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.
Director of Administration/Logistics
Mullissa Willette is a long-time South Bay resident, with a long history of civic engagement and a demonstrated commitment to the community, with considerable experience working with community-based organizations. Mullissa has a Bachelor’s degree in Management and has served others for the entirety of her career, for many years in nonprofit organizations and nearly a decade as a public servant. She serves on various local boards and commissions and is currently an elected officer representing a very diverse 50,000 workers throughout 17 counties in the Bay Area and Central Valley. Mullissa has an excellent track record strategizing, organizing and leading campaigns, as well as organizational and financial planning and administration.
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 Program Director
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
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
Guard Specialist/Head Coach
Brandon Boyd aka "Coach B," comes to Soldiers after a three year professional basketball playing career in Puerto Rico for the Arecibo Capitanes Club, and a decorated Division 1 playing Career. As a Division 1 basketball player at Idaho State and California Baptist University, he achieved Freshman of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and was apart of the All-Big Sky Conference Team three straight years. At Cal Baptist University Brandon won Newcomer of the Year in the Western Athletic Conference; scoring over 1500 points and over 300 assists.
Coach B has a BA from Idaho State and MA in Kinesiology and Sports Management from Cal Baptist University. He has been fortunate enough to learn under mentors such as, Kenny "The Jet" Smith, Rick Croy and Bill Evans both Division 1 Head Coaches, and is excited to give quality mentorship back! We are excited to have Brandon as a part of the Family!
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!
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.
DaRon Jacques Burgess born and raised in San Francisco,Ca comes to Soldiers as a talented student-athlete with a passion for the game and people. A Mountain View High School 3 year varsity player, Coach Daron competed at a high high school level, and played with the Oakland Rebels and Bay Area Ballers AAU organizations. After played one season at San Jose City College, Daron currently is competing at De Anza college for the 2019-2020 season.
Coach Daron educationally is working towards his psychology degree, with a vision of one day having his own sports psychology clinic. This clinic would deal with athletes who suffers from depression and anxiety, helping them to overcome life challenges and adversities.
Skills Specialist/Assistant Coach
Arielle Harvey aka "Coach A" comes to the Soldiers after completing a stellar Division 1 Collegiate career. An Atlanta, GA native, she started her career at the University of North Carolina Greensborough, thhen transferred to Daytona State Univ. After earning First Team All-Mid-Florida Conference, she played at Division 1 St. Bonaventure starting 20 of 29 games, scoring in double figures 12 times. As a Senior, Coach A finished her Collegiate Career at Eastern Tennessee State University of the SOCON Conference. As a High School athlete, Arielle played for the Nationally known Atlanta Celtics AAU club, a member of the Adidas grassroots circuit.
Coach A brings a stellar playing background and passion for the game of basketball to the Soldiers community. We are excited to have her in the family! #Salute
Joe Mantillo 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!
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
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.
Devin Phan aka "Coach Devin," comes to Soldiers after spending four years as a local youth basketball Coach at both the NJB levels and individual skill level. He played Varsity basketball at Leland High School and was an activities instructor for the city of Fremont. Devin's energy and passion for the kids brings a high character young man to the program.
Devin has a BA from San Jose State University in Kinesiology and has a career in Physical Therapy. We are extremely excited to have Coach Phan in the Soldiers program and looking forward to the future!
Jelani Reed comes to the Soldiers from Menlo Park, CA attending Menlo-Atherton High School, along with Foothill/Butte College. Jelani played locally for the Roadrunners AAU program and a stint at the College level. Jelani is passionate about teaching and youth, he is actively involved in the Legarza Youth programming and local basketball community. Jelani is a high character person who actively seeks learning opportunities and wants to give as much knowledge to help others as possible. We are excited about Jelani's future in the Soldiers organization!
Coach Jay has been coaching youth basketball in the Bay Area since 2015. Getting his start as a coach at a local YMCA, Coach Jay developed a passion in teaching the game and helping the youth. Since the YMCA, Coach Jay has coached basketball competitively at the NJB, AAU, and high school level. Most recently, he served as the JV GBB assistant coach at Saratoga High School, helping a team of 9 freshmen and 1 sophomore win the De Anza league title in their first season. Coach Jay hopes to bring his enthusiasm and knowledge of the game to Soldiers.
Outside of basketball, Coach Jay has a passion for cars, music, and sneakers. Professionally, Coach Jay works for an alternative energy company in San Jose. In 2014, Coach Jay graduated from San Jose State University, earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering.
Coach Shareef Bryant comes to the Soldiers program after 8 Years of being the Head Personal Trainer for Defend The Rim Basketball Program for Youth Girls, Boys, and Teenagers for ages 7-18 years old. Furthermore Coach Shareef has played High school basketball at all 3 levels with also having experience playing for numerous AAU basketball programs such as Team Lillard, Oakland Pal, And Team Speights.
An Alameda resident, Coach Shareef has worked with a number of East Bay Area players and has a passion for development. Coach brings great energy and love for the game, we are excited to have him join the team! #Silicon Valley Soldiers
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!