USAFL Life Members


Life Membership of the USAFL is a recognition of an individuals excellent service to football in the USA. It is given for a combination of service beyond normal expectations, tenure and specific skills that has a National component. This is not intended to replace club based Life Membership Awards.

Life Membership is an Australian traditional of recognition, generally at a club level. The USAFL also recognizes it's esteemed members in the USAFL Hall of Fame.

Selection Criteria for Membership

An individual may be nominated based on their contribution to the league on a national level. The USAFL has defined a number of categories for Life Membership:

  • Umpires
  • Players
  • Clubs
  • Administrators
  • Coaches
  • Juniors
  • Supporters
  • National Teams

To celebrate our 10th Anniversary in 2007 the USAFL Executive Board felt it was the appropriate time to launch the program and to recognize a number of individuals who have been critical to the league making its 10thyear. The USAFL's Life Members to date are listed below:

Jason Becker, 2018

Jason Becker has been involved with Footy in the United States for two decades now at various capacities. He started playing with Milwaukee Bombers in 1999, winning a USAFL D1 National Championship in 2003. In 2005 he moved to Minnesota to join a fledgling Minnesota Freeze club as a player and assistant coach where he won a D3 National Championship in 2005. He became the Head Coach for the Freeze in '07 to '09, also winning a D2 National Championship in 2007.

He focused on footy at the National Level from 2008 onward but became the Head Coach of Freeze again in 2014 and 2015. At the...

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Leigh Barnes, 2018

Leigh is originally from Launceston, Tasmania, however also lived, played and coached football in Brisbane for 15 years.  He is now living in the east San Francisco Bay area with his son Kai and works as a Materials and Research Engineer. Leigh is the founding President of the Golden Gate Australian Football League, 2005 Division II champions, and has played over 400 games of football in his lifetime.

Leigh represented Tasmania three times, Queensland once, and kicked over a hundred goals in a season twice during his career.

Andy Vanica, 2017

Andy joined the USAFL in 2006 as a member of the Boston Demons, played/coached/club president of the Milwaukee Bombers for two years, before settling into a playing role with the Denver Bulldogs since 2010. He was also a member of the USA Revolution International Cup teams in 2008, 2011, and 2014, Parallel Cup teams in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015. Andy joined league administration in 2010 as VP West, and then spent two years as league president. During this time, many league standards were set, such as standardization of league email protocols, a new Board Administration...

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Tony Fairhead

Tony Fairhead, 2017

Tony led the USAFL Australian Advisory Committee for 10 years. He was the founder of the committee. He has been instrumental in developing the player exchange program between the USAFL and Australia. He is a true advocate of the league.

Andrea Casillas, 2015

Andrea Casillas began playing with the Arizona Lady Hawks in 2005. Upon getting accepted into law school in New York she knew that she wanted to continue playing, but traveling back to Arizona would not feasible. Once in New York, she founded the New York Lady Magpies which is in its third season. Even though the team is still young, it has boasted eight players on Freedom and recently hosted its first tournament.

Andrea is also a member of the USA Freedom women's national team and competed in the 2011 International Cup in Australia as well as other numerous other Freedom events....

Matt Bishop, 2015

Matt is Victorian born, spending most of his childhood and football career in Central Queensland. Matt now resides in Sacramento, California with his wife Amy. As well as coaching the Revolution, Matt is also the current coach of the Golden Gate Roos, Sacramento Screamers and prior to moving to California, was the coach of the Baltimore Washington Eagles.

Matt has lived in the United States since 2005 and has played and coached senior football in both Brisbane and Sydney.

Kathryn Hogg, 2013

Kathryn (Kat) was born in Adelaide, Australia to non-Australian parents but grew up in the USA after living in 4 countries before the age of 7.  She was first introduced to footy when ESPN launched in 1980 and founded the Minnesota Freeze in 2004.

She was the leading driver behind the women's competition in the USAFL and was responsible for making the women's division a part of the USAFL Nationals.

As USAFL Director of Women's Football, Kathryn had the vision to create the USAFL National Team, the USA Freedom in 2007.  With no other countries to play, the Freedom embarked on...

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Paul Conway, 2013

Jim Martin

Jim Martin, 2012

Jim Martin joined the footy family in 1999 with the St Louis Blues. Jim was an instrumental member of building the St. Louis Blues during the early years. This skill was noticed by the League when Jim joined the Board in 2002 as VP for the Central Region. He stayed in this role for 10 years, serving under 4 Presidents.

Jim always was a voice of reason on the Board and he provided a consistent presence on the Board over a critical period of the Leagues growth. By day Jim is a lawyer and this skill was heavily utilized by the Board. All critical decisions were blessed by Jim and his ...

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Matt Mueller, 2012

Matt Muller was a founding member of Seattle Grizzlies in 1998, he served more than 13 years as President and is a club co-founder and hall-of‐fame member. In addition to helping found the club, Matt has worked tirelessly for more than a decade turning it from a small group of ex‐pats "having a kick", into one of the top competitive clubs in the USAFL. All the while maintaining focus on it remaining not just a football club, but also an active social organization, raising funds for special needs (helped raise over $12,000 for the 2009 bushfire relief), and ensuring the Grizzlies always...

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Jeff Persson, 2011

Jeff has been a member of the USAFL since 2000. He has been a member of the Nashville Kangaroos and been with their board for 9 years (2001, 2003-2010), President - 4 years (2007-2010) and Secretary/Treasurer - 1 Year (2001). Jeff has Played 100+ Games for Nashville Kangaroos with 3 MAAFL Championships and he played for the USA Revolution in 2008. Jeff's Field umpiring experience includes nearly 200 games, 2007 USAFL Umpire of the Decade Award, 2005 and 2011 International Cup Grand Final - Field Umpire, First non-Australian to be Accredited at Level 2 and 2002 USAFL Scholarship Umpire.

