Star-studded lineup for Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards

Londyn Sakes Jones, a middle-school volleyball player, at the San Francisco Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards in January.

Professional athletes from a variety of sports will be on hand for the 2nd Annual Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards coming up on April 17 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. The event is being put on by the local chapter of Coaching Corps, a nonprofit that brings caring and well-trained coaches to kids in San Diego’s low-income communities.

The line-up for the fundraising event includes Austin Hedges of the Padres, Nick Hardwick of former Chargers fame, Shannon MacMillan of World Champion and Olympic soccer fame, and Scott Tinley, two-time Ironman champion triathlete. Each athlete will honor a coach who pushed them to be their best.

Auston Hedges from the Padres is honoring Joe DeMarco, president and COO of Elite Baseball.

“Joe’s impact on my life has been profound, both on and off the field,” says Hedges. “He’s helped shape who I am as a baseball player, and even more importantly, as a man. I couldn’t be more excited to be presenting him with the Coaching Corps Game Changer Award on April 17.”

The awards event will also honor San Diego coach Laura Marquez as Coach of the Year, a distinction given to Coaching Corps volunteer coaches who have shown exceptional dedication to the kids they coach.

Coaching Corps is a national organization that provides skilled coaches and sports mentors to kids in underserved communities. By partnering with afterschool programs, the nonprofit has provided more than 900 coaches who’ve mentored 10,000 kids in the San Diego area.

“Unlike their more affluent peers, many children living in low-income communities cannot afford to play sports and they miss out having a coach as a mentor,” said Janet Carter, president and CEO of Coaching Corps. “The Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards raises awareness that helps give kids access to trained coaches who teach character-building and life skills through sports.”

Wally Haas is the founder and board chair for Coaching Corps and a former Oakland A’s owner. “When my family owned the Oakland A’s,” he recalls, “I saw firsthand the power that sports has to bring a community together. But sports weren’t reaching everyone. Some kids were sitting on the sidelines simply because of their zip code, and they were missing out on life lessons that coaches teach.”

Not only do these students get better at their sport of choice, they also learn about persistence, optimism, self-regulation and empathy – life skills that extend far beyond the athletic field or court. Haas recently met one of the students helped by the program, Londyn Sakes Jones, a volleyball player.

“She was one of the quietest kids on her volleyball team in the first weeks of practice,” Haas said. “But because her coach saw potential in her, and through hard work, Londyn began leading practices and became team captain by the end of her first season. It doesn’t stop there. Her father said that Londyn gained acceptance into her first-choice high school and credits her achievements to her time with her coach and the volleyball team.”

The Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards take place on Wednesday, April 17, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar at 5300 Grand Del Mar Court. For more information or to buy tickets for the event, go to

Get the Del Mar Times in your inbox

Top stories from Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach every Friday.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Del Mar Times.