Athletics Administration
Ben Jay

Director of Athletics

Ben Jay began as Academy of Art University Director of Athletics in June 2016.

At the start of 2013, Ben Jay was formally introduced as the University of Hawai'i's Athletics Director where he would oversee 145 staff members and coaches along with the nearly 500 student-athletes who competed for the Rainbow Warriors' 21 sports. His time there was highlighted by a cumulative 3.04 department grade point average, ;73 percent graduation success rate, multi-million dollar radio and television rights agreements, and $29 million in construction or renovation of facilities. Jay was involved in all facets of financial planning, budget management, strategic planning, compliance, development, and administration.

Before assuming his position at UH, Jay served a six-year tenure as Senior Associate Athletics Director for Finance and Operations at The Ohio State University. He headed the financial oversight of the athletics department, including being responsible for a $132.4 million operating budget in fiscal year 2012, instituting a new financial discipline environment to drive annual budget compliance and initiating a collaboration with Ohio State's Internal Audit Department.

He also oversaw the athletics business office, facility operations, event management, human resources, information technology, and the OSU Golf Course and OSU Ice Rink. Additionally, Jay monitored the facilities and construction projects for the athletics department and other special projects such as the Equity and Athletics Disclosure Act.

Prior to Ohio State, he served 13 years as the then-Pac-10 Conference's Associate Commissioner for Business and Finance. Jay was directly responsible for Conference budget administration and expenditure control, financial accounting and related NCAA financial reports, and distribution of Conference revenues from various sources. He also oversaw the administration of Conference office operations and human resource duties.

Before joining the Pac-10, Jay worked five years as the Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Finance at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He was responsible for the budget development and expenditure controls for 17 varsity sports, eight club sports, and the recreation and intramural program while also assisting with strategic planning for the athletics department.

Jay earned two degrees from Ohio State, including a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1981 and a master's degree in Athletics Administration in 1989. Between degrees, he spent time as general manager for the Redwood Pioneers, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and then was director of operations for the Cleveland Indians. After receiving his master's degree, Jay became the assistant athletics director at Fairfield before moving on to the Pac-10.

During his career, Jay has served on a number of committees including the NCAA Diversity Leadership Strategic Planning Committee, the NCAA Business and Finance Cabinet, and the NCAA Finance Subcommittee to Review NCAA Student-Athlete Catastrophic Insurance Program. He also served on the Collegiate Commissioners Association and Bowl Championship Series committees and the national policy advisory board for the University of Central Florida's DeVos Sports Business Management Program.

Phone: 1-415-618-6553


Ashley Adams

Associate Athletics Director of Compliance/SWA

Ashley Adams began her first year as Academy of Art University Assistant Athletic Director; Compliance in September of 2014.

Adams joins Academy of Art after serving as the West Coast Conference's Assistant Director of Compliance and Student-Athlete Services for the 2013-14 season. There she was responsible for facilitating the resolution of all NCAA and WCC interpretation requests, waivers, the National Letter of Intent (NLI) process, and was the primary staff liaison to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Prior to the WCC, Adams spent two seasons working as the Assistant Director of Compliance at Loyola Marymount University from 2011-13.

Adams completed her Juris Doctor at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in 2010 and was the senior legal intern in the Ohio State University athletic department. Adams passed the State Bar of Ohio in 2011. ;While pursuing her J.D. at Samford, Adams completed a highly decorated volleyball career in 2008-09, capturing Southern Conference Player of the Year honors and AVCA All-Region accolades on three occasions. Adams also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) while completing her studies.

An outside hitter, Adams finished her senior season with a .349 attack percentage and ranked 21st nationally with 4.21 kills per set on her way to AVCA All-Region recognition for the third time in her career. She previously earned All-Region honors and honorable mention All-America honors twice at Middle Tennessee, where she starred for the Blue Raiders for three years from 2005-07. The Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year as a junior, Adams helped Middle Tennessee to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2007.

Phone: 1-415-618-8513


Rob Garcia

Assistant Athletic Director - Media Relations

Rob is responsible for everything involving information, media relations, game oversight, and statistics at Academy of Art University. Creating pre and post-game releases and other publications, films and edits video content, and assisting with the production of media guides, Rob also maintains the department's web site Prior to joining the Academy of Art, Rob was a member of the game-day staff with San Jose State University football. A graduate of U.C. Santa Barbara with an undergraduate degree in Communications and a minor in Sports Management, he also worked as sports director and sports broadcaster for the campus radio station.

Phone: 1-415-618-6495


Stephen Ellis

Sports Information Director

Stephen Ellis began as Academy of Art University's Sports Information Director in October 2015.

Ellis serves as the primary sports information contact for ART U men's and women's soccer, men's basketball, baseball, men's and women's golf, and women's tennis.

