Project Play WNY Celebrates Local Youth Sports Coaches at 2023 Coaches Honor Roll Event

Oct 5, 2023

Buffalo, N.Y. – Project Play Western New York is recognizing youth sports coaches from across all eight counties of Western New York and has named 19 coaches to its 2023 Coaches Honor Roll following a community-wide nomination process. Now in its fourth year, each coach honored exemplifies the qualities of a great sports coach who is youth development focused, promotes sportsmanship among their athletes and families, and demonstrates leadership within their organization and the values that align with Project Play WNY. All of the coaches will be honored at an event on October 22, 2023.

The 2023 coaches being recognized are:

  • Jaleel Battle, Buffalo Hill Butler Giants
  • Kenny (Kayo) Deas, Gr8 Elite football team
  • Annie Draves, Buffalo Area Aquatics Club
  • Eric Elliott, Buffalo Regals Hockey
  • Kevin Fahey, Youth Advantage
  • Al Franjoine, Orchard Park Soccer Club
  • Taylor Gordon, NWAA Cheerleading/CYAA Softball
  • Kevin Hufford, New York Diamond Girls
  • Rome Hunt, Gr8 Elite Ducks
  • Kevin Ingram, WNY Bandits
  • John Jimenez, EMW (Elma, Marilla, Wales) Soccer
  • Christopher Keicher, Buffalo Rims
  • Kelsey Neumann, Buffalo Regals Hockey
  • Ricky L. Pereira Jr., Williamsville Jr, Football/Buffalo Vets
  • Joseph Scott, Buffalo Legacy Project, Inc.
  • Scott Silverman, Boys on the Right Track
  • Zoron Smith, The Salvation Army Youth Empowerment Program
  • Alexis Swanson, KAT Raiders
  • Bryan Weinstein, Boys on the Right Track

Additionally, Ayanna Williams-Gaines, of Buffalo All-Star Extreme (BASE), will receive the Dick Gallagher Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual who has used their platform as a youth sports coach or youth sports organization leader to support, recognize and advocate for youth athletes both on and off the field. With more than 20 years of coaching cheerleading, dance and gymnastics, Ayanna is dedicated to the development and education of all athletes. She provides a positive environment for young girls and boys to help raise their confidence, boost their self-esteem, and teach them life lessons while striving for academic and athletic excellence in non-traditional sports.

“Project Play WNY understands that a positive youth sports experience lays the groundwork for children to become healthy, happy adults,” said Aaron Hord, Director, Project Play WNY. “The individuals named to Project Play WNY’s 2023 Coaches Honor Roll demonstrate what it means to be a great youth sports coach— with a focus on youth development, sportsmanship and fun— that contribute to a positive overall experience.”

For more information on the 2023 Coaches Honor Roll Event, visit projectplaywny.org.

About Project Play WNY

Project Play WNY is driven and funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s Youth Sports & Recreation focus area in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. It is a collective impact model that includes more than 100 individuals who are focused on ensuring all WNY kids have the opportunity to be active through sport. For more information, visit projectplaywny.org.

About the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

For more than a century, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has enhanced and encouraged long-term philanthropy in the Western New York community. A 501 (c)(3) organization, the Community Foundation’s mission is: Connecting people, ideas and resources to improve lives in Western New York. Established in 1919, the Community Foundation has made the most of the generosity of individuals, families, foundations and organizations who entrust charitable assets to the Community Foundation’s care. Learn more at cfgb.org.

About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect the devotion of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his beloved Buffalo Bills NFL team. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson provided that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. Based in Detroit, the Foundation began with a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit www.rcwjrf.org.