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Willie Jeffries Trailblazer Award
Criteria and Eligibility: This award is given annually to an individual or group whose sustained work in football has advanced the ideals of the Coalition. The award is named in honor of Willie Jeffries who became the first Black head football coach of an NCAA Division I-A football program at a predominantly white college. In addition, he won three Black National Championships and seven Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championships on his way to induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. This award is fittingly named after a true coaching legend who had a barrier-breaking run through the highest ranks of football. Likewise, this award will go to the individual or group that has been barrier-breaking on or off the field – a true representation of all Willie Jefferies stood for.
2023 Willie Jeffries Trailblazer Recipient
As an attorney at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, Kevin Warren advised
the Wilf family on the purchase of the Minnesota Vikings. He soon began a long tenure with the team where
he was eventually promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2015, making him the first
African American COO in the National Football League (NFL) and the highest ranking African American
business executive in the NFL. In 2019, Warren was named the 6th Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference.
He became the 1st African-American Commissioner of an Autonomous Five (Power 5) conference. Warren’s
legacy includes a newly signed $7 billion media rights deal for the conference. He was most recently
announced the new President and CEO of the Chicago Bears. Warren continues to be a community leader
and is very active in civic philanthropy. In addition to donating $1,000,000 to the University of Minnesota
Masonic Children’s Hospital, Kevin and his wife Greta formed the Warren Family Foundation with the mission
of empowering the journeys of young people – inside and beyond the classroom.
2022 Willie Jeffries Trailblazer Recipient
Brian Flores has forged a distinguished career as a coach in the NFL including three years as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. In February 2022 he filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and Dolphins organizations alleging racial discrimination. The NFL is not immune to systemic racism and coaches have long been aware of these issues, but this unprecedented move speaks to the very reason that the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches exists today. The courage it took to be the first coach to stand up and speak out against discrimination embodies the spirit of this award. In a time when many have felt that their careers have been stifled because of discriminatory hiring practices, Flores was the first to take a stand and fight back to challenge the system.
2021 Willie Jeffries Trailblazer Recipient
In terms of the greater picture, it’s not difficult to measure Coach Nick Saban’s tremendous impact on football and beyond. This season, Coach Saban led Alabama to a perfect 13-0 record to secure his seventh national championship. This propelled Coach Saban past Paul W. Bryant for the most national titles all time. He has coached more games (86) as the Associated Press' No. 1 than any other active head coach. But his impact far exceeds wins on the field. As writer Jimmy McMurry recently stated, “All college football coaches make impacts on their respective schools, but few have made impacts on a national level like Nick Saban has in recent years. He really is helping sculpt a new college football landscape.” He has set a new standard for institutions and other head coaches to be truly invested in players, coaching staff, and the sport of college football itself. In addition, he has committed to important causes in football such as bringing greater equity to the hiring of college coaches. This is reflected not only by his help launching the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, but by being a true champion of its mission. Coach Saban also continues to cultivate an impressive coaching tree that has advanced many minority coaches, including recent head coaches such as Mario Cristobal, Mike Locksley, Mel Tucker, and Charles Huff. All this exemplifies how Coach Saban has undoubtedly been a true trailblazer both on and off the football field.
University of Alabama
Professional Coach of the Year
Criteria and Eligibility: This award is given annually to a football coach at the professional level. The purpose of this award is to honor a minority coach who has excelled on the field and had an exemplar season or a coach who has used his position to advance diversity in the professional ranks. This honoree demonstrates integrity, character, and excellence both on and off the field.
