KANSAS CITY, Mo. – United Soccer Coaches has announced six recipients of the Advocacy Awards of Excellence.

They will be honored at the Advocacy Hour Reception at 4:30 pm on Friday, Jan. 17 in the Grand Ballroom Foyer of the Baltimore Convention Center during the United Soccer Coaches Convention.

The awards honor an individual, organization or group that has shown outstanding work representative of the values of their respective advocacy group and dedication to meeting the association’s highest ideals of inclusion and diversity in the game of soccer. Recipients were nominated by United Soccer Coaches members and selected by each individual advocacy group.

“We are delighted to recognize these individuals who have demonstrated our association’s commitment to the culture of soccer through advocacy,” United Soccer Coaches CEO Lynn Berling said. “Each of them has dedicated their time and service to meeting the need for diversity and inclusion in the game and in our membership.”

The recipients of this year’s Advocacy Awards of Excellence:

Black Coaches Award of Excellence – Karla Thompson
Disabilities Allies Award of Excellence – Chris Finn
Faith-Based Coaches Award of Excellence – Patrick Gilliam
Latin American Coaches Award of Excellence – Lou Sagastume
LGBT & Allies Award of Excellence – Dan Woog
Native American Award of Excellence – Kasaundra Piotra

The founder and president of the Women in Youth Sports Coalition, Thompson has coached at all levels of the game during her 25-plus years as a coach, including the last 16 in the youth game. She has served as the technical director and assistant technical Director of player development in Maryland and Arizona, respectively. She has spent the last seven years as an instructor for U.S. Youth Soccer and U.S. Soccer and she is currently a member of the coaching staff of the Region IV and Region I ODP girls’ teams.

Finn was the head coach of the U.S. Power Soccer Team that won the 2011 and 2017 FIPFA World Cups, the 2013 FIPFA Under-18 Championships and the 2014 FIPFA Copa America Championships. He also serves as a vice president with the FIPFA international governing body for the sport. Chris has also coached two United States Power Soccer Association President Cup Championships in 2014 and 2017. He suffered a freak fall in 1992 while in college that caused vertebra damage and paralysis. He later moved to California and discovered power soccer, quickly able to play and coach internationally with a power wheelchair. He now is an advocate for athletes with disabilities and a motivational speaker, inspiring hundreds of individuals and attracting attention to the abilities and needs nationally and internationally.

Gilliam has coached the past 23 years at Trinity International University, serving different stints as the head coach for both men’s and women’s soccer. His teams have qualified for 15 national tournaments; six with the NAIA and nine with the NCCAA, winning the NCCAA national championship in 1998 and 2004. With a long list of accomplishments and awards, Gilliam also embodies servant-leadership with his coaches and his players. His impact goes well beyond his influence on the soccer field, but through the lives of the student-athletes and coaches he has coached, taught and mentored.

Sagastume was one of the early leaders in organizing Latino coaches in the United States around the game, forming the Latin American Soccer Coaches Association (LASCA). That group eventually merged with United Soccer Coaches (then NSCAA) to become the Latin American Soccer Coaches Committee which had a spot on their Board of Directors. The group became active in providing bilingual coaching education courses, articles in Soccer Journal and clinicians at the annual convention. A native of Guatemala, he grew up in northern California and attended the University of San Francisco, where he was an All-American midfielder for the Dons including as a member of their 1966 NCAA championship team. He later coached youth and high school soccer in the bay area before taking the position at Air Force where he compiled a 303-196-43 record before retiring in 2007.

Woog has been the head varsity soccer coach at Staples High School in Westport, Conn. since 2003. He has led his team to four league championships, one state title and a record of 228-74-44. He was the NSCAA National Youth Coach of the Year in 1991, a 2000 inductee into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame, the 2011 Connecticut High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year and a 2019 United Soccer Coaches High School Coach of Significance. He helped found the LGBT and Allies Advocacy Group five years ago and has been the chair of the group since. He is also a full-time freelance writer publishing 17 books.

Piotra coaches in North Dakota at Turtle Mountain Community High School. She has helped start and operate a club soccer program on the reservation as an opportunity for girls to play year-round and remain active in the sport. She volunteers much of her time helping to raise money and get donations of equipment for the teams. She recently received a United Soccer Coaches High School Coach of Significance Award for her dedicated work in the community.