By Allison Hogue
WBCA Communications & Marketing Intern
It was March 11 when WBCA president and University of Toledo head women’s basketball coach Tricia Cullop got the call. She had just led the Rockets to an upset victory over Central Michigan in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The WBCA staff informed Cullop of advice it had received regarding the 2020 WBCA Convention.
Following the conversation, Cullop immediately called an emergency meeting of the association’s executive committee to discuss the issue. Shortly thereafter, the WBCA decided the 2020 convention would be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we all knew on the horizon it was a possibility,” Cullop said.
She knew the association had to come up with an alternative to best serve coaches during an unprecedented time. One idea that came to mind was to convert the convention into an online format. A couple of weeks later, the WBCA Power Hour was born.
“Taking the convention online was the right thing to do.” Cullop said. “We had to make sure that we’re still helping coaches grow and learn and make this a better game as we go along.”
The WBCA contacted the head coaches of the top 16 teams in every membership division and invited them to be presenters during Power Hour. Cullop was amazed that most of them accepted the request they be a part of the virtual convention.
“We were able to grab all of those people,” Cullop said. “They all said yes, and we couldn’t be more pleased that we had so many coaches willing to share in an unprecedented time.
“One way that hopefully we’re serving is providing this online convention for all levels.”
Members who registered for the online convention had the opportunity to learn about different topics from coaches. Power Hour was an instant success.
Cullop believes the WBCA needs to incorporate virtual networking into its online programming.
“That human interaction is something that’s hard to replace,” Cullop said. “And you know if we can continue to find ways during this time to still connect with people, even though it’s online, I think that’s important.”
Cullop will enter her final year as WBCA president in the 2020-21 academic year. The 2021 WBCA Convention is scheduled to be held in San Antonio, Texas. The lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may require the WBCA to adjust how the convention is conducted.
How schools are affected financially in the coming school year is a significant concern. Some coaches may not be able to travel to convention because of budget cuts.
“This is a very difficult time financially for a lot of institutions across the country,” Cullop said. “Not only did they lose the money that would be divvied up from the NCAA, but their state governments, the money that’s going to be allocated to the universities is going to be smaller.”
Cullop believes one option to explore is presenting the 2021 convention online to those members who cannot make it to San Antonio.
“I think we always have to be flexible and creative,” said Cullop, “And just like in our coaching seasons, we all face obstacles.”
“I think we’re kind of built for this. You know as coaches and as teams, we’re always trying to find a new way to do something.”