Living in South Dakota, networking and building relationships with other industry members can be challenging. There just aren’t that many of us in the state, we live a long way from major markets, and it’s not common for people to leave and decide to visit South Dakota for the weekend. For this reason, the last three years I’ve made the effort to attend the NSMA National Awards Banquet and the associated One Day Ticket (ODT) seminar in Salisbury, North Carolina. It’s allowed me to make connections that have helped me to improve as a sportscaster, and in many ways, has made my podcast possible.
Unfortunately, this year the date didn’t work to go to the NSMA Banquet, which is now in Winston-Salem, and ODT took at least a one-year hiatus. I was disappointed to miss a summer of seeing friends and continuing to build new connections in the industry. That was until I found out that STAA was going to put on a smaller retreat-style event in San Diego. It was something different, in a place I’ve never been, and most importantly, the date worked for me to go! And since it’s the first year of its existence, I figured it would be appropriate to share some of the highlights from the trip:
- First, I loved the format of the retreat itself. It was limited to ten people, which made it much easier to build meaningful relationships. The one thing that was always difficult in Salisbury was trying to make an impression on as many people as possible in a room with hundreds of sportscasters. It also gave the opportunity for everyone to have their work heard in a round table setting. This allowed for in depth discussion on what was good and what needed improvement in each person’s work.
- I don’t expect this to be a controversial statement, but San Diego has more to offer than Salisbury. The weather is perfect, the ocean views are breathtaking, and the restaurants and bars are top notch.
- Baseball! The majority of our group went together to a San Diego Padres game after the retreat. It was a great way to unwind after a long day of learning. I was also able to join a couple of friends and drive to Los Angeles for a Dodgers game. Both experiences were memorable, and one of our group even caught a home run ball at the Padres game!
- The fact that it was only a one-day event on a Friday gave the flexibility to explore the city. As mentioned before, I was able to attend two baseball games, as well as go swimming on the beach, and explore downtown. Others in the group golfed Torrey Pines, went to the horse races at Del Mar, and went on ocean cruises
- The only real negative was the cost. By the time flights, seminar fees, lodging, food, Uber rides, and all the extracurriculars are added up, it ended up costing well over $1,000. It’s certainly an investment in my career, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when I look at my bank account upon returning to South Dakota.
I will definitely go back to North Carolina. The NSMA is a great organization and I want to support them. Also, the ability to meet so many people at the highest levels of the industry is absolutely unmatched. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll even get to go there as a winner. However, this year I really enjoyed trying something a little bit different on the west coast. The one thing that is true no matter which coast I visit, the experience has helped make me a better broadcaster and feel recharged and fully primed for the upcoming football season. And in the end, that’s what makes it all worth it.