A 2015 graduate of the University of San Francisco Sports Management Master's Degree Program, Ellis joined the Urban Knights after working as the director of social media for the San Francisco Football Club and social media manager for the NorCal Premier Soccer League in 2015.

No stranger to the field of sports information, Ellis served as the lone media relations intern for the San Francisco Giants during their most recent World Series title run in 2014. Prior to that, Ellis was a media relations game day intern for Stanford University's athletics department in 2013.

Ellis received his bachelor's degree in Communication and French & Francophone Studies from Humboldt State University in 2013. He was on the President's List for seven consecutive semesters en route to earning a 4.0 cumulative GPA.

Ellis currently resides in Pittsburg, California.

Phone: 1-415-618-8219


Cole Wilson

Assistant Athletics Director of Academics & Admissions Liaison

Cole previously served as the program's Athletics Operations Manager when joining the Urban Knights in January 2013, and was the Defensive Coordinator for Dixie State Football for the previous three years. Prior to Dixie, Wilson spent seven years at Southern Utah University, beginning as the Secondary Coach and eventually becoming Defensive Coordinator for the football team. Cole received an Associate’s Degree from Ricks Junior College (now BYU-Idaho) and his Bachelor Degree from the University of Idaho, and played football all four years while attending both schools.

Phone: 1-415-618-6397


Cameron De Lay

Assistant Athletics Director of Business Operations & External Relations

De Lay joined the Urban Knights and began his role as Director of Marketing on Aug. 5, 2015.

De Lay’s primary responsibilities include student engagement, management of recreation sports, game day environment, community outreach, fan development and sponsorships. De Lay is also be responsible for building a sense of school pride while bridging the gap between student-athletes and the general student body while working closely with campus life and residence life.

Before Academy of Art, De Lay worked as a Sports Marketing Data Analyst with BAM Software and Services, a wagering company in San Francisco. There, he helped negotiate and manage sports affiliates and media buys. He also assisted in the development and delivery of sports creative requests and created a new loyalty system while analyzing historical player data.

Before working with BAM Software and Services, De Lay worked both as the director of operations for the women’s volleyball team and as a resident advisor while he attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. In both roles he planned community service and outreach events. As a resident advisor he assisted in large-scale university housing events. As director of operations for the Mustangs’ volleyball program, he established, managed and promoted the program through social media channels.

De Lay earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business with a marketing concentration and minor in statistics from Cal Poly in 2013. He is currently a Master of Arts in sport management candidate at the University of San Francisco.

Phone: 1-415-618-8249


Sanders Durham

Director of Facilities & Operations

Sanders Durham begins his first year as Academy of Art University athletics Director of Operations in April 2016.

An Academy of Art Admissions Representative since 2014, Durham brings in-depth knowledge of the institution as well as background as a student-athlete himself in football at Murray State University.

A High School Undergraduate Admissions Representative since August 2015, Durham has spent nearly two years helping assist and mentor the development of numerous high school candidates for undergraduate studies. He has worked to effectively maintain a previous portfolio of undergraduate and high school prospects, served as a liaison between students and the financial aid department, and guided high school seniors through the enrollment process.

In his second year with Academy of Art, Durham specialized in the enrollment growth of the Pre-College Art Experience. More than 90 individuals participated in what continues to be a highly coveted program that previews life as an Urban Knight.

A four-year student-athlete at Murray State University, Durham was a strong safety for the Racers' football team and was selected to the school's honor roll. Durham graduated from Murray State University in 2010 with a B.S. in Health and Physical Education.

Phone: 1-415-618-8285


Darrell Hayden

Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR)

Darrell is a full-time Instructor of Identity Design as well as Presentation Skills at the Academy of Art. In addition, as the school's Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), he is the liaison between the school and the NCAA, and also helps ensure a balance of life for student athletes on campus.

His previous roles span over 25 years in broad-based branding, including Managing Director, Interbrand; Co-Owner, CF Napa; Vice President, marchFIRST; Worldwide Creative Director, Frankfurt Balkind; Executive Director, Landor Associates; Design Director, 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee; and Designer, Bass/Yager Associates.

A native New Yorker, Darrell grew up in southern California. He studied at Art Center College of Design after earning his Bachelor's degree in English from Brandeis University. In addition to his work at the Academy of Art, he also coaches working creative folks to become more effective presenters through his consultancy “Speaking of Creative.” He has two grown children and has recently decided to learn the mandolin – no easy feat.

Phone: 1-415-618-3851



Men's Coaches

Dan McDermott

Head Coach

Dan McDermott begins his first season as head coach for Academy of Art University Baseball.

Most recently the head coach at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, McDermott has much to contribute to the Urban Knights after serving as a collegiate coach for the past 30 years.

