Southern California Youth Rugby Named STRIVE Organization of the Year


Photo credit Trina Flowers

STUART, FL — Southern California Youth Rugby (SCYR) was honored this week as the 2016 STRIVE  Organization of the Year for its “kids first” approach to safety.

The National Council of Youth Sports (NCYS) and American International Group, Inc. (AIG) presented the award that stands for Sports Teach Respect, Initiative, Values and Excellence.

Created in 2006 with more than 15,000 youth athletes, Southern California Youth Rugby (SCYS) prides itself as representing the unique sport of rugby, with a culture of honor and respect for self, teammates, coaches, opposing teams and referees that transcends any other American sport.

Presented by NCYS and sponsored by AIG, the STRIVE Award for Organization of the Year, now in its fifth year, honors youth and amateur sports organizations that demonstrate a heartfelt passion, an enthusiastic commitment and a contagious spirit to help kids succeed in amateur youth sports activities while keeping young athletes safe.

During the 30-day month of June voting period, a record number of 32,400 votes were cast on the NCYS STRIVE Award website to determine the winning organization from the top five finalists.

“With special thanks to our NCYS sponsor AIG, this award recognizes an organizations’ commitment to kids’ health, wellness and safety, demonstrating to young people that Sports Teach Respect, Initiative, Values and Excellence (STRIVE) in a safe, fun, positive environment,” said Sally Johnson, Executive Director of NCYS.  “The Southern California Youth Rugby organization has demonstrated a heartfelt passion and a contagious spirit for helping kids succeed in youth sports activities while maintaining a focused commitment to establish an impressive variety of safety procedures. We are certain they will continue to advance the vital role integrity, sportsmanship, safety, life skills as well as sport skills play to enhance the youth sports experience in a more wholesome society.”

“We are delighted that Southern California Youth Rugby has been named as the recipient of the 2016 STRIVE Organization of the Year. The organization is committed to implementing safe, responsible and dependable best practices, policies and procedures, as well as a positive culture, esteem values and a high standard of behavior,” said Frank Scalia, AIG’s Group Benefits Vice President and Head of Accident Sales. “We are proud to help honor an organization dedicated to the success and safety of young athletes on and off the court and help bring greater awareness to the positive benefits of amateur youth sports.”

The search for the 2016 STRIVE Organization of the Year Award winner began in March 2016 with a nomination period calling for youth and amateur sports organizations that have implemented at least three health and safety initiatives within their organization. The NCYS and its sponsor AIG are inspired by the extraordinary quality of the finalists programs. Each organization is a hero in its own right as they genuinely live up to the program name of STRIVE and all that it represents.

The other four of the “Five for STRIVE” finalists were the National Athletic Trainers’ Association-Carrollton Texas; South Forsyth Youth Wrestling Club-Cumming Georgia; Winston-Salem Roadrunners Track Club-Kernersville North Carolina; and
York Jewish Community Center-York Pennsylvania.

The SCYR Player Welfare Program is an innovative program that represents a quantum leap forward in their ability to offer a youth sports experience that is as safe as possible, based on four key elements.

Beginning with the high school season and continuing through the club season, all properly scheduled contact matches will be assigned a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC) who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur in athletes.

Online baseline concussion testing for every athlete registered with SCYR (U10 and up) to evaluate the severity of a head injury and to help determine when the athlete can safely return to play.

Use of InjureFree online injury reporting system to log all injury reports submitted by the ATCs covering SCYR matches. The injury report describes the injury, any actions taken by the ATC, and the ATC’s recommendations regarding further assessment or treatment of the injury.

The fourth key element of this ground-breaking program is SCYR’s new PWP Manager, who oversees all aspects of the program planning support, guidance, and management of the protocol.

SCYR is the organizing body responsible for all youth and high school rugby in Southern California. As a State Rugby Organization (SRO), SCYR reports directly to USA Rugby, the sport’s national governing body (NGB) and coordinates with the SCRRS Referee Society and the Southern California Rugby Football Union (adult rugby).

