CHICAGO (Feb. 7, 2024) – U.S. Soccer today announced Burton Haimes as the recipient of the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award, while Esmeralda Negron earned the second annual Kim Crabbe Game Changers Award and Joslynn Bigelow earned the second annual Carla Overbeck Leadership Award. The awards will be presented to each honoree at U.S. Soccer’s upcoming Annual General Meeting which will take place in Dallas from Feb. 8-11
WERNER FRICKER BUILDER AWARD
The Werner Fricker Builder Award is the highest honor that can be bestowed by U.S. Soccer and is given to an individual or group who dedicate at least 20 years of service to the sport, working to establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States. First awarded in 2002, the award recognizes those who have developed programs that will outlast their own involvement in the sport.
A long-time member of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, Haimes was named this year’s Werner Fricker Builder Award recipient for his impactful contributions to the development of the youth soccer landscape in our country through nearly 50 of service to AYSO, which also included 30 years as an AYSO Board member, seven as President and 12 as Board Chairman. During his tenure, Haimes oversaw the development and growth of a nationwide, community-based youth soccer organization that has served millions of children and their families.
A tireless champion of building soccer communities, Haimes pioneered one of the first business models for youth soccer that delivered high quality programming and support through highly engaged community leaders who were willing to volunteer their time for the good of the game and their communities, successfully removing financial barriers for entry while creating inclusive environments without regard to players’ financial means, social or cultural backgrounds, or sill levels.
KIM CRABBE GAME CHANGERS AWARD
Esmeralda Negron earned the second annual Kim Crabbe Game Changers Award. Established by Game Changers United – U.S. Soccer’s external Advisory Council focused on advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) across all areas of American soccer – the award is given to a member of the soccer community who has made a lasting and innovative impact in the areas of DEIB in a creative way while fostering long-term sustainability for the future of soccer.
A former professional and U.S. Women’s Youth National Team player, Negron founded ata football, a free digital platform which brought together premium live and curated women’s football content and connected it to fans and players across all levels of the game from broadcast distribution through to direct engagement. After proving to be both an ambitious and impactful platform, ata football was acquired by DAZN in the summer of 2023, allowing Negron’s work to connect to an existing global audience of 67 million viewers and providing her the scope and opportunity to achieve her vision.
Negron identified an opportunity to make the women’s game accessible to fans around the world from the grassroots to the professional levels. By collaborating with multiple soccer leagues, teams, broadcasters and organizations, Negron has built a strong community in which soccer fans can access and engage with women’s soccer like never before. Now, as a Co-CEO of Women’s Sport at DAZN, Negron spearheaded DAZN’s decision to make its women’s football free to watch around the globe. She has collaborated with United Soccer Coaches, ECNL, DPL, Girls Academy, NJYS, PDA, Penn Fusion, reaching an estimated 2 million people to provide free and live digital-first exposure to soccer fans on DAZN.
CARLA OVERBECK LEADERSHIP AWARD
Joslynn Bigelow earned the second annual Carla Overbeck Leadership Award, an honor given to an individual who demonstrates a unique ability to lead and guide others and who contributes to the success of an initiative that benefits those outside their own organization and places emphasis on collaboration within and among leadership.
Bigelow – who recently won the third annual ADAPTandTHRIVE Disability Award, which recognizes an individual who is making an impact in the United States’ broad landscape of Disability soccer – is a TOPSoccer coach in her home state of Oregon. TOPSoccer is an adaptive soccer program for athletes with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities, and holds a USSF D license as well as certifications in TOPSoccer, Special Olympics, CP Soccer, and Blind Soccer. She is the director for two local TOPSoccer programs and has been named the Oregon Youth Soccer Association (OYSA) TOPSoccer Coach of the Year.
Bigelow also currently serves as OYSA TOPSoccer Chair. As an assistant coach for CP Soccer, she has been a part of numerous development and grassroots camps, coached in the IFCPF Club World Cup in Spain in 2022, and was part of the ADAPTandThrive Invitational. She is also the Head Coach of the Down Syndrome Sports of America Futsal National Team.