Congratulations to these inspiring coaches!

Congratulations to these inspiring coaches!

Thank you to all that submitted! These coaches were selected by USA Football to be honored and celebrated for the impact they have on their players. Learn more about these special coaches and their stories below.

VIEW FINALISTS

#ThanksCoach Grand Prize Winners

  • Eric Harris

    Coach Eric Harris
    Douglas Freeman High School and Glen Allen Ravens Youth League
    Henrico County, VA

    NOMINATION ESSAY
    Coach Harris has been coaching now for 19 years once his college playing days ended. He immediately began his coaching career in one of the roughest parts of Richmond as he wanted to help give the young men the same opportunity that football had given him. He is from Detroit and credits football for saving his life and expresses that through his work with young men. He currently is coaching at Douglas Freeman High School and when asked if he could coach his son's 12-year-old youth team, he jumped at coaching on the youth level as well.

    Starting his career in law enforcement only to resign because he wanted to make an impact on young men's lives, Coach Harris is now the owner of Broken Chain Foundation - a therapeutic mentoring company that works with at-risk youth. A huge portion of the program is an emphasis on athletic or artistic outlets. He has sponsored hundreds of kids in the Richmond area whose families couldn't afford for them to play. In addition to his work at the Broken Chain Foundation, Coach Harris started a training company and works with many of the area’s top high school players during the offseason. He takes young men to college camps for exposure, provides mentoring, academic help and to this day every young man whose trained with him for two years or more is somewhere playing college football.

  • Isaac Williams

    Coach Isaac Williams
    Miami Police Athletic League Jets
    Miami, FL

    NOMINATION ESSAY
    This coach means everything to everyone he comes across. Coach Williams is a man of good character, he is a great teacher, and more importantly, he enjoys giving back to his community through sports - despite all the hardship and obstacles he has had to overcome. Coach Williams always goes beyond what any ordinary coach will do. He doesn't just show up to practice with balls, cones, and whistles, he takes it to the next level and shows up to his players' open house events at school. He will even go so far as to spend his mornings in the local public schools checking in on students and meeting with principals and teachers to ensure the students are doing what they need to do to be successful.

    In addition to his coaching, Coach Williams is an Instructional Advocate for an organization named Touching Miami with Love, which is located in the heart of Overtown, a small under-served community. Coach Williams is the definition of "giving back," despite losing three of his older brothers to gun violence in the same community he works and live in. From taking kids from his job to football practice to meeting them on every level they are struggling with, Coach Williams shows the care and dedication these kids need and look up to. At 23 years old, Coach Isaac Williams is the glue that keeps our team together.

#ThanksCoach FINALISTS

  • Finalist

    Coach Ron Krause
    Temecula Valley Pop Warner
    Temecula, California

  • Finalist

    Coach Jerrold Gilbert
    Meadowdale Wee Lions/Belmont Bison, Dayton, Ohio

  • Finalist

    Coach Rob Scheidt
    Merced High School
    Merced California

  • Finalist

    Coach Chris Stephenson
    Mt. Dora High School Hurricanes
    Mt. Dora, Florida

  • Finalist

    Coach Brendan Keegan
    Nashua Police Athletic League Football, Nashua, New Hampshire

  • Finalist

    Coach Jason Stravers
    Okinawa Youth Football
    Okinawa, Japan

  • Finalist

    Coach Lonny Schraeder
    Sacred Heart High School
    Hattiesburg, Mississippi

  • Finalist

    Coach Darrell Alt
    Green Street Academy
    Baltimore, Maryland

  • Finalist

    Coach Bob Schembre
    Mid-East Missouri Home School Football Association
    Arnold, Missouri

  • Finalist

    Coach Sammy Gutierrez
    Tamiami Colts Pop Warner
    Miami, FL

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH RON KRAUSE
    Temecula Valley Pop Warner

