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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Throughout the upcoming weeks, the NFCA is announcing its programming for the Virtual Convention (Dec. 9-11, 2020) on NFCA.org and social media platforms.

Storied, architect, decorated, mastermind, and pioneer are words that come to mind about this week’s speaker reveal. In brand-new programming that is going to knock your socks off, some of the top names in the collegiate, international and professional sports universe will sit down with premier softball coaches for a candid conversation.

“Down the Hallway” pairs softball coaches with fellow coaching peers at their respective universities for an inside look at how the nation’s elite coaches approach different areas of their programs. It’s geared to encourage coaches throughout the country to go “Down the Hallway” and collaborate with their coaching colleagues no matter what sport they coach.

"Some of the most valuable things I learned throughout my coaching career were in casual conversations 'down the hallway' from coaches of other sports,” said NFCA Executive Director Carol Bruggeman. “The 2020 Virtual Convention format presents the unique opportunity to bring these coveted conversations to you. The NFCA Convention has always showcased the best softball coaches and industry leaders on stage. This year we are expanding our lineup to include premier coaches from many sports. The X's and O's may be different but overall coaching is the same.  Plus, what a fantastic opportunity to 'meet' successful coaches from across the country!"

These five conversations will be coming from the hallways of the University of Illinois (Tyra Perry with Lovie Smith/Football), University of North Carolina (Donna J. Papa with Anson Dorrance/Women’s Soccer), University of South Carolina (Beverly Smith with Dawn Staley/Women’s Basketball), University of Florida (Tim Walton with Mary Wise/Volleyball) and Louisiana State University (Beth Torina with D-D Breaux/Gymnastics and Paul Mainieri/Baseball).

View Announced Speakers | Schedule

Registration, presented by Traveling TeamsTraveling Teams, for the NFCA Virtual Convention is currently open. Early-bird registration is $199 for members and $299 for non-members. Attendees will have access to the on-demand content for 30 days following the Convention. Additionally, members can select a $20 upgrade ($219 total) for lifetime access to on-demand content. Sign up by Nov. 16 to secure the early-bird rate (rates will increase afterward).

Online Registration | Registration FormRegistration Form (PDF)

Be sure to register by tomorrow Oct. 15 to be in the running for a pair of Apple AirPods. Registered attendees will also be eligible for fantastic prizes through Nov. 16. including a $100 Amazon gift card, a set of golf clubs and an on-field equipment package ($350 value).

NFCA Members:  Have you experienced a furlough or been laid off during the pandemic?  If so, we want to help. The NFCA is committed to supporting its members through this pandemic. We understand the impact of COVID-19 is widespread and far-reaching. Please contact our membership team at events@nfca.org or (502) 409-4600 for special discounted Virtual Convention pricing.

More about the speakers:

University of Illinois

Tyra Perry, entering her 20th season as a NCAA Division I head coach and sixth at the helm of Illinois, has totaled over 500 victories at the helm of Illinois, Ball State, Western Kentucky and Birmingham-Southern. She made an immediate impact with the Illini, leading the program to its first back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances since 2010, while guiding Illinois to 36-plus wins for three straight seasons for the first time in program history. Along with three NCAA Regional appearances while in Champagne-Urbana, Perry directed Ball State to its first-ever postseason victory in 2015 and Western Kentucky to the program’s first NCAA Regional in 2013.

Longtime National Football League head coach Lovie Smith took over the reins of Illinois on March 7, 2016. With his appointment, Smith became the Illini’s first African-American head football coach. In 2019, Smith guided Illinois to the Redbox Bowl and to one of the biggest upsets in Big Ten history with a 24-23 victory over then-No. 6 Wisconsin. The victory sprung the Illini to its first four-game Big Ten winning streak since 2001. Smith returned to college football for the first time since 1996 after spending 19 years in the NFL, including 11 years as a head coach. He owns an 89-87 (.506) career record as an NFL head coach from 2004-2012 and 2014-2015 and went 3-3 in playoff games, including one trip to the Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears. During his time with the Bears, Smith amassed an 81-63 record, including three division titles, two NFC Championship Game appearances and a berth in Super Bowl XLI.

University of North Carolina

NFCA Hall of Famer Donna J. Papa has been at the helm of North Carolina softball since 1986, leading the Tar Heels to 15 NCAA Tournaments in the last 19 years, five regular-season ACC titles and the 2001 ACC Tournament crown. UNC has posted a winning record in 30 of her 34 seasons with 14 40-win seasons, including a 50-12-1 campaign in 2008. Over her 35 years as a head coach, Papa has compiled a 1,295-724-5 record, including a 1,266-709-5 mark in 34 years at Carolina. Entering 2021, Papa ranks eighth all time in NCAA victories, eighth in Division I wins and fifth among active DI coaches.

Anson Dorrance is in his 44th year in service of the University of North Carolina soccer programs, debuting as the men’s coach in 1977 and then two years later as the founder and head coach of the storied women’s program. Under Dorrance, who has collected over 1,000 wins as a head soccer coach, North Carolina won an NCAA-record 21 national championships. In 2009, he became the first coach in NCAA history to win 20 championships coaching a single sport. Internationally, he took over the head coach duties of the U.S. Women’s National Team in 1986 and five years later led the U.S. to a 3-1 win over Norway in the initial World Cup championship. He is the 2016 winner of the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award from United States Soccer. It is given to an individual or group of individuals who have dedicated at least 20 years of service to the sport, working to establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States and recognizes those who have developed programs that will outlast their own involvement in the sport. 

