Clerc Center Hosts National Deaf Athletic Directors Conference
Athletic administrators, including athletic directors, Student Life directors, and coaches from 21 different schools across the country came to the second National Deaf Athletic Directors Conference with the goal of collaborating to make the athletic experience as beneficial as possible for today's student-athletes. Through workshop sessions and group discussions, participants explored ways to enhance their students' academic, social, and physical development and networked to strengthen the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Council (NDIAC). Invited guests and participants served as presenters and panelists on topics such as: maintaining a positive coaching culture, summer sports camps, and the changing media world.
The conference served as a valuable tool for athletic directors trying to best serve their students and programs in a difficult economic climate and a rapidly changing society. Billy Lange, athletic director at Kentucky School for the Deaf, stated "The discussions I had with the other athletic directors were beneficial to me because we were able to discuss some of the problems we are having and concerns we have. The other athletic directors gave me some great suggestions and ideas for doing my job more efficiently." David Hamilton, in his first year as athletic director of the California School for the Deaf-Riverside, echoed Lange's statement: "I wish I'd had this conference before I began my job. I have gained so much here!" Learning Center for the Deaf athletic director Peter Bailey also benefited from the conference, saying "I learned a lot of 'tips' and will use them right away."
MSSD Athletic Director Mark Burke served as chair of the conference with the support of his staff, and has seen firsthand how the biannual event benefits the athletic administrators and the schools they serve. "Since the first conference in 2007, we have become much more close knit and supportive of each other." Burke also says the conference also helps the new athletic directors. "Being an athletic director is a unique experience and the conference is an opportunity to learn from others who have years of experience in the field."
Conference participants wrapped up by looking to the future. The most common suggestion from the athletic administrators was to make future conferences longer. Bailey said, "I would like to have everyone stay one more night after the final workshop, so we have more opportunities to share our thoughts on the responsibilities of the Athletic Director position and to discuss our individual athletic programs."
The next conference is scheduled for 2011 at Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf.