Santa Clara Lions Youth Football & Cheer

49ers Honor SC Lions

While Craig Connelly has long been recognized as a leader in youth sports in the Santa Clara community through his leadership, commitment and dedication to the fabled Santa Clara Lions organization, Connelly recently received the distinguished 49ers Perry/Yonamine Unity Award.

Honoring those who have demonstrated “exceptional commitment to promoting unity within their team and in their community,” the 49ers Perry/Yonamine Unity Award “recognizes individuals for their outstanding community achievements.”

The award, named for the former 49ers players and pioneers of unity and diversity, Joe “The Jet” Perry and Wally Yonamine, were presented to Connelly, 49ers LB Takeo Spikes and Youth Community Service (YCS).

In honor of their achievements, the San Francisco 49ers Foundation will be making $10,000 contributions to the Youth Community Service (YCS), Santa Clara Lions and on behalf of Takeo Spikes, the 49ers Academy.

The winners were honored in a pre game ceremony at the 49ers’ home game against the Detroit Lions on December 27 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Connelly, a longtime ambassador, coach and athletic director of the Santa Clara Lions Football Club, was chosen as the Unity Award winner in the youth football category. Serving as the head coach for 42 years, and President and Athletic Director for the past 38 years, Connelly led his team to a third place finish at the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida this year, the Lions’ second-straight Pop Warner Super Bowl berth.

Spikes was chosen for his leadership, character and determination, all of which unite his teammates. The 12-year NFL veteran demonstrates the spirit of unity and teamwork, both on and off the field, while his tremendous play on the field and intense work ethic is further bolstered by his position as a leader in the community.

This season, Spikes is spearheading a group of teammates to visit a local children’s hospital following the holidays to provide those children, who were unable to spend the holidays at home, with something extra to smile about. In addition, Spikes has his own foundation, the 51 Ways Foundation, which he and retired NFL linebacker Carlos Emmons created to support families of children who have been diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders.

YCS was founded in 1990 and promotes the ethic of service, fosters youth leadership, builds community, and enhances education in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in the Bay Area. Since its founding, YCS has engaged more than 15,000 young people in service opportunities that allow them to learn more about themselves and their community, providing over 100,000 hours of service to more than 40 local community organizations.

Teammates and coaches decide the Unity Award for the 49ers player, while the 49ers Community Relations staff reviews the applications for the youth football coach and non-profit agency awards.