One word that describes this coach: INSPIRING

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Coach Krause is an inspiration for so many youth players within our community. Never one to yell, his post-practice and post-game huddle pep talks are always constructive and encouraging. The players look to him for guidance and support in so many areas of their lives, not just their performance on the field. They look to him during school, family and social struggles, and he is always there for them to guide and mentor them. He's the coach who will personally call, make home visits or stay after practice to work with a child who is struggling. For many of our players, he is the father figure they don't have in their own lives. Coach Krause brings unity and a sense of family to the team.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
Coach Krause has been my son's football coach for the last four years. He has dedicated so much time to helping my son improve his performance on the field and to try for positions that he once only dreamed of being able to play. He's the coach who gives everyone a shot. No position is ever secure. It has to be earned every day and can be challenged by another player at any time. Coach Krause encourages unity and brotherhood, holding many in-season and offseason get-togethers. When a player makes a touchdown, he'll ask the team: "Who made a touchdown?" And the team at first will reply with the player's name. He'll then correct them and say, "No ... we ALL made a touchdown! Touchdowns aren't possible without every member of this team doing their job."

In addition to being the head coach of my son's tackle team, Ron also stepped up to Head Coach a flag team when our League was in desperate need of flag coaches to give the kids an opportunity to play. He's also the Vice President of our League in charge of the Lil’ Scholars program and working with the youth and families who are struggling to meet the minimum scholastic requirements to play. As well as recognizing and rewarding those athletes that succeed in school and attending the banquet held each year to honor them. He also coaches basketball in the offseason and is a Scout leader, all while working a full-time demanding job and serving on his Home Owner Association's Board. He truly is an inspirational coach, dedicating so much of his time to helping our youth develop into respectable, well-rounded, compassionate scholar-athletes.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH JERROLD GILBERT
    Meadowdale Wee Lions/Belmont Bison

One word that describes this coach: DEDICATED

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Coach Gilbert is not only a great coach but a great mentor. He cares for our youth players not only on the field but off as well. I know I can always call on him for anything regarding my children and not just about football. He strives for greatness and not just football – for grades and character as well. Coach Gilbert has no children of his own, but he continues to teach our youth voluntarily with his whole heart and soul. I have never seen or heard of a coach more compassionate and more dedicated than he is. I have seen him come to practices and even games when he is sick. His dedication is unparalleled. Nobody is more deserving to be recognized then him. Coach Gilbert also works with our youth down at Juvenile courts. He is a wonderful human being.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
My son lost his brother last year. He fell into a slight depression, and his grades suffered. I sent one message to Coach Gilbert, telling him I was at my wits end and didn't know what to do. That same day, he asked to meet with my son without hesitation, and Coach had a list of goals typed up for my son to meet. From that day forward, my son has changed completely and has stayed on the right track. Coach Gilbert checks in daily on him and is now coaching my youngest son. There is nobody more deserving of this type of recognition than Coach Gilbert.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH ROB SCHEIDT
    Merced High School

One word that describes this coach: INTEGRITY

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Coach Scheldt's tenure at Merced High School as a football coach is the longest in Merced High School history. Coach Scheldt is always searching for better ways to coach and ways to achieve not only athletic greatness out of his players, but also personal greatness off the field. Because of Coach Scheidt's caring and mentoring nature, many former players have returned to Merced High School as coaches and teachers. Rob Coach Scheldt's ability to build character and develop the respect and trust from others is uncanny.

Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship are the six pillars of character that Coach Scheidt exudes not only within his program but in his own life. Coach Scheidt's current team has started and organization called Bears Give Back. This organization is led by one of our football players and mentored by Coach Scheidt. Bears Give Back does countless hours of community service activities such as feeding the homeless, creating gifts for WIC on holidays, doing study groups for low achieving students and much more. This group consists mainly of football players at Merced High but also includes athletes from other sports as well. Fueled by Coach Scheidt's leadership and giving nature, this group will continue throughout his time here at MHS. In my opinion, it is what makes him a model individual, father, friend, mentor and coach.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
Merced High School Football was coming off of one of the best decades of football ever, winning a CIF state championship in 1990. This was a huge role for a young 26-year-old with no varsity head coaching experience to take on. He also was facing the issues of the opening of the new school across town that would soon take over as our rivals. Coach Scheldt took over with moderate success for the first three years, and in 1999 was able to lead Merced High School to the playoffs for the first time since 1994. Coach Scheldt would eventually lead Merced High School to a league championship in 2002 and then three consecutive league championships from 2006-08. In 2006, he led Merced High School to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title game in what has been dubbed as one of the most exciting games in Sac-Joaquin Section history

