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Issue Date: May 31, 2009

In this article:
More Most Caring Coaches


Most Caring Coach

Picked from your 1,503 nominees, these three mentors stood tall.

By Allyson Dickman, Vicki Kriz and Adaora Otiji

FOR THE 17th year, readers nominated outstanding youth coaches who inspire their young charges. Our judges chose three winners from 10 finalists. Each receives $1,000 and will be honored this summer by the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

Helping boys keep their eyes on the ball and on what's important

...Congratulations to our seven finalists:
Jaime & Greg Cooper,
   Severna Park, Md.
Roger Evans & Marcus Wood,
   Washington, D.C.
Mike Fenster,
   Columbus, Ohio
Jaime Gonzalez,
   Edinburg, Texas
Willis Hothouse,
   Stilwell, Okla.
Lynn Kelley,
   Maineville, Ohio
Trisha Yurochko,
   Mountainside, N.J.

Read about them here

Danny Carothers, Bowling Green, Ky.
Danny Carothers, 48, has found concrete ways to support the Bears, the 10- to 12-year-old boys on his youth football team. Many of them have no male role model, and some come from homes where poverty, drugs and abuse are present. He treats the boys to meals and outings to skating rinks and football games, and he invites them to hang out at his house with his 12-year-old son, Malik. He invites community leaders -- policemen, doctors, former players -- to talk to his boys. With five other men, this father of six helped start West Side Camp, a summer enrichment program.

He also keeps the boys active in their community. The Bears regularly visit nursing home residents and distribute Thanksgiving turkeys to neighbors. He is a long-term figure in his players' lives. "Danny was my role model," says Northwestern University safety Jared Carpenter. "He was the man who made the game fun. As I grew up, he kept me confident."

Stepping in with a hot meal, lending a helping hand to his football family

Frankie Carroll, Madison, Fla.
Frankie Carroll, 51, is not just the championship-winning head football coach of the Madison County High School Cowboys. He is a father figure, tutor, college adviser and community activist. "He works most not to win games, but to be first a leader and a father for this team," player Robert Sanders says.

When Carroll discovered that some players were going home to dark houses and no dinners, he recruited churches and civic groups to feed the JV and varsity teams on game nights in the school's cafeteria. When he learned that a special-needs student dreamed of being a Cowboy, Carroll worked to get him on the team, then held the teen to the same team standards. When player Desmond Gee's mom died, Carroll and wife Dela took in Gee for his senior year of high school.

Carroll goes to great lengths to make college an option. Weekly tutoring sessions involve the whole team and coaching staff. As a result, in his six years as head coach, he has had 50 of his students go to college on scholarship.

Keeping young riders on the right path

USA WEEKEND's Most Caring Coach winners are committed to their communities.

Lezlie Hiner, Philadelphia
Polo isn't exactly a mainstream endeavor. But Lezlie Hiner, founder of the Work to Ride program at Chamounix Equestrian Center, uses this "sport of kings" to help Philadelphia at-risk youth stay in school. Hiner, 51, had the idea after seeing one young man's confidence soar after he learned to care for horses years ago. "I thought, 'If this has such a profound effect, then maybe it could help other kids like him,' " she says.

Hiner started in 1994 with four riders. Today, 20 riders, ages 7 to 19, are responsible for grooming and caring for their horses and must maintain a C average. Handling every aspect of Work to Ride -- organizing activities, helping the kids with homework, mentoring them, driving them home -- Hiner has done just about everything to keep the polo program afloat for 15 years. The program has grown so much over the years that Hiner even had to hire help.

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