Photo Courtesy: Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star.

Now, as Paul Harvey might say, here is the rest of the story.

After both the Pike and Ben Davis girls’ basketball teams were suspended after the on-court brawl, most everyone thought that would be the end of the issue. But Anucha Browne saw it as an opportunity for a life lesson for everyone involved.

Browne is NCAA vice president for women’s basketball championships. And she comes in with a hoops pedigree: She starred at Northwestern and led the country in scoring in 1985 with a 30.5 points per game average. And she decided she needed to talk with these players.

“I thought it was important to be in their space and help them understand that those split-second decisions can change the rest of their lives,” she told the Indianapolis Star. “I took pride in owning the fact that those young people deserve another chance and to have a dialogue with somebody who has been where they are. I want to be impactful in their lives.”

Browne met with the Pike team last week—she’s scheduled to meet with Ben Davis next week. Neither high school appealed the suspensions, although Pike did ask the Indiana High School Athletic Association to reevaluate its process in ruling on fighting at games.

“These are just young people, and you have to invest in young people,” Browne continued. “We tell our kids to be sportsmen, but what does that mean? I think to have that dialogue and talk to them about the impact of their behavior and what they do is important. It says everything about them.”

As for the school, Pike Athletic Director Doug Schornick said the meeting with Browne was another step in the healing process. “I think the message coming from somebody of her background was perfect,” he said. “We’re going to get stronger. All our programs are going to get stronger.”

Kudos to Browne for reaching out to both teams after a devastating end to their seasons. Let’s hope the schools, and especially the players, learn and grow from it.

A Win Comes with a Price

February 29, 2016



Photo courtesy of Troy Machir, Sporting News.


The coach of a California high school girls’ basketball team was suspended two games for a big win.

And we mean, big.

Arroyo Valley High School defeated Bloomington High School, 161-2 last month. And it’s not first time Arroyo Valley had won by large margins. The Hawks had scored more than 100 points twice before, but this 159-point win created enough backlash that the school felt it needed to act and suspended Coach Michael Anderson for the two games.

Not that benching the coach made much of a difference. In the first game without Coach Anderson, Arroyo Valley won, 80-19. The Hawks were coached by Anderson’s 19-year-old son.

For his part, Anderson said he talked with the Bloomington head coach before the game, explaining that this was the Hawks’ last game before league play and that his team was going to play hard. “I wanted to let him know there was no harm intended,” Anderson told the Orange County Register, “and that if he had any ideas or concerns just to let me know.”

Anderson benched his starters at halftime and told his players in the second half to run the shot clock down before trying to score, but it still ended up as a beyond-lopsided final score. And Bloomington’s head coach, Dale Chung, told the San Bernardino County Sun he wasn’t happy with the outcome. “People shouldn’t feel sorry for my team,” he said. “They should feel sorry for his team, which isn’t learning the game the right way.”

A few times a year, we read about this kind of a game—is it the coach’s fault for running up the score or is it the opposing team’s fault for not putting up more of a fight? In several high school sports, football and basketball included, many state associations allow a running clock if the score is lopsided—in California, a running clock isn’t allowed until the fourth quarter.

There’s a fine line between sportsmanship and letting players play. The reserves want to show their skills and often take the opportunity in ‘garbage time’ to do just that, at the expense of an undermanned opponent. The talent level is so inconsistent in youth sports, including high school girls’ basketball, that blowouts do happen. A two-game suspension probably won’t stop Arroyo Valley from winning by 100+ points again this season. The lesson for the players may be, how those games are won.

Building Community Relationships

February 23, 2016


Building relationships within your community is essential to the success of sporting events you host.  From venue support, event management, volunteer recruitment, fundraising and sponsorships, your local community holds the resources that rights holders look for when awarding events.

How do you begin?

