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NSSA events to include first-time festival; hosts still needed for weekend

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association has added a Sports Book Festival to its  June 6-8 Awards Weekend in Salisbury.

Meanwhile, organizers are still recruiting couples to host the winning sports journalists who come to town for the festivities.

Themed “Take Me out to the Ballgame,” the new festival will be held 1:30-5 p.m. Sunday, June 7, in the F&M parking lot on the corner of Main Street and Liberty Street.

F&M, NSSA, Cheerwine and Waterworks Visual Art Center are partnering in the event, designed to be educational, cultural and fun.

It will be open to the public, free of charge.

That will also be the opening day of Waterworks’ Smithsonian Institute Traveling Sports History Exhibition.

On hand to sign autographs and meet the public will be National Hall of Fame winner and nationally known Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan and National Hall of Fame winner and Dayton Daily News sportswriter Hal McCoy.

NSSA will be busing in its winners and guest to enjoy the event.

Bethany Bradsher and several coauthors of “Nothing Finer; The History of North Carolina Sports” will also be signing autographs.

There will be free Cheerwine from the Cheerwine wagon, stadium food, hundreds of free raffle giveaways (game tickets, apparel, and gear), and free activities and games like obstacle courses and  inflatables for all ages.

The festival will feature actors in vintage baseball costumes directing people to where they should go.  Children of any age who wear their baseball/softball uniform shirts get a special prize giveaway.

NSSA is still recruiting couples from the area to serve as hosts to out-of-town guests who are in town to be honored. Hosts get to experience three days’ worth of events and rub elbows with some of the biggest names in sports media.

It is a chance for Salisbury to show itself off to the rest of the country by showing the rest of the country just how well Salisbury treats its guests.  According to longtime host Joyce Goodwin, who with husband Joel, has been a regular at the NSSA’s annual Awards Weekend for the past 15 years, “This weekend is not about us (the hosts), but about how special we can make our guests feel.”

Over the years, everyone from Red Smith to Dick Vitale to Keith Jackson to Arnold Palmer to John Elway has been to Salisbury for Awards Weekend.

This year, NSSA will induct Lesley Visser (Boston Globe, CBS, ABC/ESPN), Hal McCoy (Dayton Daily News), Bill Raftery (CBS, FOX Sports 1, ESPN, Big East Network, New Jersey Nets) and the late Dick Schaap into its Hall of Fame.

National Sportscaster of the Year Mike “Doc” Emrick (NBC Sports) and National Sportswriter of the Year Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated) will also be honored, along with 105 state sportscasters and sportswriters of the year.

This year’s three days’ worth of events include the following events that hosts will be able to attend:

  • Saturday, June 6:Welcome Reception at Courtyard Marriott Salisbury, followed by Legacy Night dinner and panel, honoring Roone Arledge and Stuart Scott at Hendrick Motorsports in Concord
  • Sunday, June 7: National Athletic Trainers’ Association Awards Brunch and Seminars at Lee Street Theatre, followed by Sports Book Festival at Waterworks Visual Arts Center, followed by NSSA BBQ at Historic Salisbury Depot
  • Monday, June 8: Claude Hampton Golf Classic or NSSA Tennis Tournament at Country Club of Salisbury; 56th Annual NSSA Awards Reception & Banquet at Goodman Gym, Catawba College

NSSA Executive Director Dave Goren credits his hosts, who actually were Joel and Joyce Goodwin, in helping him strive to obtain his current position with the organization.  He shared his story in the first person:

The surprise came in late January, 2009, two months after my 20-year career at WXII-TV came to an end. My North Carolina peers, who were members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA), had voted me the state’s Sportscaster of the Year.

Four months later, my wife and I drove to Salisbury for the start of a remarkable three days, the 50th NSSA Awards Weekend. Upon registering, we learned that we were matched with a pair of local hosts, Joel and Joyce Goodwin. They introduced themselves at the welcome reception and made sure that over the next 72 hours, my wife and I felt right at home.

The Goodwins, and their friends, the Lynches, sat with us at the various weekend events. They made sure we knew where we going and when we had to be there. And when the Awards Weekend was over, we felt as if we had four new best friends.

Because of the way we were treated that weekend, I decided to apply for the NSSA’s executive director job and started in that position in September of 2009. It is now my job to make sure our out-of-town guests from all over the country are treated the way my wife and I were six years ago.

As Joyce Goodwin says, “We are honoring people from all across the U.S. who tell us what’s happening in the world of sports. They work long, hard hors and don’t necessarily make the big bucks. This is a chance to give them some special recognition at a fun-filled weekend, to say ‘thank you’ for all of their hard work.”

Once upon a time, those out-of-town guests stayed at Salisbury residents’ houses. That is no longer the case. The NSSA puts up its guests in local hotels and provides transportation for them to all of the scheduled events. All that the organization asks of its Awards Weekend hosts is that they make those guests feel welcome.

“Sit with them at some of the events, answer their questions, listen to their stories… and most of all, have fun,” Goren adds.

“It’s a fun time for meeting fun people,” Joel Goodwin says. “For me, NSSA is all about being an ambassador for North Carolina and for Salisbury.”

Those interested in becoming NSSA Awards Weekend hosts ($200 per person before May 1st; $300 per person after May 1st) should contact the NSSA office at 704-633-4275 or by emailing executive director Dave Goren at dgoren@nssafame.com. You may also register at www.nssafame.com.

The NSSA is headquartered on the campus of Catawba College.  A formal agreement was by representatives of both entities in November of 2014 and paved the way for future collaborations that will be mutually beneficial.

The College provides facility space to the NSSA Hall of Fame to house its offices and its collection of memorabilia related to sportscasters and sportswriters.  The NSSA provides Catawba’s students and faculty with access to its archives and memorabilia to help further develop and enhance the College’s Sports Communication program that was launched with the start of the fall 2014 semester. A long term goal of this collaboration is the construction of a new building on the campus of Catawba College that will house the College’s Communication Arts department and its Sports Communications program as well as the NSSA’s headquarters and its Hall of Fame museum.

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