TopConnect was born over 15 years ago as a project to connect future leaders with current leaders. Initially launched as Villa 7, the TopConnect program has evolved into a valuable resource for professionals in the current climate of sports, athletics and leadership in general to foster dialogue between individuals that continually strive to effectively lead people, programs and organizations.
We are focused on bringing individuals together to build relationships, expand their network and create a dyanmic forum for information sharing to facilitiate the introduction between coaches and college administrators.
Along with giving coaches access to the industry leaders, we are committed to providing resources to help prepare the next generation of leaders through education, mentorship and sharing real life experiences.
Leadership is the foundation of success for any organization, department or progam. For the past 15+ years we have worked diligently to give both leaders and future leaders the resources necessary to continue their journey to lead.
As part of the building of a continuing initiative to help develop and support the next generation of leadership, new methods must be developed and implemented. The success of Villa 7 and TopConnect came from three basic components:
- Connecting Mid-major athletic director with top basketball assistant coaches to provide initial engagement opportunities to help with the ultimate hiring of a head basketball coach.
- Providing valuable content in the areas of:
- Head Coaching
- Provide opportunity for coaches and administrator to build their industry network and connect with leaders, influencers and decision makers in college athletics.
With the “new normal” of limited personal contact, the established methods of providing the three foundational cornerstones of Villa 7 and TopConnect must be modified to use the available communication resources and available technology. Fortunately Villa 7 and TopConnect have built a strong brand within the basketball and college athletic world. Coaches and AD’s around the country have demonstrated a willingness and even eagerness to participate. In today’s landscape, developing a new model can accelerate growth of the three fundamental values of the original villa 7 paradigm.
While this year’s annual in person symposium had to be postponed, coaches and Athletic Directors have shown an excitement to become involved in this new model. The vision for this model will provide compelling and valuable content to a vast array of coaches and administrators at all levels, provide opportunities for coaches to engage with Athletic Directors, provide channels for the next generation of leaders to network and build strong relationships with each other and major influencers, provide opportunities for coaches and administrators to develop their personal interaction skills, provide opportunities to build their personal brands by being given opportunities to share their own personal communication talents and develop personal assets that will serve them in the future as they move forward in their careers.
The question arises, “How will the previous mentioned outcomes be accomplished?” TopConnect will build this model as follows:
Develop a TopConnect website that will become the core for all communication and exposure. The website will:
- Explain the purpose and history of Villa 7 and TopConnect.
- Be the hub for content distribution
- Be a repository for our coaches and AD’s video content including personal pages for each of our next generation leaders.
- Create social media content that not only provides content but also allows for the next generation of leaders to share their knowledge and personalities.
- Provide opportunities for the next “head basketball coaches” group to connect with athletic department leadership in both one on one and small group (less than 6) sessions to discuss ideas, concepts and vision.
- Provide opportunities for our next generation to be recognized as experts in their field as the grow their exposure and build their personal brand in all areas including leadership, relationship building, X’s and O’s and every area of basketball program development.
- Our next generation will be able to develop interview skills and build an attractive portfolio to use in their career development. Every one of our committed leaders will have their own “page” in our website to use as a tool to share with anyone who becomes an important member of their personal network.
- The content will be available to everyone interested in expanding their knowledge in leadership, coaching, management, communications and other important areas.
- Small (approximately 5 minute) instructional classes will be developed and available on the website for free consumption.
- Major instructional classes in significant more detail will be available on our website for a reasonable fee or a yearly subscription.
From the Industry
“Doc Sander has spent his entire career being on the cutting edge of things in our industry. His creation and implementation of Villa 7 in the early 2000’s was instrumental in my development. From my lens, if you are a new athletic director or aspiring head coach,TopConnect must be a priority. I am excited to see the resurrection of such a great event. The relationships you will build, coupled with the compounding growth, will be a separator. Everyone who participates will #getBETTER!”
Buzz Williams (Head Basketball Coach - Texas A&M)
“When we started this program, I knew it was a good idea. I am so glad that Doc has decided to bring it back. The great thing about bringing it back, it is for all the right reasons, to help Athletic Directors and Coaches.“
Martin Newton (Athletic Director - Samford University)
“Villa 7 blossomed out of an astute idea in response to a fundamental question – how do we better prepare AD’s and the next generation of head basketball coaches? I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the program in those early years. More than a decade later, the question still resonates with those of us looking to advance the sport of basketball while simultaneously focusing on topical issues which confront today’s athletic administrators. This is the right time to bring back Villa 7 in its purest form.”
Rick Boyages (Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball - Big Ten Conference)