Rob is the reason I am where I am today as Merced High School athletic director. His valued friendship, mentorship and overall leadership have proven invaluable to this school, its staff and our community . He has impacted hundreds of young men, many of which have returned to teach, coach or just inspire our current student athletes. Rob Scheidt is truly a pillar of our community and school and would undoubtedly be worthy of this recognition.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH CHRIS STEPHENSON
    Mt. Dora High School

One word that describes this coach: HUMBLE

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
A true godsend. He was just what we needed to get our school, team and community back into the game.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
My son is a senior this year, and Coach Stephenson is our fourth football head coach in the same amount of years, in addition to the multiple turnovers of position coaches. It's been a continuous revolving door. The team, especially the juniors and seniors, had lost trust in any coach who entered our doors. Chris Stephenson came to Mount Dora High School as a social studies teacher. It wasn't common knowledge that he had coaching experience. After our third coach left three weeks before our spring game, the school began to interview. Chris Stephenson applied and got the position. He called a meeting with all of the football players, parents and administration. Humbly but stern and determined, he began to give us his goals and the plan to attain them. While the boys were like “Yeah, whatever,” parents were hesitant but hopeful. So we all dove in.

Coach Stephenson has worked with our boys, getting to know them, building relationships and trust again. He has strengthened our school spirit and enthusiasm by building our boys up once again better than they have ever been. He has made us a team again. The parents have been so excited; we went to the community for donations. We pressure washed and repainted our whole stadium and took care of the excess overgrowth that was around the inside of our stadium. We got plants and mulch donated. A much needed makeover. Literally, tonight, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, is our Fall Classic. Of course, we want and plan on winning, but whether we win or lose, we have school pride and spirit and believe we can and will be a winning team again soon. His humility has been a breath of fresh air. His stamina has been surprising with all that he has had to deal with. His energy just keeps going. His knowledge of the game is impressive. His will to win … I’ve never seen anything like it. His impact on Mount Dora High School football players, parents, administration leaves me speechless.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH BRENDAN KEEGAN
    Nashua Police Athletic League

One word that describes this coach: LEADERSHIP

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Coach Keegan has been a role model to our boys and demonstrated leadership on and off the field of play. Coach Keegan moved to our small town seven years ago and started a flag football program for the city. Our sons have literally grown up with Coach over the last seven years. Coach spends time each week during practice talking about leadership and “building young boys into men” capable of leading in the community. His leadership has extended beyond the players and into the lives of many of our families where Coach takes a personal and deep interest into making each of our lives better, no matter what it takes. Coach sets the example for his players, coaches, parents and community to follow.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
Our Nashua Police Athletic League team brings players from a wide-array of backgrounds together as a TEAM. Our coach goes into the community working with many of the elementary school guidance counselors seeking out kids that need a hand-up and an outlet to find a better path in life, not just football. Once on the team, our coach instills a sense of purpose for the TEAM and figures a way out to make every single player feel a part of it. Whether it’s coaching on the field, meeting with players & parents on social issues or advocating for a player within their school, every player knows Coach is there for them and their family. Coach also has built leadership programs for many high schools and colleges through his company, Victory Academy, and he brings those lessons to our field weekly. He not only shares these lessons with his team, he shares them with any team willing to let him visit. As a parent, I can’t wait each week for my son’s homework, commitment card or motivational video. Our coach leads our boys in much more then football, he leads them in LIFE. Over the last 7 years, I have learned coach does more for our TEAM off the field then he does on it, and you know what, most people have no idea how much he does, because leaders don’t talk they do.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH JASON STRAVERS
    Okinawa Youth Football

One word that describes this coach: PASSIONATE

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Coach Stravers dedicates himself to the betterment of our youth through coaching football.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
Coach Jason Stravers is an active duty U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He is in his third season as a head coach for the Okinawa Youth Football league. Coach Stravers selflessly dedicates his time to the development of the military community youth through coaching the Camp Courtney Yellow Jacket football team for 12 to 14-year-olds.