McDermott is coming off a very successful run at Regis as the head coach of the Rangers, finishing a 14-year tenure as the winningest coach in program history (335-298, .529) after 2013. He coached Regis to a NCAA Top 20 ranking in both 2004 and 2006, and sent them to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) playoffs nine separate times, including each of the past seven years. Under McDermott, the 2003 RMAC Coach of the Year, the Rangers enjoyed 11 NCAA All-Americans, 12 Major League Baseball Draft selections and reached NCAA Regionals as recently as 2012. It was more than simply on the field success for McDermott's squad, however, as they earned the Inaugural Brechler Award for Highest Team GPA in the RMAC in 2013.

Prior to his extensive stay at Regis (1998-2013), McDermott served for nine years as baseball head coach at Briar Cliff University, a NAIA institution in Sioux City, Iowa. There he was the winningest coach in program history as well, collectively going 345-181 (.656). The Chargers achieved a national Top 20 ranking for six consecutive years from 1992-1997 and were District Champions on four occasions. McDermott was a five-time District Coach of the Year, guiding 12 NAIA All-Americans, five MLB Draft selections, and 23 All-Region honorees.

Accepting the position at Academy of Art, McDermott returned to California where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Saint Mary's College in Moraga. He also spent three seasons there as an assistant baseball coach from 1985-1988.

Phone: 1-415-618-3629


Charlie Henderson

Assistant Coach

Charlie Henderson begins his first year as an assistant coach for the ART U baseball program in 2014-15.

Henderson played for head coach Dan McDermott at Regis and was a three-time first team all-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference pitcher for the Rangers in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He ranked among the RMAC's top-five in strikeouts (55), innings pitched (93 2/3) and ERA (5.00) while throwing four complete games in 2010. In 2011 he posted a nearly 3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 62 Ks/22 BBs while throwing 99 2/3 innings in 13 starts.

Henderson also earned academic accolades during his time at Regis. In 2010 he was named to the RMAC Academic Honor Roll, and in 2011 was named to the Athletics Director's Honor Roll reserved for student-athletes with grade point averages from 3.5 to 3.74.

Henderson also brings professional experience to the Urban Knights. Following his time at Regis, Henderson worked in marketing and promotions for both the Colorado Rockies and the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

Phone: 1-415-618-8565


Men's Basketball

Men's Coaches

Julius Barnes

Head Coach

Under Julius, the Urban Knights produced All-PacWest Second Team honoree Ameer Shamsud-din and the PacWest Freshman of the Year Alex Carmon. After working as a coach at the Stanford Men’s Basketball and Curtis Borchardt Camps, he became the Assistant Coach for both the Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity teams at Mira Costa High School. As a player, Barnes garnered numerous honors at Stanford University where he would be named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference Team as well as Stanford University Conference Male Athlete of the Year. Raised in Rowland Heights, CA , Julius earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Stanford University in 2003.

Phone: 1-415-618-3656


Jeremiah Barnes

Assistant Coach

Barnes comes from a strong basketball family, including his father Herman playing overseas, his brother Jamaal playing at Cal State Dominguez Hills and the professional Slamball League, and Julius playing at Stanford and overseas. He was raised in Compton, CA, and attended Los Altos High School, where earned four straight All-Miramonte League selections. Jeremiah graduated from Dixie State College scoring 8.8 points a contest for the Red Storm, posting a career high of 22 points twice–once against Chaminade and once against UH Hilo.

Phone: 1-415-618-3656


Women's Basketball

Women's Coaches

LaNay Larson

Head Coach

In her first year at the helm, Larson took Academy of Art University women's basketball to new heights with a nine-game win streak, contention for the PacWest Conference title, and a huge upset victory over PacWest's only ranked team Grand Canyon. LaNay previously served as the Head Assistant Women's Basketball Coach and Head Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach for Dixie State College. In addition to managing the program’s transition from NJCAA to NCAA DII, Larson helped lead Dixie State Women's Basketball to five straight winning seasons. She began her playing career at Kirkwood Community College as a member of a regional championship team that finished fourth in the NJCAA tournament, and played one year at NCAA Division II Pittsburg State before suffering a career-ending injury.

Phone: 1-415-618-6404


Janou Rubin

Assistant Coach

Janou Rubin joined Academy of Art University women's basketball as an assistant coach in 2016.

Rubin could be found playing professional basketball overseas under FIBA Europe as recently as 2014. After graduating UCLA in 2006, Rubin began his stint with FIBA which featured time in seven different countries (China, Austria, Germany, Greece, Chech Republic, Hungary, Serbia). However, four of those summers saw him return to the Bay Area to coach travel club teams and train numerous recruits to NCAA Division I and II institutions such as Colombia, Harvard, UC Santa Barbara, Oregon State, Cal State East Bay, SF State, and Grand Canyon.

