KANSAS CITY, Mo. (November 16, 2023) – United Soccer Coaches announced the recipients of its 2023 Coaches Communities Awards of Excellence on Thursday. The recipients will be honored during the annual Advocacy Hour Reception at 4:00 pm on Friday, January 12, 2024, and the annual Coaches of Women’s Soccer Breakfast at 8:00 am on Saturday, January 13, 2024, during the 84th annual United Soccer Coaches Convention in Anaheim, Calif. The Coaches Communities Awards of Excellence are presented annually by the nine community groups to honor an individual, organization or other entity that has shown a commitment and outstanding work on behalf of the values of each respective group, meeting the association’s highest ideals of inclusion and diversity in the game. The recipients of this year’s Coaches Communities Awards of Excellence are:
Black Soccer Coaches: Lorne Donaldson
Disabilities Allies: Kate Ward
Faith-Based Coaches: Audrey Adkison
Latino Coaches: Rene Miramontes
LGBTQ+ and Allies: Megan Ostrelich
Native American Coaches: Dano Thorne
Veterans, Active Military and Affiliates: Tedd Ogren
Women Coaches: Jan Smisek
The following are short bios on each of the 2023 group honorees:
Nadia NadimAsian/Pacific Islander Coaches Award of Excellence
Racing Louisville FC NWSL player Nadia Nadim is the 2023 recipient of United Soccer Coaches Asian/Pacific Islander Coaches Community Award of Excellence. The prolific attacking player has had a successful playing career previously at the professional level with France’s Paris Saint-Germain, England’s Manchester City and NWSL’s Sky Blue and Portland Thorns clubs. Nadim and her family fled her native Afghanistan when she was a child and eventually found asylum in Denmark where she discovered soccer and became a citizen. She became a member of the Danish national team and was the Denmark Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017. As a humanitarian, she has inspired many around the globe. Even while playing soccer at the highest level, she was a medical student at Aarhus University in Denmark where she earned her degree as a doctor in 2022 specializing in reconstructive surgery. Without a doubt, she is one of the most influential, inspirational, and accomplished Afghan athletes of all time.
Black Soccer Coaches Award of Excellence
A member since 1992, Lorne Donaldson currently serves as the Executive Director of Coaching and President of Real Colorado, one of the nation’s top youth soccer clubs. He just completed a term as Head Women’s Coach for his native Jamaican National Team, leading the Reggae Girls to become the first Caribbean country to advance to the Round of sixteen at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Kingston, Jamaica, native moved to the United States in 1980 and became a three-time All-America player at Metro State College in Denver. He transitioned into coaching after college, first as player/coach for the Denver Kickers and professional team Colorado Foxes, where he won to APSL National Championships with the Foxes. He began investing time in youth soccer, specifically the Douglas County Blast, now Real Colorado, in 1997. Off the field, Donaldson was one of the founders of the Black Soccer Coaches Association. He has been an accomplished instructor for United Soccer Coaches courses for over 10 years. He is a member of both the Metro State College and Colorado Youth Soccer Hall of Fame.
Disabilities Allies Award of Excellence
A member of United Soccer Coaches since 2016, Kate Ward is currently the assistant coach at High Point University in North Carolina. On October 6, she captured her sixth Gold Medal in international competition as team captain for the United States Deaf National Team in the FIFA Women’s Soccer World Deaf Championship in Malaysia. She is the winningest player in the history of the program. Ward is also the previous Chair of the Disabilities Allies Coaches Community. Before joining the HPU staff in 2022, Ward served as an assistant coach at the University of Texas-El Paso, helping guide that team to its first Conference USA tournament berth. She previously was a graduate assistant at Virginia Commonwealth University. The Atlanta, Georgia, native played four years at Appalachian State University where she earned her undergraduate degree in molecular biology. She has a master’s in sports leadership from VCU.
Audrey AdkisonFaith-Based Coaches Award of Excellence
A member of the association since 2017 and selected for the 30 Under 30 Program Class of 2023-24, Audrey Adkison is already making a positive impact on and off the field as a young coach in the profession at a faith-based institution. She is the Assistant Women’s Coach at NCAA Division I Abilene Christian University and is passionate about the game and making a positive impact on the Wildcat program by connecting in a genuine and caring manner with the players. She is also a proven winner, coming to the ACU program from Liberty University where she helped the Flames to an impressive 42-23-10 record in four years. Prior to Liberty, Adkison was an assistant coach at the University of Central Arkansas. She has a USSF B license and United Soccer Coaches Goalkeeping diploma. A graduate of Harding University in Arkansas, she is passionate about molding athletes within a Christ-centered program, Adkison looks forward to being active as a member of the association’s Faith-Based Coaches Community and networking with colleagues in the profession.
