The 49ers’ defensive end Arik Armstead has a pretty big event coming up soon.
Yet he took the night off Super Bowl preparations to come to San Francisco’s Nob Hill to honor his high school football coach.
Armstead was one of the athletes involved in one of the Bay Area sports community’s most profound annual events: the Game Changer awards. The event is a benefit for Coaching Corps, a nonprofit that supports high-quality coaching for underserved communities.
At the event, professional athletes from Bay Area teams present a coach who has made a difference in their lives.
Armstead chose to honor Joe Cattolico, his coach from Pleasant Grove High in Sacramento.
“I believe a coach should be an extension of your parents,” Armstead said. “Coach Cat was a coach I didn’t want to disappoint or let down.”
Armstead was just one athlete to acknowledge a coach who changed his life. Giants coach Ron Wotus honored his high school soccer coach John McKiernan. Warriors forward Eric Paschall honored his college coach Jay Wright. Raiders tight end Darren Waller honored his Raiders position coach Frank Smith. And A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty honored his father, Michael.
The men with money and contracts took the time to pay homage to the people who supported them throughout their careers.
“My story is a comeback story,” said Waller, the Raiders’ tight end who honored his position coach Smith, who helped him in his return to the NFL after struggles with addiction.
Cattolico said, “My hope is to use football to let young men be successful in their life. We, as coaches, have got to be about something bigger than our sport.”
If you were at the Fairmont on Thursday night, you knew that they were.
The Coaching Corps Game Changer awards show airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday on NBC Sports Bay Area.
Ann Killion is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @annkillion