2023 Professional Coach of the Year Recipient
DeMeco Ryans played linebacker at the University of Alabama from
2002-2005. As a senior, he was a unanimous All-American selection, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and
earned First-Team All-SEC honors. Ryans also earned defensive MVP honors in the 2006 Cotton Bowl. Ryans
was drafted in the second round by the Houston Texans in the 2006 NFL Draft. During his 10-year career,
Ryans was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and PFWA Rookie of the Year, First-Team All-Pro in 2007
and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009. Ryans is currently in his 6th season of coaching with the
49ers and 2nd year as the team's defensive coordinator. In his first season as defensive coordinator, the
defense ranked 3rd in the NFL allowing 310 total yards per game. The 49ers saw eight different players
record an interception on the season and also forced 22 fumbles on defense - the most in the NFL and the
most in a single season by the 49ers since 1994. The 49ers defense has been equally accomplished this
season, propelling the team through the playoffs. In fact, the 49ers had the second-highest defensive grade
in the NFL this season under Ryans' guidance.
2022 Professional Coach of the Year Recipient
Leslie Frazier has had a lot of success at different destinations as an NFL coach. In 2006, he won the Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts as the team's Defensive Back Coach/ Assistant Head Coach. He then went on to become the Minnesota Vikings Head Coach where he led the team to their biggest turnaround in team history. In 2021, as the Buffalo Bills Defensive Coordinator/ Assistant Head Coach, the Bills won the AFC East with an 11-6 record. His defensive unit was #1 in scoring and total defense, and also featured two Pro Bowlers and one All-Pro.
2021 Professional Coach of the Year Recipient
Coach Bruce Arians represents character and excellence both on and off the field. He has been praised and recognized often for his diversity efforts within the game of football. This season, not only did Coach Arians' staff in Tampa Bay stand as the only team with all Black coordinators, it was also the only staff in the league with multiple full-time female coaches. The two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year has been dedicated to working for inclusivity in the ranks of professional coaching. But while Coach Arians has been a champion of equity off the field, he has also been a champion coach on the field. During the most recent NFL season, Coach Arians and his diverse coaching staff won the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
College Coach of the Year
Criteria and Eligibility: This award is given annually to a football coach at the college level. The purpose of this award is to honor a minority coach who has excelled on the field and had an exemplar season or a coach who has used his position to advance diversity in the college ranks. This honoree demonstrates integrity, character, and excellence both on and off the field.
2023 College Coach of the Year Recipient
Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders was recently named the 28th full-time head football coach at the University of Colorado. Sanders joins the Colorado program from Jackson State University, where in three seasons the team compiled a 27-5 record and won back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference championships competing on the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level; that mark includes an 11-2 record in 2021 and 12-0 record in 2022. At Jackson State, Sanders achieved tremendous success on and off the field as a fierce advocate for additional exposure and a level playing field for all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Sanders brought national attention to HBCUs, pushing for opportunities to highlight its talent and the culture. In 2022, Jackson State became the first HBCU to have its spring football game televised live nationally. Sanders was named the 21st head coach in Jackson State history in 2020. He incurred only one regular season loss over his last 25 games. Sanders was voted the SWAC’s Coach of the Year for a second straight season in 2022; 12 of his players earned some level of All-SWAC honors. For the 2021 campaign, he also garnered honors for the FCS Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year and Black College Hall of Fame Coach of the Year.
University of Colorado
2022 College Coach of the Year Recipient
Mel Tucker took over the Michigan State Football program in 2020. After an abbreviated 2020 season due to Covid-19, Coach Tucker and the Spartans had a season that will go down in Michigan State history. By taking the Spartans from a 2-win season to an 11-win season Coach Tucker pulled off the biggest turnaround in school history. The team entered the AP top 10 for the first time since 2016, finishing 9th in the country. To cap off the season, Michigan State earned a berth in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, where they would go on to beat Pittsburgh 31-21. The success over the 2021 season also earned Coach Tucker the Big 10 Coach of the Year honor and a contract extension keeping him at MSU for the next 10 years.
