2015 Chapter Awards

Yesterday in Oakland a child learned how to shoot a basketball. Today a child in Orlando, who was afraid of the ball only last week, is passing a soccer ball to her teammates. These seemingly small moments are occurring daily. Behind these moments is a movement led by coaches from different walks of life, who are creating memories and building skills that will last a lifetime. Coaching Corps, and the coaches who are the backbone of this organization, is serving kids who might never have access to these moments and these memories.

As with all teams, an organization and a mission are only as good as those who put in the hard work to help it run. Our Coaching Corps chapter leaders, many of whom juggle full class schedules, jobs, and coaching, are vital to helping us serve the kids who need us. They recruit and support (and often a million little things in between) our campus chapters and the coaches who populate them.

Every year, we like to recognize our coaches and the leaders who make our movement possible. Your hard work is invaluable in our mission to close the sports gap and change the game for more kids across the country. This year’s Chapter Award winners are:

The Chapter of the Year Award: Boston College!
The Coaching Corps Ambassador Award: Andrew Reardon, Director of Coach Support at Harvard!
The Rookie Chapter of the Year: University of Central Florida!
The Community Engagement Award: University of California, Los Angeles!
The Coach Retention Award: University of California, Berkeley!
The Coach Recruitment Award: San Diego State University!

Chapter of the Year Award: Boston College

Boston Table

This year, the winner of the Coaching Corps Chapter of the Year award goes to Boston College—a chapter that has battled blizzards, braved snowstorms, and still rallied together to create a chapter that not only met, but consistently exceeded its goals.

The Coaching Corps Chapter at Boston College had an amazing year! Out of 270 clubs on campus, this Coaching Corps Chapter was named one of 40 to have an A+ rating that led to hundreds of potential coaches expressing interest at their activities fairs. Chapter leadership’s strategy to lead potential coaches through the application process during general meetings proved successful—they received over 60 new applications from the fall meeting alone.

Boston College’s Coaching Corps Chapter was able to fill nearly 70% of their partners’ needs this year. By leveraging Boston College funding, chapter leadership was also able to improve coach quality by providing basic equipment such as whistles, clipboards and cones for coaches who needed them. They also have the new leadership team already organizing their Coach Appreciation Event.

The tremendous effort and teamwork that went into strengthening their chapter, improving coach quality, and serving their community lands Boston College as Chapter of the Year. Boston College has proven that with a dedicated team, strategic planning, and consistent support, a chapter can produce results while supporting coaches. “We feel that with a solid foundation of new, young, coaches, we are able to look forward to organizing events on campus an in the community that will help support our efforts in narrowing the sports gap.”

The Coaching Corps Ambassador Award: Andrew Reardon, Director of Coach Support at Harvard


An ambassador is a symbol, an embodiment of an organization’s mission. This year, Coaching Corps is proud to award Andrew Reardon, the Director of Coach Support at Harvard, with the Coaching Corps Ambassador Award. This year, Andy acted as an ambassador of Coaching Corps to everyone he met, from fellow coaches, the kids he coached, and the partners he worked with.

With Coaching Corps and his regional contact in California, Andy took the initiative to work closely with partners. By coaching two teams at once, Andy strengthened and grew partnerships with new organizations. At the team level, Andy exemplified what it means to be a coach—working with his teams and understanding their needs on an individual level and what their goals were for the future. Andy helps the teams he coaches thrive by encouraging them to get to know each other beyond practice. He also worked with the Boys and Girls Club to develop a curriculum that folded in the importance of education and with sports, even using basketball stats like free throw percentages to teach them fractions!
Andrew Reardon displayed the tenants of what it means to be a Coaching Corps Ambassador. Andy’s passion for the mission Coaching Corps is an inspiration, and we cannot wait to see what he and the rest of the Harvard Chapter have in store for us next year!

The Rookie Chapter of the Year: University of Central Florida

UCF Coaching Corps on Instagram  “Harry, Aamna, Nailah, Alexia, and Teresa with Kingston the lion! -#UCFCoachingCorps #UCF #OrlandoCitySoccer #CoachingCorps -@coachingcorps”

Over 2,000 miles away from Coaching Corps headquarters in Oakland, in sunny Florida, a new chapter was developed and grown by the hardworking team at University of Central Florida. Although far away and brand new to campus, this dedicated team stepped up to the plate and recruited and supported coaches to serve the needs of kids throughout Orlando.
The chapter kept its members engaged by hosting several Coach Huddles throughout the year, appreciating and informing them of coaching opportunities and recruiting new coaches. They interfaced with the university itself, becoming a Registered Student Organization in the fall and helping coaches post their service hours online for scholarships and grants.
UCF also partnered with Orlando After School All Stars, the Sports and Exercise Club on campus, and Orlando City Soccer (a major league soccer team in Orlando) for guidance and support. With a strong first year of tabling, advertising, and coach support the team at UCF has paved the way for many more seasons of greatness. Great job UCF!

The Community Engagement Award goes to: University of California, Los Angeles

(Photo via The Daily Bruin)
(Photo via The Daily Bruin)

In order to keep our mission of serving kids thriving, chapters must reach out and engage them beyond the court. This year, UCLA is the winner of the Community Engagement Award for doing just that!

UCLA’s annual Take Your Team to College Day was an amazing experience, bringing over fifty elementary school students to UCLA, showing them the beautiful campus and giving them a glimpse into the life of a college student. The event, which included a scavenger hunt and a tour of the athletic Hall of Fame, helped to inspire the students to look at all the opportunities that await them. They also led a discussion with their Division I athletes on campus and a discussion about their possible academic futures. By engaging with the kids, they are planting the seeds of a life rooted in the importance of education. Great job showing how events like these can inspire those that we serve, UCLA!

