Year of Volleyball Underway; First Tournament in the Books

More than 2,000 female volleyball players from across the Northeast spent the holiday weekend in Hartford for the New England Region Volleyball Association’s 2015 Mizuno New England Winterfest Volleyball Tournament, held at the Connecticut Convention Center.  The event, which started in Hartford six years ago, has steadily grown in popularity, and will be returning for at least the next two years. Tournament organizers, the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB), and the Connecticut Convention Bureau said the three-day event brought in close to 10,000 visitors over the long weekend including approximately 2,000 players, 250 coaches, 100 officials and volunteer tournament staff, and thousands of family members and fans – and tremendous enthusiasm.25

There were 25 volleyball courts arrayed on the Convention Center floor, with 12 matches per court every day, simultaneously, each lasting no more than one hour.  Five years ago, the tournament was launched with 18 courts in continuous operation.

“The Mizuno New England Winterfest is designed to showcase female volleyball players – ages 12 to 18 – to college coaches and recruiters from throughout the Northeast,” explains Tournament Chair Alex Temkin. “The Northeast has one of the largest concentrations of Collegiate Division II and Division III schools in the country, and there are many Division I schools here as well.”

“We are excited to welcome back this successful tournament, one that is projected to generate over $3.3 million in revenue for the Greater Hartford region,” said H. Scott Phelps, Interim President of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB), prior to the tournament. Phelps reports an estimated 885 jobs in the hospitality industry will be supported by this tournament, and $270,500 in Connecticut Sales Tax will be generated.sign

Where's UConn?

”Having more than 800 matches in a single location encourages college recruitment decision-makers to come and scout as many players as possible.” Temkin said.  On Friday evening, a College Showcase was held to showcase athletes for college coaches and recruiters, as well as a College Recruiting Seminar for parents of volleyball players.

Approximately 38 colleges had coaches on hand, watching the talent.  Surprisingly absent:  the University of Connecticut.  Among the coaches on hand from local colleges were representatives of University of Hartford, University of Saint Joseph, and Sacred Heart University.  By Saturday morning, a number of institutions with volleyball teams still had materials on hand touting their programs, aimed at prospective college applicants.  None of the material was from a Connecticut school.

Temkin notes that volleyball teams’ interest in registration for Winterfest was so great this year – 25 percent more than in 2014 – that organizers established a smaller, independent volleyball tournament called the “Husky Sweet 16” to accommodate the additional athletes. That competition was held at a facility in Windsor.

More in May

There’s more volleyball to come later this year at the Connecticut Convention Center.  Building on the success of the Winterfest tournament, the New England Region Volleyball Association (NERVA) will bring its first-ever Northeast Junior Championships to Hartford over Memorial Day weekend.

The tournament, featuring junior girls and boys teams from throughout the Northeast, is expected to bring nearly 200 teams, more than 2,000 players, 400 coaches, 75 officials and volunteer tournament staff, and 3,500 family members and fans downtown, from Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25, 2015. volleyballs

NERVA has committed to holding the event at the venue for the next three years, through at least 2017, with over 3,000 overnight rooms and 1,100 rooms anticipated for the new annual event.

“We have always valued our partnership with the Connecticut Convention Center and the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau,” states David Peixoto, NERVA Commissioner. “Our partnership has grown to develop Winterfest as the premier volleyball tournament in the Northeast. We look forward to making the Northeast Junior Championship just as successful.”

The new four-day event does not require teams to qualify to participate. While it will serve as a season-ending tournament for some, the event will allow for additional preparation to teams continuing on to nationals. Participants are 12-18 years old, as NERVA follows USA Volleyball age guidelines.

“Downtown Hartford is a great location for our sports event and the city and region really make our players and fans feel welcome,” added Temkin. “Restaurants extend their hours and customize the menus, the Dash shuttle bus that circulates Downtown adds hours of operation, and everyone does their best to accommodate our group.”

The New England Region is one of many Regions in the United States that aid in the governing of the sport of volleyball. Regional Volleyball Associations (RVAs) are member organizations of USA Volleyball (USAV). The RVAs serve as the grassroots function for the USAV and individually and collectively serve as a catalyst for USAV functions.