Michigan State University
2021 College Coach of the Year Recipient
In his 4th season as the head coach of the Nevada Wolf Pack football team, Coach Jay Norvell led his team to a 7-2 season culminating with a win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. This was a season that garnered much praise and recognition for his coaching, especially after coaching this season with a heavy heart after losing his father just days before the season opener. His ability to lock in and focus through adversity was a true testament to his mental and emotional fortitude. The Senior Norvell, one of the nation’s first black athletic directors, fought for and mentored the under-represented and founded the National Association of Coaching Equity and Development. Coach Norvell has taken that same spirit and determination to not only successfully lead his football team, but to also to advance those same causes for equity. He has been a true supporter of the Coalition as he has gone out of his way to lend his time and efforts as a mentor. In addition to having a great season on the field, he embodies the core values of the Coalition and helps drive the important mission.
Colorado State University
High School Coach of the Year
Criteria and Eligibility: This award is given annually to a football coach at the high school level. The purpose of this award is to honor a minority coach who has excelled on the field and had an exemplar season or a coach who has used his position to advance diversity in the high school ranks. This honoree demonstrates integrity, character, and excellence both on and off the field.
2023 High School Coach of the Year Recipient
Ted Ginn, Sr. began his coaching tenure as a volunteer assistant football coach at Glenville High School. After 10 years as an unpaid assistant, he went on the coaching payroll in 1986. Ginn assumed the head coaching duties in 1997. In 1999, Glenville became the first Cleveland public school to qualify for the state football playoffs and went on to the playoffs 11 times over the next 12 years,
becoming state runner-up in 2009. Ginn has not lost a conference game since 2000. While Glenville has been a nationally prominent program since the early-2000s, it was this past season that the team captured its first state title. With the win, Glenville became the first school from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to win a football state championship in the playoff era. More than 50 of his athletes have been awarded full college scholarships, including his son, Ted Jr., and several of his players have gone on to play professional football. In addition to his efforts on the field, Ginn has been praised for his efforts and mentorship off of it. In 2007, he helped establish the Ginn Academy, an all-boys high school for urban youth in the greater Cleveland area. In addition to coaching football, Ginn also coached the Glenville track team to five straight
Ted Ginn Sr.
Glenville High School (OH)
2022 High School Coach of the Year Recipient
Messay Hailemariam spent 4 years as an assistant for St. Frances Academy as it dominated the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association. In 2021, Coach Hailemariam took over the program and the Panthers did not miss a beat. In their third full season playing a national schedule Coach Hailemariam and the Panthers went 8-1 outscoring their opponents 355-131. By the end of the season, St. Frances was ranked 4th in the entire country by MaxPrep and USA Today. The team also has 8 of Maryland’s top 20 recruits according to ESPN, including 3 ESPN300 recruits. But most importantly, Coach Hailemariam was able to lead his athletes on and off the field through the tragic loss of a teammate; showing how much bigger coaching is than just wins on the field.
St. Frances Academy (MD)
2021 High School Coach of the Year Recipient
After spending 28 years as an assistant coach at McClymonds High School in Oakland California, Coach Michael Peters became the head coach 5 years ago. Since then, he has simply won three straight state titles. This accomplishment made McClymond the first California public school to win three straight titles since 1920. This is even more impressive when you consider that McClymmonds is an inner-city school with extremely limited resources and only has an enrollment of 300 students. Beyond his tremendous success on the field his commitment to his players, the school and the community is also worthy of recognition.
McClydmond High School (CA)
Media Award Presented by KinderCare
Criteria and Eligibility: This award is given annually to a sportswriter, analyst, or commentator who elevates the discussion around greater diversity in football and sports in general. This award recognizes a media figure who has continually championed equity and inclusion at the highest levels of sports.
2023 Media Award Recipient
Shalise Manza Young is an award-winning journalist who joined Yahoo Sports in 2015 after almost a decade covering the New England Patriots for the Boston Globe and the Providence Journal. She began her career as an intern at the Providence Journal and moved up the ranks, covering high school sports, college sports, and eventually the Patriots. A prominent writer, especially in covering the NFL, Young has been an impactful voice on race and gender-related issues in football. She has used her dynamic writing skills to continually probe the lack of diversity in football leadership. In fact, this compelling work has been recognized with awards from the Pro Football Writers of America. Most recently Young participated in the Coalition’s summit to address systemic racism in football hiring practices on the heels of the Brian Flores lawsuit against the NFL. During the offseason, Young has doubled as a track and field coach where she has discovered a passion for coaching and mentoring young girls.
