President of Basketball Operations
Chris Brazelton, AKA “Coach Braz,” originally from San Bernardino, CA, has 9 years of Division 1 Coaching experience and 3 years of Division 1 playing experience. Coach Braz concluded his playing career at Fresno State University, earning the scholar-athlete award in 2005. Upon graduation from Fresno State in 2006, Brazelton started Collegiate Coaching Summer 2006 at the University of New Orleans. Following a year at UNO, summer 2007 he was hired as an Assistant Coach at the University of California, Riverside. During a five year span at UC Riverside, Coach Braz developed both guards, as well as big men in the BIG WEST Conference. Spring 2012 he was hired as an Assistant Coach at Drake University in the Missouri Valley Conference. Following completion of a year at Drake, Brazelton was hired in Spring 2013 as the Associate Head Coach at San Jose State University. Concluding the 2014-15 season, Brazelton decided it was time to pursue his dream of creating his own company and pouring into the lives of young people around the Bay Area; BMG.
Following five years as CEO/Director of BMG Academy, the merge in 2021 with Nike EYBL Oakland Soldiers organization, put Coach Braz at the helm of the Silicon Valley Chapter and EYBL coaching.
Off the basketball court, Braz was recruited to be a part of Pepsi Cola’s college recruitment, business internship program in 2006. He then went on to complete a year of M.A. work at the University of New Orleans, and became an M.A. Strategic Communications Honors Graduate from National University in 2009
Paul Simpson originally from Oakland, California is an experienced professional, both within business as well as the basketball realm. Paul played at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) from 1997-2000. As a freshman, he was voted Most Improved Player. From 2001-2003, he served as Assistant Coach, responsible for individual player development, recruiting, and operations management. Off the court at UCSC, Paul’s accomplishments included: • Serving as Chapter President of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) • Participating as a member of the Black Men’s Alliance (BMA) • Being an INROADS scholar working for Hitachi Data Systems Paul graduated UCSC with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management/Economics.
In 2005, he founded SageTel Solutions, which later grew into SageTel International, a boutique international wireless consulting firm. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of SageTel International, which specializes in mobile network deployments/ managements and valueadded services including location-based services for wireless carriers across the globe. In 2007, Paul was recognized in the Cambridge Who’s Who of Technology for excellence in the wireless industry. That year, he also cofounded WiBlaze India Pvt Ltd, which is a metropolitan internet service provider (ISP) offering WiFi connectivity at affordable prices. In addition, Paul is on the Marin Academy Board of Trustees, and is an active member of both the Marin Academy and UCSC Alumni Associations. Paul’s experiences in both basketball and business allow him to effectively help student athletes achieve success on and off the court.
Coaching/Player Development Specialist
Coach Elijah’s roots are in Sacramento and Folsom, CA, he moved to the Bay Area six years ago for college. He comes to the Soldiers after playing basketball throughout K-12 and at the AAU level where he played for numerous elite programs. With a wide range of playing experience, he brings an understanding of player development at the highest level focusing on players growing individual skills that translate to a team format. While playing for a range of seasoned, skilled, and enigmatic coaches who used unique coaching philosophies, he learned a variety of teaching styles and strategies of the game.
Primarily used as a point guard and team leader during his playing career, he learned the value of having a high basketball IQ. He projects an energetic teaching style for the young players. As the Soldiers’ youngest coach, he is able to relate and build strong relationships with individual players and strives to always improve team chemistry. He values defense, hustle, effort, heart, and selflessness.
Since joining the Soldiers’ coaching staff in the summer of 2017, Coach Elijah has participated in all Soldiers’ Elite camps. He’s led many teams to win multiple championships at the 11U, 12U, 13U, 14U, & 15U levels. He also has been extensively involved in player recruitment at all levels, bringing numerous players to the program.
Elijah has coached at the highest level of high school basketball in the Bay Area. He is currently the Head Varsity Assistant Coach at Valley Christian High School (VCHS) in San Jose, CA, and is the former Junior Varsity Head Coach at VCHS. Coach Elijah has assisted in the advancement of VCHS players to their fullest potential while coaching in the Western Catholic Athletic League, considered one of the most competitive conferences in Northern California.
Coach Elijah often speaks of his mentor, Todd Purves, who currently coaches professionally overseas. Purves was named Coach of the Year in the professional Philippines and Indonesia leagues, and is a former NBA assistant coach. Coach Purves is someone he admires due to his passion for the game and who lives by the phrase: "There is no substitution for hard work!"
Elijah is a graduate of San Jose State University with a B.S. in Business Marketing. Outside of basketball, you’ll find Coach Elijah working out in the gym or spending time with his family, including his older brother and sister, parents, and dog Stella.
Sr Head Coach
Ward Burton aka "Coach Ward," comes to Soldiers with 20+ years of coaching and training experience. A North Hollywood native, and local Los Altos High School product, competed for four years in the program and immediately began a coaching career. A 2009 Sacramento State Graduate with a B.A. in Early Childhood Development, Coach Ward is a very driven, motivated, talented teacher, Coach Ward brings a lot of substance and leadership to the Soldiers community.
