United Soccer Coaches announced Thursday that Philadelphia Union defender Raymon Gaddis has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Jerry Yeagley Award for Exceptional Personal Achievement.
Gaddis will be honored during the All-America Ceremony on Saturday, January 16 as part of the 2021 United Soccer Coaches digital convention.
The award is presented annually to a former collegiate soccer student-athlete who has demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments and service beyond the sport itself. The award is named in honor of the legendary Indiana University men’s soccer coach.
“How fitting for an Indiana favorite son to receive the Jerry Yeagley Award for Exceptional Personal Achievement,” United Soccer Coaches President Kevin Sims said in a statement. “Ray has excelled on the field for the 2020 MLS Supporters’ Shield Philadelphia Union as a longstanding defensive stalwart, holding club records for most matches started and most minutes played. More impressively, Ray has leveraged his success and platform to benefit the Philadelphia area and the nation through meaningful philanthropy, community service, and social activism. United Soccer Coaches proudly salutes Ray Gaddis.”
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Gaddis is arguably the most decorated defender in the West Virginia University men’s soccer history, where he helped lead the Mountaineers to a pair of NCAA Division I Tournament appearances. He was a two-time All-Big East selection and was a first team then-NSCAA All-Region honoree in 2009. He earned All-America honors both in his time at West Virginia and in high school. He was a Big East Academic All-Star and a Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll member at WVU.
He was drafted in the second round of the 2012 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union. After nine years in the league, all with Philadelphia, he owns the franchise record for most career matches (220) and minutes played (18,702), and is tied for the record for most matches played in a single season with 34.
Off the pitch, Gaddis has been very active in the community not only in Philadelphia and in his hometown of Indianapolis, but nationwide. He is a founding member and executive board member of MLS’ Black Players for Change, where he focuses on helping develop programming and initiatives, and is working specifically to form strategic partnerships to address racial inequalities, elevate Black voices, and stand with those fighting racism on the broader soccer scape. BPC was recently named the 2020 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year.
He helped bring a mini-pitch to Newark, N.J. in conjunction with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Adidas and Musco Lighting. It is the first of 12 planned mini-pitches to be built across the country as part of a long-term partnership aimed at breaking down systemic barriers that have kept children of color from playing soccer.
Over the last six years, he has partnered with Chipotle and Honeygrow to provide meals to the homeless in Philadelphia. He has also worked with the Salvation Army and Bethesda House to deliver meals to a safe space for those in need. He has a similar initiative in Indianapolis, where he delivers food, clothing, coats, and insulated blankets to one of the tent cities.
Recently, Gaddis has helped bridge the digital divide in the Indianapolis public school system by working with local officials and the NFL Players’ Coalition to provide internet and hotspots for 283 families who do not have internet access to help them be able to keep pace with their peers in school who do have internet access.
He has been vocal about the importance of voting and the realities of voter suppression. He joined Philadelphia Mayor, Jim Kenney, in a virtual voting roundtable discussion and took the lead in the Union’s voting initiative that brought a pop-up voter service center to Subaru Park.