Rene MiramontesLatino Coaches Award of Excellence
Rene Miramontes was born in Los Angeles, raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moving to San Deigo as a teenager, Miramontes became one of the most impactful Latinos in soccer in both California and nationwide in his career. He has had a distinguished career of over 40 years in soccer as a player, coach and administrator at the youth, high school, college and professional levels of the game. He played collegiately at San Deigo State University and then three seasons of professional soccer in San Diego before beginning a coaching career in 1982. He first built a soccer program for the San Diego Barrio Youth Center from the grass roots level. Miramontes was the head coach at Cuyamaca Junior College from 1989-1994, Director of Coaching at El Cajon USA Soccer Club from 1990-94 and was named US Soccer’s Hispanic Coaching Coordinator in 1995. He was an assistant coach for the US Olympic soccer team in 1996. From 1997-2000, Miramontes served as assistant coach under for the MLS Colorado Rapids. He coached high school soccer for 12 years in southern California. He was an ODP staff member for Cal South Youth soccer from 2000-04. As a USSF A-license and United Soccer Premier Diploma coach, he has been a coaching education instructor for both organizations. Miramontes has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition over the years including a National Coach of the Year Award, the Latin American Soccer Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award and was named San Diego’s 100 most influential people in soccer. Miramontes has been the President and Founder of Advanced Soccer Concepts in San Diego since 2000.
Megan OstrelichLGBTQ+ and Allies Award of Excellence
Megan Ostrelich fell in love with soccer around 1990 and has not stopped since. After an injury sidelined her from playing at Elizabethtown College, she began coaching in 2003 and has coached at most levels of the game including TOPSoccer, recreational, travel/club, high school and college. She spent most of her career in Pennsylvania after moving to Massachusetts a few years ago, she began coaching for the New England Futbol Club (NEFC), one of the nation’s premier soccer clubs. Ostrelich has also been involved in other aspects of the game including as a board member, manager and public relations work. At the end of 2022, she began working with NEFC-She, a Women in Sport program that aims to empower young female athletes by providing them with the key resources and skills to equip them for success both on and off the field. She attended the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia in 2023 and joined the LGBTQ+ & Allies Coaches Community. She feels a strong connection to this community and met some wonderful people who inspired her to co-create an Inclusive Coaching module with association legend Nancy Feldman.
Dano Thorne Native American Coaches Award of Excellence
Canadian Dano Thorne, of who’s ancestry is from Cowichan Tribes of British Columbia and the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho State, is the recipient of the 2023 Award of Excellence from Native American Coaches Community of United Soccer Coaches. Thorne has been a lifelong advocate of First Nations and Indigenous Sport and Coaching leadership. He has been passionate for athletic excellence through holistic traditional pathways. Dano chose the sport of soccer to promote culture of sport for youth and women for over 30 years. As a top-level athlete and coach leader, his experience provided a thorough understanding of elite sport through indigenous views and perspectives. His dedication to soccer and sport at international levels has assisted him in developing local soccer from grassroots to international standards. As a NIFA Head Coach he guides special Indigenous leaders with a common vision for elite teams and works with the acclaimed NIFA Ladies Indigenous Team Canada, two-time World Indigenous Games Champions. At NIFA in Advocacy, it is the common dream to see players represent their people at all levels of soccer, a sacred vision.
Tedd Ogren Veterans, Active Military and Affiliates Award of Excellence
Retired United States Air Force Colonel Tedd Ogren is the inaugural recipient of the VAMA Award of Excellence. Currently residing in Burke, Virginia, following a distinguished 30-year military career, Ogren used his love of soccer as a conduit to connect military families and communities, support for veterans needing assistance and a desire to build fellowship and moral through fun on the pitch. He became Director of the Pentagon Soccer Club in 2010, where he turned a group of friends playing the game during lunch breaks into an amazing organization building connections and common ground through sports. He formalized the Donovan Cup, a friendly match between American staff and members of the British Staff College, to honor of Bill Donovan, a former soccer player who died at the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11. Ogren also organized the Veterans Salute Cup from 2013-17, that raised thousands of dollars for Team Red, White and Blue. He later partnered with MLS Club DC United to sponsor a small-sided tournament for Veterans and First Responders. While still on active duty, Colonel Ogren’s service included such soccer highlights as taking a team to play behind the iron curtain in communist East Berlin, coaching an American side in a German soccer league and organizing a pickup game between US military members and Iraqi civilians while deployed as a part of the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004.
Jan Smisek Women Coaches Award of Excellence
Jan Smisek has helped pave the way for a multitude of coaches that may have never heard her name but have all benefited from her work. She was the youngest ever USSF A-licensed coach and the first woman to ever earn this credential. Smisek worked tirelessly to grow the game at all levels and had experience coaching at the youth, ODP, high school and college levels (both Seattle University and The Evergreen State College). She also had experience with US Soccer as a member of their national staff from 1996-2001. Before her time as a coach, Smisek was a member of the first AYSO all girls team, was on the first varsity team at West Torrance High School and started the club soccer program at UC-Santa Barbara. She was a member of the 1982 US Women’s Open Cup Championship team, FC Lowenbrau Zurich, cementing her role as trailblazer in the women’s game. Smisek was named one of the Top 50 Soccer Citizens by Washington Youth Soccer as part of their 50th anniversary celebration in 2016 and was most recently served on the staff with the OL Reign Academy before retiring from coaching in the spring of 2023. While her time on the field may have concluded, the long-reaching influence of Smisek both as a player and coach will no doubt have a ripple effect that lasts for years in the game.