Praise Worthy

Praise Worthy

Teachers, players, parents and coaches have nominated youth football coaches for the 2014 NFL Youth Coach of the Year award (submission deadline is November 17, 2014).

These coaches have many things in common – especially having a positive impact on their communities and on the young men and women around them.

The following are excerpts from some of the coaches who have already been nominated (one of them is even named Lombardi!).

New football equipment worth $5,000 will be donated to the winning coach’s program.

BlackRock Canada will help cement the winning coach’s legacy, creating $5,000 in bursaries that will assist young football players in the coach’s community who are in financial need. Two runners-up schools will each receive $2,000 in equipment.

Coach Tony Lombardi, St. Paul Catholic School, Trenton, Ontario:

Coach Lombardi has been the head coach for a very young football program for the last 4 years. Standing up this junior program has been met with several adversities, as you can imagine this has led to several losing records year after year. However this has never changed Coach Lombardi’s focus of his team and its players, his drive and motivation to improve the team, and his positive attitude to reinforce to the players and other coaches that winning is not everything, it is how hard you are willing to work for yourself and each other. Everyday rain or shine, when his schedule would permit, Coach Lombardi would be leading warm up, instructing every fundamental skill.

Coach Martin Rheaume, Notre Dame Junior Cougars, Red Deer, Alberta:

Coach Rheaume is one of the most dedicated coaches in Alberta Football. He turned a team of kids who have never played before into a team that won a tier 4 championship. This man represents football in our community as well as Central Alberta.

Coach Rob Varallo, Mother Teresa Spartans, London, Ontario:

I first remember meeting Coach Varallo back in 2010 when he assisted coaching our junior team. I was a small kid back then, but as I went to hit the tackling dummy, he gave me a big smile and said he liked the intensity I brought. Although I rarely got a chance to play that year, I always felt that his comment gave me confidence to keep fighting and sticking with football. . . . . I have never met someone with a jaw-gaping amount of football knowledge for every position on the field. Every day during practices, he would walk around, helping our quarterback with his steps, showing our o-line how to cut-block, and even teaching the dbs (including myself) how to cover and tackle. With all that said, he really was a coach who cared about his team. Football was not only his passion, but soon enough it became my own.”

Coach Roby Sharpe, Yorkton Regional High School Raiders, Yorkton, Saskatchewan:

Roby and a few others also started a program called Getting In the Game, raffling off jerseys to raise funds. The program was started to allow those with special needs to travel with their team for away games. Extra funding is often needed for an aid to go along to help the special needs person. Our son Tyler is autistic and this program allowed him to travel with the Raiders as their water boy. The program can be accessed by any sport that wishes to include a special needs person on their team. Getting In the Game has not only taught our community about inclusion for everyone but also tolerance and acceptance of those that may be a little different. . . . . . a few years ago Roby also organized a Fri. Night Lights game which caught on and has run every year since. It requires a lot of work on his part as all the lights have to be brought in. He works tirelessly with the local businesses to obtain funds to help with the extra cost involved to pull off a night game. This game brings a lot of the community out to watch our team and is a great way to garner attention and support for the high school football league. To say that Roby Sharpe is dedicated to the sport of football is an understatement, not only has he shaped his players into respectful, fair young men but I think he has opened an entire province’s eyes on what being an exceptional human being should look like.”

Coach John Thrasher, W.F. Herman Secondary School, Windsor, Ontario:

John Thrasher has been donating his time to coach this high school team for 23 years now. His dedication to his players is unwavering and extends way past the playing field. His relationship with his players continues after they graduate from the high school and well into their 20’s. He encourages success both on the field and off the field; academically, socially, with family, and generally to be the best person they can be. His positive attitude is very apparent when current or past players meet him out in the community. Their respect and admiration of this coach is almost tangible when they talk about how well they are doing in their life. I love the fact that winning is not the ultimate goal for this coach; being better than they were yesterday.”

Coach Chase Moore, Western Canada High School, Calgary, Alberta:

I think that sometimes it is important to demonstrate more what football coaches can bring to the players outside of the actual game itself. I mention this because there has been multiple occasions where I have had the opportunity to see Chase take a player aside and discuss what is going on in their personal lives at school or at home and offer quality advice. We have team events where Chase imparts more about what it means to be respectful and a quality human being as opposed to just a football player. In nominating Chase Moore for Coach of the year I am nominating someone who has taken their passion and knowledge and given back to the community in the best possible way they could.”

Coach Jay Prepchuk, Handsworth Royals, North Vancouver, British Columbia:

Jay was a standout quarterback during his playing career and holds several school records at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby . . . . he has succeeding in touching the lives of many young football athletes in the province and through his dedication has left all the players he’s influenced as being tougher young men both on and off the field.”

Nominators are asked to submit a short essay recognizing the positive impact the volunteer high school or community coach has on young players. Nominators are asked to consider how the coach teaches respect, safety, motivation, leadership and appreciation for the game of football when drafting their nominations.

The winning coach will be selected by a panel of journalists from across Canada, NFL, BlackRock Canada and Football Canada representatives. Shortlisted coaches will be announced via press release and posted online ( on Thursday November 20, 2014. Winner and runners-up will be announced via press release and posted online ( on Tuesday December 2, 2014.

$5,000 of new football equipment will be donated to the winning coach’s program.

BlackRock Canada will help cement the winning coach’s legacy, creating $5,000 in bursaries that will assist young football players in the coach’s community who are in financial need. Two runners-up schools will each receive $2,000 in equipment.

John Thrasher, Windsor Ontario

John Thrasher, Windsor Ontario