The Coach Retention Award goes to: University of California, Berkeley
Every team needs its veteran players, people who are experienced and excited about our mission to close the sports gap for low income youth. Returning coaches provide consistency for the kids we work with and raise the quality of their teams. That is why UC Berkeley is the winner of the Coach Retention Award! They are one of our oldest chapters, providing unique events and outreach to keep coaches coming back and proving that they are adaptive and creative at finding new ways to reach coaches. With 12 returning coaches this year and an ever growing number of coaches, we cannot wait to see what they have in store for next year!

The Coach Recruitment Award goes to: San Diego State University
Bringing in new coaches not only grows Coaching Corps chapters, but it also grows the number of kids who get the opportunity to grow emotionally and physically as they play sports. With an impressive 29 new coaches and growth that will only rise, we are so proud to award SDSU with the Coach Recruitment Award! With a strong leadership team at the helm, consistent tabling, and targeted recruitment, SDSU has been able to turn out impressive Expressed Interest and coach numbers. Way to go SDSU!

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Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Benita Vargas-Brown, Volleyball Coach at Hampstead Hill Academy

Benita Vargas-Brown grew up in one of the poorest parts of Baltimore. She always wanted to make a difference in the city, which is why she became a social worker. That same passion eventually led her to coach and mentor kids in sports. Learn more about Benita’s journey in her own words.
How did you become a Coaching Corps coach?
I didn’t go looking for coaching, it found me. I was really stressed with my job and my final semester in undergrad, so my husband said, “You’re really not helping yourself. Why don’t you leave your job, take the semester off, and figure out what you want to do next?” So, I went to a volunteering fair, and that’s when I got to know Coaching Corps. It was destiny: They were looking for a volleyball coach, and I am qualified to coach volleyball. They said they needed a coach for Hampstead Hill Academy, which is literally just a walk away from our home. So, it was really perfect.
Can you tell us more about the challenges that the kids you coach face at school and at home?
When people hear Baltimore, crime and violence are among the usual challenges that come to mind, so it was extra important to keep the kids off the streets. I’ve had to drive some of the girls home so they don’t have to take the bus when it’s dark.
There have also been some differences among the girls. The school is located at Patterson Park, where on one side you have the million-dollar houses, and on the other you have boarded-up houses. So you wind up having kids coming from privileged and underprivileged situations. This created some interesting dynamics within the team that led to some difficult conversations, but we got through it eventually. That’s one of the benefits of team sports. We got this whole learning experience that wound up really positive at the end.
You mentioned something about “interesting team dynamics.” Can you share more about that?
This is actually one of the things I’m proudest [of] about my team. The girls take it upon themselves to address differences within the group. At one point, it became very clear during our practice that something wasn’t right. We were on this championship drive but there was obvious tension within the team. The girls came to me and gathered as a group to talk things through. The fact that they came up with that strategy on their own is really amazing. For me, it meant that we’re doing something right. After that talk, we got back together as a team. I’m so glad we did it because I know for a fact we wouldn’t have won the championship without sorting things out. Everybody makes mistakes. At the end of the day, what’s important is to be there and have each other’s backs.
What changes or improvements did you see in the girls as a result of being on the team?
The most obvious one would be the sense of maturity. To be in a position where you have a responsibility over something, to be able to practice and play, there are expectations. If you didn’t come to practice on Wednesday, you’re not going to play on Thursday: that’s the consequence for skipping practice.  Eventually it wasn’t the consequence that really drove them. It was their commitment.
All my [Coaching Corps] girls who tried out for high school sports made their teams. There are two highly-rated schools in Baltimore, Baltimore Polytechnic institute and Baltimore City College. To get into those schools is every parent’s and kid’s dream. They have great education and high graduation rates, and they don’t tolerate gang-related violence, which creates a safer environment for the kids. Fifteen of the girls from the team got in and played for Poly while 13 went to City. That makes me really happy.
Wow! If there’s one way to describe success and promoting equity, that would be it. With all these experiences, what advice would you give aspiring coaches and mentors for kids?
Show up. You have to be there. You have to be consistent. You can’t cancel on these kids. Over the course of my time, if I know something’s going to come up in my schedule, I plan for an assistant coach to take over. Kids know if you care. You can figure out everything else, there are Youtube videos for that. You just have to show up because these kids expect you to be there for them.
Afterschool Partners


Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida

City of Orlando Athletics

Afterschool Program Partners


JT Dorsey Foundation

Afterschool Program Partners

San Diego

Gompers Preparatory Academy

High Tech High

La Maestra Foundation – Center for Youth Advancement at Generations

The Monarch School

Pro Kids | The First Tee of San Diego

Soccer Kids America

YMCA of San Diego County

Afterschool Program Partners

Los Angeles

A Place Called Home


After School All Stars: Los Angeles

Boys & Girls Club of Venice

Boys & Girls Clubs of Carson

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles

Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica

Boys and Girls Clubs of the LA Harbor

Brotherhood Crusade

City of Huntington Park Department of Parks

East Los Angeles Rising Youth Club

Equitas Academy

Girls on the Run of Los Angeles

Girls Play Los Angeles

ICES Education


L.A.C.E.R. Afterschool Programs

Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine

Los Angeles Rec and Parks

Major League Baseball Youth Academy

Norwalk La Mirada Unified

P.F. Bresee Foundation

Sloane Stephens Foundation

Street Soccer USA: Los Angeles

Team Prime Time

Variety Boys & Girls Club

Watts Rams

YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles

Afterschool Program Partners


Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta: Samuel L. Jones Boys & Girls Club
Afterschool Program Partners


All Dorchester Sports and Leadership

Boston Centers for Youth & Families


Cambridge Community Center

East End House

Oak Square YMCA

Sole Train: Boston Runs Together