In 2009, Rubin would take a year off from his overseas career to serve as an assistant coach for Oholone College, helping the team go 12-0 in conference and win its first two games of the postseason.

At UCLA, Rubin emerged in 2003-04, playing in 27 games and at one point earning Pac-10 Player of the Week for all-around production against Oregon and Oregon State. Rubin played became a starter for the Bruins the following year, but got hurt mid-season and would return for an incredible postseason run 2005-06. After a miraculous comeback against Adam Morrison-led Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, the Bruins advanced past Glen Davis and LSU in the Final Four before eventually falling to Florida (who featured the tandem of Joakim Noah and Al Horford) in NCAA Championship game.

In his time as a Bruin, Rubin played alongside future NBA players Matt Barnes, Jason Kapono, Dan Gadzuric, Ryan Hollins, Aaron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar, Darren Collison, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and under head coach Ben Howland. He would graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology in 2006.

A scoring standout at Logan High School, Rubin remains the Colts’ all-time leader in points, rebounds, and assists. As a senior in 1999-00 and leading Logan to a 22-7 overall record, Rubin averaged 26.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. Rubin would earn Top 50 in the state of California and Second-Team All-Bay Area following his senior campaign.

Brown graduated from Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Phone: 1-415-618-6361


Cross Country

Men's & Women's Coaches

Torrey Olson

Director of Track & Field/Cross Country

Coming to us from after serving as an Assistant Coach with University of San Francisco Track & Field/Cross Country, Torrey brings a strong intercollegiate coaching background to the Urban Knights staff as he will be responsible for the distance and mid-distance runners. He helped guide a USF team qualify six athletes to NCAA Preliminaries and three to NCAA Championships. A graduate of Pomona College, Olson also holds an MFA from St. Mary’s College and is a USATF Level I certified coach.

Phone: 1-925-330-6470


Men's Golf

Men's Coaches

Andy Moren

Head Coach

As a Cal State Stanislaus Warriors men's golfer, Moren won four tournaments including the Stanislaus Buzzini Invitational, the Dennis Rose Invitational, and the Drake Invitational. He was named to the GCAA All-Region Team, the All-CCAA First Team, earned the Phil Mickelson NCAA Division II Freshman of the Year Award, and was named to the GCAA All-American Team for Division II. Most recently, Andy was part of a coaching staff that sent Cal State Stanislaus to the NCAA Division II West Regionals in Dupont, WA. He graduated from Stanislaus with a degree in Political Science, and recently earned a Master of Arts in Kinesiology from St. Mary's College with a concentration in Sports Management.

Phone: 1-415-618-3743


Women's Golf

Women's Coaches

Elaine Harris

Head Coach

Elaine helped start the women's golf program at St. Ignatius High School in 2001 and led the team to a CIF State Championship. She also was a four-time letter-winner at Indiana University, earning a spot on the National Golf Coaches Association All-Central Region team and leading her team to the NCAA Division I National Championship. After earning her bachelors degree in Communications with a minor in Spanish, she was a coach and mentor at First Tee of San Francisco and worked with the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, a San Francisco based non-profit that mobilizes golfers across the Bay Area to keep the Sharp Park Golf Course open to the public.

Phone: 1-415-618-8303


Men's Soccer

Men's Coaches

Mike Keller

Head Coach

A familiar face to the Urban Knights family, Mike previously served as our assistant men's soccer coach before becoming the head coach at Menlo College where he helped the Oaks to unprecedented success and won a Cal Pac Conference Coach of the Year. Before his time at Menlo, Keller helped guide Academy of Art University through its first season competing in the Pacific West Conference, and spent six years as an assistant at Cañada College in Redwood City. Mike is a U.C. Davis graduate and earned a Master's degree in Kinesiology from San Jose State.

Phone: 1-415-618-6208


Kurt Devlin

Assistant Coach/Goalkeeper Coach

Kurt Devlin joined Academy of Art as Assistant Coach/Goalkeeper Coach on July 1, 2016.

Devlin joins the team full time after serving as a part-time assistant to the program for two and a half years including a one year stint in 2010 and then rejoined in 2015.

In his college years, Devlin played at Skyline College before transferring to University of Tampa. Afterwards, he served as assistant coach with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks before spending time in Costa Rica, assisting the Club Sport Herediano, first division, and Municipal Paraiso, second division.  After returning from Central America, Devlin was named the head coach at Canada College from 2001-2014, splitting time between men's and women's soccer.

Women's Soccer

Women's Coaches

Katie Awerkamp

Head Coach

Katie Awerkamp begins her first year as Academy of Art University Women's Soccer head coach in February 2014.

