Coaches are the heartbeat of our organization; volunteers who dedicate their weekends to encourage, mentor and lead our kids on the Gridiron. And even more than the score at the end of a game, or the record at the end of the season, they play a transformative role in helping our kids become even better human beings.
Earlier this year, we invited you - our Gridiron family - to tell us why YOUR coach should be named 'Coach of the Year'. The response was... overwhelming. We received so many amazing video messages from kids across the country telling us how their coach made them a better athlete and a better person. It was hard to choose, but we narrowed down our finalists to these 5 coaches / coaching teams:
Gridiron Coach of the Year Finalist 1: Coach Pendergrass
Nominated by Mika Pendergrass (Parent) + Daylen Pendergrass (Athlete) of the 8U Panthers



“What I admire most about Coach Pendergrass is his dedication on and off the field for all of his athletes. I have had a sideline view of Coach P stepping in to take on the Head Coach role when our son was just 4yrs old, having never Coached before at a time when the Head Coach checked out on the team; and at such a young age. From then on Coach P was determined to build a loving and supportive Flag Football program for current and future Panthers athletes to grow and thrive. From providing the kiddos Gatorade at every practice, to hosting banquets with trophies and gifts to celebrate the athletes. Though his tenure with the Gridiron brand has involved him rebuilding the team twice he has been able to achieve 2 league championships and a semi-finals runner up during his coaching tenure. What's most notable about Coach Pendergrass is his dedication to help grow the skills of his athletes so they all learn to love the game while growing. With respects to our son he has grown so much to becoming a division MVP athlete and has led his team YoY in touchdowns and flags. Because of him I am honored to be a team mom each year.”


Gridiron Coach of the Year Finalist 2: Coach Prosise
Nominated by Megan Lelinski (Parent) + Blake Lelinski (Athlete) of the Fighting Irish



“Where do I begin. CJ Prosise seems to be a coaching anomaly. At first my son was intimidated to be coached by and train with an NFL athlete, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Watching CJ take the initiative to start a team and take the time and get down to the level of the players and speak with them, not at them is fascinating, and truly a gift. Many times CJ’s patience would shine through as he would explain the same thing, in different ways to help the players understand not only how to do something but also the reasoning why to do it. CJ never yells but has a way of making the kids want to put in the work, that will eventually make them better. CJ has a way of working with the athletes by teaching them not only on the field, but giving them life lessons that not only make them better athletes but make them better men by making them think about the hard work they are putting in during practice and games should equal the hard work that goes into school, family and life in general. Although the team wasn’t as successful as we all had hoped, as the players are just getting to know each other; the growth in camaraderie, work ethic, and life lessons has been second to none. CJ Prosise was amazing to watch as a player and it is phenomenal to see that talent transfer over to coaching the next generation.”


Gridiron Coach of the Year Finalist 3: Coach Brackens
Nominated by Nicole Bishop (Parent) + Brooke Bishop (Athlete) of Famlife Flex



“Coach Jared was Brooke’s coach since the Jan 2023 Gridiron season as the Phantoms. He has a son who Brooke played with and Coach treated Brooke as an equal right from the beginning. He allowed her to earn her playing time and to prove that she deserved to be on the same field as the boys. He asked Brooke to join a competitive tournament team that played all summer long. He worked with Brooke and with every boy on the team to learn the game and improve their skills as a football player. He isn’t afraid to passionately remind the players of what they were taught when they don’t execute properly. His passion is inspiring and contagious. His knowledge of the game and his ability to articulate it to the players is impressive. Near the end of the summer season of tournaments, we began to see separation between Brooke and the boys. Coach stayed and watched Brooke play on an all-girls team and he decided he wanted to build his own all girls team around Brooke. He did this because he truly cares about our daughter and he loves teaching the sport of football to kids. Despite not having a daughter on this team, he drives an hour each way twice a week for practices (intense practices!) plus game days. Overall, Jared Brackens is great person who is passionate about football and loves teaching kids this sport! I highly recommend Jared Brackens for Coach of the Year!”