Volleyball footnote:  While many know that the sport of  basketball was invented in Springfield, MA; fewer are aware that volleyball was also invented in nearby Massachusetts, in Holyoke.  That’s where the National Volleyball Hall of Fame is located.



National Conference in Hartford to Focus on Nonprofits, Philanthropy and Voluntary Action

The theme will be “Nonprofit and Voluntary Action in an Age of Turbulence” when more than 600 researchers, leaders and teachers from around the nation gather in Hartford later this week for the annual convention of ARNOVA – the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.

As the leading organization supporting research and education in the fields of voluntary action, philanthropy, nonprofit management, and civil society, ARNOVA conducts its annual conference to create a public conversation on, as well as opportunities for presenting research about, pressing issues and vital opportunities facing the voluntary or nonprofit sector. It is considered to be both a showcase for the best and most current research, as well as a seed bed from which new research is born.

Scholars, practitioners and studenArnovats from the U.S. and beyond will exchange knowledge about voluntary action, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy – and Connecticut will be well represented among participants.   David Nee, representing the Connecticut Data Collaborative and Terry Edelstein, nonprofit liaison to the Governor will be among the panelists for a plenary session of the Conference.  Among those attending the national conference close to home are Kyle Barrette (UConn), Mary Bernstein (UConn), Ron Cretaro (Connecticut Association for Nonprofits), Robert Fisher (UConn), Richard Frieder (Hartford Public Library), Maggie Gunther Osborn (Connecticut Council for Philanthropy), Reinaldo Rojas (UConn), Homa Naficy (Hartford Public Library), Nmarasimhan Srinivasan (UConn), Rebecca Thomas (UConn) and Jun Yan (UConn).

The three-day conference (Thursday-Saturday) at the Connecticut Convention Center will include more than 100 sessions attendees can choose to attend.  Frieder will lead a session highlighting the Hartford Public Library’s Immigrant and Civic Engagement Project.  Cretaro will conduct a session devoted to outlining Connecticut’s Collaboration with Human Services Nonprofits.  Rojas will present Community Development and Its Socioeconomic Impact in Latino Neighborhoods.

Over recent decades, the public conversation at the conference – held last year in Indianapolis - has evolved to address new developments in the fields, including social entrepreneurship, social economy an4 Arnovad all aspects of civil society, as well as to meet the needs of those who study and lead “the social sector.” ARNOVA’s Annual Conference is the largest gathering held regularly anywhere devoted to these matters, according to the organization.

Conference organizers report that roughly 80 percent of participants will be based in universities or colleges, and include leading scholars and teachers. Many also serve as community consultants and nonprofit board leaders. The remaining 20 percent will be staff or leaders of nonprofit or social-economy organizations, full-time consultants to those groups, and some who play other roles in the world of philanthropy.

ARNOVA’s work benefits all of society by helping generate the knowledge and perspectives that can make organizations and enterprises more effective. With a focus on teaching, we are also playing a key role in preparing the next generation of leadership. Special projects we carry out have directly addressed the needs of nonprofits and foundations in developing new knowledge and sustaining important conversations vital to refining and improving their practices and services. In short, a wide range of organizations and individuals seeking to serve the public good are strengthened by the work of ARNOVA and its members.

Among the conference sponsors are the UConn College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Public Policy and the Hartford-based law firm of Reid and Riege.

Photo:  David Nee, Terry Edelstein, Ron Cretero, Richard Frieder

Connecticut Convention Center Journeys Nationwide to Attract New Conventions, Record-Setting Numbers

In the final days of the National League pennant race last week, a suite at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. was filled with convention planners – hosted not by the home team Washington Nationals or visiting Atlanta Braves, but by the Connecticut Convention Center.  The 17 convention planners and their guests enjoyed the playoff run of the competing teams that evening, while hearing highlights of the state-owned facility in downtown Hartford.