Awerkamp had previously been part of the women's soccer coaching staff at Quincy University for the past six years and coached the Lady Hawks to six straight tournament appearances and the last two Great Lakes Valley Conference Championships. Since she joined the staff, Quincy had boasted a record of 90-27-14, including a 22-game unbeaten streak to start last season.

She also helped solidify an impressive defense that gave up only nine goals last season and produced a first-team NSCAA All-American goalkeeper. Awerkamp's efforts helped coach six All-Americans and also three straight GLVC Defensive Player of the Year winners.

Prior to coaching at Quincy, Awerkamp was the head goalkeeper trainer for the Zionsville Youth Soccer Assocation and Zionsville High School in Indiana after graduating from Saint Joseph's College in 2007. As a student-athlete, Awerkamp finished her career with 297 saves.

Awerkamp is a native of Quincy, IL and graduated from Quincy Notre Dame High School. After graduating from Saint Joseph's, she earned her Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Quincy University in 2011.

Phone: 1-415-618-6577


Chris King

Assistant Coach

King joins the Urban Knights with experience coaching in many different capacities. For six years (2009-2015), he coached multiple travel teams for the San Francisco Vikings Soccer Club and served as their Technical Director from 2013-2014. Starting in 2010, the San Francisco native served in multiple coaching roles including assistant coach at City College of San Francisco (2011-2014) and SF State (2015), head coach at College of Marin (2014-2015), and women’s varsity coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral (2010-present).

King also serves as head coach of the 02 Girls California State team for the Olympic Development Program (ODP). There, he selects the top 40 players from California clubs of which 18 travel and compete across the country. From his team, the top performers are selected to the regional and then youth national team.

King graduated from Cal State East Bay in 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation.

Phone: 1-415-618-6587



Women's Coaches

Sonja Garnett

Head Coach

Sonja Garnett begins her second season as Academy of Art University Softball head coach in 2015-16.

Garnett's first year at the helm of Academy of Art in 2015 saw the Urban Knights finish with their best record (28-26) since 2011 with a host of records broken. Among the various team milestones were the most doubles, total bases, and highest fielding percentage in program history. ART U also tied its record for athletes receiving All-PacWest honors including senior Haily MacDonald on the All-PacWest First Team (along with Capital One Academic All-District Team and Daktronics All-West Region honors), Samantha Klune (Second Team), Brenna Mitchell (Third Team), and Nirana Singh (Third Team).

One of the top pitchers in the history of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), Garnett spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Cal State Monterey Bay, helping the program win the CCAA Championship (third to date) and then go on to reach NCAA Super Regionals for the first time ever last year. CSUMB produced the most wins in program history (48) and carried three Daktronics All-Americans. When all was said and done, the Otters were ranked #11 nationally on the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association NCAA DII Top 25 poll.

Garnett got her start as an assistant at her alma mater, San Francisco State, for the 2007 season. Garnett led the Gators to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. SFSU won the 2005 West Regional and went on to a fifth place finish at the NCAA Division II World Series that season. She also served as an assistant coach at Whittier College in 2011.

Owner of a stellar playing career as a SF State Gator herself, Garnett earned both NFCA All-America honors and was CCAA Pitcher of the Year on three occasions. Garnett ended her collegiate career holding the seven major pitching marks in the SFSU record books: Wins (103), Saves (11), ERA (0.96), Strikeouts (609), appearances (188), complete games (127) and innings pitched (1,068.2). She still ranks among the NCAA leaders in appearances (5th), innings pitched (6th), saves (16th), starts (18th) and wins (22nd).

In the classroom, Garnet twice earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All–District VIII honors while earning her bachelor's in liberal studies at San Francisco State. She went on to earn her master's in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports management from Long Beach State, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and taking the Outstanding Capstone Award for her final project.

After finishing her collegiate career, she played six seasons of professional softball in Australia, Germany and Italy, serving as both a coach and pitcher in each of her stops. While playing in Western Australia, she led the Moreley Eagles to their first state title. She also played three seasons in Germany, leading the Mannheim Tornados to a pair of national titles.

Phone: 1-415-618-6311


Alana Aweau

Assistant Coach

Alana Aweau begins her second year as Academy of Art University Softball assistant coach in 2015-16.

Working with head coach Sonja Garnett in both coaches' first year on staff in 2014-15, the Urban Knights finished with their best record (28-26) since 2011 and a host of records broken. Among the various team milestones were the most doubles, total bases, and highest fielding percentage in program history. ART U also tied its record for athletes receiving All-PacWest honors including senior Haily MacDonald on the All-PacWest First Team (along with Capital One Academic All-District Team and Daktronics All-West Region honors), Samantha Klune (Second Team), Brenna Mitchell (Third Team), and Nirana Singh (Third Team).

