Coaching Corps, NBC Sports Bay Area Announce 6th 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 Tuesday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area

Golden State Warriors Forward Eric Paschall, San Francisco 49ers Defensive End
Arik Armstead, Oakland A’s Outfielder Stephen Piscotty, San Francisco Giants Coach
Ron Wotus and Oakland Raiders Tight End Darren Waller
will Honor Their Coaches and Mentors

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – January 8, 2020 – Coaching Corps and NBC Sports Bay Area today announced the 6th Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards, presented by Levi’s®, airing Tuesday, January 28 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:

  • Eric Paschall, Golden State Warriors forward, will honor Villanova head coach Jay Wright
  • Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers defensive end, will honor his high school coach Joe Cattolico
  • Stephen Piscotty, Oakland A’s outfielder, will honor his father Michael Piscotty
  • Ron Wotus, San Francisco Giants coach, will honor his high school coach John McKiernan
  • Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders tight end, will honor Raiders tight ends coach Frank Smith

For the pinnacle moment of the evening, the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards will honor San Diego-based Mackenzie O’Connell 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 6th Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards, a two-hour program, is hosted by Ahmed Fareed and Dave Feldman. The awards ceremony will be taped on Thursday, January 23 at the Fairmont San Francisco. After the broadcast debut (Tuesday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m.), the show will re-air on NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday, January 29 with two airings at 12:00 A.m. and 6:00 p.m. Visit for additional air dates and times.

“The annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards is an inspiring event 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 youth deserve access to the lasting life lessons instilled by well-trained and caring coaches. The generous support from our event sponsors ensures that we can reach as many children as possible.”

“Many children living in low-income communities are denied the opportunity to play sports, unlike their affluent peers. At Coaching Corps, we’re getting kids in the game by training community members as sports mentors to teach youth critical life skills,” said Janet Carter, president and CEO, Coaching Corps.

“We are proud to be involved with Coaching Corps’ mission of providing dedicated and professionally trained coaches to mentor kids in sports in underserved communities,” said Matt Murphy, senior vice president and general manager of NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California. “The Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards celebrates how coaches make sports fun and teach kids skills they can use in many aspects of their lives. We hope this inspiring evening will result in others supporting Coaching Corps, and we extend our great appreciation to our team partners for participating in the Game Changer Awards.”

About Coaching Corps:
Since 2012, Coaching Corps has been fueling a movement of skilled coaches to give youth in low-income communities the sports mentors they want and deserve. By partnering with over 500 afterschool programs across the country, Coaching Corps has provided more than 200,000 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 children in under-resourced communities learn skills that last lifetimes. Learn more about Coaching Corps at

About NBC Sports Bay Area and 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 and MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes. Collectively, these networks deliver more than 600 live game broadcasts per year. The MyTeams by NBC Sports app provides live steams of the games and pre-and postgame shows, 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:

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Media Contact:
Lauren Carey, Coaching Corps

Jay dela Cruz
NBC Sports Bay Area,

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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