We have a new guest this week, Zach Houghton. Zach is a strength and conditioning coach at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. A few weeks ago Zach went to the CSCCa conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I asked Zach to provide us with a quick review of his experiences at the conference, and hopefully this will lead to some larger discussions for all of us coaches about organizations, certifications, and the role of the CSCCa, NSCA, NASM, in our field. This year, Zach took the certification exam at the conference (a nerve racking experience I remember well) so I would also like to build off that in the coming weeks.
For anyone who has never attended the CSCCa conference, I encourage you to do so. For a young coach it can be a fantastic (overwhelming at times) experience. A great chance to network with other coaches. A great chance to meet with vendors and try new equipment. And a great chance to listen to presentations from the best in the business.
I personally no longer attend the conference because, now that I don’t have a university to foot the bill, the expense is too great. I fully support the CSCCa, their mission, and the importance of a unifying body in our field. However, my biggest knock on the CSCCa, and we will discuss this more in the future, is the whole process is far too expensive for individuals and for coaches at smaller schools. When I got certified in 2011, I think the total bill for the program, the exam, the conference, and travel was close to $4,000. Thankfully I had the University of Pittsburgh to foot the bill.
CSCCa Conference 2014 – Zach Houghton
The 2014 CSCCa conference was the best that I have attended. Some may say, “It was in Salt Lake City?” Yes, it was in Salt Lake City, and yes, the location wasn’t the best and it rained a lot but the content and speakers at this conference were great.
Veterans of the strength and conditioning field, Ken Mannie and Mickey Mariotti had exceptional lectures. They both brought enthusiasm and experience together for a great overall package that intrigued all of the strength coaches in the room. Aaron Wellmen who I had previously heard speak at the Michigan Strength and Conditioning Clinic brought some new things to the table which I hadn’t heard him speak on before. This was nice to see someone use different material than they had used previously. A new up and coming strength and conditioning Coach Greg Pyszczynski spoke on the topic of concussions and took a different direction on it than I thought he would. He was extremely informative and not only talked about ways to prevent concussions but the different sports and their risk levels for concussions. There were many great speakers but these are the ones who stuck out to me after I had left Salt Lake City and often found myself going back through their power points that they presented to see what more I could take from what they were saying.
The social aspect of this conference was much better than last year. I felt as if a lot of coaches last year were very hesitant to get to know each other. They set the food up in the middle of the exhibit area which forced people to talk to others as they walked by or stand in line next to others and start conversation. This was great for a young strength coach like myself because it enabled my ability to network with other coaches and get to know some coaches who I had previously not known. Anytime that a door of communication opens up I try to take advantage of it and this was definitely one of them.
The exhibitors this year had a great selection for the early morning training group of coaches. I tend to stay over in the Rogers Equipment area just because they are all I’ve ever known but Hammer Strength had some great new attachments for their racks which was awesome to check out. The Pit Shark attachment for the Rogers Power Rack was the best that I have seen, it didn’t take up to much space and was great to use when going back and forth between squat sets.
The supplement section of the exhibitors was solid. I always love getting my Promera Sports shaker every year but other than that there wasn’t anything that stuck out among the others.
I stayed in the Marriott hotel which was awesome. They had a restaurant you could get a breakfast buffet. They also had a store and Starbucks, which I used a lot because I took the test on Wednesday. I didn’t like how they had to house half of the strength coaches in another hotel. When we were in Kansas City last year it was nice to have everyone in the same hotel so you could go from room to room to see everyone.
I thought that the written portion of the exam was fair for everyone that took it. It wasn’t so hard that you knew you were going to fail, but it also wasn’t so easy you felt like you didn’t deserve to get a good score on it. I thought that the practical portion of the exam was the most difficult. The fact that you are in a room with coaches that you know have been doing this for a long time and are at some of the schools you dream of coaching at is a little nerve wrecking. It took me until after the movement’s station to calm down and relax. This is probably just because I am a naturally uptight and jumpy person but it is what it is.
Overall I thought the conference was very good. The content base for the speakers was great and they did an awesome job getting everyone excited to be sitting I the same room as they were speaking. I always learn so much from these conferences. I meet great coaches and even better great people every time I attend.
Thank you Zach. We look forward to hearing more from you in the near future.
Zach Houghton is an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach / Wellness Coordinator at Wayne State University. He started interning for the Wayne State Strength Staff in 2012 and has progressed from graduate assistant to now full time employee for the athletic department. Zach also earned four letters for the Warriors from 2009-2012 and was a team captain in 2012. Zach is USAW and CSCS certified.