Alexandra Williams serves as the organization’s Executive Director.  She began playing rugby at Harvard, represented the USA for 10 years and three Women’s Rugby World Cups, retiring as the captain and then worked as a coach through two additional World Cups.  Alexandra has enjoyed the transition to the youth level of the game and the opportunity to grow this amazing game at the grass roots level.

The STRIVE Award for Organization of the Year will be presented to Southern California Youth Rugby (SCYR) during The Rugby Weekend November 3-4 in Chicago.

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U.S. Soccer Announces Concussion Lawsuit Settlement


US SoccerAll parties named in the youth soccer concussion litigation – including the plaintiffs and defendants: U.S. Soccer Federation, USYS, AYSO, US Club Soccer and California Youth Soccer Association – have reached a resolution of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in August 2014.

U.S. Soccer released a joint statement November 9th that referenced a “comprehensive player safety campaign.” The complete details of that initiative are expected to be released within 30 days.

The campaign will focus on:

 • Improving concussion awareness and education among youth coaches, referees, parents and players

 • Introducing more return-to-play protocols and uniform concussion management

 • Changing substitution rules to ensure these rules do not impede the evaluation of players

 • Limiting heading during practices for children between the ages of 11 and 13, and eliminating heading for children 10 and younger

U.S. Soccer noted that the changes to headings and substitutions are recommendations “based on the advice of the U.S. Soccer medical committee, and therefore, U.S. Soccer strongly urges that they be followed.”

The Federation also expects its player safety campaign to include other important protocols, including those related to general injury prevention and heat-induced illnesses.

US Club Soccer will follow up with its members as soon as specific information and implementation plans become available. 

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S.P.O.R.T.S. 2015 Day 3 Recap

SHREVEPORT, LA — The S.P.O.R.T.S. Relationship Conference for 2015 continued on Wednesday, October 7 in Shreveport Louisiana. S.P.O.R.T.S. is the annual exclusive and space-limited industry event designed to bring together sports event owners and rights holders with host organizations and industry suppliers that want to earn their business.

ApptsFollowing the Power-Up breakfast session sponsored By Visit Winston-Salem, one-on-one appointment sessions continued for a 3rd segment during the conference. The two-hour period features pre-approved face to face meetings timed to 15 minutes each. One final session of these two-hour segments concluded Wednesday afternoon.

solThe day’s morning breakout session was the popular meeting known as the “Solution Room”, sponsored by Cedar Rapids Sports/Cedar Rapids Convention & Visitors Bureau. The open forum session allows delegates to work together in small groups of industry peers to solve problems within the Destinations Sports Events sector. Groups are organized according to those who have been in each industry longest and those who have joined more recently.


Sportscaster TIm Brando (R) with event host Talty O’Connor of SportsEvents Media Group

Keynote for the Wednesday Grand Annual Luncheon session was delivered by famed TV sportscaster Tim Brando. His presentation, sponsored by Foley Sports Tourism (AL), highlighted stories and insight from Brando’s storied career in football and baskeball broadcasting. A Shreveport native, Brando was the long time host of College Football Today on CBS, and now is the lead college football announcer on Fox Sports and FS1. The Grand Luncheon sponsor was  Sports Indiana.


An afternoon breakout segment on Personal Branding was led by Michael Mulone, Director of Event & Tourism Partnerships for B.A.S.S. “Personal branding,” Mulone described, “is the ongoing process of establishing an image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group or organization.”  Mulone challenged delegates to look at their authentic selves to determine whether what we’re expressing through our digital messages and marketing is indeed who we really are.


Michael Mulone of B.A.S.S. addresses ‘Personal Branding’

The evening’s wrapup fun events included a scavenger hunt across several miles of downtown Shreveport, followed by a zydeco R&B funk party and a fireworks show over the Red River.

The 2016 edition of S.P.O.R.T.S. – The Relationship Conference will be hosted in Overland Park, Kansas.