The military youth who are stationed with their parents at overseas locations often do not get the opportunity to participate in middle school athletic programs like children in the states. In fact, most overseas locations don't have youth football available at all. Coach Stravers ensures that the kids get the full experience. He ensures that each child will be prepared to play the game at the next level when they return to the states. He enforces an education first policy. He requires the players to bring report cards and progress reports to practice for his review. Players who would be academically ineligible in a middle school program become ineligible in his program. He encourages the players to give back to the community through volunteering. He has organized beach cleanups and other events to inspire the young athletes to give back. He instills family and team values by organizing team dinners on nights before game days.

When the season is ends, Coach Stravers is still giving back. During the offseason, he organizes workout and training sessions to keep young athletes who aren't involved in other sports active. Coach Stravers being a great football coach is just a bonus for the kids. He is a selfless leader in the community that embodies the concept of a village raising a child . If not for this Marine volunteering his off-duty time, the American youth of Okinawa wouldn't have the benefit of getting the best team experience possible outside of the United States.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH LONNY SCHRAEDER
    Sacred Heart High School

One word that describes this coach: MENTOR

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Lonny Schraeder is like a second father to me. He believed in me as a high school football player and believes in me as a man. Lonny is a double amputee who impacts lives beyond the playing field. His story is incredible. Lonny believes in hard work, discipline and a “no quit” attitude. I will forever be grateful for his guidance and mentoring in my life and the relationship we have today.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
I have known Lonny since I was 5 years old. He actually coached me in T-ball many years ago. His son and I grew up together and graduated together. I have had the privilege to play for Lonny at Petal High School and now coach with him at Sacred Heart High School. Lonny is a man who talked me out of quitting football after my junior season. I had become frustrated about my playing time and didn't want it to happen during my senior year as well. Lonny challenged me as a young man to work harder than I had ever worked. He challenged me to lead and be accountable to our team. It worked, and my senior year we went 7-4, made the playoffs and I earned first team all-district honors and was voted team captain. Had it not been for Lonny, I would've been watching from the stands. I am grateful for his impact every single day.

Lonny has a unique story. He was hit by a drunk driver during his first year at Southern Miss in 1981. He ended up losing both legs and a close friend because of the accident. That didn't stop Lonny from graduating from college and following his dream of teaching and coaching high school. Lonny is a husband, father to four children and “Papa” to three grandchildren. The impact he has made over the lives of young men for the last thirty years is hard to explain. He is a true blessing from God.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH DARRELL ALT
    Green Street Academy

One word that describes this coach: PASSIONATE

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
A few years back I was lucky enough to be hired at this school. At the time, they did not offer any athletic program at the school mainly because it was a new school and they were just beginning to grow. The school is located in West Baltimore, Md., and this year we will be graduating our first senior class in the history of the school. Last year was the first year we competed at the high school level for interscholastic athletics. This coming year will be the first year that we will offer football. Coach Darrell Alt has been focusing on teaching our youth the positive impact that athletics can have on their character and ultimately their life.

Within his first week at the school, we were walking by a young lady in high school, and he immediately asked her, "Did you do anything yesterday to help you become a veterinarian, nurse or doctor?" I was extremely confused at first. I barely even knew the student. She even looked at him confused and asked, "What do you mean?" He said, "Yesterday, when I asked you what your goal in life was, that was your answer. Each day you should be doing something to help you reach your goals." She just smiled in shock, that he remembered her name and her goals and then followed up on it with her. I tell this story because this young lady isn't part of the football team, just a member of our school, but within the first week he was already making a difference in our students.

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
I was lucky enough to play under Coach Alt for all four years of college at Juniata College. During my time, we didn't always find our way into the win column, but we learned so many valuable life lessons I wouldn't even think about trading my record for the lessons I learned from him. Each and every single day, I try to absorb as much information from him as possible. I can't put it into words of that "it" factor that he has. His unique approach to building relationships with adults and students is unparalleled. He is a lot more than a coach to myself, peers and the students. Anybody that is lucky enough to learn from him will forever be a better person.

