On November 17th, 2020, USSSA held their 53rd National Convention at the Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. This was our very first virtual convention. Rick Fortuna opened the convention, following USSSA CEO Donny DeDonatis to speak on the changes this year held.
This year was a year of unknown and immense change following. USSSA learned a lot while going through new challenges we have never faced before. Despite these challenges, we preserved and adjusted. The responsiveness of our departments was quite amazing while handling COVID-19.
We want to highlight a few directors appointed this year that had a huge impact on USSSA.
National Slowpitch Director Sean Melvin had an immediate impact in the community, national office, and teams. We were able to run over 1,200 teams through the USSSA GSL World Tournament.
National Fastpitch Director Ryan Highfill knows firsthand what directors want and need. He is a natural born leader and is constantly bringing industry knowledge to USSSA.
National Baseball Director Steve Hassid is wonderful with streamlining communication to all those in the field and uses his in-state connections to bring business to the Space Coast Complex. Steve built Florida USSSA Baseball to be the leader in the Industry within the state. We hope to keep USSSA baseball on a path to success and build a plan to keep baseball a leader in the industry.
The following states showed upwards trends in participation despite the challenges faced this year:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
We value our directors, and this shows the work they were/are putting in while faced with shutdowns and COVID restrictions. We wanted to highlight national directors of each diamond sport and give special thanks for working extra hard with all the curveballs 2020 threw our way. We have passionate people driving our sports and we could not thank them enough for the hard work put in this year. A special thanks to the committee members for hard work and dedication in 2020, they are constantly driving growth of USSSA with support of national office. This year proved for opportunities of sustained growth within the next few years.
We would love to acknowledge Brian Wegman, Matthew Bower, and Nick Morehead for their dedication in opening months of May and June. These three men went above and beyond to ensure USSSA could be a destination for events and teams that no longer had a place to play. We hosted the first sport event in the entire state of Florida after intense preparation and several procedures put in place. We were up and running through weekends and we were able to have 2,300 teams from 30 states through the complex since reopening on May 23rd. This would not have been possible without Brian, Matt, and Nick.
As travel decreased, we were able to find a way to bring our sports to people at home by adjusting and adding new cameras to different ball fields throughout the country, livestreaming more tournaments than ever before. Our cameras work on both Wi-Fi and hardwired ethernet. We are looking to expand to more fields in 2021. Each session was about an hour long, we had 350 thousand users, USSSAlive had over 2.2million page views and peaked with 79,000 hours of content. Another 2020 win was pushing events back into October, rescheduling, and pushing our playing season back. This will be continued into 2021, as we have reevaluated our business structure. With the help of Kevin Reynolds, Stacy hobs, and our technology department, we were able to get our Background check requirement transition as smooth as possible. Lastly, we have updated our USSSA directors’ benefits page. This shows what kind of perks you receive when committing to USSSA. This will help as we recruit and push forward with growth and success in 2021.
“We appreciate the hard work of all directors in the field and everyone involved with USSSA. I would love to give a special shoutout to Laurie Timmons and Paul O’Leary for putting together this virtual convention and working nonstop behind the scenes. I would also like to thank the entire staff at the national office for working hard through all the 2020 roadblocks and staying strong. I would also like to give a special thanks to Rick Fortuna and the board of directors for working with us constantly through Zoom and believing in me to lead this association. I would also like to give a special thanks to our general council Wendy Anderson and her legal team of Bob Goldman and Jennifer Birmingham for all their hard work in 2020.”
-Donny DeDontasis, CEO of USSSA