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S.P.O.R.T.S. Day 2 Wrapup

SHREVEPORT, LA —  The annual S.P.O.R.T.S. Relationship Conference continued Tuesday (October 6) in Shreveport, Louisiana. SportsEvents Media Group’s Publisher Talty O’Connor opened the morning’s general “Town Hall” session with a focus on identifying industry challenges, along with sustainable solutions.

SPORTS Town Hall

Talty O’Connor opens the Tuesday Town Hall session

“Today during Town Hall we are defining issues for Sports Planners and Destinations,” O’Connor addressed the delegates.  “Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be searching for solutions to those problems.”

Also welcoming delegates at the opening Tuesday session was Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler.

The event’s popular one-on-one appointment sessions between event organizers and site hosts was another busy period. Actually, there were two 2-hour long one-on-one periods during the Tuesday agenda.

Fo Sp

Don Staley from Foley AL preps for his busy day of meetings

Director of Foley Sports Tourism Don Staley, attending along with Foley (AL) City Councilman Rick Blackwell, looks forward to the S.P.O.R.T.S. Conference every year. “Without question this is one of the top sports conferences in the country,” Staley said from the event on Tuesday.

“At this particular conference I believe I have twelve one-on-one meetings scheduled, which is a little less than the 46 I had at the last conference,” Staley continued. “When you get to these events, a lot has to do with the meetings outside of the scheduled meetings. I could have twelve scheduled and I could probably easily have another 12-15 just networking with people.”

Bob Beaudine SPORTS Conference

Bob Beaudine delivered keynote presentation at Tuesday S.P.O.R.T.S. luncheon

The main Tuesday lunch reception featured special guest speaker Bob Beaudine, CEO of Eastman & Beaudine and author of The Power of Who. During our Opening Luncheon, Beaudine challenged many widely held presumptions, including the importance of traditional networking.

The social media flow was brisk as attendees posted and tweeted highlights of the presentation. Among the most shared segments: “The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, companies, universities & ‘Legendary Results’.”

Tuesday’s Beaudine speaker appearance was sponsored by Sports Wisconsin! with the luncheon sponsored by Athletes in Paradise!

An afternoon session on ‘Selling Sponsorships’ was led by Scott Wysong, featuring panelists Grady Raskin, Breon Dennis, and Tommy McClelland.

David Toms at SPORTS Conference

PGA Champion David Toms

Making an appearance at the Tuesday evening Networking Reception was 2007 PGA Champion David Toms, who continues play on the PGA Tour. He is also in the Ark-La-Tex Museum of Champions and heads the nearby David Toms Golf Academy.

Another full day of networking sessions and sports industry presentations continues on Wednesday, which will wrap up with a final sendoff for delegates including a fireworks show over Shreveport’s Red River.

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S.P.O.R.T.S. 2015 Underway In Louisiana

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 1.31.52 PMBy SportsEvents Magazine Publisher Talty O’Conner. This year’s S.P.O.R.T.S – The Relationship Conference convenes October 5-8 in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

Long-term success in the sports events industry is built around meaningful relationships. For event owners and rights holders, real relationships mean we work with destination and venue people that we know, like and trust to follow through on the promises they made in order to book our events. On the destination side, it means having confidence that the event organizer will deliver (and over-deliver) on their own promises and that they will run events we are proud to host in our community. For both sides, great relationships give us the peace in knowing we can count on the other side to come through when we need them.

It’s All About The Relationship
BannerRelationships grow when people have time to get to know each other and when we share meaningful experiences together. Our annual conference is built around building meaningful relationships. Our program has worked so well through the years that attendees frequently referred to S.P.O.R.T.S. as “the relationship conference.” We latched onto the name.

Our formula for genuine relationship building starts with the necessity of having a manageable audience. We’ve closed registration and had a waiting list of attendees for the past four years. We maintain a ratio of about 2.5 destination/venue attendees to one event organizer. Next, we only schedule meaningful 15-minute appointments that must be pre-approved by both sides of the table. We also have intimate group sessions like town hall meetings where attendees share concerns, ideas and solutions with each other. Finally, S.P.O.R.T.S. attendees have fun together. They enjoy entertaining events that are designed to pair event owners and destination executives together with fun shared experiences that they talk and laugh about for years to come.