Gridiron Coach of the Year Finalist 4: Coach Peebler
Nominated by Laura Osvold (Parent) + Jack  Osvold (Athlete) and Nicole Smith (Parent) + Geoffrey Smith (Athlete) of the Flag Ninjas



“I am enthusiastically nominating Bob Peebler for Coach of the Year. As our coach this season, Bob has demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership, and a genuine passion for fostering skill development and a positive team environment. Bob has gone above and beyond in creating a supportive atmosphere where ever player felt valued and encouraged. Some players were new and others were more tenured, but he ensured everyone was treated equally. Most important (especially to me as a parent of a competitive 6 year old!) was how Bob instilled a sense of camaraderie, fair play and sportsmanship. That not only enhances my sons skills on the field, but also contributes to his personal growth off the field. After winning the championship, my son, on his accord, walked over to the other team and shook the hands of the players of the other team. Bob helped bring out that sportsmanship in him. While just a “volunteer gig”, Bob never let that show. He was dedicated to all practices and had a playbook ready for the match he wasn’t able to make. Our team group texts were always uplifting, organized, and filled with words of encouragement. As you’ll hear from my son in his video, Bob doesn’t yell. If practice or a game wasn’t going quite right, his approach to regrouping was always patient and kind. That’s what our boys need at this age. Bob has proven to be an outstanding coach (we consider ourselves do fortunate to have landed on his team!) and role model and he has made a positive and lasting impact on our athlete. I know others feel on the team feel the same way. I do hope you will consider this nomination. He truly deserves it!”


“Gridiron has brought a group of boys, some strangers and some classmates to create a bond that will hopefully last them a lifetime. We appreciate coach Bob for his patience and kindness with all of our children. His son, a high schooler, is the assistant coach and demonstrates the same skills as his father. They have taught our kids to be good football players but more importantly good teammates and good opponents to others! We had a great season with him and look forward to many more!”


Finalist 5: Coach Grose + Coach Figueras

Nominated by Nachum Erlich (Parent) + Idan Hollingworth (Athlete) and Stephanie Vargas (Parent) + Hayden Grose (Athlete) and Carolyn Leister (Parent) + Calvin Leister (Athlete) and Andrew SoRelle (Parent) + Andrew/Thomas SoRelle (Athletes) and Dani Portillo (Parent) + James Caplan (Athlete) of the Seahawks



“Leaders, knowledge, fun, demanding, patience. Respectful. Champions.”


“Brandon is the most caring and thoughtful coach in the league. Being at home with him, I see how much he cares and how much time he puts into coaching the Seahawks. He dedicates so much time into plays and how he can help each individual player get better. We have conversations after every single game and practice about each player and how proud he is of how far they have all come. Not only do I see how amazing he is as a coach, but I also see it in the eyes of each of his players. All the Seahawks players and parents respect and admire him, and I think it is because they know how much he truly cares...

Coach Dan is a great addition to the Seahawks team. He always has a great attitude and is great with all the Seahawks players and parents. We love having him on the team.”


“Coach Grose is an amazing mentor for our son. He’s the reason we stayed in this league.”


“He is a great leader of high moral character. He teaches the boys to behave virtuously through positive attitude and effort. Also, he's made them winners -- two undefeated seasons in a row.”


“Coach Brandon is patient and genuinely cares about each athlete. He pushes each athlete to be their best in a strong yet nurturing manner...

Coach Dan pushes the athletes to be their best. He is understanding and kind.”


Rebecca Cheaves said:

Brandon is an amazing coach for our son Hayden and for the rest of the players. He dedicates his time and 100% efforts into those kids! He also has the knowledge and skill of football and has turned these kids into flag football champion athletes ! I would highly recommend him for Coach of the Year award.

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