Shalise Manza Young
2022 Media Award Recipient
As a journalist, Michael Smith has consistently elevated the discussion around equity and inclusion in sports. In his 15 years at ESPN, he displayed journalistic excellence while making sports coverage inclusive and relatable to a broader audience. Since then, he has co-founded a multimedia company in an effort to continue to provide inclusive coverage and tell the stories that are often not covered. Smith has been a true ally, giving the Coalition’s efforts important recognition on his sports talk show, Brother from Another, and moderating the Coalition’s recent summit to address systemic racism in football hiring practices. Most importantly, Smith has consistently demonstrated a commitment to using his platform to advance the issue of equity and inclusion in sports.
2021 Media Award Recipient
Since graduating from Howard University in 1986 with a degree in Communications, Jim Trotter has become one of the most respected journalists in NFL circles. He has been a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee since 2007 and is currently the president of the Pro Football Writers of America. Whether in a published article or a tweet, his writing shows that he is equally brilliant as he is fearless in calling out societal racial issues that exist in sports. He covers a wide range of stories across the NFL, including how players in the league are pushing for both racial justice and change inside and outside football. He recently wrote a commentary on why he felt that the national media owed Colin Kaepernick an apology for the way they covered his kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality against people of color. With the staggeringly low numbers of people of color represented in print journalism, the importance of recognizing the work of those who are not afraid to write the truth cannot be understated.
Criteria and Eligibility: This award is given to an individual or organization that has been a true champion of the NCMFC’s mission to diversify the leadership ranks of football. This individual or organization has been a partner that has gone above and beyond to not only support NCMFC programs, but to also support its individual members in reaching their professional goals.
2023 Advocate Award Recipient
Under Armour was founded by Kevin Plank, a former University of Maryland football player who was tired of sweating through his shirts at practice. He set out to create moisture-wicking sports apparel that would keep athletes cool and dry while they exercised. After a number of attempts, he created his first prototype, a form-fitting garment made from a stretchable fabric that launched Under Armour. Today, Under Armour is a leading developer, marketer, and distributor of branded performance apparel, footwear, and equipment. Because Under Armour believes sport is a great unifier, it doesn’t sit on the sidelines, but works towards fairness and equity for all involved. This is the reason Under Armour has partnered with the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches to prepare, promote and produce the next generation of sports leaders. Under Armour has announced a $1.5 million commitment to the Coalition, which has positioned the organization to make important strides in diversifying the sidelines. Most recently, this support helped the Coalition launch a nationally recognized academy that has successfully positioned many minority football coaches for leadership advancement.
2022 Advocate Award Recipient
Melvin Powell is a Vice President at SAP, the world’s third largest software company. In addition to being responsible for defining and overseeing the customer experience strategy and execution for the East Market Unit at SAP, Mr. Powell is also the creator and prime organizer of the Coalition’s Drive for Diversity charity golf series, which constitutes the biggest annual fundraising effort for the organization. Through the support of SAP, Melvin has tirelessly driven participation and sponsorship for these events, and in turn, made it possible for the Coalition to advance its mission to bring greater equity and inclusion to sports.
Regional Vice President
2021 Advocacy Award Recipient
Alonzo Carter has been tirelessly promoting and supporting the NCMFC. As a newly launched nonprofit, the NCMFC has seen exponential growth in just a few short months. Coach Carter has played an important role in this growth, not only recruiting new members, but also helping to organize trainings, advertise events, and mentor rising minority coaches. He has been a leading advocate of our mission, a top advisor to our executive staff, and a selfless guide to our members.
San Jose State University
Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs Coach