Coaching Corps, NBC Sports Bay Area Announce 5th Annual “Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards”, Top Bay Area Athletes to Honor Influential Coaches and Mentors

“Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards” Presented by Levi’s®
Airing January 13 at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area

Golden State Warriors Guard Klay Thompson; San Francisco Giants Third Baseman Pablo Sandoval; Oakland A’s Shortstop Marcus Semien; San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin; and Former Oakland Raiders Defensive Back Charles Woodson will Honor Their Coaches and Mentors; and Lindsay Gottlieb, Head Basketball Coach, University of California, Berkeley will be presented with a Game Changer Award by Coaching Corps.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – January 2, 2019 – Coaching Corps (@CoachingCorps) and NBC Sports Bay Area (@NBCSAuthentic), the home of “Authentic Bay Area Sports,” today announced the 5th Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards, presented by Levi’s®, airing January 13 at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area. This event will support Coaching Corps’ mission to provide youth from low-income communities access to caring and well-trained coaches. The Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards will feature top Bay Area professional athletes celebrating the profound influence of coaches on their lives and the community.

The presenters – prominent Bay Area athletes whose lives have been shaped by the mentorship and transformative influence of caring coaches – are:

  • Klay Thompson, 3-time NBA Champion Guard, Golden State Warriors will honor Jerry DeBusk, Head Basketball Coach, Santa Margarita Catholic High School (1992-2012)
  • Pablo Sandoval, 3-time World Series Champion Infielder, San Francisco Giants will honor Bruce Bochy, 3-time World Series Champion Manager, San Francisco Giants (2007-present)
  • Marcus Semien, Shortstop, Oakland Athletics will honor Ron Washington, 3rd Base and Infield Coach, Oakland Athletics (1996-2006, 2015-2016), Former MLB player and manager
  • Marquise Goodwin, Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers will honor Richard McCroan, Coach and Director of Football Operations, Rowlett High School (2000-present)
  • Charles Woodson, Heisman Trophy Winner and Super Bowl Champion Cornerback and Safety, Oakland Raiders (1998-2005, 2013-2015) will honor Vance Bedford, College Football Assistant Coach  (1985-2016)
  • Kristine Anigwe, 3-time first team All-Pac-12, Cal Basketball will present Lindsay Gottlieb, Head Basketball Coach University of California, Berkeley, with a Coaching Corps Game Changer Award

For the pinnacle moment of the evening, the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards will honor Baltimore-based Benita Vargas with the Coach of the Year Award, a distinction given to Coaching Corps volunteers who have shown exceptional dedication to the kids they coach.

The 5th Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards, a two-hour program, is hosted by NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dave Feldman (@FeldyNBCS) and Ahmed Fareed (@FareedNBCS). The awards ceremony will be taped on Wednesday, January 9 at the Fairmont San Francisco. After the broadcast debut, the show will re-air on NBC Sports Bay Area January 13 at 10 p.m. PST and January 14 at 8:00 p.m. PST. Visit for additional air dates and times.

“The Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards is an extraordinary evening where professional athletes share their personal stories of how their coaches influenced their lives,” said Wally Haas, founder and board chair, Coaching Corps. “At Coaching Corps, we believe all young people should have access to the lasting life lessons instilled by compassionate coaches. The generous support from our event sponsors ensures that we can reach as many children as possible.”

“Unlike their middle- and upper-income peers, playing sports is not a reality for many children living in low-income communities who are being priced out of playing sports,” said Janet Carter, president and CEO, Coaching Corps. “By raising awareness, the Game Changer Awards helps give kids access to mentors who we train to help kids build character and life skills through sports.”

“We are honored to be a part of the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards, an extraordinary event that celebrates the influence of coaches on the lives of young people,” said Matt Murphy, senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California. “Playing sports under the guidance of these professionally trained coaches is not only fun for kids, it gives them the opportunity to learn skills that will serve throughout their lives. We hope this wonderful evening will inspire others to get involved with Coaching Corps, and we extend our great appreciation to the Bay Area sports teams who are participating in the Game Changer Awards.”

About Coaching Corps:

Since 2012, Coaching Corps has been fueling a movement of skilled coaches to give kids in underserved communities the sports mentors they want and deserve. By partnering with over 500 afterschool programs across the country, Coaching Corps has provided more than 150,000 underprivileged kids with the opportunity to play sports under the guidance of a caring, well-trained coach. Informed by the latest research on youth character development, Coaching Corps trains coaches to foster persistence, optimism, self-regulation and empathy in kids, providing coaches with the ongoing support they need to ensure girls and boys in under-resourced communities learn skills that last lifetimes. Coaching Corps will unveil the first-ever Coaching Corps Hall of Fame – a digital, community-centered campaign that gives people a way to honor and build support for special coaches who have made a differenceon Monday, January 14, 2019. Learn more about Coaching Corps at

About NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California:

NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, both part of NBC Sports Regional Networks, serve more than four million households in Northern California, Nevada, Southern Oregon and Hawaii. NBC Sports Bay Area, the television home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants, NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and the official regional sports network of the San Francisco 49ers, also features a robust lineup of Emmy Award-winning news, analysis and original programming. NBC Sports California offers live coverage of MLB’s Oakland Athletics, NBA’s Sacramento Kings, NHL’s San Jose Sharks, MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes and is the official regional sports network of the Oakland Raiders. Collectively, these networks deliver more than 600 live game broadcasts per year. and provide fans with comprehensive digital coverage of the hometown teams with original stories and content from a team of “Insiders,” breaking news, up-to-the-minute game previews/recaps, highlights and multimedia video clips.  Follow both networks on social media –Twitter: @NBCSAuthentic; Instagram: NBCSAuthentic; and Facebook:

# # #

Media Contact:

Jessica Scadron, Coaching Corps

Jay dela Cruz, NBC Sports Bay Area

Share the post
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

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