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH BOB SCHEMBRE
    Mid-East Missouri Home School Football Association

One word that describes this coach: INTEGRITY

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Without Coach Bob, our team would not exist. He is an inspiration to all of our young homeschooled athletes and is driven to teach them character, perseverance, dedication, determination and teamwork. The way he works with our young men, teaching them proper technique and instilling a brotherhood these homeschooled boys would never experience, is a blessing to our community!

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
About four years ago, I was approached by Bob Schembre at a homeschool expo about the possibility of forming a high school varsity football program for the homeschool community in the St. Louis area. That first year, we had 13 players sign up for the inaugural season of the MEMHSFA Central Panthers Middle Men. Although we only won two games in that six-game season, the seeds of our organization were planted. Without Coach Bob's vision, determination and dedication to create, guide and coach this organization, many homeschooled athletes would not be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the sport of football at the varsity level.

Now, as we enter our third year of varsity – and fourth year for Middle Men – our group consists of 22 Middle Men and 18 varsity players. Whether or not Coach Bob is selected to receive any accolades through this nomination, I thought this would be a good forum to again document our unique journey and struggles for the many, many young homeschooled athletes in our area for years to come so they can understand the integrity, heart, determination of our founder, Coach Bob Schembre. Go Panthers!

#ThanksCoach

  • Finalist
  • COACH SAMMY GUTIERREZ
    Tamiami Colts Pop Warner

One word that describes this coach: DEDICATED

Sum up what this coach means to you and/or your team.
Sammy is a coach who has gone above and beyond for 25 years. He may not have kids of his own, but he treats all of the kids on his team and in the park as if they were his own. He teaches structure, discipline, comradery, good sportsmanship, and, most importantly, he instills principles in them that go beyond just playing football.

He is selfless and has dedicated so many years to the park, not only for the love of the sport but for the desire he has to see new generations succeed . He sticks to checking grades and teaches them that education comes first. He truly cares about our kids, and I can't think of a person more deserving in the nation than him. When you ask any kid who has had Sammy as a coach who their all-time favorite coach is, they all answer Sammy without any hesitation. That speaks volumes to me. Sammy is a coach and, for some kids, a father figure. And for me he is not only my son’s coach but a friend of many years!

Please tell us your story of how this coach impacted your life and is so awesome?
I have had the honor of knowing Sammy for many years. He has worked in Tamiami Park for what seems like forever. I cheered, went to camp and now have my son playing youth sports in the same park. Sammy is wonderful human being who is always lending a helping hand to others. He's the type of man who would give you the shirt off his back and his last dollar. He's been a great friend, but what happened recently took my admiration for him to a new level. We had an incident where there was a shooting in our park. Resulting from it was one of the worst experiences not only for the kids but for us, the parents. Sammy's only reaction was to protect our children and get them to safety. The last image I saw before I left was Sammy on the ground covering a child. This is someone who has no children of his own but protected ours before thinking of himself. He impacts every person who has the pleasure and luck of meeting him.

Celebration Package

10 Coaches Receive

USA Football Coach Kit - packed with essential coaching tools.

  • 25% discount on a year of Volt training
  • $100 Shock Doctor gift card
  • $100 McDavid gift card
  • $100 Cutters gift card
  • 3 months complimentary subscription to USA Football's all-new Coaching OnDemand streaming service

Top 2 Coaches receive:

USA Football Coach Kit - packed with essential coaching tools.

  • Free year of Volt ($2,500 value each)
  • $250 Shock Doctor gift card
  • $250 McDavid gift card
  • $250 Cutters gift card
  • 1 Year complimentary subscription to USA Football's all-new Coaching OnDemand streaming service
  • 5 seats at 2017 USA Football National Team Regional Development Camp
  • 1 All-expenses paid trip to the 2017 USA Football National Conference at ProBowl (Up to $1200)
  • Visit from USA Football home game celebration during home game

Up to 600 nominated coaches will receive a free season with FirstDown Playbook.