While attending Foothill Junior College, Coach Ward was the Youth Sports Coordinator at the Mountain View YMCA. In 2010 he was named Head Coach at Saint Andrews in Saratoga California, leading the program to a winning record in back to back seasons. Following Saint Andrews, he spent two years as Head Coach at Rolling Hills Middle School in Los Gatos California. From 2015-19 Coach Ward led Fisher Middle School to three undefeated seasons and league titles. He has transitioned to Soldiers Academy and brings this level of quality experience and success. In conjunction, Coach Ward spent time in the South Bay Area with several AAU Programs and helped developed a tremendous amount of talent.
In his spare time, Coach Ward enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and playing in adult league basketball. We are excited to have Ward as a Soldiers Coach and leader in our community.
Sr Head Coach
Coach Dickson comes to the Soldiers program after a Twelve Year stint as the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Central Valley High School. Coach Dickson posted a combined record 132-166, captured one conference title and participated in playoffs three times. Coach Dickson has a wealth of knowledge and experience both as a player and a coach. During the Soldiers 2022 Season Coach assisted in helping the programs 13U team reach a top 10 West Coast ranking, and initiated a number of metrics to help with the process. We are excited to bring Coach Dickson on board as he is a great mentor and leader! #Salute
Head Coach/Made Hoops Guard Skills Specialist
Coach Kevin Bell "KB," orginally from Los Angeles, CA comes to the Soldiers with an extensive playing/coaching background. At Fairfax High School Coach KB achieved First Team LA City Section Western League and a number of Division 1 opportunities. While playing at Fresno State he was 1st Team All-WAC Conference averaging 18ppg and 5apg, leading the league in Assists 2005-2007.
Coach KB had an extensive Professional career over season in UK, Poland, Switzerland. Following his professional playing career he Coached in the Nike EYBL for Team Why Not, as well as in the Bay Area for Team Wright Legacy. We are excited to bring KB on board as a Soldier, a Leader, and player development professional. #SALUTE
Sr Coaching Instructor/Specialist
Coach Cristo Ortega comes to the Soldiers family after having spent ten years as a Collegiate Assistant and Head Coach at San Francisco State University. Coach developed Midnight HOOPS league in San Francisco having served over 800 kids in the process. Cristo directed several basketball camps while in professional coaching, while additionally being heavily involved in the Pete Newell Big Man Camp.
Coach is a huge asset to the Soldiers basktball program on both the player and coach developmental side! #Salute
Joe Mentillo aka "Coach Joe" comes to Soldiers with 20+ years of basketball knowledge and Head Coaching experience. Most recently, Coach Joe spent four years as the Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach at Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, CA. Prior to Harbor, Coach Joe spent nine years as the Varsity Coach at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose. In the summers Coach supported Bald Eagle Sports Camps as a director and coach. A strong visionary of the game and mentor of many, he has establish a strong position in the Soldiers program aiding in both team and Coach development.
Joe has a B.S. from San Jose State Univ., along with a M.A. in healthy and physical education/fitness from Madison Univ. We are excited to have Coach be able to give back to the South Bay Area community, along with the joining the Soldiers Family!
Coach Jason Greene, a Silicon Valley native has been coaching High School and AAU Basketball for the past Eight Years. Following a playing career at local San Jose City College, he found a transition into corporate life and passion for Coaching.
Coach Jason joined the Silicon Valley Soldiers in Summer 2023, bringing a strong commitment to growth development. Coach plans to blend his high school knowledge and experience with the Soldiers culture. He currently has a career in Social Services and Youth Development. Welcome! #Salute
Head Coach/Skills Trainer
Donovan Plunkett aka "Coach D" comes to the Soldiers program originally from Oroville, CA after having a quality Collegiate and professional playing career. A 2011 Graduate of Dixie State University, Coach D names Second Team Pacific West All Conference, and Conference Top 10 player of the week twice. Donovan shot 44% from 3pt line in College, 2nd highest percentage in the league, and was top 10 honor role four times. A transfer from Butte College and Las Plumas High School, Coach Donovan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Soldiers program. As a mature, level headed, players coach and trainer, we are excited to have Coach D on board!
Evanté Ramos, also known as Coach Evan, has coached many levels of basketball over his 10+ years of coaching, most recently Assistant Varsity and JV Head Coach at Andrew Hill High School. Coach Evan has helped capture a league title in both basketball and football. Coach Evan’s goal is to positively impact every player and family he can through passion and positive mentorship. A Coach of great energy and demonstrated care, he has been an incredible addition to the Silicon Valley Soldiers. #Salute
Kemit Mawakana aka Coach Kemit, comes to the Soldiers with a decorated Division 1 playing background and high academic honors. A member of the Georgetown Hoyas 1986-1990 team, the 6-9 center saw action in 114 games over four years, starting in 17 games amidst a rotation of big men that variously included Johnathan Edwards, Anthony Allen, Ben Gillery, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo. Named the team co-captain as a senior.