Matt Jagger, 2011

Matt has been playing footy since 2001, when he joined the St. Louis Blues. He served as treasurer and assistant head coach of the St. Louis Blues from 2003 - 2006. He also served as the Secretary of the USAFL from 2006 to 2010. He was a member of the U.S. Revolution from 2002-2005, helping anchor the defense on the squad that finished 3rd in the 2005 International Cup. He played 11 international matches for the Revolution and earned Best on Ground votes in 3 of them. Matt managed the Revolution squad from 2006 to 2011. When he's not playing footy or managing the Revolution, Matt works in...

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Steve Buderick, 2011

Steve has volunteered as the trainer to the USA National Teams since 2002. He has supported both the USA Revolution and more recently the USA Freedom at all AFL International Cups and the past four 49th Parallel Cup tournaments. Steve was awarded his Life Time membership during the 2011 International Cup in Melbourne.

Wayne Kraska, 2010

A veteran of nearly 500 Australian Rules Football (ARF) games, Wayne Kraska is one of the sports leaders in the Australian community in Atlanta. Wayne serves as President of the Atlanta Kookaburra's ARF Club.. His experience as a coach and umpire has taken him all over the USA, and achievements include introducing and managing the most successful USAFL National Championships on record, that featured 27 teams and some 750 players.

Wayne was named the inaugural women's national team (USA Freedom) coach in 2006. During his tenure he coached the Freedom in the first women's...

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Alan Nugent, 2007

Alan has been one of the premier coaches within the USAFL through its first ten years. He coached and played with Boston for many years, before his work moved him to Houston. Alan was also the American Revolution coach for the 2005 International Cup. Alan was a galvanizing force for the Revolution and brought the players together to create a great Revo team. He took the team to third at that Cup. Alan has also been recognized as the Revolution Coach of the Decade. Alan is an exceptional player and also made the starting 18 of the USAFL All-Star team of the Decade.

Denis Ryan, 2007

Denis Ryan has been a member of the Baltimore-Washington Eagles since 1998, serving as a player, coach and Vice President of the club. In 2001 he joined the US national team, the USA Revolution, as an Assistant Coach and has since played an instrumental role within the USAFL, developing and implementing Coaching courses, school PE  programs and the co-ed Ausball. 

In the same year he was appointed Coaching Director of the USAFL, and traveled with the Revolution to London for the inaugural Atlantic Alliance Cup. In 2002 he stepped up as Head Coach of the Revolution team and took this...

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Jim Baldwin, 2007

Jim Baldwin starting playing footy as a founding member of the Denver Bulldogs.  Some of his career highlights include

  • Playing 125 consecutive games for Denver
  • Denver Bulldogs Life Member and Ruckman for their Team of the Decade (1998 to 2008)
  • Six time premiership player
  • Member of the American Revolution in 1999, 2000 and 2001, He made the trip to London as part of the team than competed in the Atlantic Alliance Cup.
  • Represented the West in the USAFL East/West All Star Games in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Jim is a testament of the...

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John Harrell, 2007

John is one of the Founding Fathers of footy in America, another member of the barn boys. He was involved in launching the Louisville club back in 1996 and was instrumental in organizing and playing in the first game between Louisville and Cincinnati. John had a vision for footy in America that we are living today. Part of that vision has been fulfilled with the Nationals coming back to Louisville, celebrating a decade of Australian Rules Football in the USA. John has the distinction of being the person that was directly responsible for getting Plugger involved with footy in the USA....

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Mike Powers, 2007

Mike has the distinguished honor of starting two clubs in the USA. He started Nashville prior to the forming of the USAFL and then when moving to Atlanta in the late 90’s took it upon himself to kick-start the Atlanta Club. Mike is the current coach of the Atlanta Kookaburras Club. Mike was one of the people involved in the famous meeting behind “the barn” that started the USAFL. He is also one of only two people to play in every National Championships. Mike represents everything that is right about a club based organization.

Paul Whiting, 2007

Paul was the first Secretary of the USAFL and is an unsung hero of the early years. Without Paul’s effort the League would not have been able to grow during those first few crucial years. During the first full AGM on the burgeoning League, in 1998, Paul was the first to step forward to help. Paul’s sporting background was surfing and he had been involved with the administration of many surf clubs in Australia. He knew what it took to make a volunteer organization work. He translated his administration skills perfectly to footy. Paul represents all the people that were involved with the...

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Rich Mann, 2007

Rich Mann was  a founding member of the Cincinnati Dockers and the USAFL. He served as a committee member and as the League’s President for 7 years. Rich also served as Australian Liaison and was on the organizing committee for the inaugural International Cup in 2002. Rich has been involved in organizing the USAFL National Tournament since 1997. He has played in numerous USAFL Premiership teams, first with the Cincinnati Dockers and more recently with the Denver Bulldogs. He has been named the National Tournament MVP twice. Rich has played over 500 games in his career and served on...

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Steve Arnott, 2007

Steve has long been one of the premier umpires in the league since he started officiating USAFL matches in 1999.  Steve started umpiring in 1988 after moving from Melbourne to Sydney. After moving to the USA in 1991, he begin umpiring as soon as learned of the USAFL.   In those early days his city, St Paul, Minnesota, did not have a team so he traveled extensively to umpire. He served as the first Umpires Coordinator and then as the Umpires Coach for 5 years. He has been critical in building the fraternity of umpires – as he is often quoted the “esprit de corps” of umpires.

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