While it’s too soon to tell if the gambit in the nation’s capitol will bring convention business to Connecticut’s capitol, a glimpse at the upcoming calendar demonstrates that despite a continuing sluggish economy, conventions are definitely coming toCCC 1 town.  In fact, four first-time conventions highlight the October schedule, and next month promises to be the top November for overall attendance in three years.

The first-time events slated for October, when overall attendance at programs and events is estimated to reach nearly 18,000:

  • New England Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (NEHRSA)/ International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) Fall Conference & Tradeshow (October 3-4) - NEHRSA & IHRSA have joined forces to create the premier event for the health & fitness industry in the Northeast.  This event will offer educational tracks for club owners & managers responsible for sales, marketing, social media, operations & fitness training.  (Anticipated Attendance: 250-400 people)
  • 2013 Crisis Intervention Team International Conference (October 14-16) - Crisis Intervention Team International is a non-profit membership organization whose primary purpose is to facilitate understanding, development and implementation of Crisis Intervention Team programs throughout the United States and worldwide. Its mission is to promote and support collaborative efforts to create and sustain more effective interactions among law enforcement, mental health care providers, individuals with mental illness, their families and communities, while working to reduce the stigma of mental illness. (Anticipated Attendance: 650-800 people)
  • The 2013 Northeast Regional Youth Mentoring Conference (October 17-18) - The region’s only annual conference focused exclusively on supporting quality mentoring, it brings together practitioners, researchers and stakeholders in the mentoring field.  This year’s theme, “Today’s Vision: Tomorrow’s Reality” focuses on the outcomes that can be achieved when a caring adult is brought into a young person’s life through quality mentoring.  (Anticipated Attendance: 175-350 people)
  • YMCA Celebrates Champions (October 24, 2013) - The event celebrates the “champions in our lives.”  These champions surround us every day and help to make the lives of others brighter.  They are parent, teachers, volunteers, mentors and others.  The event benefits the many life-changing YMCA programs and services available to underserved families.  The event includes dinner, program and silent and live auctions. (Anticipated Attendance: 350 people.)

 During next month, attendance at all convention center events is anticipated to reach 24,000, which would exceed the 21,747 people who journeyed to the facility in November 2012 and 15,558 who visited during the month in 2011.  The largest conventions scheduled for November include the National Association for Campus Activities, the American Association of School Librarians National Conference and Exhibition – expected to attract 2,000 peoplimage_logo1e - and the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action Annual Conference.

Since the beginning of June, in the quest to bring future conventions to the facility, representatives of the Connecticut Convention Center have participated in conference planning events in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Austin, Denver and Palm Beach, Florida.

The Connecticut Convention Center is described as the state’s premier meeting venue, and is the largest full-service convention facility between New York and Boston. Overlooking the Connecticut River in downtown Hartford, it features 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 40,000-square-foot ballroom and 25,000 square feet of meeting space, as well as ample sheltered parking.

The facility – opposite the Front Street entertainment district that has recently been gaining traction- is served by more than 6,500 local area hotel rooms, including the 22-story Marriott Hartford Downtown, adjacent to the Convention Center. The venue is professionally managed for the State of Connecticut by Waterford Venue Services, an affiliate of Waterford Hotel Group.

Who’s hearing the sales pitch?  Among the planners on hand for the Nats-Braves game: LaKeesha Wilson, American Association of Blacks in Energy; Adam Martin, American Public Transportation Association; Amy Gorman, United States Council of Mayors; Antoinette Dixon, American Staffing Association; Susan Cairnes, Management Solutions Plus; Marci Glavin, Helms Briscoe; Lori Kolker, Elle K Associates; Alyssa Murphy, Windrose Media; Brian Peterkin, Vertanesian-BoardSource.

This past summer, Michael Costelli, General Manager for the Connecticut Convention Center, was interviewed on TALK BUSINESS 360 regarding the facility’s operations and growth.  TALK BUSINESS 360 is a talk show that educates and entertains millions of travelers by presenting one-on-one interviews with business leaders and top executives from a variety of industries.  The broadcasts run on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and US Airways.