  • Visit all prospective venues in your area. Get to know everything about them, build a relationship with their staff and learn who books their events.
    • Why?
      • A venue is usually the most critical component to a successful bid.
      • Their customers may become prospects and customers of yours.
    • Get to know all of the local clubs and sport organizations.
      • Where to find them?
        • Local news
        • Referrals
        • Google Alerts and Search Engines
        • Relationships with local venues
        • Club listings on national websites (i.e. National Governing Bodies)
      • Why?
        • They are the experts in their sport and invaluable resources in areas such as event management, vendor relationships, volunteers, and they may also have relationships with venues.
      • Reach out to local government; they may grant access to venues, provide support services, and/or offer financial support that could be essential to a successful proposal.
        • Parks and recreation departments
        • Police, fire and EMS
        • Department of Transportation
        • Elected officials such as a Mayor, City Council, County Commissioners
      • Be sure to include the business community in your outreach as they can may provide sponsorship opportunities and a pool for volunteers.

What tools are available to build and support your relationships?

  • Social media
  • Volunteering at sports events in your community
  • Join and/or serve on a board or committee for a club, organization or association
  • Create an event to bring your local sports community together to foster discussions and promote networking amongst themselves.

Bonny Bernat, CSEE
Senior Sports and Events Sales Manager
Visit Winston-Salem
NASC Mentoring Committee



Breaking Barriers through Adaptive Sports

February 23, 2016

Editor’s Note: Leading up to the NASC Symposium this spring, the NASC is highlighting adaptive sports athletes. The proceeds raised for the 2016 NASC Sports Legacy Fund will go toward offsetting expenses for the Mary Free Bed and Adaptive Sports Wheelchair Tennis program, which provides equipment to individuals who are unable to afford their own. Each month we feature one of the adaptive athletes: This month we feature 32-year-old Matt Clements.

Matt Clements.jpg

I got involved in wheelchair tennis after meeting (wheelchair tennis athlete) Curt Bender when I was still at Mary Free Bed after I got hurt. He told me that sometime after I went home that I should come check it out. So after my little over three-month stay at Mary Free Bed and being home for a month I went to check it out just to “watch.” Well Coach Lynn (Bender) and a few other people helped to get me into a tennis chair and after that I never missed a practice probably for three or four years.

Wheelchair tennis is a HUGE reason of how I got back to all of the things I used to do before my injury that so many people told me that I would never be able to do. It also turned my path to recovery and to learn how to do things as a highway to recovery.

I remember Curt telling me one day that I was four or five years farther ahead of him after he had been in a chair for three years. None of that would have been possible without what is now Mary Free Bed sports.

Everyone helps each other out with their issues, problems, and whatever we can do for each other. The tennis team is like a big family and those of us who have been hurt longer do not hesitate to take someone newer to this life under our wing and teach them all of the little tricks and solutions to things that we know. We show them that there is nothing they can’t do.

For example, I still drive my big full-size truck and hook up to my big trailer and load whatever, hop down and get back into my chair, strap it down and be on my way all by myself. People are baffled over how I am able to just pop up into my truck, but I would probably not have been able to do any of this if it hadn’t been for Mary Free Bed sports.

I tell people that it is a great way to be active and have a whole bunch of fun with a bunch of great people. We are like a big family and support group, and you learn so much more than just tennis.

The Sad Side of Sports

February 22, 2016

A high school girls’ basketball game this past weekend between Pike and Ben Davis high schools, two Indianapolis-area schools, had to be called with five minutes left in the fourth quarter because of a fight that apparently involved both fans and players.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers

Photo courtesy of

Video posted on social media showed both players and fans on the court, although officials are not saying right now what may have started the incident.

At the time of the scuffle at Ben Davis’ gym, Pike was leading the game by a wide margin. Officials from both schools are scheduled to meet with the Indiana High School Athletic Association later this week.

In a statement, Ben Davis’ administration said, “We are extremely disappointed that good sportsmanship was not shown by the players involved in (today’s) girls basketball game at Ben Davis High School We are working closely with administrators at Pike High School and the IHSAA to determine exactly which players were involved in this incident.”

