2014 Leadership Award Honorees

  • Jim Emig Coach Award
    Sterling Finney
    St. Louis Football U

    Sterling Finney is the Founder and CEO of Stl Football U, a non-profit organization that uses sports as a platform to support youth in academics and life skills. Sterling believes his role is to make a difference in young people’s lives. "My ultimate goal in life is to affect every youth I come in contact with whether short-term or long-term. I believe that as mentors we are able to reach the youth through relationships, and we use sports as a common interest.”

    Sterling currently serves as the Assistant Head Football coach and Offensive Coordinator at Francis Howell North High School. He is a 1999 graduate of Jennings High School. Sterling earned a BA in Criminal Justice from Culver Stockton College, while earning All American and All Conference honors playing football.

    Coach Sterling has coached at Roosevelt High School and Maplewood Richmond Heights High School. While at Maplewood, the team was runner up in the Missouri State High School Football Championships in Class 3A with a 14-1 record.
    Coach Sterling is married to his wife Nakeisha and has two incredible boys, Sterling III (5) and Stefan (4).

  • Cathy Hill Volunteer Award
    Tom Michler
    New Dimensions Soccer

    A lifelong lover of the game, in 2004, Tom co-founded New Dimensions Soccer, a non-profit organization focusing on community integration, life skill development, and fun athletic opportunities. New Dimensions was influenced by the Dutch model of small-sided games for the youngest players, while recognizing a need to reach out to refugee children new to the St. Louis area.

    Bringing these two ideas together, with the goal of utilizing soccer as a connecting mechanism for children, New Dimensions quickly gained popularity because of its emphasis on fun, community integration, and character development. New Dimensions Soccer hosts more than 100 teams in its popular summer Watermelon League, which brings children from all backgrounds together on the soccer field for an experience of fellowship and competition.

    As part of its mission to reach more kids, New Dimensions now runs quality after-school programs in under-served areas, teaching basic soccer skills while also giving equal time to life skills development and counseling.

    Tom’s soccer background includes playing for legendary coach and player Harry Keough at St. Louis University. Tom is a licensed professional counselor and organizational development consultant in private practice in St. Louis. Tom and his wife Mary have been married for 32 years and are proud parents of Caroline and Michael.

  • Todd Bruns Athlete Award
    A. J. Schulze
    Francis Howell North High School

    A.J. Schulze is a senior at Francis Howell North High School and has been on the honor roll every year including middle school. He is a model student, maintaining a 3.5 GPA while being very active in sports.

    A.J. has been a standout player in football for four years, and a basketball and track letterman for three years. He has received attention from college programs as prestigious as Illinois, Purdue, Missouri and many more. A.J. has yet to commit to a college but looks forward to having an amazing senior year of high school football.

    The two essential components A.J. attributes to his growth are a work ethic and STL Football U training and staff. “The moment I walked into the door they took me under their wings and never gave up on me.” In the process A.J. has not only become a better football player but a phenomenal young man, going beyond the game on and off the field.

  • Bob Emig Supporter Award
    Jackie Joyner-Kersee
    Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation

    One of the greatest athletes of all time, track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee has won three Olympic gold medals, as well as one silver and two bronze, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history. She was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon. She is currently the heptathlon world record-holder.

    Jackie received widespread honors in high school in various sports, including track, basketball and volleyball. During her junior year, she set the Illinois high-school long jump record for women, with a 6.68-meter jump. She was a stand out athlete at UCLA..

    Jackie officially retired from track and field in 2001 and went on to be an advocate for youth, founding the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation in East St. Louis, IL., which is aimed at encouraging youth in her underprivileged hometown to play sports. In 2007, Joyner-Kersee helped establish Athletes for Hope along with other major athletes. This organization supports and encourages athletes "to make a difference in the world."