One of the original artist-athletes to play for Academy of Art, Aweau competed for three seasons spanning 2009-2011. In her career, she hit .350, scored 75 runs, tallied 91 runs batted in, and currently holds the program's home run record (21). Aweau is one of just two ART U players to register over 100 bases in a single season which she came along with 11 homers in 2010.

As an upperclassman, she led the team to back-to-back 29-win seasons, assisted the Athletic Department in a variety of capacities in 2012, then received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Advertising that spring.

After serving as an assistant with both San Francisco's University High School and the Sorcerer Softball Club in 2013, Aweau joined Dominican in October 2013 and helped the program to its first winning season in the NCAA Division II era. The Penguins went 27-20 overall (18-5 in PacWest) and defeated nationally ranked teams such as #1 Humboldt State and #20 UC San Diego. Aweau helped the squad improve statistics in nearly every category compared to their 2013 campaign and guided the team to a 3.45 GPA.

Phone: 1-415-618-6311


Sports Medicine
Laz Cardenas, MS, ATC, CSCS, PES

Head Athletic Trainer

Laz assists in all aspects of healthcare for our sports teams. Prior to joining Academy of Art University, he was the Head Athletic Trainer at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, CA and was responsible for the healthcare and developing both the sports medicine and AED programs. Laz earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University–Hayward and Master of Science degree in Software engineering from National University. He is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Phone: 1-415-618-8234


Kevin Williams

Assistant Athletic Trainer (XC/MBB/WBB)

Kevin Williams entered his first year as Academy of Art University's assistant athletic trainer year in August 2016 after serving two years as the Urban Knights' graduate assistant athletic trainer.

Currently part of the San Jose State University Graduate Athletic Training Program, Williams is a 2014 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Athletic Training from Point Loma Nazarene University. He served as an athletic training student for the Sea Lions from 2011-2014, responsible for the men's and women's soccer programs. Among his variety of responsibilities were conducting injury evaluation, providing therapeutic treatments, and creating/progressing rehabilitation programs.

Additionally, Williams spent time working at Valletta Orthopedics, Rehab United Physical Therapy, Helix High School, and Point Loma High School in San Diego. In the high school realm, he provided on-field game coverage for the varsity football, lacrosse, basketball, softball, track & field, and field hockey teams.

Williams is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and American Heart Association CPR/AED certified.

Phone: 415-618-8234


Katie Straughn

Assistant Athletic Trainer (WSOC/BASE)

Katie Straughn entered her first year as Academy of Art University's assistant athletic trainer year in August 2016 after serving one year as the Urban Knights' graduate assistant athletic trainer.

Currently part of the San Jose State University Graduate Athletic Training Program, Straughn is a 2015 graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Oregon State University. She served as an athletic training student for the Beavers from 2014-15, responsible for the softball program and assisting with baseball, basketball, and track & field. Among her variety of responsibilities were conducting injury evaluation, providing therapeutic treatments, and creating/progressing rehabilitation programs.

Additionally as part of her clinical rotation at OSU, Straughn worked with volleyball, baseball, soccer, and football at Western Oregon University. She also spent time working with men's and women's soccer, volleyball, and cross country at Crescent Valley High School.

Straughn is a certified member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and American Heart Association First Aid and CPR certified.

Phone: 415-618-8234


Strength Training
Jessica Balzano

Head Strength & Conditioning Coach

Jessica Balzano enters her fifth year with Academy of Art University Athletics and her first as head strength & conditioning coach. She previously spent four seasons as assistant strength & conditioning coach for the Urban Knights.

Balzano is a certified strength and conditioning coach through the National Strength and Conditioning Associaiton and is Functional Movement Screen certified. She is also a certified Olympic lifting coach through USA Weightlifting.

She earned her bachelor's degree in health education from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She has also been a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and has been training in the personal sector since 2002.

Phone: 1-415-618-8446



Women's Coaches

Nicole Briceño-Garzón

Head Coach

Nicole Briceño-Garzón enters her second year as Academy of Art University head women's tennis coach in 2016. In her first season at the helm, she guided the program to its first PacWest Final which led to their highest ever regional ranking. Their second place ranking alowed the team to host the opening round of the NCAA tournament (another first for the program).

Five players also earned All-PacWest honors under her watch in 2015 and the team earned three awards at the second annual ARTYs: Highest Team GPA, Best Moment (defeating HPU at the PacWest Championship) and Team of the Year. Their academic successes were also recognized as seven players earned PacWest Academic All-Conference accolades.

