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Thinking about attending the Sports Leadership Conference this June? Here's what to expect!

Are you considering registering for this year's Play Like a Champion Sports Leadership Conference, but haven't quite clicked the button? Perhaps you've been looking at the speakers or reviewing the list of topics, trying to decide if it's worth the time, travel and cost. Or maybe you're trying to determine how you present this opportunity to your boss or a board to secure approval. Maybe you're new around here and just trying to figure out what it's all about. Either way, this is the guide for you.

This year's conference will take place June 22-23, 2018 on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Any description of the event needs to begin with this setting. From first-class facilities to beautiful late June weather (average high of 79°), it's hard not to enjoy yourself in this environment. Visit the famed Grotto or the historic Basilica of the Sacred Heart, take a walk or run around the campus and nearby lake, or head directly across the street for food, lodging and even shopping. Popular tours of Notre Dame's state-of-the-art athletic venues as well as the full campus are included in the conference for those interested. Most attendees tend to stay in walking distance and you can click here to get a list of preferred rates at these hotels. After the day's events are done, you can usually find a number of attendees taking up the tables at O'Rourke's Public House, enjoying laughs and perhaps a drink with friends old and new. Then again, plenty of attendees have had too much fun during the day to do anything but catch some sleep.

Of course, a great setting wouldn't do much good without amazing content. Set over two days, the goal of each year's conference is to inspire, educate and connect attendees. What exactly does that mean? Glad you asked! Each day of the conference is packed with a dynamic array of speakers, breakout sessions and other great opportunities designed to meet these goals. A Catholic Mass is offered each day for those who wish to attend, then head over to the conference building to grab breakfast and meet other conference attendees. Mornings begin with general sessions designed to impact everyone in attendance; whether you're an administrator or coach, no matter the age, you'll be inspired by our Opening Charge and learn from our featured speakers.

Late morning features breakout sessions where attendees can choose to engage in sessions on specific topics related to your area of work. Are you in a youth organization looking for best practices on today's biggest issues? Head to our popular Youth Roundtable session to get ideas (and share your own) with a group of experts and leaders just like you. Or perhaps you're a high school Athletic Director interested in learning about Peak Performance Training for your coaches and student-athletes? That session promises to be tremendous. 2018 will also bring highly anticipated sessions on reaching Generation Z (ages 5-21) by industry expert Kathleen Hessert and a Sports & Spirituality session by national speaker Anne Stricherz. In addition, special guest Bishop Donald Hying will have a featured presentation on Religion in Sport. These are just a handful of examples; we expect to announce a full schedule featuring other exciting speakers soon. The only question you'll have is choosing which session to attend!

After a lunch that features unique opportunities to continue learning and discussion with colleagues, the afternoon on both days continues with a featured speaker and breakout sessions like those listed above. On Friday, those interested in partnering with Play Like a Champion to bring our youth and high school coach and parent programs to your community will be have special training sessions built into the afternoon. This is a great opportunity to see our program in-action and learn how to put on our clinics and workshops yourself. On Saturday, we're also excited to continue our conversation on our Champions for Children initiative, inviting all interested to learn (and contribute!) to how Play Like a Champion is working in kinship with urban communities to increase opportunities for all children to play sports.

Each day ends with a tremendous dinner where attendees have the opportunity to interact and be inspired. In 2018, Friday night will feature speaker Eric McElvenny, a veteran and amputee who is breaking records and inspiring millions. Saturday promises a fun new tradition Play Like a Champion is excited to unveil.

While there is plenty of inspiration and education involved in a full schedule, those who are longtime members of the Play Like a Champion community will tell you the greatest benefit over conference's two days may be the opportunity to connect. Play Like a Champion partners span the United States and Canada, creating a conference roster that is full of industry leaders at the youth and high school level. One of the core goals of the conference is to provide attendees the opportunity to meet, interact and learn from each other. This is one of the things that keeps previous attendees coming back year after year. As one recent attendee noted:

"There are great speakers with an excellent range of topics and the overall organization was superb. But the most effective part is the people and the opportunity to engage in discussions with them about how they live out this mission within their own schools and leagues. This is a phenomenal group committed to the well-being of our children and the mission of virtue driven sports. It's your biggest asset as a program and this conference allows the group to get together in one place and interact." 

That sums up a feeling echoed by attendees each year. It's a core component of each day and a benefit that continues long after you return home. Whether you're engaging in conversation with an expert speaker or getting to know a fellow administrator or coach, the connections you make over just two days will benefit personally and professionally.

The Play Like a Champion Sports Leadership Conference offers something for everyone who attends. Still have questions? Head over to our dedicated Conference pages, where you can read more about speakers, themes and topics, travel and lodging, or visit our FAQ page. You can also read a review of last year's conference and learn about our Pre-Conference Retreat, open to all on Thursday, June 21, 2018. You can also contact the Play Like a Champion Team by emailing or calling 574-250-6424. We'll be happy to answer any questions you have and provide more insight into the conference.

Whether you've been thinking about this for a while or are just learning about this event, we invite you to head over to the registration page and reserve your spot at this year's conference. We promise you'll be glad you did, as will the colleagues and student-athletes that benefit from the inspiration, knowledge and connections you gain when you attend. Take it from the thousands of past attendees who can say that the conference has shaped their lives and work. This author is proudly one of them.

The Play Like a Champion community is growing and we look forward to seeing you in June!

This post was written by Peter Piscitello, Manager of Outreach & Operations Support for the Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series. While Peter has worked with Play Like a Champion for several months, his experience with the annual Sports Leadership Conference comes from spending the past 7 years as a participant in his role as the Executive Director of the CYO of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties (Kansas City). This year will mark his first conference working behind the scenes.

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Play Like a Champion Today Educational Series

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