The statement continues: “This behavior is not representative of our values, beliefs or how we coach our student athletes. It is not reflective of the Ben Davis pride of our students, alumni and community share. And it certainly does not reflect the rich tradition and success of our girls basketball team. The Ben Davis players involved will face consequences at school, and we will comply with any consequences we receive from the IHSAA.”

For its part, the Pike athletic department Twitter feed posted this message: “Today’s girls’ BB incident was unfortunate! We are working with BD & IHSAA to investigate today’s occurrence.”

Last season the IHSAA hit Griffith and Hammond high schools with sanctions after a fight at a boys game, suspending both teams for the year. Eventually both schools got a temporary restraining order so they could play in the post-season tournament, and Griffith make it to the 3A championship game.

This investigation probably will go on for weeks, with sanctions expected on both sides. But when young players, girls or boys, see the behavior that goes on at some professional games, is it any wonder that scuffles break out? It makes it even more imperative for youth coaches to have proper training to make sure that nothing like this happens at their events.

Upcoming NASC Webinars – Register Now

February 16, 2016

Mark your calendars now! We have an awesome lineup of Best Practices and Event Webinars that you won’t want to miss. Check out the schedule below and reserve your spot today!
Strider Sports
Event Webinar Sponsored by MGM Resorts International
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

Register Now

Join Ted Heuttle, Events Manager, Strider Sports, as he discusses his current RFP for the 2017 Strider Cup. There will be time at the end of the presentation for questions.

NASC Mentoring Program: Not Just for Newbies
Best Practices Webinar
Friday, February 26, 2016
2:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. ET

Register Now

Join NASC Mentoring Committee co-chairs John David, CSEE, COO, USA BMX, and Mike Price, CSEE, Executive Director, Greater Lansing Sports Authority, as they share different ways the mentoring committee can help you get the most out of your NASC membership.


National Veterans Golden Age Games
Event Webinar Sponsored by MGM Resorts International
Monday, March 14, 2016
2:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M.

Register Now

Join Jeanene LeSure from National Veterans Golden Age Games as she discusses her RFP for the 2020 Golden Age Games and what she looks for in a host destination.

Starting Your Own State Games
Best Practices Webinar
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
2:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M.

Register Now

Eric Engelbarts, National Congress of State Games membership chairman, will discuss how your CVB or Sports Commission can leverage your existing sport director relationships to build an event that you own and operate that can contribute to your mission of ‘heads in beds’ and act as a potential revenue source for your organization.
Webinar Archives
If you are unable to participate on any of the upcoming webinars, missed any recent webinars, or would like to view them again, visit our Best Practices and Event Webinar Archives (login required).

February’s Featured Member Benefit – Allied and Rights Holder Member Mentoring

February 15, 2016

We continue our Featured Benefit for the month of February with a blog post by Mentoring Committee members Hank Pivarnik and Glen Schorr. They explain why mentors are useful for the Allied and Rights Holder levels of membership and some of the ways mentors can be utilized.

With a combined 23% of total NASC membership, the Allied and Rights Holder members comprise an important part of NASC. However, the needs of these categories of members differ from those of the Active members, which include destinations represented by sports commissions, DMOs, and parks and recreation departments, from across the country.

The primary purpose of the NASC Mentoring Committee is to connect new member organizations with an industry veteran to help guide them through the first year of membership and beyond. New members also get the “lay of the land” before the Symposium from their mentors. Not only prior to the Symposium but throughout the year, new members and first time attendees can rely on their mentor to answer any number of questions, offer ideas, share industry best practices, and more.