Briceño-Garzón brings NCAA Division I experience to ART U from her stints as an assistant at Saint Mary's College, University of Maryland, and University at Albany. First ever PacWest Final, and highest regional ranking which allowed them to host the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Most recently with SMC, Briceño-Garzón was a volunteer assistant for a Gaels squad that achieved a Top 34 NCAA DI ranking. She helped guide Saint Mary's to a West Coast Conference final in addition to obtaining three individual ITA rankings. With the University of Maryland, Briceño-Garzón was heavily involved with recruiting as well as player development, mentoring and coaching the Terrapins squad both on and off the court.

Prior to Maryland, Briceño-Garzón served as an assistant at Albany for one season. She helped guide the Great Danes to their first conference final appearance in school history and had a hand in the school's first-ever wins over UMBC and Binghamton.

As a collegian herself, Briceño-Garzón played for Southern Methodist and Alabama. An important leader on her SMU squad, she led the Mustangs to a national ranking of No. 21, highest in program history, and to the Conference USA Championship. She set the record for most doubles wins ever at SMU, achieving a 21-1 season record. Briceño-Garzón and partner Ksenia Tokarieva achieved a career high doubles national ranking of No. 38. During her time at SMU, she earned multiple Conference USA Player of the Week awards and was named the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year in 2008.

An outstanding student, Briceño-Garzón graduated from SMU in 2010 with a 3.6 GPA majoring in psychology and Spanish. She received the SMU Minority Academic Excellence Award three straight years, and was named to the Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll. At Alabama, Briceño-Garzón was named to the Dean's List and the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. While at SMU, she also served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Phone: 1-415-618-8560


Track & Field

Men's & Women's Coaches

Torrey Olson

Director of Track & Field/Cross Country

Coming to us from after serving as an Assistant Coach with University of San Francisco Track & Field/Cross Country, Torrey brings a strong intercollegiate coaching background to the Urban Knights staff as he will be responsible for the distance and mid-distance runners. He helped guide a USF team qualify six athletes to NCAA Preliminaries and three to NCAA Championships. A graduate of Pomona College, Olson also holds an MFA from St. Mary’s College and is a USATF Level I certified coach.

Phone: 1-925-330-6470


Kevin LaSure

Head Coach

Kevin LaSure joined Academy of Art University as track & field head coach in August 2015 following his eighth year with the University of New Haven's cross country and track & field teams.

At UNH, LaSure served his first four seasons as the head coach for both the men and women's programs. As a head coach, LaSure mentored 52 NCAA National qualifiers, 45 NCAA All-Americans, and five Individual National Champions. Additionally, the Chargers set more than 50 school records in the sprints, jumps, hurdles, mid-distance, and relays under LaSure's tenure.

In just his second season at UNH, LaSure coached arguably the most successful student-athlete in the history of Charger athletics. Shannon Gagne won five NCAA Division II Individual National Championships during the year, three during the indoor season and two at the outdoor championships. She was the first student-athlete in NCAA track and field history to win three national championships at one meet across both track and field events when she won the 200m dash, 400m dash and long jump at the 2011 Indoor National Championships. Gagne was named the Division II National Track Athlete of the Year after the indoor and outdoor season, while being named Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for the College Division, an award which encompassed all NCAA sports.

During his UNH tenure, LaSure also mentored 2012 graduate David Thomas to All-America honors in the long jump in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons. Thomas was the USTFCCCA East Region Track Athlete of the Year in the indoor season and claimed NE-10 Championship Most Valuable Athlete honors during both seasons. Overall throughout the 2012-13 year, Thomas was a five-time conference champion, five-time All-New England performer, and eight-time USTFCCCA All-East Region recipient.

A 2004 graduate of University of New Haven with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice - Investigative Services, LaSure also completed a Master's degree in Labor Relations at UNH in 2006. As an undergraduate, Kevin was a wide receiver on UNH's football team from 2000-2003 and ran on the Charger track & field team from 2001-2005. He won the track team's Sportsmanship Award in both 2004 and 2005, and was an All-New England performer in the 200m and 400m dashes as well as on the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.

Phone: 1-415-618-8642


Akil Gipson

Assistant Coach

Akil Gipson began his first season as assistant coach with Academy of Art track & field/cross country in the fall of 2016.

Gipson served two seasons as a graduate assistant for University of Central Missouri track & field with his primary responsibilities coaching the high, triple, and long jumpers. He also assisted with the sprints, hurdles, pole vault, and multi event student-athletes. Gipson would coach three national champions (two in high jump, one in triple jump) in his time with UCM as the Jennies achieved NCAA National Championships in both the 2015 indoor and outdoor seasons on the women’s side.

Highlights from the 2016 NCAA DII Outdoor National Championships were 10 All-Americans and a pair of top eight team finishes for the men and women. This past indoor season, the Mules and Jennies produced four individual All-Americans along with one relay team as the teams each finished 11th overall.

