The 2022 Program Leadership Conference took place on November 19, 2022 at the SONJ Sports Complex. This year’s conference focused on Coach Education and covered a number of topics.

List of topics:

Keynote Speaker: Paul Aronsohn

Hear from New Jersey's Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Families. The ombudsman is a neutral staff person who answers questions, addresses concerns from the public, and is responsible for enhancing customer service in the courts. The ombudsman provides the bridge between the courts and the community to enhance public access and improve customer service.

Understanding Disabilities: Techniques and Application to Coaching
  • This session will focus on techniques in working with individual athletes and teams
  • Every team is different and every athlete is different
  • Learn strategies to determine if an athlete needs more time or is ready for competition
  • Application of skills and knowledge to coaching
Family Engagement: Communication with Families
  • Highlight and put emphasis on the SONJ Codes of Conducts
  • Season/team expectations - sports/teams are a commitment on every level of competition
  • Pre-Season Family Meetings - what should this involve?
    • How to communicate with families - strategies to build rapport
  • Ways to get families involved within the team - volunteers, assistant coaches, support roles
    • Involve the families
  • Hear personal coaching/team experiences
Training & Fitness with Athletes
  • Hear from volunteers from RWJBarnabas Health
  • Strategies to implement fitness and conditioning into practices
  • Conditioning outside of regular sport practices
    • Help athletes' performance/reduce risk of sports related injury
  • Modifications to exercise/drills
Young Athletes Breakout #1: Coaching & Curriculum
  • Join for a Meet & Greet with new and existing coaches
  • Discussion of curriculum and overall programming
  • Opportunity for coaches to discuss individual programs and offer insight/suggestions to others
Lunch & Learn with USA Games Athlete Coaches
  • Hear from the athlete coaches themselves about their experience at a National Games!
    • Personal coaching experiences
    • How they got into coaching
    • Transition from being an athlete to coaching
    • Offering of advice to any athletes that would like to coach and what steps to take
  • We are seeing more athletes become coaches
  • Discussion of the transition from playing sports to coaching, offering sport knowledge, and more
Health & Wellness - Disciplines Offered by SONJ
  • Hear from the SONJ Health Program Director and Clinical Director on the several health disciplines and events we offer throughout the year
    • How to register
    • What athletes/participants need
    • Descriptions of each
    • Where the events are located and when
  • Emphasis on Strong Minds
    • Definition, expectations, benefits, and importance of mental health
Young Athletes Breakout #2: Impact & Program Demonstration
  • Participants will go into the gym to implement the ideas and strategies discussed in Session 1 to create a demonstration
    • Use and application of the curriculum
  • Family impact statement
    • Personal experiences through their Young Athletes Program
Beyond Coaching - Further Opportunities
  • Discussion of ways to get involved in SONJ outside of coaching
    • How and where
  • Volunteering
  • Being part of a committee and how
  • Involvement on the Area-level
  • Site Coordinators
  • Personal stories and experiences from an Area Director and long-time volunteers/Site Coordinators
    • How and why
  • Recruitment of volunteers, committee members, and more!