Amy Gilstrap, Coordinator of Convention Services, American Football Coaches Association, Waco, Texas (

Describe your event.

The American Football Coaches Association Convention (AFCA) originated on Dec. 27, 1921, with an informal gathering of 43 coaches at the Hotel Astor in New York City.  AFCA was formed a few months after. The first official convention was held a year later at the Astor, which hosted the AFCA on eight different occasions.

Focused on learning, networking and fellowship, the convention features a three-and-a-half-day coaching clinic and several other functions, including the Honors Luncheon, AFCA Tailgate Party, AFCA Skills & Drills Field and American Football Coaches Awards. Speakers includes coaches from four-year institutions as well as from the junior college, high school, international and professional ranks.

Today, AFCA attracts more than 7,000 participants, including coaches of all levels from around the world. In January 2018, we brought the convention to Charlotte.

Why Charlotte?

Charlotte was my first official site selection visit and I loved it immediately. The city’s walkability, great airlift and drive-in accessibility made it a good option for us. 

Which hotels and venues did you utilize?

We held most educational programs and functions at the Charlotte Convention Center, plus affiliate events at The Westin Charlotte, Hilton Charlotte Center City, Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown and Le Meridien Charlotte. We booked 16 hotels in total for overnight accommodations. 

Any local partners that you would single out for special mention?

The dual force of the Visit Charlotte/CRVA’s (Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority) Thomas Lee, senior national sales manager, sports, and Lacy Lange, senior convention services manager, is nothing short of amazing. Working as the perfect team, they anticipate client needs while offering first-rate ideas and unique experiences.  

How would you describe your overall experience in Charlotte? 

Overall, Charlotte delivered big time! With our staff on-site for approximately 11 days, working long hours and not getting out much, the natural light in the center was a big bonus. Sunshine, even through a window, can be a great motivator, and made the venue livelier.    

Would you return?

While AFCA only has a few openings in the next decade, Charlotte is strong contender.