Sports Conference Registration

Delegate Welcome Packets Await Registration At SPORTS2015.

In October 2015, S.P.O.R.T.S. The Relationship Conference will exceed expectations. Last year we had more than 7,000 pre-arranged 15-minute appointments. We’ll exceed that this year. Attendees will also benefit from educational sessions on important topics like networking and growing sponsorship revenues, they’ll talk and share at town hall sessions, mingle with sports industry greats like Tim Brando (FOX Sports) and David Toms (PGA golfer) and live it up together at great parties, scavenger hunts, ghosts tours and other networking events that only a magical community like Shreveport-Bossier City, LA can pull off.

More information on S.P.O.R.T.S. 2015 is available on our website,

Regardless of whether you can join us or not, spending your time building great relationships in this industry will always lead to greater success and often in ways you may not have ever imagined.

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Spotlight On Shreveport/Bossier City

Shreveport and Bossier City market themselves as “Louisiana’s Other Side” to accentuate their location near the state’s western border with Texas. More specifically, Shreveport-Bossier is in the northwest corner of Louisiana where I-20 and I-49 converge. The Shreveport Regional Airport (SHV) is served by four airlines.

“Our team believes Shreveport-Bossier stands out because of our premier meeting venues, Southern hospitality, affordable hotel rates and the many amenities we provide before, during and after a meeting,” said David Bradley, vice president of convention and tourism sales for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “Plus, attendees love the gaming, year-’round festivals, spicy Louisiana food and cultural attractions.”

Gaming is indeed big in this combo community that has six riverfront casinos: Boomtown Casino and Hotel, DiamondJacks Casino & Resort, Eldorado Resort Casino, Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino and the newest, Margaritaville Resort Casino. Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Bossier City offers thoroughbred horse racing and slot machine action.

All of the primary gaming establishments in Shreveport-Bossier offer meeting and special event space, on-site eateries and banquet facilities, and, with the exception of Harrah’s, lodging.

Shreveport-Bossier’s attractions also include the Louisiana Science Center, American Rose Center, Shreveport Cradle of the

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.02.47 AMStars Music Tour, and the Backstage Music Tour at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, the Art Deco landmark venue where Elvis got his start and the “Louisiana Hayride” made radio and tele- vision history. There is excellent shopping and dining at Bossier City’s Louisiana Boardwalk.

Shreveport- Bossier City Meeting Space:

• Shreveport Convention Center: 22,000 square feet of meeting space; 95,000 square feet of exhibition space

• Bossier Civic Center: 35,000 square feet of meeting space

• CenturyLink Center: 14,000-seat multi-purpose facility with a 187-seat club and lounge

• Shreveport Municipal Auditorium: 3,000 seats; 6,300-square-foot arena

• Harrah’s Louisiana Downs: 25,000 square feet of meeting space

• Hilton Shreveport: 313 guest rooms; connected to the Shreveport Convention Center, can accommodate up to 162 people in three meeting rooms

• Wyndham Garden Shreveport: 267 guest rooms; 15,500 square feet of meeting space

• The Strand: the official state theater of Louisiana has 1,536 seats and a small meeting room that can accommodate up to 75

• Sainte Terre: event facility in rustic surroundings outside Shreveport with barn, terrace, chapel and bridal suite opened fall 2014; accommodates up to 250 guests

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Focus on Mississippi

Focus on Mississippi Sports Venues

Mississippi Gulf Coast ColiseumWhile football may be king in Mississippi— the state is home to one of the nation’s
top tailgating universities, the University of Mississippi—the Magnolia State is passionate about sports of all kinds. “Mississippi is a must-visit for sports fans,” said Lauren Cook, public relations manager for Visit Mississippi.

“We offer a variety of venues for all types of sports. Tupelo’s Aquatics Center has hosted more than six large swim meets. Snowden Grove Park in DeSoto County possesses many features only previously found at professional stadiums.”


See the complete guide to Mississippi sports venues from our September issue of SportsEvents Magazine HERE.


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