University of South Carolina

South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith has guided the Gamecocks to a program-record seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Gamecocks have competed in the regional championship four-consecutive seasons (also a program record), while the 2018 team reached the program’s second-ever super regional. Under her guidance, South Carolina has improved its RPI finish in six of the last seven years, which includes a No. 9 ranking in 2018. Since 2011, Smith’s Gamecocks have posted an overall record of 316-215, becoming only the second South Carolina softball head coach to reach 300 career wins. 

One of the most decorated participants in United States women’s basketball history, Dawn Staley has made the Gamecocks a mainstay in the battle for Southeastern Conference (SEC) and national championships. The crowning moment came in 2017 when she guided the program to its first-ever national championship. Over her 12 years in Columbia, the two-time SEC Coach of the Year has steered the Gamecocks to a 305-98 record, eight 25-win seasons, including four 30-win campaigns, five SEC regular-season and tournament titles, and 151 consecutive weeks ranked in the AP Top 25, 80 of those in the top five. She was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, a year in which the Phoenix Club of Philadelphia established the Dawn Staley Award recognizing the nation’s top guard in NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball. 

University of Florida

Entering his 16th season at the helm, Tim Walton has established Florida softball as a national powerhouse. During his time in Gainesville, the five-time SEC Coach of the Year has guided the Gators to a 794-171 (.823) mark, two Women’s College World Series (WCWS) titles, 14 NCAA Regional appearances, 12 Super Regionals, 10 trips to the WCWS, seven SEC regular-season championships and a nation’s best five WCWS championship series appearances (since 2006). Under Walton’s tutelage, Gators have earned 43 NFCA All-America honors, 62 All-SEC plaudits, two USA Softball Player of the Year recipients, three Honda Award winners, 10 SEC Player & Pitcher of the Year honorees and one Schutt Sports/NFCA Freshman of the Year.

Mary Wise, the architect of one of the most storied programs in NCAA Division I volleyball history, is in her 30th season leading the Florida Gators. The 15-time SEC Coach of the Year has steered the Gators to 24 SEC titles, including 18 straight from 1991-2008 – an NCAA Division I record for most consecutive conference titles by a single program. Additionally, UF has made 29 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Final Fours and two trips to the NCAA Championship match in 2003 and 2017. Wise, who has 958 career coaching victories heading into the 2020 season, became the first coach in NCAA history to win 100 consecutive games. Over the last 30 years, she has 877 victories with the Gators, only second to Penn State’s Russ Rose (887) during that span. Additionally, Wise has tutored 43 All-Americans, racking up a total of 117 All-America honors.

Louisiana State University

Beth Torina, who heads into her 10th season as LSU’s head coach, has guided the Tigers to four WCWS appearances, including three straight between 2015 and 2017. Under her guidance, LSU is a two-time national semifinalist, reached eight NCAA regionals and six super regionals. Since taking over the reins of the program prior to the 2012 season, her squads have averaged 45 victories per season, including 50-win campaigns in 2015 and 2016, and five more 40-win seasons. The Tigers have finished the last five seasons ranked in the Top 10, which leads the SEC, and have been ranked in the Top 10 the last six out of eight seasons and ranked in the Top 25 every week since the end of the 2014 season. Along with UCLA, LSU was the only other school with three consecutive trips to the Women's College World Series (2015, 2016, 2017). 

At the end of the 2020 campaign, D-D Breaux, the mastermind of LSU Gymnastics, retired after 43 seasons as the longest-tenured coach of any sport in the SEC. The two-time national and nine-time SEC coach of the year led the Tigers to 18 NCAA Championship appearances in the last 19 seasons, eight NCAA Championship Finals since 2008 and 15 individual national titles since 2002. During her tenure, Breaux, has maintained LSU's reputation as one of the premier collegiate gymnastics programs in the country with more than 800 wins. Under her tutelage, the Tigers have placed among the nation's top-10 teams 30 times in 42 seasons, finishing a program-best second in 2016, 2017 and 2019, third in 2014, fourth in 1988 and 2018, fifth in 2008 and 2013 and sixth on four separate occasions. A pioneer for collegiate gymnastics and women’s sports, Breaux’s program has set the standard for attendance milestones. The Pete Maravich Assembly Center has exceeded 13,000 fans on four occasions, including the single-meet attendance record with 13,729 in 2018 against Alabama.

A four-time national coach of the year, Paul Mainieri has guided LSU to a 2009 College World Series (CWS) title and five CWS appearances. During his 14-year tenure, LSU has captured 30 team championships, including the 2009 NCAA title, eight regional championships, five super regional crowns, four Southeastern Conference championships, six SEC Tournament and Western Division titles. Mainieri’s collegiate coaching career spans 38 seasons collecting 1,467 wins at St. Thomas University (1984-88), Air Force (1989-94), Notre Dame (1995-2006) and LSU (2007-present). He is No. 1 on the career wins list for active NCAA coaches and No. 9 in all-time NCAA wins, and he is one of only six coaches in NCAA history to have won over 1,400 games and a national championship. Mainieri is 603-260-3 (.698) at LSU, and has the third-highest winning percentage in SEC history, trailing only former LSU coach Skip Bertman, who was 870-330-3 (.724) from 1984-2001, and former South Carolina coach Ray Tanner, who posted a 738-316 (.700) mark from 1997-2012.

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