August 21, 2023
Rafael Castro of the Oakland Spiders has been awarded the AUDL “BE The Change” award. A teacher in Oakland, Castro gives his time to helping underserved communities in the region. He often integrates team events and charitable work, specifically addressing the homeless population in the East Bay area. Castro will be officially recognized with the community award at the 2023 AUDL Championship Weekend at TCO Stadium in Eagan, MN.
The AUDL and its official apparel partner BE Ultimate have partnered to present the new “BE The Change” award, honoring one current player each season who has given their time and energy to have an outstanding positive impact in their local community. Previously named the league’s Community Engagement Award, the AUDL Inclusion Initiative (Aii) began recognizing the achievement in 2021.
“He's shared his passion for community service with the Spiders program as a whole,” said teammate Munis Thahir, “facilitating several events where Spiders could work with his students to build tiny homes for Oakland's unhoused community.”
“Our team values are community, grit and joy,” said Oakland Spiders Director of Business Development Sebastian Fotouhi. “Rafael embodies all three. He’s a pillar of the community, has the grit to get things done even when it’s tough, and brings joy to everyone he encounters.” Overall, the organization also supports the Spiders Community Web, a 501(c)3 organization focused on developing community through ultimate youth programs, job training and development for underserved communities, and contributions to like-minded community groups.
Overall, 17 players from 13 teams were named across 31 total nominations–all the highest in the award’s history. There are two prior recipients of the community award. In 2021, Dylan DeClerck of the Minnesota Wind Chill developed a play clinic for underserved youth in Des Moines, IA. And in 2022, Joe "Smash" Anderson of the Colorado Summit was awarded for his efforts in leading his team's local outreach programs, as well as his work with the local Youth Offender System (YOS) in Pueblo, CO.
Full list of 2023 "BE The Change" award nominees:
- Jeff Babbitt, New York Empire
- Luke Brennan, Chicago Union
- Jack Brown, Seattle Cascades
- Devin Cox, Los Angeles Aviators
- Steven Kelly, Houston Havoc
- Michael Kiyoi, Los Angeles Aviators
- Rowan McDonnell, DC Breeze
- Tony Mounga, Salt Lake Shred
- Tyler Nguyen, Colorado Summit
- Brandon Pastor, Philadelphia Phoenix
- Tyler Randall, Atlanta Hustle
- Rodrigo Gould Rodriguez, Colorado Summit
- Zach Singer, Boston Glory
- Jackson Stearns, Oakland Spiders
- Evan Swiatek, Austin Sol
- Aaron Weaver, Los Angeles Aviators