Prior to UCM, Gipson spent the 2014 season as an assistant coach for Western State, his alma mater. That year, he would guide two student-athletes to the NCAA DII Indoor National Championships.

As a student-athlete at Western State Colorado State University, Gipson was an 11-time All-Conference student-athlete in the high, long, and triple jumps for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. A four-year team captain, Gipson earned All-American honors in the triple jump in 2012.

Gipson is currently pursuing his Master’s in Sport Management from UCM after graduating from Western State Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts in both Business with an emphasis in Management and Accounting with an emphasis in Professional Accounting.

Phone: 415-618-8596


Jennifer Tavé

Assistant Coach/Operations Coordinator

Jennifer Tavé began her first season as assistant coach/operations coordinator with Academy of Art track & field/cross country in the fall of 2016.

Most recently serving as an assistant coach with NCAA Division III Claremont-Mudd-Scripps track & field/cross country since 2013, Tavé was on staff with some of the highest finishing teams in program history as well as 11 All-Americans across both cross country and track & field (800m-10,000m).

A 2012 Scripps College grad, Tavé ran for CMS for three seasons and was a three-time All-American for the Athenas. In cross country, she was a two-time All-American, three times All-Region, and currently holds the school record for a 6k cross country distance (20:51.8). A two-time cross country team captain, she helped lead the team to the NCAA Championships three times including a then-best fourth place finish in 2011.

In track, Tavé was an All-American in the 10,000m and competed at the NCAA Championships three times. She remains the CMS record-holder in the 10,000m (35:22.27) and is fifth all-time in the 5,000m (17:15.37). She would graduate Scripps College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Pre-Medical Program.

Tavé finished her collegiate eligibility at Colorado State University where she earned a Master's in Human Nutrition & Exercise Science.

Phone: 415-618-8642



Women's Coaches

Ray Batalon

Head Coach

Ray Batalon was named Academy of Art University women's volleyball head coach in July 2015 after completing his first season as associate head coach in 2014.

The Urban Knights went 13-15 under Batalon during a 2014 campaign that saw them finish eighth in the Pacific West Conference. The year was highlighted by ART U's first-ever victory over California Baptist, a five-set triumph, a 6-1 record against Bay Area competition, and the program's first AVCA All-America Team Honorable Mention in outside hitter Melissa Brum.

Batalon comes from a five-year stint as the associate head women's volleyball coach at University of the Pacific. An integral part of Pacific's recruiting, Batalon handled the Tigers' scouting and video database while the team collectively went 89-60 since 2009 without having a losing season. Among the Tigers' highlight campaigns were 2010, when Pacific went 19-11 overall and featured an offensive powerhouse in AVCA All-Region honoree Svenja Englehardt, and 2012, when the Tigers boasted a 20-11 overall record and won their final match in the Big West Conference prior to a transition to the West Coast Conference.

Before to joining Pacific, Batalon spent seven seasons on the bench at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was named the Wolf Pack's top assistant prior to the 2007 season. Batalon was primarily responsible for Nevada's recruiting as the team's recruiting coordinator while managing the team's volleyball database and serving as the primary evaluator. Leading the way on the recruiting effort, Batalon helped land the nation's 23rd-ranked recruiting class in 2006.

In addition to recruiting, Batalon developed the opponent scouting reports for the Wolf Pack while working as the team's video coordinator and underclassmen academic advisor. On the court, Batalon helped train the Wolf Pack setters, defensive specialists and middle blockers.

Prior to Nevada, Batalon was a staple in the Nevada high school ranks as he was the head coach at Reno High School from 1995-99 and an assistant at Bishop Manogue High School in 2000 and North Valleys High School in 2001.

Before beginning his coaching career, Batalon played men's volleyball at Nevada from 1991-95. He earned his bachelor's degree in general studies from Nevada in 2003.

Phone: 1-415-618-6173


Dylan Hamilton

Assistant Coach

Dylan Hamilton joined Academy of Art University volleyball as an assistant coach in August 2016.

After serving as the University of Washington volleyball's head manager for two years (2012-14), Hamilton became an assistant coach for UW Beach Volleyball in February of 2015 then a volunteer assistant coach for on the indoor side that May. He was responsible for day-to-day skill development of all individual players, leading the execution of drills in practices. Hamilton also handled extensive opponent scouting, video exchange, and match strategy including team floor defense and serving.

Around success throughout his time with the University of Washington, Hamilton helped the Huskies earn two Pac-12 Championships (2013, 2015), one Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Beach Championship Final Four, one trip to the NCAA Elite 8 (2015), and one trip to the Final Four (2013).

Hamilton previously worked for three years at Keegan Cook Summer Volleyball Camps as well as the Sudden Impact Volleyball Club. He is a 2016 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Post University.

Phone: 415-618-6128



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