An outstanding student, Coach Kemit was named the recipient of the Raymond Medley Memorial Award, presented to the model student athlete of the 1989-90 season. He went on to attend law school at Georgetown, graduating in 1994 and serving as a civil and corporate litigator in the Washington area for nearly a decade. He returned to Georgetown and served a fellowship at the Law Center while earning a postgraduate degree in 2006.
We are excited to have Coach as a part of our Soldiers Coaching Staff, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program! #Salute
VP Coaching Development/Operations
Phillip White comes to Silicon Valley Soldiers as a Senior Leader/Coach, having known Coach Braz for 10 years, both connecting as Collegiate Coaches. Coach White brings 25 years of Coaching experience and is an incredible teacher. Most notably eight years as a Collegiate Coach at Menlo College and DeAnza College, along with eight years as a varsity Head Coach. Having won 200+ games as a Head Coach, a lot of knowledge and quality teaching/coaching will be provided at the highest level.
Not only is Coach White an incredible basketball Coach, but he is an amazing person with high values, standards, and character. We are excited and honored to have Coach White on board, we look forward to great things happening with his leadership in the organization.
Todd Huemoeller, aka “Coach Todd” has 15+ years of coaching experience. Coach Todd played at Cal State Monterey Bay, and was an Honorable Mentioned All-Conference performer 1997-98 Season. Prior to CSUMB he was a point guard at Cabrillo College. Coach Todd is a former three year Varsity Head Coach at SLV High School, after being an Assistant Coach for one year. He left SLV to focus on his teaching career and is entering his 20th year at Sylvandale Middle school in San Jose. During his time at Sylvandale Todd coached the girls basketball team for 11 years. After being an Assistant Coach with the Silicon Valley Soldiers, he became Head Coach in Fall 2023 and we are extremely excited to have him on board! #Salute
Phong Do comes to the Soldiers from Branham High School where he is currently the girls varsity assistant coach and the girls JV head coach. Both teams finished as league champions for the 22-23 season.
Coach Phong has served as a coach for several AAU/Competitive programs including the San Jose Outlaws, SV Stars, NJB, Chinese Christian Union mens league, and West Los Angeles youth basketball.
Coach Phong is also a skills trainer for local basketball programs and runs the youth basketball camps at Branham High School.
John Scholl, AKA “Coach Jack”, a basketball junkie originally from Fairfield, Connecticut comes to the Soldiers program after 3 years at Santa Clara University, and one year at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island competing within the programs. With experience coaching younger players since his early teenage years Coach Jack began professionally training players in 2021 through KMK Training in Fairfield, CT. Ranging from overseas professionals to NBA G-league guys to collegiate athletes of all levels, high school, middle school, and elementary school players as well- Coach Jack works with all ages and brings the same uplifting positive spirit each day focused on encouraging everyone around him to push ourselves to the best of our ability in pursuit of our common goals & to maximize our potential both as a team and individually. Coach Jack is a life-long student of the game, constantly seeking to build on his 15+ years of experience & dedication to basketball.
Jesse Moreno, aka “Coach Moreno” is originally from Salinas, CA. He is entering his first season with Soldiers Academy. For the past three years he was coaching with a local AAU program, Silicon Valley Stars. Coach Moreno was the starting point guard for Palma High School, a top program in the Central Coast.
Professionally, Coach Moreno works at Santa Clara University in their Athletic Department. He oversees all aspects of ticket sales and operations for their Division 1 sports. Coach Jesse obtains a B.A. in Communications and M.A.in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sports Management from Saint Mary’s College of California.
In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, Crossfit, attending sporting events, and traveling.
Coach Nomso comes to Soldiers from Oakland, CA and carries an assertive mentality and passion for the game. Nomso played high school basketball at Mount Eden high, Hayward, ca and helped his team successfully capture a playoff berth; something that had not been done in roughly 30 years. Following his high school Nomso went on to compete at feather river college, playing two years at the junior college level.
Nomso brings energy and intensity to Soldiers and cares about helping youth. We are excited to have him on board, and allow him to share passion and enthusiasm with anyone he comes in contact with.
Robert Passalacqua, aka "Coach P", returns to Soldiers Academy for his 3rd season total after missing a full year of action. He has 11 years of coaching experience; 4 as an assistant and 7 as a head coach at St. Lawrence Middle School. He has coached for 2 seasons with Soldiers previously in 2018.
He also has playing experience at Bellarmine College Preparatory and with a Foothill NJB team that made the national semi-finals his senior year.
Outside of Soldiers, Coach P is a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos. He graduated from San Jose State in 2017 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Kinesiology. That said, Coach P does not only know the game, but knows and understands how to teach the game as well.
Will Dean, born and raised in Atlanta, GA, played high school basketball in a very competitive league, and was a Varsity player for two years. A graduate of Mississippi State University in biological engineering, Coach Will was very involved in on campus department organizations and activity within the community.
Will moved to the S.Bay, from Atlanta, in February, 2019 and began Coaching with Soldiers. As a Coach, he is a gifted guard skills trainer, and very knowledgeable relative to the game of basketball. A young leader, with high aspirations in life, Coach Dean has impeccable character and will set a great example as a young community leader. We welcome Will to the Bay and Bay Area Basketball!