The primary benefit of mentoring for both Rights Holders and Allied Members is that it gives us a chance to speak with peers in a common language. We face the same issues. We have the same questions. We need the same information. And whether we have been in this business for one or thirty years, sometimes we just need to raise our hand and ask the question so we can do our job smarter. That is what the Mentoring Committee is for … to answer the question; whether you are an Allied Member, Rights Holder, or Active Member.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the NASC’s Mentoring Committee contact Elizabeth Young, Director of Membership and Marketing, at

Hank Pivarnik, CSEE
Director of Sport Sales, Hilton Worldwide
Member Mentoring Committee – Allied Representative

Glen Schorr
Executive Director, Orienteering USA
NASC Board of Directors & Member Mentoring Committee – Rights Holder Representative

Whether you’re a brand new member wanting advice about the Symposium or you’re a seasoned veteran looking for a second set of eyes on a proposal, the Mentoring Committee is here to help. Take a look at the committee roster and reach out today!

Tips for the RFP Process

February 9, 2016

Responding to an RFP can be a daunting task, especially in the sports market.  Yet, tackling an RFP piece-by-piece can make the process easier and, hopefully, yield lucrative results.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that the requirements are a good fit for your destination. Read the RFP thoroughly to see if you have the items needed to place a bid.  The bare bones necessary are the venues, hotel space, volunteer availability, expertise of a Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and a plan to deal with bid fees.  If you have any questions, pick up the phone and call the planner.  A phone call will go a long way, and allows you to find out what the hot button issues are. In some cases, what you might think is important actually may be unimportant for the planner.  Always ask the question. For example, if a bid specifies that your fields need to have lights but yours don’t, ask the planner if lack of lights is a deal breaker.  Another example might be that a client prefers Hilton properties, but the bulk of your rooms are with Marriott. If this happens, let the client know, and check to see if this will be an issue for the bid.

One of the most important steps in this process is to check the history of the event you are bidding on.  The best way to do this is to talk to the CVBs or Sports Commissions in cities that have hosted the event in the past.  Ask them about venues used, hotel pickup and if there were any challenges with the event operator.  Make sure to find out if they had any overall problems with the event.  This information is very valuable, and will help you in the RFP process.  It is important to also check the geographical history of the event – has the event ever occurred in your region? Some events are a better fit to certain areas of the country- what works in the South might not work as well in the North. It’s fine to let a client know that you have researched their event.  It shows that you are thorough and helps keep them transparent and communicative.

Many destinations cannot afford – or simply won’t pay – bid fees. Many times, a bid fee can be circumvented by offering concessions instead.  A list of concessions is usually provided along with the bid fee. These can include complimentary hotel rooms, airline tickets, rental cars etc.   Only the sales person and the destination marketing or sports organization can determine if you can address their concessions.  Perhaps you can form a partnership with a local rental car agency to get a reduced weekly rate in exchange for agency being listed as the sponsor. Airlines can be a bit challenging, however contact your local hub, they may be willing to work with you. Utilize relationships with the hotels in the area to obtain comp rooms for the proposal.  Some events will require two or more hotels to fill the comps. Always make sure the comp policy is consistent across hotels listed in the proposal.

Once you have collected all of the information required for the bid, prepare to submit the proposal. If you have not been able to meet all the concessions, it is still okay to submit. Several things can happen at this point. One response may be, that, although the concessions were not completely met, the facilities may be a better fit for the event. Another response could be a flat out no, however the organizer now is aware what you are able to do and may come back for future events.

It is important to ask for decision dates as a part of the proposal submission. If it is not specifically addressed in the RFP, make sure to ask. This allows organizations to hold space at facilities until decision time. Some facilities will place the space on “hold” for a certain number of days and give the event planner the “right of refusal” for the dates. In that case the organization on “hold” will have to go to contract and send a deposit for the space. Some organizations will request a site visit as a part of the decision process. With years of experience, it is safe to say a site visit should typically last two days to include venue and hotel options.

John Gibbons, CSEE
Executive Director of the RI Sports Commission

Ron Eifert, CSEE
Senior Sales Manager
Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau