by Jack Warren
It’s been one week since I arrived in Orlando for the annual meeting of baseball coaches that make up the ABCA. I didn’t know fully what to expect. I’ve been around coaches my entire life and even around hundreds of coaches at one time, but never before experienced something of this magnitude and scope. The bottom line after it was all complete? I can say with absolute confidence that my wife and son had no more fun at Disney World than I did within the confines of the Orlando World Center Marriott.
In my days of coaching baseball and the early days of Cornbelt Sports and Top Coach, I always had some interest in attending the annual convention, but either something got in the way or my hyper-procrastination stepped up to the plate (belatedly, of course). Regardless, I always ended up uttering those words that I’ve practiced for decades as a Cubs’ fan – “maybe next year.”
Upon finding out that I had indeed registered and made travel plans for Orlando, my buddy Nate Metzger of Heartland Community College forewarned me, “You’re going to be like a kid in a candy store.” Boy, did he nail it. That’s exactly how I felt. On only one of my three nights at the Marriott did I sleep more than four hours. After whole days filled with meetings, walking, interviews, photos, clinic sessions, and more walking, I retired to about the only place I could get a good connection to the internet – the lobby – to get a little work done. On both Friday and Saturday night, it appeared that I would be wrapping things up about 10:00. However, my proximity to the flight path to the bar led to a non-stop night of meet and greets, handshakes, and great conversations, leaving me dragging to my room about 1am.
I could talk about baseball here, but for me it was all about the baseball coaches. This weekend was indeed like meeting hundreds of your favorite uncles and cousins at a family reunion. It was wonderful finally meeting many of the almost 100 former Top Coach guests, but the stories from coaches who are listeners and part of the Top Coach community made the whole trip worth the effort. I was honored as coach after coach quoted some of our guests or related stories from the first 100 episodes.
At this point, I’d also like to add what a marvelous job that was done by the folks at the ABCA. What a mighty undertaking! And they pulled it off with few glitches. Craig Keilitz and his team really stepped it up and provided a wonderful event for the 4,000 or so in attendance.
So I’ll not make the same mistake again. I’m leaving one suitcase packed and making plans to see you in Nashville next January.