21st annual Youth Sports Congress another big success!

21st annual Youth Sports Congress another big success!


Learning, networking, and good times filled the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando last week, as more than 300 dedicated recreation professionals from departments around the country and U.S. military bases worldwide attended another enormously successful Youth Sports Congress.

The 21st annual Congress, the signature event of the National Alliance for Youth Sports that is conducted in conjunction with the Athletic Business Show, treated attendees to three-plus days of high-quality sessions led by top experts in their respective fields.

If you were unable to join us in Orlando, be sure to register for our Virtual Youth Sports Congress, which runs from Dec. 13-15 and features all the NAYS sessions – and more! Plus, sessions are available for viewing through the end of January 2023.


The event kicked off with an inspiring keynote address by acclaimed CBS sportscaster and former University of Tennessee football standout Charles Davis.

“Thank you for everything that you all do for youth sports each and every day,” Davis told the audience. “I am one of those people who is a product of each of you sitting in this room.”  

The evening also featured recognizing Kenneth Vincent, the NAYS Volunteer Coach of the Year from the Fort Huachuca, Youth Sports & Fitness Program in Arizona; and Lathyrell Howard, the NAYS Parent of the Year from Glynn County Recreation and Parks in Georgia. The awards were sponsored by our friends at Spond. Learn more about our partnership in our blog post.

Three outstanding organizations who provide high-quality and diverse programming for children were also honored with the prestigious Excellence in Youth Sports Award. This year’s recipients were:




“It truly is inspiring to see all the incredible work being done worldwide to help make youth sports the best they can be for children,” said John Engh, executive director of NAYS. “I am so impressed how these dedicated recreation professionals have devised innovative ways for providing high-quality programming that keeps youth and teens engaged, active and having fun.”


The first full day of sessions began with Callahan Walsh from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) delivering an all-important session on Making It Safer to Compete.

The day also featured Chris Stevenson, founder of The Empower Group, presenting a session on The Art of Dealing with Difficult People in Youth Sports; and Marisa Hoff, Director of Operations at The Empower Group, speaking on Powerful Promotion: The Keys to a Successful NEW Program Launch.

Day Two got rolling with a session on Youth Sports Officials: We NEED YOU! that was presented by Trenton Buchman, a Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA) and Recreation Coordinator of the Blue Valley Recreation Commission in Kansas; and Michael Craig Oswald, also a CYSA and Recreation Manager of the City of Nephi in Utah.

Aileen Henderson, a CYSA and head of Business Operations at Hillsborough County (Fla.) Parks and Recreation; and Dave Ramirez, Athletics Manager at Hillsborough County, presented Recreation Leagues vs Travel Ball - The Battle Continues; and Dr. Matthew Raidbard, author, consultant, and college athletics administrator at the University of Hartford in Connecticut delivered a session on Learn to Lead Like a Pro in Youth Sports.

The day also featured the Athletic Business Show keynote presented by Jesse Cole, Owner of the Savannah Bananas, which ESPN calls the “greatest show in baseball.”

The Congress closed with a pair of terrific sessions: Jeff Bernstein, Executive Director of Simply Sports in New York and a CYSA, presented a session on Let’s Make our Programs Better; and professional soccer player Chelsee Washington of the Orlando Pride spoke on Cultivating Personal Confidence.

We are now collecting session proposals for our 2023 Youth Sports Congress in Baltimore, Maryland. If you would like to present, please fill out a session proposal.

Youth Sports Congress Orlando Leadership Learning Networking Administration

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